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What a great question and one I’m sure many people have had.
Yes, hell is a real place. Jesus talked about the dangers of hell more than He talked about heaven. In the Sermon on the Mount alone (Matt. 5-7), He talked about it numerous times. In Luke 16, with the story of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus gives us a great deal of detail about hell and its finality. The rich man begged for even a drop of water on his tongue and when he realized there would be no relief for him, begged Abraham to send someone to warn his brothers before they ended up there, too.
We must also ask ourselves why Jesus would have come and suffered the horrible death He endured unless there was something very real from which we needed to be saved.
As far as when God created hell, I don’t believe the Bible makes any reference to when He created either heaven or hell. It appears they both predated the creation account. But Matthew 25.41 says it was a place prepared for the devil and his angels.
I hope that helps.
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