Forbidden Places in The World: There have always been places that the general public is not allowed to enter throughout history. Some places continue to be tantalizingly out of reach for the majority of explorers, whether due to reasons of secrecy, danger, or conservation of delicate ecosystems. Confidential military bases, dangerous disaster sites, and revered natural beauties are just a few examples of banned zones that continue to captivate because they are inaccessible.
Top 15 Forbidden Places in The World
This article will provide an overview of 15 of the most intriguing forbidden places around the globe today. For each location, key background details will be provided along with descriptions of the unique features and mysteries that make these restricted areas so alluring. Though they may remain sealed off, learning about these fascinating forbidden places can still be an adventure.
1. Area 51 – United States
Deep in the barren deserts of southern Nevada lies Area 51, the most famous secret military facility in the world. The remote base has been a pivotal testing ground for experimental aircraft and weapons systems for over 60 years. Area 51 was established in 1955 as a development site for the U-2 spy plane and played a major role during the Cold War. The intense secrecy surrounding the base helped fuel many theories that the government was hiding evidence of aliens and UFOs there. The CIA only officially acknowledged Area 51’s existence in 2013, though it remains strictly off-limits to the public. With its critical role in cutting-edge aeronautics research, there is still great curiosity about what other advanced aviation projects are underway behind its heavily-guarded perimeter.
2. Snake Island – Brazil
Off the coast of Brazil, Snake Island lives up to its foreboding name. The island is home to some of the world’s deadliest pit vipers and has been closed off to visitors since the Brazilian Navy prohibited public access in the 1920s. With as many as 4,000 golden lancehead vipers residing on the island, it is one of the most dangerous places on Earth. The snakes evolved to be so venomous due to the island’s isolation. Many people have tried visiting Snake Island over the years, despite the ban, and a number have met tragic ends from the prolific vipers. Only a few researchers have been granted access to study the island’s lethal inhabitants. For the general public, the dangers of Snake Island will ensure it remains forbidden.
3. Vatican Secret Archives – Vatican City
Containing centuries’ worth of Roman Catholic Church knowledge, the Vatican Secret Archives hold intriguing mysteries for historians and devoted Christians alike. The archive collection dates back to the 8th century and includes important religious texts and documents, some of which remain under tight seal. Access is highly restricted, with only carefully approved scholars allowed inside to examine the documents and artifacts. Even the Pope requires special access to enter the archive’s vaults. The Church holds the secrets within protectively, leading to speculation about what revelations the confidential records may hold. From Henry VIII’s pleas for annulment to letters about Galileo’s heresy trial, the Vatican’s tightly-guarded materials offer tempting clues into hidden pieces of religious history.
4. Lascaux Caves – France
The stunning prehistoric cave paintings deep within France’s Lascaux Caves represent some of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. Estimated to be over 17,000 years old, the Paleolithic-era paintings feature vivid depictions of animals and intriguing abstract symbols. The caves were found by teenagers in 1940, but unfortunately exposure to humidity, carbon dioxide, and other contaminants from visitors resulted in fungal growth damaging the paintings. Authorities closed the Lascaux Caves to the public in 1963 to preserve the site. Only a small number of experts are now allowed to enter for short periods of time. People can visit nearby replica caves to experience the analogy of these priceless paintings that changed perceptions about the earliest human artistic expression.
5. North Sentinel Island – Andaman Islands, India
Isolated from the rest of the world, North Sentinel Island is home to an indigenous tribe that violently rejects contact with outsiders. After past encounter led to detrimental disease and encroachment, the Indian government passed laws protecting the island and its residents from visitors. The Sentinelese people respond with aggressive defense to any approaching boats, firing arrows and spears. Small expeditions have been mounted at times to leave gifts and monitor the tribe from afar, but all have been met with hostility. In 2018, an American Christian missionary was killed after illegally traveling to preach on North Sentinel Island. Respecting the tribe’s clear wish for isolation, North Sentinel Island remains restricted to ensure this uncontacted people maintain their traditional way of life free from external interference.
6. Surtsey – Iceland
When a volcanic eruption 32 kilometers off the coast of Iceland led to the formation of a new island in 1963, the unique scientific opportunity was quickly recognized. Surtsey formed from cooled lava and ash eruptions reaching the ocean surface over 3 years, eventually reaching a maximum size of 2.7 square kilometers. Iceland declared the entirety of Surtsey and surrounding waters a protected reserve, limiting access only to a select few scientists at any given time. These restrictions allow researchers to study how organisms colonize the pristine environment and observe ecological succession up close. Plant, animal, and marine life have been monitored repopulating the previously barren landscape. To preserve this incredibly rare natural experiment, visitors are barred to allow important data collection free of human disturbance.
7. Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center – Virginia, USA
Carved deep into the Appalachian Mountains, the Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center is one of the most secure facilities in the United States. The complex serves as an enormous bunker and operations hub for top government officials in the event of national emergencies and disasters. Mount Weather has long been an important site for continuity of government programs and emergency preparedness. Details on its layout and the extent of its subsurface size remain scarce. Since access is highly classified and strictly monitored, the operations center has generated many conspiracy theories regarding its true purpose over the decades. The secrecy and security make Mount Weather one of the most impenetrable government compounds for ordinary citizens to ever explore up close.
8. Moscow Metro-2 – Russia
Deep below Moscow runs the rumored Metro-2 – a secret subway system said to connect key government buildings like the Kremlin, defense ministries, and even Putin’s residence. While neither confirmed nor denied by Russian authorities, reports indicate the clandestine transit system was built as an emergency escape route and alternate command center during the Cold War. The hidden Metro-2 is believed to feature blast doors, decontamination showers, and old-fashioned claw-foot bathtubs for radiation scrubbing. Sections are thought to lie 200 feet below ground, far deeper than the public Metro. Undoubtedly monitored with heavy security, the covert Metro-2 remains firmly concealed, with its very existence unacknowledged in official capacity despite persistent speculation among historians and urban explorers.
