Ever since the earlier years of civilization, people have always had a high degree of fascination to learn and do more. From creating fire with sticks to eventually establishing towns and cities, so much has already been achieved, thanks to people’s curiosity. There’s no other way to find out what’s behind the door without opening it first, after all.
Like many things, each door life brings in front of us leads to different opportunities. Upon seeing these opportunities, two choices are given to us: to enter the world that lies ahead of this door or to close and never open it again? Through the years, many doors have been opened, though some of them have also been shut closed just as quickly. Well, for today’s article, we’ll be talking about the latter, about the many places that have since become off-limits to the public. Along the way, we’ll also learn a thing or two about them, how they came to be, and why they ultimately became no-go zones.
Now then, without further ado, let’s get on with the article.
Area 51, Nevada
We’ve all watched more than a couple of movies or read a couple of books at this point, yes? While their stories often differ, one can’t deny that many of them often use the same plot points. One such example would be the existence of a top-secret research facility. Its presence may be known to a small portion of the world’s population, but its operations undoubtedly remain hidden behind closed doors. Well, in the real world, one such location that suits this description is Area 51.
Officially named the Homey Airport, Area 51 arguably takes credit for being one of the most recognized secrets in the world. While it’s documented as an open training range, little to no information is known about the things done within its premises. This has led many people, especially UFO enthusiasts, to propose a theory stating that Area 51 is used to dabble in extra-terrestrial-related endeavors – maybe aliens are kept in there, who knows, right?
Bohemian Grove, California
Traveling and witnessing the beauty of nature is undoubtedly a great thing to experience, especially after a long and tiring week. Besides spending some gas money for that trip, many of us also enjoy camping in the woods. Well, if you’re still looking for your campground of choice, here’s a heads up: this place shouldn’t be on the list of your options.
At the start, the Bohemian Club was mostly composed of newspapermen. Formed back in 1872, the club then had its first outdoor retreat in 1899. Their venue of choice was a campground in Monte Rio, a property that spanned 2,700 acres, often considered a “marvel of natural attractiveness.” A few years later, this small club became a large group composed of many of the world’s richest business magnates, artists, and even journalists. Every year, the Bohemian Club returns to Bohemian Grove for their annual retreat, and every year, no one really knows what they do or talk about there.
Room 39, North Korea
Like the stories we see in movies or read in books, the world has more than a few underground facilities. They are everywhere, but due to their high degree of secrecy, they often go unnoticed. One such example is the previously-mentioned Area 51. While its location is now known by many, the things done within its premises remain a secret. Well, such is also the case for this one. What sets it apart from Area 51, however, is that no one knows its location – or if it’s even a place!
Room 39 is composed of North Korea’s elite, many of whom are wealthy businessmen. It began operating around the ‘70s. For the most part, Room 39 is where its members do under-the-table transactions with the international market. With that said, more and more information continues to be discovered regarding Room 39. As much as that may be, though, there is still plenty to learn about it.
North Sentinel Island, India
Thanks to people’s passion for improving and learning, daily lives have become convenient for many of us in recent years. For example, just about everything we need can be accessed with a click of a button or a tap on the screen. From taking online classes to purchasing products on a website, who would’ve thought we could eventually get a little bit of everything all of the time? As impressive as that sounds, some people still prefer the old ways – and by old, we mean old, like from centuries ago.
While it is considered a part of India, North Sentinel Island’s people, the Sentinelese, don’t take too kindly with off-landers. Through the years, many people have tried establishing contact with the Sentinelese, gave gifts, too. Save for a few harmless interactions between the two parties, the island’s people would often shoo visitors away with a barrage of arrows. Due to that, North Sentinel Island has since become a no-go zone – save for occasional censuses.
US Bullion Depository, Kentucky
More often than not, we like to compare things with other things. While the two tend to be different, comparing them gives the people we’re talking to a new degree of understanding things. One such example would be describing something as safe and secured like Fort Knox.
