Hel is a magnet for holidaymakers who are attracted by its sandy beaches and forest trails, which bear scant resemblance to the fiery pit of eternal damnation its name evokes in the minds of English speakers.
The popular bus route 666 to Hel in northern Poland is being changed to 669, after long-running complaints by religious conservatives in the country.
Route 666 – used by those heading for sandy beaches in the resort of Hel – has become a bit of a joke for some, including English-speaking tourists. But some religious conservatives claim the route is “spreading Satanism”.
The Bible identifies 666 as the “number of the beast”, and Hel is just one “l” short of the English word “hell”.
Following the complaints, bus company PKS Gdynia announced: “We are turning the last 6 upside down!”
The bus to the town of Hel on Poland’s Baltic coast has long been popular with tourists. But some Christian conservatives have protested against the use of a number signifying the devil on a bus leading to a place that sounds like the word “hell” in English.
Local media said the bus company had acted under pressure from Christian groups that had pushed for the change, but was already thinking of returning to the old number amid a public outcry.
Fronda.pl, a conservative Catholic website, called for a change in 2018, declaring that some people thought it was “an innocent joke” but it was “hard not to consider it a malicious inspiration”. Fronda labelled the use of the number as “Satanic stupidity”.
“Hell is the negation of humanity. It is eternal death and suffering,” the group wrote in an article. “You can only laugh at this reality if you simply don’t understand what it is.” “To present the reality of eternal damnation as amusing in any way is just plain stupidity.”- Fronda
The new 669 summer service will start running on June 24, but Szwaczyk did not rule out a return for the 666 if passengers demand it.
“If in fact the response is large and strong enough to restore the line 666, it seems to me that we will listen to our passengers and change this number,” he said.
The line has operated as 666 since 2006.