I attended a tour of the Catacombs in Indianapolis as part of a press tour.
I was planning my way for a road trip through Indiana, specifically to head down to their Cave Trail on a much needed adventure when I saw a photo of Catacombs below Indianapolis. BLOWN AWAY. Let that just sink in, there is a Catacombs tour underneath the big city of Indianapolis! Everyone I talked to couldn’t believe it! They had NO IDEA there was a historic tunnel system underneath the City Market. This isn’t the type of catacombs you would expect to tour in Europe. There are no bones of any kind, but rather a historic basement in Tomlinson Hall built in the late 1800’s. If you’re intrigued read on!
To understand what’s underground below the city in Indianapolis you need to see a little bit above ground first. Smack dab in the middle of downtown is the City Market. This has been the bustling scene of Indianapolis for well over 100 years. In fact the entire area was covered with throngs of people, wagons and horses. People would come down to go shopping, have meetings, and they still do today!
History Still Standing:
There was a fire in the 1958 that burned down portions of the area including the original Tomlinson Hall. For whatever reason the basement was left as is and the current workplace built over top. You can still see original structures like this one above the plaza in front of the City Market.
It makes a great photo spot! I LOVE the old brick that was used and the fact that they left this entryway as a reminder of what used to be.
Having never been to Indianapolis before I didn’t actually know what City Market was. When I walked inside I was quite surprised! It was full of fantastic places to eat and a level of chairs lining glass windows all the way through the building! It was so lovely!! I know where I will be stopping in at the next time I’m in the city!
Since I visited in the winter months I had the luxury of a private tour with Indiana Landmarks down into the Catacombs. However they have tours open to the public in the warmer months although you need to pre-purchase your tickets here! I can imagine they fill up quickly!
Unfortunately because this is a historic undeveloped area it is not accessible for wheelchairs, canes, strollers, or walkers. You’ll need to be able to walk down a flight of stairs with close toed shoes as there are uneven surfaces. For those physically able it is not a spooky or even small area – it’s lined with vaulted archways and plenty of space to move around. It is, however, old with good chances of being musty but I didn’t particularly notice anything bothersome.
Inside the Catacombs:
The tour meets in the City Market where you will walk next door into a sleek busy workplace. Just a few steps down some stairs you’ll walk into a starkly different environment – it’s amazing! Shortly after stepping off the last stair you’ll find yourself on a dirt floor lined with plywood to walk on that leads you over into the amazing historic basement.
The Catacombs aren’t quite as mysterious as they seem. It essentially is just a basement to a historic building that has predominately been used as storage over the years. Although they currently do have functions down there where the space can be rented out, and if you’re lucky, you might be in town for a day that they are offering a tour and learn far more than I’ve shared here. Not to mention that the area makes for some dramatic killer photos!
It really is a breathtaking view and made me want to just run around and explore every nook and cranny! I had to stay with my tour guide but I was just fascinated looking around at such an amazing architecture right below the city! If you’ve drive through Indianapolis there’s a good change you drove right past the area and didn’t even realize it! Normally when I’m on a tour I try to type as many notes as I can into my phone but this time I couldn’t help but just stare around me and take in how amazing this structure was!
As with any place underground the tunnels here are much cooler which is why it’s so great for storage! Especially for storing food before there were refrigerators available! As an adventurous girl that likes to explore nooks and crannies of seemingly unfound or little known places I was in heaven in the Indianapolis Catacombs!! I VERY much appreciate the effort of those who have taken such great care to not only preserve this history but also understanding that much of the public is curious to go underground and visit it as well! I applaud them for opening up so many tours during the year to take small groups down into the Catacombs and learn about the history of the area that many people have no clue about!
Although most of the tunnel area in the Catacombs tour is a relatively clean red brick area the growth here in this “hallway” made the Catacombs look even COOLER! I couldn’t help but be drawn to it and take a few extra pictures! There is not dripping water or moisture it seems of any kind – it’s really quite a dry area.
Naturally one wants to know if such an amazing underground location is haunted -whether or not you believe in ghosts! Although it seems that the Catacombs are relatively a ghost free location they do leave this set of chairs out after a photo taken seems to have a ghost sitting in a chair. I didn’t feel spooked while on the tour but I’ll leave this one for you to explore yourself!
Whether you love exploring seemingly abandoned places, admiring incredible architecture, thrive on learning about the history that precedes us, or simply want something unique and unusual to do, I definitely recommend the Indianapolis Catacombs tour underneath City Market. You won’t be disappointed! The history here is irreplaceable so please please be responsible and don’t try to sneak in! You can get plenty of photos on the tour or line up your own event and rent out the space!
Other Unique & Historical Things to Do in Indianapolis: