A vast labyrinth of subterranean passages and halls, situated under the entire medieval city, was gradually created during of the 14th and 15th centuries by interconnecting individual cellars under each house and palace in the city.
The purpose of these catacombs was to protect city inhabitants when at war. The Znojmo catacombs lead in some places under the city walls and out of the city which enabled the brave to leave the city for food and other supplies when the city was under siege.
The subterranean halls were ventilated by plenty of shafts and cellar fireplaces were connected to house chimneys. There were wells full of water and also a drainage system, so that the Znojmo inhabitants could spend a long time in their sophisticated refuge in reasonable comfort .
To protect the inhabitatants of the labyrinth, there were traps designed including slippery slides ending with inescapable pits, trapdoors, extra narrow passages, allowing entrance for only one person etc. If an enemy strayed into the cellars then he was not meant survive.
You can imagine the scene of an advancing army breaching the town fortifications to find a ghost town void of life with smoke eerily spewing from the town’s chimneys.
The catacombes are more than 30kms long but have not been totally mapped and measured as some parts are completely flooded.
Water from the catacombs supplied the city until the 1960’s when Znojmo’s Dam was built.
Nowadays, the part of the catacombs are open all year round to the public and there is an exhibition of ghouls, skeletons and monsters to scare you.
(thanks to my friend Dr. Jiri Kacetl whose original text helped me to create this post – that is not him below by the way 🙂 )