With today’s travel technology, it’s hard to imagine a place you’re not allowed to visit. Yet, there are still places that cannot be (legally) visited as they are cut off for various reasons. Places such as secret military bases, forbidden islands, fragile natural landmarks, and even sites closed due to paranormal activities are off limits to regular people. Take a virtual tour with us on these 25 Forbidden Places You’re Not Allowed To Visit.
Vatican Secret Archives, Vatican
Containing important state papers, correspondence, papal account books, and many other significant documents which the church has accumulated over the centuries, the Vatican Secret Archives are among the most forbidden places in the world. In fact, it was not until 1881 when Pope Leo XIII finally allowed at least some researchers to view some of the contents. These days, only highly qualified scholars may apply for entry. Even then, there are very strict limitations to what accepted scholars can actually view.
North Sentinel Island, India
The North Sentinel Island is one of the Andaman Islands that politically belong to India. The island is known for picturesque pristine beaches and stunning nature. However, the native tribes are extremely hostile and violent toward any outsiders. They reject any contact with other people and have been even known to kill several intruders. No wonder the access to the island is strictly forbidden.
Lascaux Caves, France
Located in Southwestern France, the Lascaux Caves contain 900 of the best preserved examples of prehistoric art. The caves have been banned to the public since 1963 as they have been menaced by a series of unexplained fungal invasions. Any human presence in the caves is regarded as potentially destructive. Normally, the caves are entered only once a week by a security guard for a few minutes at a time.
Area 51, Nevada, US
Hidden in the middle of the barren Nevada desert, Area 51 is a secret American military base whose purpose has always been unknown to the public. What goes on inside the base has led to decades of wild speculations, including the famous alien conspiracies. However, it likely serves as a site for development and testing of experimental aircrafts and weapons. One thing is for sure though – whatever happens in Area 51 is not meant to be seen by the public as the access is strictly forbidden.
A small volcanic island located in the Vestmannaeyjar Archipelago off the southern coast of Iceland, Surtsey is one of the youngest islands in the world – it was formed in a volcanic eruption that lasted from 1963 to 1967. The island cannot be accessed by anyone except for a small group of scientists. This serves to allow for natural ecological succession to take place without outside interference.
Room 39, North Korea
Room 39 is a secret organization associated with the dynasty of the North Korean dictators, the Kim family. The department is believed to finance the family and top party officials with business ventures — some legitimate and some not — that include counterfeiting and drug-smuggling. The actual Room 39 is thought to be located inside a ruling Workers’ Party building in the capital city of Pyongyang.
Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Norway
Hidden deep inside a mountain on a remote island in the Svalbard Archipelago, halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole, the Global Seed Vault is a secure seed bank whose purpose is to preserve a variety of plant seeds in case of a regional or global crisis. The facility has a capacity to store about 4.5 million samples of seeds; it currently contains about 1 million of them.
Woomera Test Range, Australia
Also known as the Woomera Prohibited Area, the Woomera Test Range is the largest land testing range in the world. Covering over 122,000 sq km (over 46,000 sq mi), it is located in South Australia, about 450 km (280 mi) north west of Adelaide. Declared a prohibited area in 1947, the test range is closed to the public. However, the site also features a museum and several other attractions that can be visited by tourists.
Metro 2, Russia
Also known by the codename D-6, Metro 2 is a secret underground system that was built parallel to the official underground system in Moscow, Russia. Built during the reign of Stalin, Metro 2 allegedly connects several important governmental and administrative institutions, including the Kremlin, the General Staff Academy, Zheltovsky’s house and Vnukovo-2 Airport.
Coca-Cola Vault, Georgia, US
The legendary secret formula for Coca Cola, one of the world’s most highly regarded trade secrets, is kept in the Coca-Cola Vault in the World of Coca-Cola Museum in Atlanta, Georgia. A very closely guarded and best-kept secret, the formula for Coca Cola represents over 125 years of history, special moments, memories, and the timeless appeal associated with the iconic beverage.
