Journey into the Depths of the Earth’s Most Extraordinary Underground Spaces

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Pub Date 12 Oct 2021 | Archive Date 28 Dec 2021

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"A deep dive into the mysteries of the underworld. Secret crypts, underground rivers, and engineering marvels are revealed in exquisite detail, exposing the background stories of the world's greatest hidden wonders." Jill Heinerth, author of Into the Planet

Filled with fun facts and unbelievable photography, Subterranea is a below-the-surface exploration of the world’s most spectacular underground spaces. Geographer and storyteller Chris Fitch peels back the outer layer of the earth and reveals the fascinating hidden underground spaces you can’t see from above the ground. These incredible places include poisonous caves in Mexico where the toughest fish in the world manage to survive; the magnificent Roman sunken palace that was lost beneath the streets of Constantinople for centuries; the "Door to Hell" that was accidentally created by Soviet gas explorers in the 1970s and has been on fire for nearly half a century; and the drug-smuggling tunnels between Mexico and the United States.
Lavishly illustrated and packed with maps and photographs of little-explored locations, Subterranea is the unique, untold, and utterly unforgettable story of our planet from the inside.
"A deep dive into the mysteries of the underworld. Secret crypts, underground rivers, and engineering marvels are revealed in exquisite detail, exposing the background stories of the world's...

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ISBN 9781643261096
PRICE $30.00 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

This book was a lot more than I was expecting. I was expecting photographs with brief descriptions, but this book went so much farther including maps and diagrams and thorough explanations of the site’s history, geological and cultural significance, and current condition. The book is divided into four sections: Creation – natural phenomena, Ancient History – man-made structures of the past, Modern History – 1900s, and Today – 2000s, each with 10 locations across the globe. I loved the geographic representation in the book including locations from all seven continents. Unlike a lot books that can feel very euro/western-centric this book struck a good balance of locations and cultures. I am ashamed to admit that I’ve been to a few of the locations in Europe, while I have not been to the Panda Aspen Tree which is literally 2.5 hours from my house. I felt like I learned a lot about each location without there being an overwhelming amount of information. I liked that the author didn’t shy away from controversial issues, especially in the today section, with the inclusion of smuggling tunnels along the U.S./Mexican border and cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. With my love of geography, geology, history, and geopolitics this was the perfect book for me.

Thank you to NetGalley and Timber Press for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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I could spend hours and hours lost in the secret places unearthed in this book. Each chapter provides vivid photographic images with an informative description of the location, history, and significance. Each chapter merely provides an intro, hardly enough to satiate any interest in any one particular location, and compels me to study and learn more. Igniting a desire for further research is a clear indication of a great book! I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via NetGalley and all opinions expressed are my own, freely given.

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This was fun. What we get are short snapshots of subterranean environments, with relevant schematics, diagrams, maps and photos, all designed to alert us to intriguing pockets of our world we too often don't think about due to their being underground. Starting with natural cave systems, we scatter all over the world looking at superlatives, and I will admit the entries sometimes frustrated with how brief they were. Wanting more from a book can be a sign of it being a good as well as a bad one, mind – and this is certainly not a bad one.

We do leave the natural cave systems of note behind, for other indications of humanity from prehistory, and any date since then. So come on board prepared to have a look at the Dead Sea Scroll Caves, and the Large Hadron Collider both. Compare and contrast the wildlife on French cave walls with that stored in freezers under Svalbard in the Global Seed Vault. Get dwarfed by Tokyo flood relief systems, and squeeze through Vietnam's Cu Chi tunnels. Yes, the entries generally are over and done with after four pages of text at most (Cappadocia getting a lot more content than anything else, I think), and some times you do doubt the worth of all the artwork included, but if you are happy with these being just postcard-sized introductions, then this will be an enjoyable read. A perfect book would have perhaps told me more at times, and I did find this one best dipped into in bite-sized pieces, even when other books can be devoured A-Z, but this generally does what it set out to do.

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I love this book about all things under ground it’s very informative and also very beautiful. It definitely peaked my interest at all things below the surface.

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SUBTERRANEA by Chris Fitch

This has beautiful pictures of beautiful places, complete with a few pages that tell about what each place is when it was discovered and what if any, humans used it for. As a former caver, I have a great appreciation for the subterranean world.

I am sure I did not appropriately appreciate the splendor of this book since I had an electronic version. A hard or softcover version would be coffee table worthy, to awe family members and visitors, alike.

Highly recommend.