This metaphor is linked with the US Bullion Depository, or as it is often known, Fort Knox. Built back in 1936, Fort Knox is a vault that stores many of the country’s prized treasures and possessions. In fact, among many things, it now reportedly keeps over a hundred million troy ounces of gold bullion! With that much wealth within its premises, it’s no surprise Fort Knox is filled to the brim with security protocols – like a 100-hour time lock set to its vault doors. While it has become a subject to several metaphors through the years, it’s still no easy task to be as safe as Fort Knox.
The Vatican Secret Archives, Vatican City
Libraries are havens for many of the world’s book lovers. While eBooks may have become the more convenient alternative in recent years, one can’t deny how great it feels to hold an actual book and flip through its pages. While most of them are open to the public, there is one particular library that prefers otherwise. That’s because the books it keeps detail many significant moments of the world’s history.
Although it opened its doors to the public, albeit briefly, last March 2020, the Vatican’s Secret Archives has mostly kept its doors closed. In fact, even the most interested scholars and historians can’t easily access its contents. To top it off, a book needs to be at least 75 years old before being stored in the Secret Archives. With that said, while it has undoubtedly sparked the interest of many people through the years, Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons book takes credit for giving the library a new level of popularity.
Chapel Of The Tablet At Our Lady Mary Of Zion, Ethiopia
Everyone loves a good adventure story, for sure. Besides the protagonist, the confidants, and the main antagonist, every memorable narrative in this genre has a valuable treasure. With that said, one such example would be Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. In the movie, the journey of getting to the Ark is a challenging one. In real life, not as much if you don’t count the fenced perimeter and the sentinel keeping guard.
For some time, the Ark of the Covenant has been kept secured deep within the premises of the Chapel of the Tablet at Our Lady Mary of Zion. First built around the 4th century CE, numerous investments have been made repairing and rebuilding the chapel – its current domed design was built around the ‘50s. With that said, visitors are only allowed to view the chapel from the outside. If you want to see the Ark for yourself, though, the only chance you’ll have in doing so is to become its next guardian.
For a place often described as romantic, it’s quite surprising that Italy also has a couple of interesting stories that don’t lean toward the romantic side of things.
While Venice takes credit for being the country’s go-to place for tourists, Poveglia is the exact opposite. A small island in the South Lagoon located between Lido and Venice, Poveglia was once filled with families. As the years went on, though, their population declined until no one lived there anymore. It was again filled with people not long after, but instead of a thriving town, Poveglia was used as a quarantine zone during the 14th century. While it has since become off-limits, recent endeavors were made in renovating at least one of its buildings. That effort, however, was left unfinished. The reason remains unknown, but many believe the cause to be something otherworldly – paranormal if you will.
Snake Island, Brazil
More often than not, a name can add a degree of mystery and intrigue to something. Two notable examples would be the previously-mentioned Room 39 and Area 51. With just a number, it kind of makes you wonder – curious, even – of what they have in store. Well, in other times, a name can also be enough to ward people away.
Such is the case with Brazil’s Snake Island. Located 93 miles away from Sao Paulo, Snake Island is known among locals as Ilha da Queimada Grande. It is a relatively small island, but if you consider that there’s at least one snake per square meter, Snake Island doesn’t feel so small anymore. Plus, the reptiles that call this place are usually half a meter long – and did we mention venomous? With that in mind, if you want to see the country’s exotic snakes, just go and visit the local zoos instead.
Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Norway
Many of the world’s greatest places to go to are often located near cities or at least easily accessed by people. From malls to beaches to camping grounds, there are many destinations worth spending a few credit card points on. With that said, along with a couple of attractions, these places also teach us a lesson or two. This one, for instance, reminds us to be more down to earth.
Located in Norway’s Svalbard, the country’s icy wilderness is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. As the name suggests, it stores many of the world’s seeds – over 930,000 types of food crops. With its storage keeping contents worth tens of thousands of years of agricultural history, it’s no surprise the Global Seed Vault is heavily guarded – though it has recently welcomed some visitors. Besides that, it also gives us a glimmer of hope that everyone in the world can work together without borders.
