European Sewer Tours

From: Edward Keogh <>

Subject: Sewer Tours


Date: Friday, 5 October, 2012, 16:05

Other Sewer Tours, European and British:After posting my blog a friend sent me this information about European sewer tours.  Here is the link and the info he sent      Want to to take a European Sewer Tour? It’s simple, fun, inexpensive, and smelly! Here’s how…

<strong>PARIS</strong><strong> </strong>

Visit des Egouts de Paris Entrance: Ticket kiosk at the south end of the Pont de l’Alma, opposite 93 Quai d’ OrsayHours: Saturday to Wednesday from 11AM to 5PM in the Summer, 4 PM in the winter (closed for 3 weeks in January for annual sewer cleaning)Cost: €3.50 (less for kids ‘n old people)Public Transport: Metro- Alma-Marceau station Bus: Pont de l’ Alma (lines: 42, 63, 80, 92) RER: Pont de l’ Alma station (line C)Phone: 01 53 68 27 81Minitel (the old French phone monopoly’s proto-internet): 3615 code PARIS then “ENV” and “EGOUTS” Call in advance to arrange for a tour in English by one of Paris’ sewer workers. A more comprehensive English tour is available monthly from independent tour company, this engaging tour costs around €13 (including admission) and lasts for an hour and a half. Check their website for tour details, but usually occurs the last Sunday of the month. The Paris Sewer Museum is the most comprehensive sewer experience for tourists anywhere. Walking over channels of real French poop, the visitor is bombarded with detailed information about this 2000 km system while experiencing it firsthand. Crowds line up before 11, but settle down later. But beware- the Sewer Museum Gift Shop- a must for any connosewer- closes promptly a half-hour before closing. If you are lingering, consider skipping ahead and pick up a T-shirt (€15), some postcards (€. 50), and even a commemorative medallion (€2) celebrating the Egouts.   BRUSSELSMusée Des Égouts Located: in the Toll House at Porte d Anderlecht 1000 BrusselsTours: Wednesdays (except holidays) at 9AM, 11AM, 1PM, and 3PM. Group visits (10-20 people) can be arranged on other days.Cost: €3 for most people, €2 for younguns, and free if you live in Brussels and have an ID card.Phone: 02/513 85 87Public Transport: tram 18, bus 47 – but a nice walk from the Gran Platz and central train station.


Less slick than its counterpart in Paris, the Brussels sewers you see are less prettied-up and are more realistic. Also on view is an underground river that used to be an open sewer running through through the city. Now it’s hidden and just dumps the shit in the North Sea. Tours are given in French and Flemish (aka Dutch) If, like me, your French is only good for saying, “un,” waving some euros around and pointing at a pastry, you’re in luck. All the exhibits are labelled in English as well. Our guide also spoke a fair amount of English for our benefit once he saw we were interested. Just don’t start yelling, “merde” a lot.


The Third Man” Vienna is blessed to have two sewer tours that both revolve around a really fat man (Orson Welles) running around a stink hole. To fully enjoy the sewers of Vienna, you should be familiar with the 1948 film, The Third Man, directed by Carol Reed and starring Orson Wells. Not only does the film capture the bizarre nature of living in an occupied, half destroyed city at the onset of the Cold War, but proudly features the sewers of Vienna as a major player in the thriving black market at the time. If you are in Vienna and want to see the film, it plays late nights in the English language movie theatre near the Opera. <strong></strong>

<strong>THIRD MAN LOCATION TOUR</strong>

<strong></strong>Location: Meet tour guide wearing a red and white Austria Guide badge outside the Stadtpark U4 subway station’s main exit on the street Johannegasse.Times: Monday and Friday at 4PMCost: €16Public Transport: U4 underground to Stadtpark. The English language tour is given by a native film historian who guides you through a myriad of locations featured in The Third Man. The whole thing lasts 2 to 2.5 hours – 1.5 hours of which are in the sewers and along the banks of the underground Vienna River. Wear comfortable footwear that won’t slip easily on a wet floor, and bring a flashlight – or better yet, grab one of the cool candle torches they pass out on the tour. THE RETURN OF THE THIRD MANThe “official” City of Vienna TourLocation: Buy tickets at the trailer in the middle of Esperantopark in Karlsplatz at the corner of Operngasse and Friedrichstraße.Tours: Daily in the summer, Sun.-Tues. from November to March. 9:30AM to 4:30PM, tours every half-hour.Cost: €6.50 for adults, €2.10 for studentsPhone: 01/585 64 55Public transport: U2 underground to KarlsplatzNOTE: As of November 2002, the sewers have to be closed for urgent and extensive repair work but that the tours will recommence when this is completed (information: + 43 1 7951493119) Tours last 25 minutes and are usually in German. English tours are available once or twice a day. Check in at the ticket booth or call for times. This tour only covers a much smaller part of the sewer network, but is hosted by actual sewer workers. Not only do they talk about what it is like to work below the streets, but also they conduct a multi-media extravaganza loosely tied to the movie. There’s special lighting effects, video projection and someone dressed like Orson Welles who shoots a gun at you. Really.<strong></strong>