I consider myself fortunate to have received a complimentary copy of #subterranea from #netgalley I was under no obligation to post a review.

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This book is a lot more than I expected. I requested it thinking it was going to be some pretty Instagram spots but it's a great book with lots of informations and history. I haven't been to any of those places yet but I added some to my list. I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review

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A fine collection of introductory essays about a wide variety of subterranean locations around the world - some natural, some manufactured by humans or animals. Almost every entry includes at least one interesting fact, and many fascinating images accompany the text. My only real complaint was the brevity of each entry. In many cases I was left wanting to know much much more about the location being described.

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There is another world beneath our feet, and Fitch reveals it to us in all its glory. From natural places like the swimming hole cenotes, to palaces and ships underneath city streets to drug smuggling tunnels this books is full of the fascinating, hard to believe world underground. Jaw dropping photography is the cherry on top of this incredible sundae

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Subterranea is the literary equivalent of ‘I came for X and I stayed for Y’; in this specific case, I asked for it because of the blurb & cover combo, and I stayed because of the contents. Speleology–and anything speleology-adjacent, really–is not an uncharted territory for me, but so far I never had the chance to explore the underground world in such detail.

What did I find down there?

Let me show you.


Subterranea peels back the outer layer of the earth and reveals the fascinating hidden underground spaces that you cannot see from above the ground. These places include the poisonous caves in Mexico, full of deadly hydrogen sulphide, where the toughest fish in the world manage to survive; the magnificent Roman sunken palace that was lost beneath the streets of Constantinople for centuries; the ‘Door to Hell’ that was accidentally created by Soviet gas explorers in the 1970s and has been on fire for nearly half a century; and the drug-smuggling tunnels between Mexico and the USA.

Lavishly illustrated and packed with maps and photographs of little-explored locations, Subterranea is the unique, untold, and utterly unforgettable story of our planet from the inside.

240 pages
Timber Press


Cover: What a great pick. There are many nice pictures featured in Subterranea, but this Yucatan Cenote is so eye-catching.


- Subterranea is a +200 pages long travel through the depths of the Earth, courtesy of Chris Fitch. After donning a rock-climbing helmet, Chris takes us on a worldwide tour featuring both natural and artificial caves, with an eye for the lesser-known ones. The concept behind this book is interesting, it’s well thought-out, and the execution is good, too. Structure-wise, I appreciate how every chapter starts with an anecdote or a historical event; those are literary hooks, and Chris knows how to use them.

- Stunning pictures, just as I expected them to be. I’ll admit I’ve been more taken by the natural locations rather than the modern ones but regardless, all the images are crisp and full of details. They tell a story, which is the main point of photography. Bravo!

- Maps add to the experience, and they make my geography nerd heart swell. Once again I prefer the natural ones, but it’s been cool to see tunnels and caves superimposed on town maps. Plus, it’s a good touch; as a reader, I feel like I’m seeing the big picture rather than focusing on a small spot.

Special mention:

- Guatemala Sinkholes. I’d be hard pressed to think about a scarier natural event.
- Darvaza Gas Crater, Turkmenistan. Breathtaking pictures paired with a cool desert legend. Setting the gas alight, really?
- Coober Pedy, Australia. It’s an underground town! I’m already packing my stuff, y’all.
- Basilica Cistern, Turkey. The head of Medusa turned upside down, I love it.
- Cueva de Villa Luz, México. What a cool picture! The sulphuric acid gives the water a milky appearance.
- Waitomo Caves, New Zealand. Glow worms. No, I’m not kidding.


- I have some minor issues with the writing itself. There are a few run-on sentences and a little too many adverbs for my tastes.


4 stars on GR. It was an enjoyable read!

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A Great, Surprising Informative, Collection

Going back to Benson Bobrick's 1981 subway history, "Labyrinths of Iron", I have been a fan of books that take us underground. This volume is wide ranging, steps beyond the usual subjects, offers just enough photos and maps to illustrate the text and whet the appetite, and entertains with an engaging, congenial, but crisply informative, narrative. In short, it is a success across the board.

The books is loosely organized by topic - natural caves and underground rivers, ancient structures, and modern subterranean projects. You'll get caves and cenotes - longest, deepest, weirdest, and most mysterious. As to the ancients, you'll travel from the mausoleum of the first Qin Emperor, to the Qumran Caves, to Cappadocia. Modern times bring us from the London Underground to Cooper Pedy to the Kolwezi cobalt mines. In all there are 40 different chapters.