Snake Island, Brazil
Officially known as Ilha de Queimada Grande, the Island of Snakes is located off the coast of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Notorious for an extremely high occurrence of snakes, the island is the only place on Earth where the feared Golden Lancehead Viper lives. The snake’s venom is so powerful that it actually melts human flesh. It comes as no surprise that the Brazilian government decided to ban visitors from here.
White´s Gentleman Club, England, UK
Located on St. James’s Street in Central London, White’s Gentleman Club is the most traditional and exclusive gentleman’s club in London and possibly also in the world. The club was established in 1693 and has been maintaining its male-only policy up to these days. Some of the current members of this highly prestigious club are, for example, Prince Charles, Prince William, Tom Stacey etc.
North Brother Island, New York, US
Situated in New York City’s East River, the North Brother Island is one of the most famous forbidden abandoned places in New York. The island has a gloomy history. Originally established as quarantine hospital, it was home to the infamous Typhoid Mary (the first American identified as a carrier of typhoid fever) before it became a rehab center for teenage drug addicts. Now, the abandoned island serves as a bird sanctuary, and people are not allowed to visit it.
Spy Museum, China
The Jiangsu National Security Education Museum in Nanjing, Eastern China, is a spy museum known for being officially closed to foreign visitors. According to the director of the museum, the exhibited items, such as collections of tiny pistols, miniature cameras, and concealed wiretaps may be “too sensitive for foreign eyes.” Chinese visitors are allowed to the museum, but they cannot take any photos inside.
Bank of England Vaults, England, UK
Located on the Threadneedle Street in the City of London, the Bank of England Vaults contain one fifth of the world’s gold. The vaults hold an incredible 5,134 tons of gold, worth an estimated £172 billion ($248 billion). The vaults are accessed using traditional metal keys but there are electronic safeguards too to make sure that only authorized people get inside.
Dulce Base, New Mexico, US
Found in Northern New Mexico, close to the Colorado border, Dulce a small town with just about 2,600 (mostly Native American) inhabitants. However, the town is believed to be home to a giant underground facility where unimaginable experiments and technologies are developed. The Dulce Base is alleged to be a huge subterranean compound that houses human-animal hybrids, human-alien hybrids, and extremely advanced technologies.
Hidden in the Southern Ural Mountains in Russia, Mezhgorya is a closed town that is reportedly home to a nuclear missile site. The town is surrounded by two battalions to ward off anyone who tries to enter the vicinity. While it has not been officially talked about by officials, the base is believed to contain automatic missiles which can be activated remotely.
Chichen Itza Pyramid, Mexico
One of the best preserved and most famous Mayan ruins in Mexico, Chichen Itza is an archaeological site and very popular tourist attraction located in Yucatan. The site attracts about 1.5 million visitors every year. However, the most iconic feature of the site, the El Castillo pyramid, is no longer open to the public. It was closed in 2006 when a woman died after tumbling down on her descent.
Mount Weather, Virginia, US
Located deep inside a mountain, just 74 km (46 mi) from Washington DC, Mount Weather is a secret underground military base that serves as a major relocation site for the highest level of civilian and military officials in case of a national disaster. Equipped with everything from cafeterias and hospitals to power plants and a mass transit system, the base is protected by warning signs, high chain link fences, razor wire, and armed guards.
Heard Island, Australia
One of the most remote places in the world, Heard Island lies between Madagascar and Antarctica but politically, it belongs to Australia. Home to two active volcanoes, the island is composed of limestone and debris from volcanic eruptions. In 1996, the Australian government made a management plan, forbidding any entry without permission to preserve the fragile natural environment of the island.
