From the Bat Cave to the Playboy Grotto, the allure of the underground lifestyle is buried deep in the human condition. We may once have been cave men and cave women, but our attraction to these strange and interesting underground places remains. Beyond the typical cave park and back yard cellar, there are some truly amazing cave spaces around the world that ignite the imagination. From cave houses to restaurants, cave wineries to cave offices, our attraction to underground living is very much alive in these ten places. Grab a hard hat and a flash light– and dive underground to explore the amazing places below.
Merus – California Cave Winery
Behind an old barn in St. Helena, California, a winding cave system houses the aging and storage facilities of one of Napa Valley’s great wineries. Merus Wines has embraced the natural cooling and security factors that only a cave can provide, and they do so with an impeccable sense of interior style. Various cave rooms and tunnels are carved smooth and painted in a variety of hues that match the color of the grapes they harvest. Wild pendant lamps and modern furnishings provide lighting and lounging for Merus’ guests, an unique place to experience the fruit of their labor. [We included Merus’s winery in our list The Architecture of Wine: 10 Stunning Winery Designs, a must-read for the virtual wine traveler.]
Merus – California Cave Winery | Gallery
Pionen – Sweden Cave Office
During the cold-war, this deep cave bunker was designed to house essential government systems in the event of a nuclear attack. Today, this cave office in Sweden is now the headquarters of a datacenter that looks like the lair of a Bond villain. Not only is this one of the most remarkable workplaces we’ve seen, it’s also designed to be sustainable. It’s heated by the datacenter itself, it features plant-life as green accent walls and its electrical systems are efficiently integrated. It’s the kind of place where you could plot a world takeover– or perhaps work on some spreadsheets. That much is up to you. [check out our full list of Office Design Marvels from around the world, including this amazing cave office]
Pionen – Sweden Cave Office | Gallery
Stockholm Cave Subway – by Alexander Dragunov
Not far from the Pionen cave office, a network of natural and man-made caverns snakes under the city streets of Stockholm. The Stockholm Cave Subway is quite possibly the most visually stunning subway system in the world, featuring painted caverns in rich colors that make daily travel a pleasure. Photographer Alexander Dragunov has spent plenty of time exploring and photographing the subway system of Stockholm, even compiling a full set of images into a book worthy of any modern coffee table. See it in his images if a visit isn’t on your bucket list. [we included the Stockholm Subway in our list of the 10 coolest subway systems in the world, don’t miss that either!]
Stockholm Cave Subway – by Alexander Dragunov | Gallery
Yunak Evleri – Cappadocia Cave Hotel
Traveling to Turkey? The rocky Cappadocia region is famous for its cave hotels, including some that have stood for centuries. One stand-out hotel is Yunak Evleri, a rich and luxurious cave hotel with modern amenities within ancient cave structures. This cave hotel is inset into a rocky hill, with rooms set high and low and deep within the rock itself. If you’re heading toward this region, come for the unique geological nature, stay for the experience of a night or two in a cave of your own.
Yunak Evleri – Cappadocia Cave Hotel | Gallery
Cave Post Office – Slovenia
A deep cavern like this might seem like an unlikely place for a post office, but this cave in Slovenia gets its share of foot traffic. The post office in the Postojna Concert Hall is mostly an afterthought, a small section to serve guests of the cavernous concert hall in this cave system. It is the first of its kind in the world, a bit of bragging rights to attract new guests to the underground facilities. The contemporary design and the natural cavern it inhabits makes it a place to behold, currently the only one in the world.
Cave Post Office – Slovenia | Gallery
Cave Fire Station – Italy
At the base of the Italian alps, a contemporary fire station has been built into a cave on hilly overlook. The municipal fire station of Margreid, Italy takes advantage of the natural strength of the rocky surface by building within. Cavern chambers house the fire station machinery, crew and offices in another underground lair fit for a Bond villain. If this isn’t the coolest fire station in the world, we don’t know what is…
Cave Fire Station – Italy | Gallery
Cave House – Switzerland by CMA and SeARCH
Across the border to the north of the Magried, Italy fire station, a cave house has been built into the Swiss alp region in the village of Vals. This cave house by CMA and SeARCH is a modern residence with earthen walls and roofing, showing only a small section cut out of the ground to view the rolling hills beyond. The interior doesn’t feel to cavernous, as the home has all of the typical amenities of an above-ground modern home. In this case, however, the earth walls and roof provide passive climate control for an efficient lifestyle. The windows on the open section of this cave house have quite a view, to boot. It’s the best of both worlds– above ground vistas and below-ground security and sustainability.
Cave House – Switzerland | Gallery
Majorca, Spain Cave Bar
If you need to get away for a drink, why not go underground? This contemporary cave bar in Majorca, Spain is inset into a cliff cave with a natural, rocky wall and greenery fed from the open-air section of the cave. It is the work of A2Arquitectos, an attractive welcome point to guests who wish to have a drink before or after a deeper climb into the connecting Cave of Hams.
Majorca, Spain Cave Bar | Gallery
Dungeon House – England
An ancient tower was facing demolition before its new owners saved it, restoring it to modern condition with a special addition underneath its bottom level. This Round Tower House by De Matos Ryan Architects includes a “dungeon” of sorts below, a lavish living space that is a contemporary contrast to the ancient tower above. From a distance, this property appears to be nothing more than the solitary tower, which belies the beautiful home build underground below.
Dungeon House – England | Gallery
Cave Restaurant – Italy
It doesn’t get much better than this. The cave restaurant of the Grotta Palazzese hotel in Polignano a Mare, Italy provides a gourmet experience with a remarkable view of the Adriatic Sea. Its central atrium is naturally-formed, an old cave formed beneath the steep mountains that overlook Italy’s southern coastline. It is amongst the most beautiful restaurants in the world, providing a one-of-a-kind experience that other restaurants cannot.
Cave Restaurant – Italy | Gallery
Thanks for reading, fellow spelunkers. Is there a cave house, cave restaurant, cave office or other exciting underground experience we missed out on? Please do share it in the comments, or hit us up on facebook or twitter to share your thoughts. In the mean time, check out these other awesome feature articles if you’ve got a few minutes to kill: