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Under City

This used to be part of a sprawling metropolis, or maybe it was a whole city of its own, but something happened. Maybe an earthquake buried it, or maybe they just decided to build new city on top of it and in time forgot the old one.

This isn't just any underground area; the Under City used to be above the earth before being buried by whatever occurrence. Could be a whole Ghost City, or a part of Absurdly Spacious Sewer.


Anime and Manga
  • In the first anime of Fullmetal Alchemist, there is a hidden city under Central that has been destroyed in order to create a Philosopher's Stone.
  • Berserk has a massive prison tower built on the ruins of an older city.

Comic Books
  • Underground Duckburg in Don Rosa's version of Donald Duck universe.
  • When the old Spider-Man villain, Venom, had his own comic released, he spent the first storyarc in a section of San Francisco that was buried and contained 1800s-era architecture (the city had simply built over it for some reason). Sadly, this was all mostly forgotten by the next miniseries.
  • New York has become this in Judge Dredd. Mega City One is built on top of it and several others.

  • Star Wars has Coruscant, where the ground is always buried under at least five layers of ancient skyscrapers.

  • The Undertown in The Dresden Files is located under Chicago, consisting of old buildings that sank into the ground under their own weight. It is populated by various supernatural nasties.
  • Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere has a London Below which consists largely of places buried and forgotten by London Above.
  • Ankh-Morpork in Discworld novels: Because the city is built on soft loam, near an extremely turgid river, the ground levels of its buildings find themselves buried every generation or so. The standard remedy is to just build another level on top, so now the city descends through the earth to an unknown depth. This has caused friction between the dwarfs, who traditionally view anything underground as theirs, and the city's government, who think of those areas as sub-sub-basements and would rather not have unknown factors tunneling through them.
    • Also from Discworld, the mine-city of the Low King of the Dwarfs is built mostly under the surface town of Bonk.
  • Inverted in C. S. Lewis's The Silver Chair. The thriving kingdom of the Lady of the Green Kirtle is underneath the ruined city of the giants. And there's an even deeper land beneath her kingdom, which is abandoned but not for long.
  • In A Darkness at Sethanon, the titular Sethanon was built right on top of an ancient Valheru city.
  • In Isaac Asimov's short story "Nightfall," archaeologists discover that a hill near their city is actually the ruins of several older cities, piled on top of each other. They all burned down at suspiciously regular intervals.
  • In the Doctor Who New Adventures, there's the Undercity of Spaceport Overcity Five — or, as we would say, London. In this case, London wasn't buried: the entire Overcity floats above it on Anti Gravity engines.
  • In Tunnels, the Colony is located in a gigantic series of caverns beneath London, while the abandoned Eternal City is between them. Beneath the Colony lies the Deeps, and beneath that is the Pore and the other Pits, and beneath those lies the Garden Of The Second Sun.

Live-Action TV
  • Cities of the Underworld is a documentary series that aired on the History Channel and explored subterranean structures under various cities and historic sites around the world. See the Real Life section below.
  • Former St. Louis in Defiance which was largely buried when alien terraforming machines went wild. Bits of it, including the famous Arch, remain on the surface.
  • Modern day Granville in Ghost Whisperer is built on top of Old Granville...with good reason.