While the many investments made in science have helped us understand the world more, that doesn’t mean it’s no longer absent of any mystery. Despite the vast amounts of knowledge we now have about it, the world continues to surprise us. In fact, one such incredible moment took place in late 1963: the Earth welcomed another island.
During one particular boat trip, the ship’s cook saw dark smoke rising from the sea’s surface. Initially thought to be a shipwreck, the captain turned the fishing boat towards the direction of the smoke. As it turns out, it was a volcano erupting from beneath the deep blue. As a result, after three and a half years of erupting, the island of Surtsey was born. Since then, it has become a nature reserve for both scientists and researchers to study. Upon further investigation, however, they found a discovery: the island is slowly being eaten away by the wind and the waves’ erosion.
Pine Gap, Australia
We all know that one of America’s most top-secret places is Area 51. Well, for Australia, the credit for the most secretive facility undoubtedly goes to Pine Gap.
With its first whereabouts dating back to the late ‘60s, Pine Gap has since played a part in numerous global events. Even so, the facility remains a mystery to even most of Australia’s government leaders. Starting out with only a small workforce, Pine Gap now has about a thousand workers. For the most part, the facility is often used to gather much of the world’s data. If you’re asking how, it is through those golf ball-looking objects called radomes, which shields the satellite dishes within. On the functionality side of things, they can reportedly control spy satellites as far as 36,000 km away from the Earth. Who knows what they’ll do with all the data they’ve gathered through the years, right?
The Lascaux Caves, France
While it is often a must to think of the possibilities the future holds, it wouldn’t hurt to look back to the past every now and then. With that in mind, it’s no surprise many people often spend a couple of credit card points visiting museums and historical sites. However, this site is off-limits – though there are still some ways to see what it has in store.
Before the canvas and the paintbrush, people tend to paint on walls with their fingers. Before the first civilization was established, cavemen often drew about their various adventures on the walls to commemorate the achievements they’ve made or pay homage to the endeavors of their friends. Well, such was also the case for France’s Lascaux Caves. Although it initially welcomed visitors, the cave has since been closed off due to its paintings’ deteriorating condition. While researchers are still finding a way to fix this issue, replicas have since become available for the general public to see.
Ise Grand Shrine, Japan
Japan is a country well-known for many things, one of which is its rich culture. Through the years, the country continues to be visited by tourists from all around the world. While some are fine with checking out their cities, many also love to see the country’s many historical sites and landmarks, such as this one.
To some degree, Japan’s Ise Grand Shrine is quite similar to Ethiopia’s Chapel of the Tablet at Our Lady Mary of Zion – at least in two ways. One, both are surrounded by fences; and two, a sacred relic is kept within its premises. Before this, though, Ise Grand Shine was one of the most visited places in Japan. In 1625, in just 50 days, around 3.62 million people came and visited the shrine. Nowadays, despite its fenced perimeters, visitors could still enjoy a stroll around its surrounding forest – its walkways were during the Meiji period.
Ni’ihau is an island in Hawaii, which is located in the westernmost part of the Hawaiian archipelago. It’s the second smallest of Hawaii’s main islands, and it features nature’s simply breathtaking beauty. However, despite its beauty, it’s a Hawaiian island that tourists aren’t allowed to visit. It’s because Ni’ihau is a private property owned by a lady named Elizabeth Sinclair.
Sinclair purchased the entire island from the Kingdom of Hawaii back in 1864. You could say that it’s one of the wisest investments during her time. Interestingly, Ms. Sinclair only paid $10,000 for the island. Without a doubt, she’ll get a staggering return if her kin ever decides to list the island on the market. In addition, we’re pretty confident that the Kingdom of Hawaii is kicking itself right now for this real estate blunder that took place in the 19th century.
There have been numerous rumors during Joseph Stalin’s reign as the head of the Soviet Union. One of them was a second secret underground metro system that was built between multiple governmental headquarters such as the Kremlin and the Federal Security Service. Though such metro systems have never been confirmed, several people claim that they’ve been able to uncover the entrances and tunnels of the said secret line.
