Batman had one under his mansion outside Gotham. Osama bin Laden was found in one just in Pakistan. Underground lairs are an integral part of pop culture fantasy and real-life current events — but whether they're fake or real, they're always cloaked in intrigue. And frankly, they're cool as hell.

They're also increasingly common. In a Vanity Fair article this month, we learned that in cities where historic preservation is a major issue — like London — more and more homeowners are expanding downward, digging out space under their Victorian homes for "underground recreation centres, golf-simulation rooms, squash courts, bowling alleys, hair salons, ballrooms, and car elevators to the underground garages for their vintage Bentleys."

In other cases, the landscape itself dictates the terms of a lair — for example, in some examples below, you'll see entire buildings carved into the face of boulders and cliffs. And often, an underground space is the perfect place to store sensitive materials — whether it's vintage photos or internet servers.

Below, you'll find a collection of lairs that house everything from luxury homes to public fire brigades.


14 Underground Lairs Fit For a Mega-Villain

14 Underground Lairs Fit For a Mega-Villain

Villa Vals, a home in Switzerland, was built into a mountainside because the village maintains strict rules about homes that disturb the natural beauty around the Alpine valley.


14 Underground Lairs Fit For a Mega-Villain

14 Underground Lairs Fit For a Mega-Villain

This is an entire colony of subterranen homes — also in Switzerland.


14 Underground Lairs Fit For a Mega-Villain

14 Underground Lairs Fit For a Mega-Villain

Pionen Data Centre is Sweden's largest ISP, located 100 feet below the ground in Stockholm. It can withstand the impact of a hydrogen bomb.

Image credit: Atlas Obscura


14 Underground Lairs Fit For a Mega-Villain

This is an abandoned bunked off the coast of Senegal, just south of Dakar. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, it is known to locals as "la caverne."

Image credit: Atlas Obscura


14 Underground Lairs Fit For a Mega-Villain

Should the United States befall a nuclear attack, the government will takeover a fallout shelter in the basement of West Virginia's five star Greenbrier Resort. This bunker was kept secret until 1992.

Image credit: Atlas Obscura


14 Underground Lairs Fit For a Mega-Villain

Wolf's Lair was Hitler's secret hideout in the woods Poland. It served as the Eastern European headquarters for Nazi forces.

Image credit: Wikipedia


14 Underground Lairs Fit For a Mega-Villain

This was Osama bin Laden's secret compound in Abbottabad.

Image credit: Faisal Mahmood/Reuters

 


14 Underground Lairs Fit For a Mega-Villain

This 10,000 square foot former limestone mine is where Corbis stores all its photos, from the iconic image of Rosa Parks sitting on a bus to a picture of Einstein sticking out of his tongue. The facility is kept at 7 degrees Celsius and 37 per cent relative humidity at all times.


14 Underground Lairs Fit For a Mega-Villain

This is Norway's Olavsvern Naval Base. Carved into the side of a mountain, the now-inactive military facility has 145,000 square feet of above-ground real estate, and an additional 270,000 square feet of bombproof space inside the mountain.


14 Underground Lairs Fit For a Mega-Villain

14 Underground Lairs Fit For a Mega-Villain

The Palm Springs Elrod House — and its retractable glass windows — were actually featured in Diamonds are Forever. That's some respectable secret lair street cred right there. It was designed by John Lautner, the architect behind many of LA's most notable homes from the 1960s and 70s.


14 Underground Lairs Fit For a Mega-Villain

14 Underground Lairs Fit For a Mega-Villain

Believe it or not, this is a super energy efficient fire department built into the Italian Alps.


14 Underground Lairs Fit For a Mega-Villain

Live in the Waterwood Estate in Vermillion, Ohio and you pretty much never have to go outside. Seated on a 160 acre plot, it's made up of a bunch of interconnecting glass pods that mask amenities like five kitchens, an indoor pool, and a helipad. Privacy to the max!


14 Underground Lairs Fit For a Mega-Villain

14 Underground Lairs Fit For a Mega-Villain

To permeate the interior of Point Place in Laguna Beach, California, you enter through a street level hydraulic lift. Then you have to walk through an underground passage way to access the actual house, which is not visible from the road.


14 Underground Lairs Fit For a Mega-Villain

The Chulo Canyon Cave House in Bisbee, Arizona is another super private lair. Built into the side of a boulder, it sits on 37 acres of land, which also house a guest house and a standalone library building—which houses a full-on panic room. Jodie Foster would approve.