Imagine all of the wonderful places in the world that you would love to visit. Exotic islands; bustling and vibrant capital cities; museums and galleries holding the finest pieces of art in the world. All of them are open to you, so long as you have the time and the money to travel to them.
But can you imagine not being able to visit them? To know of a wonder that exists, but not being able to go and see it for yourself? There are a number of places in the world which it is in fact impossible to visit. Some of them are closed to everyone, forever, with no exceptions. Some of them are only open to people that you could count on the fingers of one hand, and will remain that way for the foreseeable future. Some aren’t even acknowledged to exist, so deep is the secrecy that surrounds them.
We have searched the globe for 15 places that you, the reader, will never be able to visit. Even though some of them sound amazing, and some are home to the most valuable secrets in the world, you will never be able to set eyes on them yourself. In some cases, no one alive has set eyes on them; in some cases, that will soon come to pass when all of those who might have been there before finally pass away. These are the most exclusive and private destinations in the world. Prepare to find yourself in awe of the 15 places you cannot visit under any circumstances.
15 Area 51
Let’s start with one which you have probably heard of already. Area 51 is based deep in the desert of Nevada, and is covered with so much secrecy that we know virtually nothing about it. It is surrounded by mines and other military-grade defences, and it is not even clear who might have access to it – if anyone. It is widely believed by many to be an army base where aliens are studied, although this is unlikely to be true. One thing is for sure, however. The fact that the US government allows this impression to continue, rather than simply showing us what is there, means that it may be something far more sinister and secretive than we currently believe. What could possibly be so highly classified that it’s better to let people believe that alien craft and lifeforms are stashed there? The average person is never going to know, and it’s not clear who does.
14 The Queen’s Bedroom
The Queen of England, that is – Elizabeth II, the current ruler. She has her residence at Buckingham Palace, some of which is sometimes open to the public. One area which is absolutely off bounds to anyone except the Queen herself, her closest family, and perhaps a servant or two is the bedroom where she actually lays her head. There is one man who has been there, however, who is outside of this close circle. His name is Michael Fagan, and he broke in there in 1982. This is one of the biggest breaches of security for the royal family in modern times, and you can be sure that it won’t be repeated. If there ever was a chance to get in there and see it for yourself, security measures will now absolutely prevent that from happening – for good. It might be a little odd to creep into someone’s bedroom just to see what it is like, but wouldn’t you like to know what the Queen is like behind the public image?
13 The Coca-Cola Vault
This vault in Georgia has long been the subject of much discussion. The Coca-Cola recipe is entirely secret, and only two people in the whole world know it in all its entirety. Even the way it is made means that no one during the manufacturing process can understand the whole recipe at once. If you wanted to know it, you would have to go to Georgia, to the World of Coca-Cola exhibit. The vault is part of the display, and you can even get a guided tour which takes you to stand in front of the impressive security measures yourself. But unless you are one of those two people – which you are not – you will never be allowed to enter. It has only resided there since 2011; previously, it was kept at the SunTrust Bank just down the street, which was also subject to similar measures and restricted access policies.
12 The Ark Of The Covenant
In Axum, Ethiopia, you will find a very special chapel. This chapel has been rumoured for many centuries to be the home of the Ark of the Covenant. In case you haven’t been re-watching Indiana Jones lately, this is the alleged vessel which contained the Ten Commandments that were given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai. The original tablets which are engraved with the words as dictated by God reside in the Ark. The Ark is in the chapel… so they say. Only one monk is tasked with watching over it, never allowed to leave the grounds of the chapel so that it is always protected. Even the Ethiopian president is not permitted to see it. Under these circumstances it isn’t possible to verify that it really exists, but you will certainly never be allowed to enter the room where it is said to be stored whether this is the case or not.
11 Room 39
We can safely say that no one reading this will ever go into Room 39. Why? Because it’s in North Korea, where access to websites like this one is strictly prohibited. Even more than that, very few North Koreans themselves will ever enter. It’s officially known as the Central Committee Bureau 39 of the Korean Workers Party, and is said to be the head of illicit activities in the country. Some believe that the organization which operates here has earned between $500 million and $1 billion through counterfeiting, insurance fraud, and drug sales around the world. It’s also thought that they make this money in order to fund the nuclear program in North Korea, and as a source for international bribes. Whatever happens in this room is classified to the highest degree in North Korea, so only those directly involved in its work will ever enter. That makes it very hard to work out exactly what is going on, and to prove it.
10 The Lascaux Caves
In the Dordogne region of France you will find the Lascaux Caves, which were inhabited by humans 17,300 years ago. A teenage boy discovered them in 1940 and spotted some interesting paintings on the walls, which turned out to date back to the Palaeolithic period. The caves were opened to the public, but exposure to the elements and the outside world did serious and immediate damage to the paintings. The caves were closed to the public in 1963, although it was too late. Lichen, mold, and fungus are eating away at the paintings. Only one person is now allowed to enter the caves once a week for a limit of 20 minutes – a preservationist who is trying to monitor the problem and perhaps save the paintings. A replica cave has been created where tourists can see reproductions of the paintings as they looked when first discovered, at least until we can think of a solution for the degradation.
9 North Sentinel Island
Located in the Bay of Bengal, North Sentinel Island is home to a primitive tribe known as the Sentinelese. They have rejected the modern world for their 28 square miles of paradise, which is surrounded by dangerous coral reefs with no natural harbours. There are between 50 to 400 residents there, and no one ever leaves. These days, no one is allowed to enter either. Signs that contact would be rejected first came in the 1970s, when a National Geographic film director was shot in the thigh with an arrow while attempting to visit. In 1991, friendly contact was made by the Indian government, but by 1996 they had decided to end their communications. Since then, the island has been closed to all visitors, allowing the Sentinelese to go about their lives with no interference. We don’t know how many of them are left, and whether they have thrived or struggled in the intervening years.