If these super-secret railway systems existed, it’s definitely situated in Russia. Under Stalin’s leadership, the country underwent a surmountable degree of questionable activities, and you could say that an underground secret railway system was one of them. If a secret railway station like Metro-2 ever exists, you’d bet your biscuits that the average man wouldn’t even be allowed to know about it. However, if you did know, then you probably won’t live to tell the tale.
Tomb of Qin Shi Haung, China
You could say that China’s first emperor was one of the most iconic leaders of all time. He’s best known for his Terracotta Army that guarded his tomb since his passing. However, the main tomb of the first emperor remains untouched, and scientists are hesitant to excavate the main tomb out of respect for the ancient burial rites. In addition, there’s also a degree of danger that they’ll dig up soil that’s potentially poisonous and mercury-rich.
One could argue that these hazards are enough to keep this mausoleum shut for eternity. The first emperor of China undoubtedly deserves to rest in peace, and it would be outrageous to excavate. While it may be true that the emperor’s Terracotta army is stunning, it’s probably best to leave these clay figures alone to avoid disturbing an entire culture as well as Mercury poisoning.
Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Unless you’re a practicing member of Islam, then there’s absolutely no way that you’ll be able to enter the city of Mecca. Interestingly, Mecca has undergone several huge infrastructure campaigns, and there are numerous interesting buildings and breathtaking architecture to see. One of the most interesting buildings in the area is the largest clock tower in the world. However, since only about 1% of the entire U.S. population practices Islam, it’s safe to assume that most American travelers won’t be allowed to go inside.
The city of Mecca is undoubtedly one of the most important cities in the world. However, booking a one-way ticket using your credit card isn’t possible if you aren’t a Muslim. Interestingly, Muslims around the world turn to face Mecca’s location during prayer. Furthermore, they’re also expected to attempt and travel to the city whenever they can during their lifetime. This expectation consistently makes the city one of the busiest tourist destinations on Earth.
Mezhgorye is a closed town that is operated directly by the Russian government. The reason for its closed status stems from the fact that the majority of its residents have affiliations with Mount Yamantau. If you must know, Mount Yamantau has been claimed by the U.S. government to be a part of a Russian nuclear facility. It’s also been speculated that it’s a secret bunker with an estimated population of 17,000 individuals.
A secret city in Russia sounds pretty sketchy, and there’s absolutely no way that you’ll be able to enter it without any degree of complication or even trouble. There’s certainly no one who knows the activities that take place in Mezhgorye, and we can only wait for a Netflix documentary about what actually goes on there. In the meantime, we can only play the role of armchair speculators, as there’s absolutely no way we’re getting in to find out.
Guadalupe Island, Mexico
Mexico has been known for its beautiful tropical beaches, but there’s one Mexican island that’s off-limits to average joes like you and me. Guadalupe Island is located off the coast of the Baja Peninsula, and it’s one of the best places to spot a Great White Shark. However, it’s impossible to book your next vacation to the area using your credit card, as it’s a biosphere reserve. You’ll need to acquire a permit before you can get to visit the area.
In this day in age, it’s more than essential for our society to be able to preserve nature. With this fact, biosphere reserves, like Guadalupe island, are significant as they protect rare living conditions necessary for the survival of a certain species. These biosphere reserves also help scientists in understanding how the world works. We’re pretty confident that you’ll be able to spot a Great White Shark someplace else.
North Brother Island, New York
At some point in history, North Brother Island served as a quarantine facility. A few years later, it then turned into a rehabilitation facility for people recovering from substance abused. However, the facility closed over five decades ago, and it has been left abandoned ever since. It sits in the East River in New York, and people have been forbidden from ever visiting the island. The reason for such restriction is since it’s currently a designated bird sanctuary.
Having a bird sanctuary in big cities, such as New York, is incredibly important. We’ll certainly have to applaud the city’s governing body for including nature in their investment planning. However, one cannot deny that having a restricted island in New York with a gorgeous mansion has a strange ring to it. You could argue that it can serve as a super villain’s lair.
