The world we live on today is more open and available to use than ever before. With the incredible advances in travel, we can fly all over the globe, and the development of technology like Google Earth opens the doors to travel the world from the safety of our own living room.
All that being said, would you believe that there are still a number of areas that are completely restricted. From fragile ecosystems to secret military establishments, dangerous islands to sites of historical and religious importance, each of these are places that you will have to settle for reading about.
Check Out These 24 Fascinating Places That You Aren’t Permitted to Visit:
#1 – Disneyland Club 33
This exclusive club originated in the New Orleans Square section of Disneyland, kept secret only to be known by the membership that it has accepted. Since the story of the club became public, similar locations have opened in Tokyo Disneyland and Shanghai Disneyland, although membership isn’t transferable between resorts. The original building was constructed in the 1960s and it is speculated that the name comes from the 33 corporate sponsors at Disneyland in 1966-67 when the club was opened. Members receive early park admission (with up to 3 guests), complimentary valet parking, access to resort experiences including the Club 33 restaurant, a jazz lounge and a lounge in Disney California Adventure (these locations are not open to the public).
#2 – Area 51
This remote detachment of the Edwards Air Force Base, better known as Area 51, has been the topic of great controversy and debate. The conspiracy theories surrounding this highly secretive area largely surrounded the study of unidentified flying objects (UFOs). The base itself has never actually been classified a secret base, however, all research being conducted on site has been classified as top secret, which has led to it being completely locked down form the public with no information as to it’s actual primary purpose being released.
#3 – Menwith Hill Royal Air Force Station
Located near Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England, this Royal Air Force (RAF) station is home to the largest electronic monitoring station in the world. While RAF Menwith Hill is owned by the UK Ministry of Defense, it is made available to the US Department of Defense due to the NATO Status of Forces Agreement and is actually run entirely by US authorities. What we do know is that this is the ground station for a number of US satellites operated by the US National Reconnaissance Office on behalf of the NSA, however, it is no surprise that this site is closed to the public to protect classified information and operations.
#4 – Povegila, Italy
Located just off the coast of Italy, the island of Poveglia is allegedly one of the most haunted locations on the globe with an incredibly twisted and disturbing history. During the heart of the bubonic plague, the Romans made the decision to keep those who had fallen ill separated from the healthy members of society. They shipped the plagued people off to the island to live out the end of their lives together. Repurposing the island in the 1920s, it was made into a mental hospital where those who showed any sign of sickness were sent to live among the ghosts of the past. Reports during this time included everything from ghost sightings to disturbing experimentation on the patients. Many suspect that the island is closed to the public now to prevent people from discovering the truth of what all occurred on its soil.
#5 – Mezhgorye, Russia
Mezhgorye, Russia is a closed military town with a history that triggers interest among the general population to this day. Located near Mount Yamantau in the Republic of Bashkortostan, the site is a restricted area administered by the Russian federal government, although it is home to approximately 17,300+ inhabitants, each approved to reside there. The town was founded in 1979 and granted status in 1995 and is believed to have once been the site of bunkers to protect people from the possibility of a nuclear attack.
#6 – Woomera Test Range
Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Woomera Range Complex (WRC) is a major military and civil aerospace facility. While there are parts of WRC that are more open than others, the area known as the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA) includes the largest land-based test range in the western world totaling 47,177 sq mi. This area is used to test war material, managed by the Royal Australian Air Force and is classified due to ‘Australia’s national security.’
#7 – The Jiangsu National Security Education Museum
This Chinese spy museum, originally opened in 2009, is home to some of the most fascinating technology and gadgets used by the country’s spy network. From guns disguised as lipstick to hollowed-out coins used to conceal important documentation, it is like something out of a Hollywood spy movie. If you’re interested in checking it out, however, you may be out of luck. In order to protect the country’s ‘sensitive spy information,’ the museum is closed to all foreigners.