8 Snake Island
Snake Island is forbidden, but don’t worry – you would never want to go there in the first place. It’s called Ilha da Quimada Grande officially, but the nickname comes from the fact that it is full of snakes. So many snakes, in fact, that it is considered too dangerous to visit. Just off the coast of Brazil, it was closed by the Brazilian Navy not just to protect tourists, but also because the snakes there are actually an endangered species. The golden lanceheads number between 2,000 and 4,000 according to estimates by scientists, which means that there is at least one snake for every metre of the island’s land. There’s also a high risk for inbreeding thanks to the fact that only one type of snake lives there, so they may come up with genetic mutations that we don’t expect. Their poison will melt the flesh around their bites, and can obviously be fatal.
7 The Tomb Of Qin Shi Huang
Qin Shi Huang died in 210 BC, and was buried in a vast mausoleum. His followers wanted to ensure that his legacy – creating the first united nation of China – would not be forgotten. They built everything he would need in the afterlife, including an army of soldiers and servants to do his bidding. Yes, this is the emperor who resides with the Terracotta Army. You can visit that army, but that’s as far as you can get. It’s very difficult to excavate the area without damaging the artefacts, and there are high levels of mercury there too. Not only that, but the Chinese government aren’t too happy about the idea of disturbing the final resting place of such a great historic figure. As a result, his tomb has not been excavated, and it has been ordered that it shall never be opened. No one will ever know what is inside.
6 Moscow Metro 2
How can you enter a place when no one will admit that it exists? Such is the case with Moscow Metro 2, which as codenamed D-6 by the KGB. The Russian government won’t confirm its existence, but tellingly, they also won’t deny it. There are said to be four rail lines from a central Moscow location which run to KGB outposts, ordered by Joseph Stalin to help the secret service move around easier. Some people claim to have been part of the process of building it, and there was even a recent demolition which turned up a potential tunnel which could have been part of a larger network. But still there is no way to say for sure that it exists. Unless you are part of the highest ranks of the KGB yourself, there’s no way you would find out, much less give it a visit in person some day.
5 Surtsey, Iceland
The amazing thing about Surtsey is that the island is actually younger than many people alive today. It was created by an extended volcanic eruption in the 1960s, and the aftermath saw it emerge from the waves of the North Atlantic. It is one of the youngest places on planet Earth, and is the most untouched natural habitat in the world too. It has been carefully restricted to ensure that this fact remains unchanged. Only a few scientists have ever been allowed to go there, and this was in order to document the way the island has developed and the way it is formed. Since we now already know this, it’s likely that it will be a long time before anyone is allowed to venture there again. If they do, it will again be a small handful of people who are there to record and document the flourishing life forms there.
4 The Svalbard Seed Vault
This vault in Norway is a very interesting place, and one which only a handful of people will ever enter. It is located on the island of Spitsbergen, and subject to rigorous security measures. Why? Because it holds a store of seeds, gathered together as a failsafe in case something should happen which destroys most of the crops on Earth. A plague, infestation of insects, apocalyptic event, or any other eventuality will mean that we need these seeds to survive. One third of the world’s most important food crop seeds are stored there, numbering 864,000 in all so far – with a capacity to hold 4.5 million if required. There are no permanent staff at the facility, no one person has all of the entry codes, and everything is automated to ensure no one need enter. Only the small few who add new seeds to the vault are admitted, and then only on a couple of days in the year.
3 Ise Grand Shrine
No matter how much you might wish to visit this shrine, you won’t be allowed to do so unless you are the high priest or priestess of the goddess Amaterasu-Omikami. Which, by the way, also means you have to be a member of the Japanese royal family. This shrine has been in place since 4BC and was allegedly chosen as a site by the goddess herself. There are actually more than 100 shrines within the location, with the outer building being destroyed and rebuilt every 20 years. This is part of the Shinto belief in the cycle of rebirth and death. Inside the shrine are sacred objects such as the Sacred Mirror, Yata no Kagami. Japanese military guard the site which is fenced off and secluded, and even the builders who work on the ongoing project are not allowed to the shrine itself. This temple is the most exclusive in the world which is still used.
2 Heard Island
Heard Island is located in the southern Indian Ocean, but in a much colder region than that phrase probably makes you think. It’s only around 1,700km from Antarctica, and much further away from Perth at 4,100 km. The Heard Island and McDonald Island group are the only sub-Antarctic landmasses with active volcanoes, and they also boast rare ecosystems due to the fact that humans don’t set foot there. The most important thing that you need to know is Big Ben, the Heard Island volcano, is still going off now. The volcanic flow means that it’s unsafe to visit the island. There are also 41 glaciers here and the weather is very harsh, which means that surviving for a long time is pretty much out of the question. Even if you wanted to visit, it’s a two-week sail away from other inhabited landmasses, with no way to fly in, so visiting is very difficult in the first place.
In Russia, there is a remote area of the Ural Mountains where you will find Yamantau Mountain. Underneath this huge landmark there is allegedly an underground facility. Rumours have it covering 400 miles of ground, but there is no proof as to whether it really exists or not. Again, there are construction workers who have come forward, and the US government believed in its existence by 1992. It would have taken around 10,000 workers to get it done, but the Russian government won’t say anything about its purpose. It has been theorized that it is a bunker to be used in nuclear disasters, and that it may also store food and Russian national treasures for safekeeping. If it is not currently in use, there may not be anyone allowed to enter; but if it is, the number will still be very small, as it such a well-kept secret. Whatever it is for, only a handful of people really know.
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