Coca Cola Vault, Atlanta, Georgia
There’s absolutely no doubt that the recipe for Coca-Cola is one of the heavily guarded secrets in the world. While anyone can visit the World of Coca Cola at the Coke headquarters in Atlanta, there’s certainly no way that they’re allowing people into that vault. The reason why they don’t want anyone wandering into the vault is that it contains the secret recipe for Coke!
Coca-Cola, also known as Coke, is one of the tastiest beverages you can purchase today. The company has been incredibly secretive with their recipe that they managed to lock it down in a vault that’s better than Fort Knox. You could say that keeping the recipe a secret was a part of their investment planning. We’re not sure if someone ever tried to steal Coke’s secret formula, but it’s pretty hard to imagine that someone would be able to get through all that security.
El Castillo, Chichen Itza, Mexico
The grounds of Chichen Itza is a famous tourist destination that’s accessible by all tourists and travelers. No, we didn’t make a mistake by adding this area to our list. It’s the steps that are forbidden, and climbing up them became prohibited back in 2006 after the untimely passing of a woman from falling. During the same year, the El Castillo interior was also closed to all visitors. Today, the only way to view the interior throne room is through pictures.
One cannot deny that Chichen Itza is one of the most important cultural areas in the world. Though it may have stood in the jungle hidden for thousands of years, society still needs to do what it can in order to preserve it. The steps of the ancient temple certainly aren’t safe, and it shouldn’t be trampled on either. One wrong move, and you’ll find yourself tumbling to the bottom. You’ll also take a few pieces of steps with you, and we’re pretty sure that home insurance won’t be able to do anything to fix the damage.
Pravcicka Brana, Czech Republic
Pravcicka Brana in the Czech Republic is one of the most famous land bridges in Europe. Visitors used to have a splendid time walking across it, as it provides a remarkable view into the open expanse below it. However, people have been banned from the top for several decades now due to heavy erosion. Today, the only way to enjoy this magnificent natural feature is from the ground.
It’s no secret that sites like these aren’t built to last a lifetime. These sites form due to the corrosive force of nature, and they’ll be taken out in the same exact way. From the looks of it, this famous land bridge could easily give way at any moment. It certainly poses a ton of danger, and we’re not sure if your insurance agent will be pleased to hear that you want to walk across it.
Bhangarh Fort, India
The Bhangarh Fort is a fort built back in the 1600s. Today, it’s now abandoned, and according to legend, the fort is one of the most haunted places in India. The site is open for any traveler or tourist, but finding a guide that’s willing to take you on that journey is also incredibly difficult. Though you can access the fort, you may only do so during the day as it’s strictly forbidden to visit at night.
The Bhangarh fort’s supernatural activity and occurrences are still up for debate. Stories revolve around love-lost wizards and even drastic curses. In addition to the supernatural hoopla, there have also been records of fatal incidents involving tourists over the years. You could say that your insurance agent will be severely pleased if you decide to skip the Bhangarh fort off your bucket list.
Cuba is one of the most culturally rich places on Earth today. However, it’s illegal to visit for pleasure tourism, especially if you’re an American citizen. Americans can still visit Cuba through various government-approved tour operators. However, when it comes down to it, any form of general vacation in the country is sadly still forbidden.
Traveling to Cuba was banned for fears of spreading Communism around the world. Since Fidel Castro’s rise to power in Cuba, the U.S. forced limited travel and trade with the country due to Castro’s contradicting political ideologies and beliefs. However, in 2009, former U.S. President Barack Obama started to make it easier for Cuban Americans to travel to Cuba and see their family. Today, it’s possible and easier to book a one-way trip to this beautiful country using your credit card if you’re a Cuban-American.
Heard Island, Australia
There’s certainly no doubt that Heard Island is one of the most remote places in the world today. It’s located in the South Pacific Ocean, just right between South Africa and Australia, and it’s more southward towards Antarctica. Due to the area is incredibly remote and the environment is incredibly challenging, there are no inhabitants here. However, there are visiting scientists in the area, and they typically stay in temporary tents.
