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The Strangest Forbidden Places You’re Not Allowed to Visit

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1. Area 51 - Lincoln County, Nevada

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There probably aren’t any aliens on this military base, but Area 51 has garnered an incredible amount of attention from conspiracy theorists and historians alike. If you try to enter it, you’ll find yourself in the Nevada desert before a fence, a stop sign, and two intimidating warning signs. Beyond that is a series of security cameras, so you will be stopped long before you reach the base itself. 

What goes on at Area 51? The U.S. Air Force tests experimental aircrafts, stealth technology, and new weapons. Although not many know exactly what that entails, we assure you it’s Earth technology.

 

2. Coca-Cola Vault - Atlanta, Georgia

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Besides Area 51 and who really killed JFK, Coca-Cola’s formula is the best-kept secret in America. 

It’s probably just a marketing ploy to make Coke seem much more special, but it is said that only two Coca-Cola executives know the formula, and each one knows a different half. Unfortunately, there is no proof of this, as there have likely been a handful of employees who’ve known the entire formula.

 

3. Ark of the Covenant - Ethiopia

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Contrary to the ending of Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Ark of the Covenant is said to reside in Aksum, Ethiopia. This holy container for the Ten Commandments has apparently resided in the chapel above for the better part of 3,000 years, when it was taken there from King Solomon’s temple. 

When a reporter from Smithsonian magazine visited the chapel in 2007, he met with the Guardian of the Ark, who is the only one permitted to see it. But he didn’t reveal anything else about the Ark, so without any proof, its location remains a mystery.

 

4. Google Data Center - Lenoir, North Carolina

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The tech leviathan that is Google needs a physical space to store its massive amount of data. The Google Data Center, in Lenoir, North Carolina, is just one of them. 

Around the world, Google runs data centers to process 3.5 billion queries a day and update over 400 million Gmail accounts, as well as millions of YouTube videos. Outsiders are rarely allowed in, but images of the data centers aren’t hard to find. Don’t believe us? Google it.

 

5. Jiangsu National Security Education Museum - Nanjing, China

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In 2009, China opened its very own spy museum. In its first year, it was closed to foreigners for fear of leaking national secrets, but it’s now open to the general public. However, there isn’t much information about what’s inside the museum, and there aren’t many photographs of the artifacts. 

According to The Los Angeles Times, the museum is filled with Chinese Communist Party propaganda, warning citizens about the CIA. Apparently the museum is more concerned with getting new recruits than spy nostalgia.

 

6. Lascaux Caves - France

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Discovered in 1940 by four French teens and their dog, these prehistoric caves are some of the finest examples of cave art ever found. Although they were open to the public, they were closed in 1963 due to humidity and carbon dioxide damage, released by dozens of visitors each day. 

Thankfully, the French government has recreated the cave (pictured above) down to the last detail, at a total cost of $64 million. Only scientists can see the real paintings, which are over 20,000 years old.

 

7. Bank of England Vaults - London, England

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The Bank of England is exactly as important as it sounds. In addition to regulating the British pound, it contains one of the largest gold reserves in the world. The gold vault was built in the 1930s, and stores over 400,000 bars. (Each bar weighs 28 pounds.) It may no longer be the main form of currency, but these gold bars are so exclusive that Queen Elizabeth got a private tour of the vault in 2012.

 

8. Moscow Metro-2 - Russia

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The Soviets were known for their secrecy, but it’s not known whether or not Joseph Stalin commissioned a secret metro line, nicknamed the Metro-2. Allegedly the line was started sometime before the Second World War, and other lines were added up until Stalin’s death in 1953. The lines were meant to transport heads of state as well as weapons, but as of today the Metro-2 is still an urban legend. 

This photograph is an alleged snap of one of its tunnels.

 

9. Pine Gap - Australia

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Thanks to leaked National Security Agency (NSA) documents, we know that the U.S. runs this secretive base, near Alice Springs, in partnership with the Australian government. They maneuver satellites to keep track of airstrikes, nuclear weapons, and other global intelligence plans. 

However, due to both countries’ involvement, activists flock around the base to protest its actions.