Apart from the photos and maps, which are fine but easy enough to find online, the other appeal here is our author's stylistic approach. The text is engaging, but not jokey or breezy. Descriptions, background, and history are truly informative, and even familiar sites, (those terracotta soldiers), get a fresh treatment.

So, this was a fine, entertaining, and informative find that fit quite nicely on my underground adventures shelf. A great armchair find.

(Please note that I received a free advance will-self-destruct-in-x-days Adobe Digital copy of this book without a review requirement, or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)

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Subterranea was filled with facts and pictures of the worlds underground spaces. It gives the location, name, and a brief description. The pictures are stunning. Everything from New Zealand glow worm caves to cave paintings in France. The places included are a good balance between natural and man made. There are ancient and modern caves. It is interesting and beautiful.

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A beautiful book of pictures, maps and details on caves around the world. Included are some in the new world and the old. A great book to learn more about different areas. Not a book to just sit and read, but a reference book on different regions and cultures. Especially love the ones from Mexico and China. Would highly recommend.

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Chris Fitch’s Subterranea: Discovering the Earth’s Extraordinary Hidden Depth is a deeper look at the Earth beneath the surface. From recreational to geographical and scientific exploration, Fitch explains underground wonders. With full color photographs and detailed diagrams, the book is visually appealing while simultaneously providing a plethora of accurate information for the casually interested. Introductory information is included for subterranean caverns around the world, along with historical uses, explorations, and evolution.

This book is geared to those with a burgeoning interest in cave systems. While it does have full color photos, this is not a book for those just looking for gorgeous pictures of caverns. The photos included are nice but are not the focal point of the book and are limited compared with the larger information given.

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Subterranea is surprisingly informative and enjoyable to read. The focus is on things below ground and includes lots of colorful photos, maps and diagrams. The book is broken into four sections. Creation (things in nature) which includes many caves and even a chapter on Pando, an ancient forest of cloned trees that are connected underground, in my home state of Utah. Ancient History, man made structures like terra-cotta soldiers or the buried city of Herculaneum. Modern History and Today cover the 1900s and 2000s respectively. The Large Hadron Super Collider is covered, Helsinki's Underground City and Jerusalem's, modern-day underground cemetery. Each site chosen was interesting and not always what I was expecting. The writing gives information about the site, history and cultural importance. The book includes places on every continent and is not western centric. The is a genuinely interesting coffee table book. Thank you to NetGalley and Timber Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Chris Fitch delivers Subterranea, a book bursting with gorgeous photographs and astounding information. I was expecting just photographs, but Fitch includes vivid descriptions of the formation of the caves as well as the people and creatures who inhabit them. The photos are so vibrant, they take your breath away. Get this book for the photos then dive into the narrative. Thanks so much to Net Galley for the chance to read an ARC.

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This isn't something likely to move from our libraries, but the images are beautiful. I wish there were more of them.

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This is a seriously cool book! I learned so many new things and was in my true nerd happy place reading this one.

Broken into 4 parts, Subterranea starts with Creation and covers cool places like the Waitomo Caves, home of millions of Glow-worms, Veryovkina Cave, the world’s deepest cave and the Palaeoburrows, tunnels believed to have been dug by extinct Mega Sloths!

The Ancient History section has locations such as Chauvet-Pont d’Arc boasting some of the earliest figurative cave drawings, and Herculaneum a coastal party town buried by the ancient eruption of Vesuvius.

Modern History has the more well-known locations like the London Underground and lesser known places like Coober Pedy, a city built underground to deal with the extreme temperatures of Australia.

The Today section features the Los Angeles Tunnels, Hellisheidi and the Jerusalem Cemeteries plus many other important scientific locations.

With pictures, coordinates, detailed maps and historical data, Subterranea is sure to be a home-run hit with history buffs, science lovers and curious people all over the world! Buy this as a gift for an inquisitive loved one and make sure you buy one for yourself as well. It’s definitely worth having around and kids can learn about some really cool places!

Thank you to #TimberPress and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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This book truly took me on an adventure. I was able to get a first hand exploration of caves, tunnels, and places to explore. I lived reading about each place, having a map of the location and a map of the area underground. The pictures right there were amazing. Truly travel in a book.

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Subterranea is a fascinating and seldom-seen look at amazing caves, underwater rivers, lakes, excavations, and other subterranean locations worldwide curated by Chris Fitch. Originally published in 2020, this reformat and re-release from Workman Publishing on their Timber Press imprint is due out 15th Sept 2021. It's 240 pages and will be available in hardcover format.