1 Tour, 1 Museum FOREIGN VISITORS SEWER GALLERY ENTRANCE(Cizineck Vstup Do Kanalizace Pod Orlojem)Location: Old Town Hall in the main plaza (look at map for name of plaza and public transport information)Hours: 9AM-4PM most daysCost: 10 Kr. (about 30 cents) Go into the Old Town Hall to the left of the Astronomical Clock. Head to the back of the room and ask for someone to open up the sewers for you. If they look confused, show them the Czech name. The older ladies who work there are sometimes reluctant to take you down there and ask you to come back when one of the old men is working. There is no sign announcing this tour, so just be persistent. They will pull a skeleton key out of a drawer and take you outside, around the clock to an anonymous door and lead you down into the gallery.  This gallery was built in 1906 when the “most modern sewer system in the Austro-Hungarian Empire” was completed to show off to foreign dignitaries. Now you can get that same special treatment for a sawbuck. EKOTECHNICKE MUSEUMLocation: 6 Papirenska, PragueTours: Weekends from 10AM to 4:30PMCost: 70 Kr (about $2.50)website: www.ecotechnickemuseum.czPhone: +420 2 33 32 26 98How to Get There: This museum is a bit off the beaten path, since it is located in an old sewer processing facility at the edge of the old city. There is a way to get there without the 1/2 mile walk, but this way is easier to describe. Take tram 25 out of the city to the last stop (Jugosavskych Parzyland – or as I say, “Yugoslavian Partyland”) and walk directly north towards the river. Make a right on Papirenska and walk past the odd little riverside garden homes until you enter an old industrial park. The museum is on the left in the old building with two smoke stacks. The Ecotechnicke Museum is housed in the first sewage treatment plant of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, built in 1907 and used until 1967. On this site, at the end of the city’s sewer system, giant machines would mechanically separate the sewage before dumping it in the local river. The museum shows you how this pioneering work was done. Only some of the staff speaks English, so it may be wise to telephone in advance to see when they will be there.


Cloaca Maxima – Ancient Roman SewersLocation: Foro Romano (Roman Forum)Cost: FreePublic Transport: subway Line B exit at Colloseum and walk west down Via Imperiali. The good news is that you can see the world’s oldest functioning sewer (about 2500 years old) for free. The bad news is that you can’t go in it. (Ooze did. It was only the most amazing sewer of all time.) There are three good places to see it. It’s worth it to get an idea of how the system worked, and how it continues to with hardly any mantainence. Those Romans were pretty crafty. From the Via Imperiali, you can look down into the more recent excavations and see the top of the Cloaca, and the broken remains of other sewers that run through the forum. If you enter the forum itself from the Romulus and Remus entrance around the corner, and walk down to where the Temple of Mercury once stood, you will find a door leading into an ancient wall marked, “Cloaca Maxima.” The mouth though is where you can see it best– Cloaca Maxima MouthLocation: on the banks of the Tiber river at Ponte PalatinoCost: Free A short hop from the Mouth of Truth (below) will take you to the bridge Ponte Palantino over the Tiber River. Looking out down river, you can see the opening of the sewer. You can trot down the stairs and walk along the riverbank to get closer. You may not want to go down there alone since there might be transients (aka evil Gypsies from myth and legend) living under the bridge. Some even camp on top of the sewer pipe. They didn’t bother Ooze. Not even to wave cardboard in our faces and take our wallets. Go figure. Mouth of Truth by CampidoglioLocation: It’s one of the most popular tourist stops in Rome. It’s outside a church. You’ll see plenty of Americans. Figure it out.Cost: FreePublic Transport: Line B to Circus Maximus. Walk towards the far end of the park and the river. Locals believe that if you stick your hand in the mouth of this ancient face, and you are lying, it will bite your hand off. Most people don’t realize they are sticking their hands in an ancient sewer grate. Suckers.  LONDONBirthplace of the Modern Sewer There are no tours of London’s Victorian sewers, but you can visit a small part of them at the Abbey Mills Pumping Station, Newham, which began pumping sewage as part of the Joseph Bazalgette-engineered sewer system in the mid-1800s.  Abbey Mills, known as “the cathedral to sewage” would lift sewage from North London 40ft so that it could flow out of town several miles before being emptied back into the Thames. The tour happens annually in May and numbers are strictly limited.  To take part, you’ll need to send Thames Water a message and they’ll pass on your details to the organiser. See