 

10. RAF Menwith Hill - United Kingdom

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Despite its location in North Yorkshire, this Royal Air Force base is run mainly by the NSA. The base has grown in size and importance in recent years, becoming vital for surveillance operations. Those giant geodesic golf balls are called radomes, and they protect radar equipment which monitors satellites. Although it was designed to eavesdrop on Soviet enemies during the Cold War, it now monitors everything from phone calls to wifi traffic.

 

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11. Room 39 - North Korea

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There is no getting inside Room 39, North Korea’s secret slush fund organization, under any circumstances. The office raises foreign currency for its leader, Kim Jong-un. 

According to a defector who spoke to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the money is raised by legal and illegal means through a network of ever-changing companies running goods across the Chinese border. The office, based in Pyongyang’s Workers Party Building, is accused by the U.S. government and the UN of selling narcotics and arms illegally.

 

12. Mezhgorye - Russia

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In the United States we have Area 51, and in Russia, they have the town of Mezhgorye. It housed hundreds of nuclear warheads when it was founded in 1979, but now it’s apparently just a closed town. According to the 2010 Census, it has a population of 17,352.

The town itself is closed off, meaning that its residents probably spend their time working on Russian military programs.

 

13. Snake Island - Brazil

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Ilha da Queimada Grande, 25 miles off the coast of Brazil, is called Snake Island for good reason. The Brazilian government has made it illegal to visit because there are simply too many deadly snakes inhabiting the island. 

In fact, the snake population is between 2,000 and 4,000, so it’s estimated that there could be one snake for every square foot of the island. The golden lancehead, a species of pit viper, can kill a human with just one bite if they’re not treated immediately.

 

14. Vatican Secret Archives - Vatican City

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This document, a letter from French philosopher Voltaire, is just one of thousands in the Vatican’s archives. The public isn’t allowed to peruse its amazing collection, but researchers are if they have the time to go to Rome and learn Latin. 

Not many documents have been digitized because they’re handwritten, making it hard for machines to scan them. But because the Catholic Church is so secretive, conspiracy theorists have tried to guess what’s inside their vaults for years.

 

15. Bohemian Grove - Monte Rio, California

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This photograph shows Harvey Hancock (standing), and two future presidents, Ronald Reagan (left) and Richard Nixon (right), in 1967. This gentlemen-only resort, in Monte Rio, California, has been the meeting place for America’s male elite since 1872, when the Bohemian Club was founded in San Francisco. 

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones infiltrated it in 2000 to report on its ceremonies. Protests occur just outside its grounds every year, but no one (aside from guests) is allowed inside.

 

16. North Sentinel Island - India

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North Sentinel Island, which lies between India and Thailand, is inhabited, but by a tribe completely cut off from civilization. They’ve lived like this for thousands of years, rarely coming into contact with outsiders. Almost nothing is known about the Sentinelese, mainly because they’re so hostile. 

In November 2018, an American missionary named John Chau tried to convert the tribe to Christianity. But, after many arrow wounds, he was killed and his body was taken away by the locals. Indian law prevents anyone from coming near the island.

 

17. Surtsey Island - Iceland

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This island, off the Icelandic coast, is among the newest on the planet. This photograph was taken in 1963, months after it first formed from a volcanic eruption. To protect its growing ecosystem, which now supports vegetation as well as puffins, only a few scientists are allowed on the island. It’s one of the few UNESCO World Heritage sites you’ll probably never have a chance to visit for yourself.

 

18. Poveglia Island - Italy

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Poveglia Island, near Venice, has a long history of death, insanity, and terror. During the bubonic plague days of the 18th century, Italians shipped their dying to this island to prevent the disease from spreading. A mental hospital operated there from 1922 to 1968, where legend has it that a doctor tortured and killed many of the patients. As many as 100,000 bodies may be buried on this tiny, demented island.

 

19. Svalbard Global Seed Vault - Norway

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This imposing building is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault on the Svalbard archipelago, halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole. It holds varieties of nearly every crop on Earth for preservation in case of natural disaster, and has thus been nicknamed the “Doomsday Vault.”

In all, there are nearly 1 million seed varieties, but there’s room for many more. The island’s naturally cold climate and permafrost ensure that no matter what happens to the planet, these seeds will survive.