Islands like Heard Island are usually left alone by mankind’s sticky fingers. These environments are incredibly fragile that one wrong and an irresponsible move could cause the system to collapse with disease or invasive species. Just simply look at Snake Island in Brazil, as it’s a prime example of the need to perform detailed investment planning as a scientist. You shouldn’t go to Heard Island unless you’re a trained scientist with a purpose to study the island and its environment responsibly.
Robins Island, New York
New York’s Long Island is a beautiful place and its eastern end forks into two separate parts. In between those two forks is Peconic Bay, and in the same bay sits Robins Island. Unfortunately, no one is allowed to enter or set foot in Robins Island unless they receive an invitation from the owner. You’ll need an invitation because it’s privately owned by a man named Louis Bacon.
Louis Bacon is the current owner of Robins Island, and he bought it back in 1993 for $11 million. You could say that purchasing an entire island was an incredibly wise investment for him. In addition, Bacon also managed to restore the island to its original state, importing several oak trees, and getting rid of all non-native grasses. He currently uses his private New York island to host English pheasant hunts for his wealthy friends.
Granite Mountain Records Vault, Utah
The Granite Mountain Records Vault in Utah is one of the most secretive vaults all over the world. It’s owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and there are an estimated 3 billion pages of family records that are stored here away from the public. Interestingly, there’s no chance that you or anyone you know can get a peek as visitors aren’t allowed inside!
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been actively converting all of these records to a digital format. This strategy is part of their investment planning to make them publicly available through the Family History Centers. In addition, LDS or Mormons have shown interest in genealogy to help identify past relatives who passed away without receiving baptism. In turn, they’re baptized by proxy in their temple, strengthening their eternal family bond and unit.
Morgan Island, South Carolina, USA
Ever thought of going to an island retreat? Well, you should go anywhere else but to Morgan Island or widely known as Monkey Island. Located near the coast of Beaufort at South Carolina, it boasts over 2,000 acres of pristine land. However, it is not exactly the Island get-away luxury retreat that you might imagine. It is called Monkey Island for a reason — it is inhabited by more than 4,000 monkeys.
You might be wondering how a colony of wild monkeys came to inhabit an island in South Carolina? According to Greensville Business Magazine, this phenomenon is credited to the researchers of 1979, who placed over 1,400 rhesus monkeys on the island. It was part of the government’s plan of establishing a self-sufficient breeding program for the monkeys that would be used as research animals. It was the perfect home for the monkeys, and today, the monkeys are no longer used for research but are still managed by the federal state, prohibiting anyone from ever entering the island!
Pluto’s Gate, Turkey
Centuries ago, when Greek mythology was still considered a Religion, this ominous cave, located at the Phrygian City of Hierapolis, was deemed as a portal to the underworld. It was rediscovered in 2013, located in what modern civilization is known as Pamukkale, Turkey. Pluto’s Gate was celebrated with such infamy due to its high levels of lethal mephitic vapors. As such, any animal or human that passes its opening would meet instantaneous death.
The findings of the archeological site are credited to a team led by Francesco D’Andria, who is a professor at the University of Salento of Classical Archeology. Apart from the “gates of hell,” the professor also claims he found the tomb of Saint Philip, one of Jesus Christ’s twelve apostles, in the area. Hierapolis was founded by Eumenes II around 190 BC and was handed over to the kingdom of Rome back in 133 BC. That is why the historic city boasts of Roman temples, theaters, and even hot springs.
Diego Garcia, British Indian Overseas Territory
Who would have thought that a small island in the Central Indian Ocean would become a secretive US military base? To be honest, it’s not all that surprising. Reports show that apart from the military staff, Filipinos inhabit the island, which was hired by the Americans for menial jobs such as caretakers, construction works, and cleaners, among others.
Diego Garcia is also part of the UK-owned Champs Islands. They took over the islands back in the ‘60s and forcefully evicted the indigenous Chagossian. They soon leased the islands to the US, and it has become one of America’s largest overseas airbases. As such, the area is shrouded with secrecy, and only military employees and staff are allowed within the premises of the island. Some say that over 1,000 US military personnel and over 2,500 contract workers inhabit the Diego Garcia.