Pravcicka Brana, Czech Republic
One of the most famous natural landmarks of the Czech Republic, Pravcicka Brana is the largest natural sandstone arch in Europe and a popular tourist spot. Since 1982, visitors have not been allowed on the arch to reduce erosion but the process of disintegration continues and geologists suggest the arch might soon collapse, just like the Azure Window (former iconic landmark of Malta) did earlier this year.
Poveglia Island, Italy
A small island located between Venice and Lido in Northern Italy, Poveglia is a forbidden place with a dark and twisted past. Once used as a plague quarantine station, the tiny island is said to have hosted over 160,000 infected people living out their final days and hours there. It is actually believed that about 50% of the soil consists of human remains. Later on, a mental hospital was opened on the island where many patients were allegedly tortured and killed. No wonder the island is now strictly off-limits to visitors.
Tomb of Qin Shi Huang, China
The tomb of China’s first Emperor and the founder of the Qin Dynasty, Qin Shi Huang is buried deep beneath a hill in Central China. The burial complex consists of a complicated network of underground caverns filled with all the things the emperor would need in the afterlife, including clay reproductions of his army, known as the Terracotta Army. The tomb itself, however, is yet to be uncovered; it is possible that the Chinese government might never allow the excavation of the tomb, choosing to respect the ancient burial rites.
Diego Garcia, British Overseas Territory, UK
Located just south of the equator in the Central Indian Ocean, Diego Garcia is an atoll that looks like the perfect tropical retreat with white sand beaches and turquoise waters. However, after forcibly evicting residents from the atoll in 1973, the British government built a large military base on Diego Garcia and declared it off-limits to all but official personnel.
Bhangarh Fort, India
Situated in the Indian state of Rajasthan, the Bhangarh Fort is a 17th-century fort that is considered one the most haunted places in India. The Indian government officially declared the fort as a haunted place and imposed strict rules and regulation for entry. Tourists are not allowed to visit the fort from sunset to sunrise and locals say whoever has tried to break the rule was never found after that.
Photos: Feature image: Fcb981, El Castillo Stitch 2008 Edit 1, CC BY-SA 3.0 (text added), 25. de:User:Maus-Trauden, Sistinehall, CC BY-SA 3.0, 24. Dr. K. Vedhagiri, Havelock, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, CC BY-SA 3.0, 23. Prof saxx, Lascaux painting, CC BY-SA 3.0, 22. Tim1337, Area51 gate, CC BY-SA 3.0, 21. CanonS2, Surtsey Island1, CC BY-SA 2.0, 20. Mark Scott Johnson from Sydney, Australia, Kumsusan Memorial Palace, Pyongyang, CC BY 2.0, 19. Bjoertvedt, Svalbard seed vault IMG 8751, CC BY-SA 3.0, 18. Kr.afol at the English language Wikipedia, Woomera-warning-sign, CC BY-SA 3.0, 17. Anakin, Moscow metro D6 station platform, CC BY 3.0, 16-15. wikimedia commons (public domain), 14. PAUL FARMER, White’s Club St James’s Street – geograph.org.uk – 1375768, CC BY-SA 2.0, 13. reivax from Washington, DC, USA, Riverside Hospital North Brother Island, CC BY-SA 2.0, 12. wikimedia commons (public domain), 11. Diliff, Bank of England Building, London, UK – Diliff, CC BY-SA 3.0, 10. pixabay (public domain) (not actual base), 9. Pesotsky, Mezhgorye, Republic of Bashkortostan, CC BY 3.0, 8. Fcb981, El Castillo Stitch 2008 Edit 1, CC BY-SA 3.0, 7-6. wikimedia commons (public domain), 5. Pudelek, Pravčická brána (Prebischtor) – by Pudelek, CC BY-SA 4.0, 4. Chris 73 / Wikimedia Commons, Poveglia Closeup of Hospital, CC BY-SA 3.0, 3. see source, Terracotta Army-China2, CC BY-SA 3.0, 2. wikimedia commons (public domain), 1. Navjot Singh, Bhangarh Fort Entrance, CC BY-SA 3.0