This was a much more comprehensive and information dense volume than I was expecting. It *is* a graphically amazing book, full of clear, breathtaking photography of the secret underground places, but more than that, it's also full of ordnance survey maps showing the different cave systems and locations as well as interesting cultural and physical background for each place covered.

Each entry (there are 40) contains location, description, maps, background, and color photos of the sites and the features of each. The descriptions are well written and accessible. The author doesn't shy away from descriptions which include insalubrious details such as some caves' previous use in human sacrifice and other rituals, so it might be distressing to some readers. The photographs are clear and the layout is graphically simple and impactful. The author has included a nice selection of links and resources for further reading.

Five stars. This would be a good selection for library acquisition as well as for readers who enjoy travel writing, natural history and the natural world.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This book is well written. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful. It will make you want to visit each place in person. It is an absolutely stunning book. It is very informative. It will be in stores on October 12, 2021 for $30.00 (USD).

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Subterranea is absolutely breathtaking in its riches of information, other-worldly photography and useful maps. The sheer amount of information is staggering. I live part time in the karst region of Europe and am besotted with underground lakes, rivers and caves, especially those in Slovenia and Croatia. One of the most stupendous sights I have ever experienced is Postojna Cave and its miraculous olms. Exploring beneath ancient cities such as Naples and Split is one of my favourite things to do. But this book really opened my eyes to treasures in other parts of the world, too, such as the dazzling glow-worms in New Zealand, gaping cenotes and unique fish living in acid in Mexico, fascinating paleoburrows in Brazil and the stunning cistern beneath Istanbul,

After reading so much about it, Tunnel 57 is the next on my list. Not only does the author include natural wonders and creatures but also fascinating things/occurrences such as perfectly-round and deep sink holes, mines and ice core storage!

Books such as this are pure inspiration and soul stirring. Nature is truly remarkable. Reading this book makes me feel more knowledgeable. I like that. If you are even just remotely interested in the underground, this book should be priority. It is THAT good. Regardless of what you have and haven't yet seen, you will learn something.

My sincere thank you to Timber Press and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this wondrous book. I absolutely loved it!

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This book combines amazing pictures with the history behind each location. We get to explore different subterranean manmade and naturally occurring areas all over the planet.
I loved how it was separated by Creation, Ancient History, Modern History and Today. It gives an interesting timeline of the worlds history.
Archaeology and history are so fascinating to me! I also loved geology in college as a elective. It's so amazing how you can see so much when you dig.
The pictures alone would be worth the look into this book but it also gives a great insight and history into each and the amazing creatures that can exist in some of the caves out there.

Thank you timberpress and netgalley for the e-ARC for my honest and voluntary review.

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This is a fascinating look at cities under cities, or under mountains; at vast underground reservoirs and water tunnels; at gas-powered eternal underworld flaming pits; at limestone caverns unexplored until recent equipment allowed; at ancient cave paintings; at minings and delvings, escape routes and particle accelerators.

Just enough science of geology and cryology and hydrology is imparted, so you can look up terms if you wish but can take in the sense of the text easily. The brightly coloured photos reveal incredible landscapes, formations and habitations.

We have to be glad that others are brave enough to explore, or inspired enough to create, or educated enough to design and build. This book will provide you with facts to amaze and tourism sites to bookmark. We also learn about climate changing and what it may mean for our future.

I read an e-ARC from Net Galley. This is an unbiased review.

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Subterranea is a beautiful book with outstanding, tantalizing photos of what lies beneath our feet, and crisp and clear writing about the forming and exploration of these places: caves, sinkholes, tunnels. It's an ideal book to give as a gift to anyone interested in spelunking, hiking, urban exploration, and similar activities.

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Subterranea by Chris Fitch is a really neat book with beautiful color photos highlighting natural, historical, and modern underground spaces. I was surprised at how little I know about what lies below. Some of the spaces include a sunken palace, a cave filled with glow-in-the-dark worms, and the longest lava tube in the world.

I highly recommend this book for those interested in history, science, travel, and art.

I am a library paraprofessional and received an advance copy from #NetGalley. Opinions are my own.

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This is a beautiful book with lush illustrations and vivid descriptions of the world under our feet. There have been several caving/ underground titles released lately, but this one is pretty enough to serve as a coffee table book - and the information is arranged so that you can dip in and out rather than reading straight through. A great gift for lovers of the natural world!

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