This unusual place is in the Netherlands.
Near the Dutch town of Maastricht, near the Belgian border, you can find one of the most unusual limestone cave quarries in the world, known as Jezuïetenberg (Jesuit caves). The journey to this place is one of the most exciting adventures that you can think of.
The underground passageways that descend to a depth of 45 meters, was dug between 1704 and 1880, when the marl is widely used as a construction material (it is from this stone was built the house in Maastricht), but the amazing art and sculptures have appeared in these caves only in 1860 when this place was settled by the Jesuits.
Over the next 100 years, the students, the Jesuits created in the caves more than 400 works of art including reliefs, frescoes and wall paintings with charcoal. Today Jezuïetenberg you can find the winged bulls, the exact copy of the Alhambra, a Hindu temple, a painting depicting Christ beside Buddha, bust of Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II and … Snow white and the seven dwarfs.
Most of these art objects have nothing to do with Christianity. This is quite surprising since the Jesuits belonged to the Society of Jesus, Roman Catholic order. Their mission was to convert people to Christianity, and they were particularly zealous in the evangelization of indigenous peoples.
So why do the Jesuits massacred the Egyptian pharaohs, built Hindu temples and Islamic miniature palaces in an underground cave in the Netherlands? Today nobody knows. One of the theories says that many of the Dutch Jesuits were missionaries in Indonesia, and students come to Maastricht from all over the world (for example, there were quite a lot of Congo).
The guides on Jezuïetenberg is also argued that the Jesuits actually were quite worldly order and had a broad Outlook. As for Egyptian art in the caves, it might be inspired by biblical scenes.
Another possible explanation is that the Jesuits were known to have been extremely talented in the art of forgery (and they were engaged in the reproduction of art objects not for sale, but only as a creative pastime). Near Jezuïetenberg is another cave complex known as “the caves of the St. pietersberg”.
During the First world war it was here that he hid from the Germans 780 famous works of art, including paintings by Rembrandt. By the way, interestingly, in Jezuïetenberg there are multiple copies of works of this famous artist. During the Second world war, the Jesuits were expelled from the caves, and their place of residence was captured by the Nazis (which, incidentally, actively persecuted the Jesuits).
Although the order returned to Jezuïetenberg after the war, soon there was again evicted when NATO decided to use this region as their military headquarters. When the Jesuits eventually completely left Maastricht in 1968, control, and preservation of these caves rests on the shoulders of “Jezuïetenberg Foundation”.
In 1996 Jezuïetenberg was declared a national monument of the Netherlands and it is possible that the cave will make the list of UNESCO world heritage. Although this is only one of many thousands of quarries that exist in the world, but hardly any can still be found frescoes and sculptures.
It remains to admit that Jezuïetenberg cave century and a half of keeping secrets that hardly anyone will be able to solve.
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