<a href=”” target=”_blank”> </a>Bust of Sir Joseph Bazalgette Location: Victoria Embankment – far west endCost: FreeSir Joseph Bazalgette built 82 miles of ‘interception sewers’ along the banks of the Thames taming London’s Byzantine disease ridden sewers. Known as the Victoria Embankment on the north side and Albert Embankment on the south, the muddy flood-prone banks became parks on the top and sewers and subways underneath. Bagazelle’s bust looks proudly over his cholera-stopping handiwork. Of course, it seems like if you crossed the street AND looked both ways in 1888, the Victorians would have probably erected a satue of you.  London DungeonLocation: 28/34 Tooley Street Website: (complete directions, etc.)Cost: £12.95 (~$20) If you really want to spend twenty bucks on a tourist trap, please do. I didn’t have the cash, (no freebies for ooze) but there’s a simulated Victorian sewer ride where you witness an animatronic Jack the Ripper kill a lady. Probably the only regular sewer tour of sorts in the city. Fleet StreetLocation: Fleet Street in the central business district The Fleet River meandered through the heart of London dumping into the Thames. As London’s population grew, it became a notoriously filthy craphole known as the Fleet Ditch. By the mid-18th century the city created a sewer by covering over the river and creating Fleet Street. Today you can walk along the street and imagine it as a big open sewer. The Crossness Pumping StationLocation: Belvedere Road, Abbey Wood, London SE2 Website: £3Note: Only open by appointment only, on 24 days of the year. Call 020 8311 3711 on Tuesday or Sunday between 9.00am and 4.00pm. See website for more details. The Crossness Pumping Station was built by Sir Joseph Bazalgette of Victoria embankment fame. The building features some nifty ornamental ironwork and still contains the four original pumping engines used to keep the system flowing. The group responsible for the restoration of this landmark hopes to establish a Museum of Sanitation Engineering. [Photo from their website. Ooze has not yet visited site.] MANCHESTER, ENGLANDFilthy Town!England’s second largest city rose to prominence as an industrial powerhouse in the 19th century. Growth and unfettered capitalism combined to create a deadly stew of filth. The city is currently experiencing a post-industrial renaissance turning its old infrastructure —canals, trains, and factories— into picturesque views from expensive new lofts. Manchester Museum of Science and IndustryLocation: Liverpool Road, Castlefield Manchester M3 4FP.Telephone: 0161-832 1830 (24hr information line)Hours: Open every day except Sundays and Bank Holidays from 10.00am-5.00pm.Website: £4.50 Not many museum exhibits start with a life-size diorama of a cholera funeral, but the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry spares the B.S. Sewers save lives. The museum devoted the basement of the world’s oldest passenger train station to the study of sewerage in Manchester from Roman times to the modern age. No other museum or tour explains the whole sewerage process –toilet facilities, water supply, piping and purification– as clearly or completely. Unfortunately you do not get a peek at a real working Victorian sewer, you have to settle for a walk through a simulated sewer (crafted from the bricks of an old one) with fake poo glazed on the walls, piped in sounds of scurrying rats, and a pumped-in odour more reminiscent of cat urine than sewer. Good for sewerphobics, (which seems to include most of the British public) bad for sewer enthusiasts. Temple of Convenience Location: In the middle of Great Bridgewater Street at Oxford Rd.Hours: 12 -11pmCost: Free The Temple of Convenience started life as an anonymous underground public toilet with stars in its eyes. Today it’s a tiny underground pub. A bar, a few seats, some Belgian beer and a jukebox crowd the tiled floor. Ironically, it’s own toilets are reported to be quite filthy, but I wouldn’t know. Pubs close early in England, and I got there too late. I urinated into the canal for good measure.  nt available at the Sussex History website. Ooze has yet to visit. <strong></strong>