#8 – The Bohemian Grove
Located among the redwoods in Northern California, this 2,700-acre campground belongs to a private San Francisco-based gentlemen’s club called the ‘Bohemian Club.’ Each year, in mid-July, the Bohemian Grove is the location of a two-week camp exclusively for some of the world’s most powerful and richest individuals. What actually happens at this camp is often theorized, but unconfirmed, with rumors ranging from excessive drinking to recreating mock human sacrifices. While some say the tradition ended in 2008, others claim it continues to this day.
#9 – The Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion
Believed to have first been built during the 4th century AD, the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion has been rebuilt several times over the years since. It is located in the town of Axum, Tigray, and claims to contain the Ark of the Covenant, a gold-covered wooden chest described in the Book of Exodus as containing the Ten Commandments on their original stone tablets. The rumors and speculation about whether this or true continue to circulate to this day, and it has been discussed in many different documentaries and books speculating about the existence of the ark of the covenant, and its role in Christianity.
#10 – North Sentinel Island
Unlike the other locations on this list, the government isn’t trying to hide something on the island or use it for any type of military operations. Instead, the people that reside on North Sentinel Island reject any contact with the outside world, choosing to remain untouched by modern civilization. In order to maintain their independence, those who do try to visit the island are often met with extreme violence, even killed without prosecution. The island is considered a sovereign entity under Indian protection, and due to the lack of contact very little is actually known about its residents.
#11 – Office 39 (Room 39)
Built by the North Korean party organization, it is said that this organization works to maintain the foreign currency slush fund for the country’s political leaders, starting with Kim II-sung, then Kim Jong-il and now Kim Jong-un. There are many theories and rumors about the organization and its financial activity, with some estimating that it brings in as much as $500 million to $1 billion each year which may be used in a number of illegal activities including counterfeiting, producing controlled substances and international insurance fraud. A 2016 report even revealed that the U.S. Treasury Department is a substantial generator of foreign-exchange revenue for the country’s political elite, and is also linked to Office 39.
#12 – The Qin Shi Huang’s Tomb
While the tombs and mausoleums of many of the world’s leaders and rulers have been opened, excavated and discovered, this isn’t true for that of the first documented emperor of China. There are a number of reasons that may be preventing the study of this location, ranging from the fragility of the clay used all over the site, to the potential presence of extremely toxic mercury. What we do know is that the Chinese government insists on maintaining the area undisturbed. Some rumors have surfaced questioning just what the government is trying to keep secret on site.
#13 – Lascaux
Discovered in 1940, the Palaeolithic cave paintings found in Lascaux were estimated to be as much as 20,000 years old, making them a fascinating glimpse into the history of the area. The imagery is mainly of large animals, those that would be found in the area at the time, meticulously painted in a way that is still recognizable today. The site was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979, at which time officials became concerned about the impact of human activity in the area, including intense lighting, heavy foot traffic, and even an air condition system. Responding to the concerns in 2008 the site was shut down, however, this only lasted 3 months.
#14 – Google Data Centers
In order for Google to offer the services that they do, the company owns and operates data centers around the world including in the United States, Chile, Taiwan, Singapore, Ireland, the Netherlands, Finland, and Belgium. While these centers obviously work in a very public capacity online, the centers themselves are incredibly secure and closed off to the public in order to guarantee the safety of all data that they retain from their various users. Only government agencies like the FBI or CIA stand any chance of getting in the door of any of these facilities.
#15 – Surtsey, Iceland
One of the world’s youngest islands, Surtsey was formed following a volcanic eruption that lasted from 1963 until 1967 just off the southern coast of Iceland. The island itself is incredibly small and limited to access only by scientists as they study the development of life and the creation of an ecosystem on the once barren newly formed surface. Interested in seeing how this will progress free from outside interference, the island is closely monitored and protected.