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9. RAF Menwith Hill – United Kingdom
Within rolling hills near Harrogate, England lies the Royal Air Force station RAF Menwith Hill, alleged to be the largest electronic monitoring system outside the United States. Operated jointly by British and American intelligence agencies, Menwith Hill is said to be a major global surveillance base, intercepting international communications and hacking computer networks. Specific activities conducted at the base are classified; even members of the British Parliament are refused access. The UK government avoids direct questions about Menwith Hill’s operations and its relationship with the US National Security Agency. While its remote location away from major cities has cultivated secrecy, revelations from American whistleblowers have made Menwith Hill’s spying capabilities a source of controversy and protest. Operations definitely extend beyond its official monitoring of international satellites.
10. Mezhgorye – Russia
The mysterious Russian town Mezhgorye is home to companies identified as bankruptcies and closed, yet has extremely high security. This has led to suspicions that Mezhgorye is actually a top secret Russian military site. The town is near the Mount Yamantau complex, believed to house a massive underground bunker for Russian leaders in the event of nuclear war. Mezhgorye is surrounded by fences, has masked security patrols, and closed-circuit surveillance. Residents work for the Russian government but all real economic or industrial activities in town are shrouded in secrecy. Mezhgorye’s infrastructure seems designed to support a huge subterranean leadership refuge rather than conventional urban activities. With access forbidden to outsiders, Mezhgorye’s true underground purpose can only be speculated about as an eerie forbidden zone.
11. Jiangsu National Security Education Museum – China
The Jiangsu National Security Education Museum in China was created to legitimize the Chinese Communist Party’s authoritarian rule. Most disturbingly, it features exhibitions on the brutal torture methods used by security forces during Mao Zedong’s totalitarian regime. Replica interrogation rooms, execution grounds, and prisons display chilling examples of forced mechanisms to extract false confessions from political enemies – a warning to any who dare challenge the Communist government. While officially promoted as a reminder not to forget the past, many argue the disturbing museum seeks to justify and normalize the party’s oppressive practices. Groups like Amnesty International have condemned the exhibition of barbaric torture techniques targeting dissidents. The unapologetic display makes this Chinese museum too politically controversial for many visitors.
12. Ise Grand Shrine – Japan
Japan’s most sacred Shinto shrine lies secluded within a dense forest as a sacred forbidden zone to all but priests. The Ise Grand Shrine is the revered home of the sun goddess Amaterasu, the ancestral kami deity of the Japanese imperial family. The shrine is torn down and rebuilt every 20 years on an adjacent site in accordance with Shinto practice. The design of the Grand Shrine has remained unchanged for over 1,300 years. Only priests are allowed inside the central inner sanctum while ordinary pilgrims can visit outer shrine areas. Even Japanese emperors were forbidden from visiting until after World War II. Protecting the mysterious shrine rituals related to Amaterasu has led to this forested oasis becoming an off-limits domain accessible only to those serving its spiritual purposes.
13. Club 33 – Disneyland, California
Hidden discreetly above the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, the exclusive Club 33 is Disneyland’s most secretive and inaccessible inner sanctum. The private club was originally created as a place for Walt Disney to entertain VIP guests and business associates in the park. Membership costs tens of thousands of dollars upfront and yearly dues over $12,000. Club 33’s opulent French Quarter-themed lounge is packed with Disney antiques and early theme park concept art. Members can enjoy fine dining and cocktails inside while ordinary Disneyland visitors are not even aware such a hidden world exists. Unless you manage to be escorted by a member, Club 33’s doors will remain forever barred to casual tourists, preserving its aura as Disneyland’s ultimate forbidden luxury retreat.
14. Coco Islands – Myanmar
Off limits to civilians, Myanmar’s picturesque Coco Islands were long rumored to house Chinese intelligence facilities monitoring India’s space and missile programs. The islands strategic position in the Indian Ocean enabled ideal electronic surveillance of rival India’s launches and telemetry. Myanmar’s military junta always denied allowing China an illegal signals intelligence presence. While no concrete proof was found of large-scale Chinese eavesdropping operations, the Coco Islands remain strictly off-limits to foreigners. Permission for any visiting the islands must be granted by Myanmar’s naval authority, leading the Cocos to continue to be eyed with suspicion as a potential listening post. With travel prevented, the facts of what activities occur there are scarce, keeping the islands shrouded in secrecy.
15. Svalbard Global Seed Vault – Norway
On the isolated Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard lies the entrance to humanity’s doomsday backup plan – the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The extensive underground facility stores over a million seed samples from around the world as an emergency backup in case of global disasters. Dubbed the “Doomsday Vault”, the remote location and permafrost inside offer natural freezing protection. The seeds represent an invaluable treasure trove of agricultural diversity. Few people are permitted inside the high security vault, with seeds only retrievable by the depositing entities and researchers. The need for extreme caution to safeguard the survival of crops barred from danger makes this the ultimate forbidden zone protecting the future of civilization itself.
In summary, Forbidding access is often the only way to protect certain secrets, dangers, and fragile relics from the wider world. While frustrating to curious outsiders, heavily restricted places must continue to limit visitors, even at the cost of endless speculation about their concealed mysteries. As the list above illustrates, the most forbidden places hold endless intrigue precisely because they cannot be accessed. While their inhospitality may dispel wanderlust, learning about them from a safe distance can still be an adventure.
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