The Daily Mail’s MailOnline Travel has prepared an article featuring a photo story about how a man in Armenia painstakingly created a jaw-dropping basement under his house, using just a hammer and chisel.
- Levon Arakelyan, who was a builder by profession, spent 23 years crafting the 280-square-metre cave
- Today the hand-crafted cellar in the village of Arinj in Amenia is open as a museum
- New Zealand-based photographer Amos Chapple recently journeyed to the attraction to shed some light on it
Builder Levon Arakelyan spent 23 years crafting the incredible 65ft-deep, 3,000-square-foot subterranean space and he was even working on the project on the day he died in 2008, aged 67. He began working on it after his wife, Tosya, asked for a cool space for her potatoes. He got carried away.
Today the hand-crafted cellar network in the village of Arinj near the capital city of Yerevan is open as a museum and New Zealand-based Radio Free Europe photographer Amos Chapple recently journeyed to the attraction to shed some light on it.
Apparently Tosya no longer ventures into the cavern as she’s scared of having a fall, so the cameraman went down there alone.
Describing the cave, he said: “I went and scouted the place out with the lights on. I then went back up and asked Tosya to switch all the lights off and I would work down there alone to take photographs.”
The walls of the cave feature a mix of hard and soft volcanic rock and the temperature remains around 10 degrees Celsius all-year round.
Asked what the most interesting feature of the cave is, Chapple said: “It was impossible to photograph well, but there’s a kind of portal above ground at the very top that runs down through all the levels.
‘You can stand in this back room of the house and look all the way down to the bottom level some 65 feet (about 20 meters – Ed.) below you.”
Levon started hammering out the basement in 1985 and over the years he continued to burrow, adding intricate detailing to the cave-like space.
Some of the tunnels feature grand doorways, with Romanesque columns carved into the stone and there are perfectly angled stairs chipped into the rock.
Levon would often spend 18 hours a day underground only emerging for a few hours to sleep before starting again.
The cave museum features the rustic tools used by Levon and the shredded boots he worked in.
All of the earth removed during the excavation project was donated to local builders for use on construction projects.