#16 – Moscow Metro-2
The existence of this secret underground subway system has never been confirmed or denied, however, it is alleged that it exists for the purpose of helping the people of power in Russia to escape a possible catastrophe such as nuclear war. It is rumored to have 4 different lines, running anywhere from 164-660 ft deep, connecting with the Kremlin within the Federal Security Service headquarters, the government airport at Vnukovo-2 and a number of other areas of national importance. The only proof of it’s existence to date is a claim made by the urban exploration group ‘the Diggers of the Underground Planet, who claimed to have discovered an entrance to the system in 1994.
#17 – McDonald and Heard Islands
Located approximately two-thirds of the way from Madagascar to Antarctica, the Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands are said to be barren and uninhabitable and have been classified as a nature preserve. The islands contain Australia’s only two active volcanoes, Mawson Peak (the highest point in Australia at 2,745 meters) and McDonald Island which was once dormant but broke its dormancy in 1992 and has erupted several times since. While the presence of active volcanoes makes it relatively obvious why the government would restrict public access to the site, there is a great deal of interest in the potential of undiscovered ecosystems and life on the islands.
#18 – Vatican Library’s Secret Archives
One of the better-known locations on this list, the secret archives at the Vatican Library are said to contain some of the most advanced and powerful spiritual knowledge anywhere. Containing a total of 53 miles of shelving and 35,000 volumes of catalog, this myth is more than just a myth. These archives aren’t open to the public, only available to be studied by scholars after they reach the age of 75. This need to keep the archives so closely protected has sparked a number of rumors in regard to what the Catholic Church may be hiding.
#19 – Snake Island (Ilha da Queimada Grande)
Located off the coast of Brazil, the island was once connected to the mainland however with rising sea levels, the land that connected it has been fully covered. This trapped one specific snake on the island, the critically endangered, venomous golden lancehead pit viper. Existing on a diet of birds, this snake is highly deadly, and the island has provided it with the perfect opportunity to grow and thrive, increasing in population to the point that it now dominates the area. For this reason, only select researchers vetted by the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation, the Brazilian Navy and the Brazilian federal conservation unit are permitted to visit.
#20 – Pine Gap, Australia
The reach of the United States around the globe shouldn’t be underestimated, and Pine Gap, Australia is a great example of why. Located deep in the Australian outback, this site is operated in partnership by both Australia and the United States, partly run by the U.S Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). Home to a large computer network, the site controls United States spy satellites as they pass over this portion of the globe, allowing them to effectively reach a larger portion of the planet.
#21 – The Svalbard Global Seed Vault
Located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a secure seed bank said to contain tens of thousands of different seed varieties representing the critical food crops from around the world. It cost approximately $9 million USD to construct, it is built to withstand the test of time, including the risk of potential global disasters, protecting our ability to re-cultivate the necessary crops in order to repopulate as necessary.
#22 – The Coca-Cola Vault
Now you may be wondering what could be so important that a company like Coca-Cola is keeping it hidden away in a vault at the World of Coca-Cola place. The all too important item in question is the secret formula for the company’s iconic drink. Once housed in a SunTrust Bank vault, they have now moved it home to their own property, but it is still kept hidden (for obvious reasons).
#23 – Ise Grand Shrine (Ise Jingu)
This shrine complex consisting of 125 shrines and centered on the two main shrines, Naiku and Geku, the Ise Grand Shrine is believed to be one of the most sacred locations in all of Japan. The shrine buildings themselves are all made of joined cypress wood, with joined cypress wood. Access to the shrines are strictly limited, allowing tourists to roam the forests around the area, however the general public is not allowed to enter beyond the four tall wooden fences that surround the area.
#24 – The White’s Gentlemen Club
Founded in 1693, White’s holds claim to the title of being the most exclusive private club in the world with members including Charles, Prince of Wales, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and more. The club is located in London, on St. James’ Street, a vast and impressive looking building, however, the events that take place within are kept free from the public eye. While the club stands firm on its establishment for men only, exceptions were made both in 1991 and 2016 for visits from Queen Elizabeth II.