 

20. North Brother Island - New York

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You may be surprised to learn that this small island is in New York City, right between the Bronx and Queens. Like Poveglia Island, North Brother Island has been home to many unfortunate events. It was a quarantine hospital starting in the 1880s, but in 1905 one of the city’s greatest tragedies occurred there. A steamship caught fire near the island, killing over 1,000 people. In 1963 the island was abandoned, and it’s now off limits, being reclaimed by nature.

 

 

 

 

 

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21. Ise Grand Shrine - Japan

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The Ise Grand Shrine is a sacred site in Japan dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu. The large complex consists of many smaller shrines (123) centered around two main shrines, Naiku and Geku. Ise Grand Shrine is purportedly the home of the Sacred Mirror, an Imperial Regalia of Japan. However, that fact is difficult to verify as the public is not allowed to enter or see inside the central shrines. Tall wooden fences block view and access to the main shrines, which only the Japanese royal family have access to.

 

22. Heard Island - Australia

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Heard Island is one of the most remote places on Earth, located about two-thirds of the way from Madagascar to Antartica. Despite its proximity, the island (and the group of islands that comprise the Heard Island and McDonalds Island territory) is part of Australia. The peaks of the volcanoes which form the islands are generally cold and it is considered an Antarctic climate. Due to this, the islands are uninhabited and primarily restricted from access by the Australian government. Occasionally the government permits access for research expeditions.

 

23. Tomb of Qin Shi Huang - China

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The Tomb of Qin Shi Huang, officially known as the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site constructed from 246 to 208 BC and is situated under a 76-meter-tall tomb. The tomb itself has not yet been excavated and is forbidden to be entered. Current excavation efforts surround the Terracotta Army in the extensive acropolis surrounding the tomb. The first fragments of the warrior statues were discovered in March 1974 and excavation efforts persist to today.

 

24. Pravcicka Brana - Czech Republic

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The Pravcicka brana is the narrow rock arch formation seen above. It’s located in Bohemian Switzerland in Czech Republic. The arch stands 16 meters above ground, is 26.5 meters long, and is the largest natural sandstone arch in Europe. In 1982, the government restricted public access to the site due to erosion, which was hastening due to so many visitors. Geologists believe the arch will eventually collapse on its own.

 

25. UN Buffer Zone, Cyprus

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This demilitarized zone (known colloquially as the green line) was first established in 1964, and reached its current length in 1974 following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. Much like the Berlin Wall of old, the barrier (which is made up of barbed-wire fencing, concrete wall segments, watchtowers, anti-tank ditches, and minefields) separates the island, and armed UN peacekeeping forces ensure there are no unauthorized crossings.

 

26. Dome of the Rock

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The Holiest site in Islam is also one of the of the world’s architectural marvels, and one of the most recognizable places on Earth from the outside. However, access to the Temple Mount is severely restricted, as non-Muslims are “not permitted to pray on the Temple Mount, bring prayer books, or wear religious apparel.”

 

27. Niihau Island

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Niihau is a privately owned island in the chain that makes up Hawaii. The island has been owned by the Robinson family for over 150 years, and currently houses approximately 160 Hawaiian natives who practice lei pūpū craftsmanship and speak traditional Hawaiian as their primary language. Other than these residents, the only people commonly allowed to visit the island are the Robinson family and their relatives, U.S. Navy personnel, government officials, and occasional invited guests. This strictness, combines with the WWII-era “Niihau incident” – when a Japanese fighter pilot who’d participated in the bombing of Pearl Harbor crashed on the island and took several hostages before being captured – have given the island an almost “urban legend” status.

 

28. Russian Submarine K-84 Ekaterinburg

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Russian Submarine K-84 Ekaterinburg is once again habitable, but an incident in 2011 left it forbidden to visitors for years thanks to a near-Chernobyl-level disaster. In 2011, a fire broke out on the scaffolding surrounding the nuclear submarine as it was docked in Murmansk for repairs. The fire extensively damaged the hull and left the vessel inoperable. The image above was taken after the sub was stripped bare. The controversy surrounds the cargo load of the sub at the time of the fire. The Russian government has claimed that all nuclear warheads had been removed from the vessel upon docking. But journalists reported that 16 nuclear missiles were onboard at the time of the fire and could have detonated if the fire had become uncontrollable. Since Chernobyl is still an embarrassing incident in Russian history, it’s likely the government lied about the missiles being removed from the submarine.

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