Tabletop Games
  • Dungeons & Dragons. Judges Guild module Dark Tower. In the Back Story, a small village grew up around the White Tower of Mitra. When the Black Tower of Set appeared nearby, the village was buried by the landslides caused by the battle between the two towers. Within a decade a new village of treasure seekers called Mitras's Fist was established on the ground where the old village had stood. When the new villagers began digging down to find the old village, imagine their surprise when they found someone digging up to meet them...
  • From Warhammer 40,000, and Imperial Hive, usually a megalopolis and sometimes an arcology, will almost invariably have such an "underhive" as the hive is continuously built upwards, and the underhive is considered the natural consequence of most established cities in the Imperium of Man. As civilization stays close to the top as it can manage, the underhive has a population density so thin that it can be considered derelict, except for the mutants, gangs, cults, fugitive psykers, and any other criminal element that seeks to stay away from prying eyes. Also notable is that the areas underneath range from claustrophobic maintenance tunnels to deserted city districts to enormous, abandoned underground industrial sites.
  • Forgotten Realms has cities built this way, particularly big and old ones like Westgate. In another way, Waterdeep stands on the still active Undermountain complex and Skullport city and Ravens Bluff stands above an abandoned dwarven city under which there's in turn an abandoned drow city.
  • Dark Dungeon RPG, supplement Samaris, Island of Adventure. At one time the entire island of Samaris was covered by a giant city, which was also called Samaris. The city was destroyed in a war between the North (led by the demonic wizard king Acecerax) and the South (led by the demon witch empress Vekna) two hundred years ago. Southport (the largest city on the island), Northport, Eastport, Westport and Zentrumstadt are smaller cities built upon its ruins.
  • Rocket Age's Martian cities have extensive networks of service tunnels and sewers underneath the streets, often linking the entire city together.

  • Metru Nui in BIONICLE, under the island of Mata Nui.
    • Except only one of them is a city, and it's more like Mata Nui is on top of Metru Nui and the rest of the Matoran Universe.

Video Games
  • Old Mournhold in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind: Tribunal. It's not the only settlement in ruins under Mournhold, but the other one was built underground in the first place.
  • Saints Row 2 has Old Stilwater, an earthquake-ruined underground district from approximately 1940-1965, inhabited by hobos, accessed by entering the old mission house.
  • The Undercity in Baldur's Gate is an ancient settlement located in a cave underneath the eponymous city. It is apparently big enough to house an enormous temple of Bhaal and many supporting structures.
    • And of course the Underdark in the sequel houses 3 large dwellings, one of Mind Flayers, one of Beholders, and a gigantic city of Drow.
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has the ancient city buried under Rogueport.
  • The Lost City (Karath Din) in the Thief game series.
  • Wonder City in Batman: Arkham City.
  • Vagrant Story has an Undercity area, notable for its high density population of undead.
  • Old Ironforge, located under the dwarven capital Ironforge in World of Warcraft.
    • Also in World of Warcraft, a literal inversion: the Undercity is the capital of the undead race the Forsaken, while the old city of Lorderon above it is the mostly-abandoned ruins.
  • in Torchlight, you explore a stack of these, many layers deep.
  • in Fallen London, bats stole Victorian London, the game's setting, from the surface and brought it underground. And it's far from the first city to have suffered this fate.

Western Animation

Real Life
  • Moscow has a lot of Soviet-era underground works, partly civilian (Metro) but mostly of Cold War era Soviet military origin. Urban legends tell about a whole system of special Metro for the government and underground vault-cities in case of a nuclear war, for generals and officers.note  Also included are older Tsarist era ruins and basements.
  • Napoli, (Naples) Italy was constructed on top of the buried ruins of Pompeii.
  • Underground Seattle. This was a part of the late 19th century Seattle business district that was buried when the streets were regraded to between 12ft and 30 ft (3.6m to 9.1m) above their former height after the Great Seattle Fire of 1889. The areas formerly constituting sidewalks and alleys were left unfilled or were later excavated, and connecting tunnels were created under the roads- some intentionally to create maintenance tunnels and pedestrian bypasses for busy streets, and others during the The Edwardian Era and The Roaring Twenties to ease the transport of contraband and allow the former street level to serve as a literally underground combination Red Light District and City Narrows. This created an eerie network of tunnels lined by 19th century storefronts, many now serving as basements to the buildings above, though a few remain in use as bars or other establishments seeking to play off of the history.
  • Mexico City is built on top of the ancient Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan.
    • Likewise, western Guatemala City is built on top of the old Mayan city of Kaminaljuyú.
  • Many old European cities like Rome or Paris have catacombs beneath them.
    • Rome is a city of four million people, but only has two subway lines. This is because it's impossible to dig anywhere in Rome without hitting some set of ruins.
    • Ancient Rome often used a practice of burying larger buildings and building on top of them rather than demolishing them. The Palatine hill is covered with ruin on top of ruin and has an impressive network of caves and tunnels under all of it.
  • Link to relevent page on The Other Wiki.