<strong>BARCELONA, SPAIN</strong>

<strong></strong>Museu de ClavegueramLocation: Pg. de St. Joan, 98. The museum enterance is right off the street in a little modernist building that looks like a busstop. Metro Stop: Verdaguer Phone: 93 457 65 50 Hours: Tue-Su 9am-2pmCost: €1.20Website: -They recently rebuilt their site in java, so this link might not call up the official web page directly. You can always go to the main website, click on English and look under, “Directories » Museums” to find the Museum del Clavegueram entry. Catalonia was under the thumb of the central powers in Madrid for hundreds of years. When the fascist dictator Franco finally died in the mid 70’s, natives were finally able to reclaim their dying tongue–and they did so with the kind of passion a Quebecois would be envious of. Unfortunately, it was only after I was on my way that three words, tancat per reformes, appeared under the heading, “comments” in the English section of their website. After a series of phone calls (to a wonderful Catalonian speaking machine) and fruitless visits to the museum itself did I discover the phrase means, “closed for repairs” –which the museum still is.  Lovely city though. When the facility is reformed, you’ll be able to see exhibits on the city’s sewer history, ramble through a big chunk of them dug up during construction for the 1992 Olympic games, and make an appointment to see the real thing. UPDATE: For a good view of the Barcelona sewer, see a scarecrow-like Christian Bale wade through Catalonian poo in The Machinist. Interestingly, the movie was shot to look like Los Angeles, but is in fact Barcelona. LA doesn’t have sewers nearly as cool. Museu d’Història de la CiutatCity History MueumLocation: in Plaza del Rei in the Barri Gotic. Hours: June-Sept. Tue-Sa 10am-8pm, Su 10am-2pm; Oct.-May Tue-Sa 10am-2pm and 4-8pm, Su 10am-2pm. Cost: €3.50 Note: Most displays are in Spanish and Catalan, but pamphlets are available in English. Missed the working sewers of Barcelona? Underneath the central part of the old city is an even more ancient roman town. Recently excavated and on display underneath the King’s Plaza, the museum displays a few ancient sewers that haven’t seen human waste in a millennium or so. When you fly 7000 miles to see a closed sewer, you take what you can get.<strong></strong>

<strong> HAMBURG, GERMANY</strong>

Abwasser- und Sielmuseum(Sewer Museum)Location: 20359, Bei den St. Pauli-Landungsbrücken 49Telephone: 34 98 50 55Metro Stop: S1 Jetties U3Websites: (in German) Hamburg Magazine’City Planet’ Thanks to the magic of machine translation, Ooze was able to track down information on touring the Hamburg sewers. The Sielmuseum, from what I can gather, is a small collection of objects fished out of the sewers. Old buttons, bicycles, and even someone’s birth certificate. The other tour includes a tour in a sewer boat much like the ones you see in Paris. Do you know German? I don’t. These tours are only available by reservation in advance. German bureaucrats must hate e-mail since it took over a month to get rejected from both tours. They also have a JavaScript sign-up sheet that returns error after error. Ooze suggests you call first! Be an asshole and find someone there who speaks English to explain the whole thing to you. And let us know.

<strong>TRIER, GERMANY</strong>

Emperor’s BathsLocation: Kaiserthermen – southeast corner of city wallsHours: Apr.-Sept. 9am-6pm; Oct.-Mar. 9am-5pm.Cost: €2.15 “The oldest town in Germany, Trier was founded by the Romans during the reign of Augustus and had its heyday in the 4th century as the capital of the Western Roman Empire. Near the southeast corner of the city walls, the 4th-century Kaiserthermen (Emperor’s baths) are most memorable for their gloomy underground passages remaining from the ancient sewer network—avoid contact with the walls.” – Let’s Go Germany  I’m not sure what disease you catch from 1500 year-old crap, but I’m sure the helpful German guides will be happy to tell you. Ooze has not yet visited this site.


<strong>EMMEN, NETHERLANDS</strong>

Sewer Rats in “Natural Habitat”Noorder Dierenpark (a zoo in north Netherlands)Location: Hoofdstraat 18- Post bus 1010 – 7801 ba Emmen – a 2.5 hr. train ride from AmsterdamTel: +31(0)591 61 88 00Website:  Sewer rats are frequently seen in their natural habitat on many sewer tours. While interesting to watch, sewer men face the ever present danger of a rat attacks. The expression “dangerous like a cornered rat” didn’t start life as a cocky metaphor. If you want to get up close and personal with these sewer denizens, visit the Emmen Zoo. Behind Plexiglas in a drippy simulated sewer, you can watch these creatures frolic, bathe and live in a naturalistic way. Except for the faeces eating part. Even the permissive Dutch draw the line there. For more information, read the Rat &amp; Mouse Gazette review. note: Apparently in the summer, you can ride a “Sewer rat” roller coaster in Adventurpark Hellendoorn, a Dutch amusement park also in northern Netherlands.