Diggers of the Underground Planet: Exploring the mysteries beneath Moscow

Far below the city streets, in the very bowels of Moscow, a ragtag group of modern-day troglodytes oversee the countless, eerie miles of subterranean tunnels and caves which crisscross their way through the Russian capital.

Most tourists are only aware of Moscow’s phenomenal metro system and limit their time underground to short trips between various stations. The metro, however, is just the tip of the iceberg, as they say.

Vadim Mikhailov (above) knows this because he heads up a group called the Diggers of the Underground Planet. The members don’t technically dig, but they do spend a great deal of their time with flashlight in hand, exploring the six to twelve layers of underground Moscow. Since organizing into a group in 1990, the Diggers have been mapping out the abandoned subway tunnels, sewer systems, drainage tunnels, bunkers, riverbeds, waterfalls, lakes, laboratories, torture chambers, mass graves and more. This 850-year old city has lots to hide.

Perhaps the most infamous underground secret is the private subway Stalin had built which reportedly runs to a number of locations including the Kremlin and even to the suburbs outside of Moscow where Stalin had his dacha. This metro is apparently still in operation and therefore a wise Mikhailov never comments on it.
Even more legendary is the 15th century library of Ivan the Terrible. The underground location of this invaluable collection of Byzantium books and scrolls has been lost to history and treasure seekers have been looking for it ever since. As you might imagine, this is the holy grail of Moscow’s underground and the Diggers are constantly searching for it.

Unfortunately, the Diggers do not conduct tours of the tunnels, although there have been reports of them considering this for the future. In the meantime, it’s probably not a good idea to explore the dark underground on your own. In addition to rats, mutated animals, human waste, corpses, and even discarded radioactive material, the Diggers have also come across satanic cults, armed men in uniforms, and members of the criminal underworld living and doing business underground. This is certainly not a place for amateurs.