The world is full of incredible and fascinating places that we would all love to visit at least once in our lives. However, there are some places that are strictly off-limits to the public due to safety, security, or other reasons. These forbidden places are often shrouded in mystery and speculation, which only adds to their allure. Here are 10 places on earth you are not allowed to visit.
1. Area 51 Military Base, Nevada, USA
This mysterious military base has long been the subject of conspiracy theories. Area 51 is a highly classified US military installation in the Nevada Test and Training Range.
Its secluded location in the Nevada desert has become synonymous with tales of UFOs and government cover-ups. While visitors may hope to one day explore the mystery of this secret base, unfortunately, that dream is unlikely to come to pass due to its highly restricted status.
The U.S. government has made it clear that Area 51 is off limits to the public as it is an active military base and is used for various national security purposes. The base is believed to be a testing site for experimental aircraft, weapons, and technology.
2. Snake Island, Brazil
Ilha da Queimada Grande, popularly known as Snake Island, is an island in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Brazil. It is home to a staggering 2000–4000 highly venomous snakes.
Due to the danger of being bitten by these deadly snakes, the Brazilian government closed off access to the island. The Brazilian navy limits access to the island. Biologists and researchers are granted special access to study these deadly residents; however, they must be accompanied by a doctor.
Even without a ban, the island would likely not be a desirable tourist destination due to the sheer number of deadly snakes. As such, it has been deemed too dangerous for visitors and remains off-limits.
3. Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Norway
Located deep in the Arctic tundra of Norway, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a secure backup facility for the world’s collection of plant seeds. This remote location was chosen precisely for its remoteness to provide insurance against loss of crops held in traditional gene banks around the world.
The vault contains approximately 4.5 million species of cultivated crop seeds, and does not allow any genetically modified plants. The seeds stored here come from existing seed banks in 233 countries and can be used to replant fields in case of natural disasters or civil unrest.
With the support of the international scientific community, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault provides a necessary backup plan for our global food supply and serves as an invaluable safety net against potential disaster. It is closed to the public and only accessible to researchers with special permission.
4. Sentinel Island, Andaman, and Nicobar Islands
Located in the Bay of Bengal, North Sentinel Island is a protected area of India, and the Indian government has banned its citizens from going anywhere near the island. It is illegal to go within three miles of the island.
The island is home to the Sentinelese, an uncontacted tribe who have lived in isolation for thousands of years, rejecting all contact with the outside world. The Sentinelese have been known to fiercely protect their territory.
Attempts by visitors to visit the island have resulted in their demise, with the exception of an Indian anthropologist who visited the isolated tribe in the 1990s and vowed to never return. Deep in the Indian Ocean, North Sentinel Island is one of the few places left in the world where the indigenous people can remain isolated and undisturbed by external forces.
5. Metro-2, Moscow, Russia
This secret underground subway system, Metro-2, was built during the Cold War and is rumored to connect the Kremlin with other important buildings in Moscow. It is off-limits due to the extreme security measures enforced by the Russian government.
This secret underground metro system parallels the public Moscow Metro and is built to serve as a command post and evacuation route for the highest ranking authorities in case of emergency.
In addition, it’s been said that this underground subway system provides transportation between deep underground command stations and a network of deep underground bunkers.
6. Lascaux Caves, France
The Lascaux Caves in southwestern France are a remarkable example of prehistoric art and have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. Unfortunately, due to the fragile nature of the artwork, access to the actual caves has been prohibited since 1963.
Nicknamed the “Sistine Chapel of Cave Art,” the caves contains approximately 600 drawn and painted animals, symbols and almost 1500 engravings. This restriction was put in place to prevent further damage from moisture and carbon monoxide from visitors’ breath, as the thousands of tourists visiting it every day were causing irreparable harm.
A replica cave has since been created for visitors to admire instead, while keeping the original safe and preserved.
7. North Brother Island, New York, USA
North Brother Island, located in the East River of New York City between the Bronx and Riker’s Island, has been off-limits to visitors since the mid-20th century. The island was once home to a quarantine hospital where patients suffering from infectious diseases such as smallpox, tuberculosis, and typhoid fever were treated.
It was also the site of the tragic General Slocum steamship disaster in 1904, which claimed over a thousand lives. In the 1950s, the island functioned as a drug rehabilitation center and was abandoned in 1963.
Today, the island is a protected bird sanctuary and a crucial habitat for various bird species. Due to the fragile ecosystem and the presence of hazardous materials on the island, visitors are not allowed to visit without permission from the New York City Parks Department.
8. Poveglia Island, Italy
Poveglia Island, located between Venice and Lido in the Venetian Lagoon of northern Italy, is known as one of the most haunted places in the world.
Its history dates back centuries and has been used for various purposes, from a quarantine station during the plague to an asylum in the 20th century.
It has since been abandoned, but the island still evokes fear as fishermen avoid navigating around the area and locals believe a witch cursed the island never again to be inhabited. With its dark past and eerie atmosphere, it is closed to the public.
9. Vatican Apostolic Archives, Rome, Italy
The Vatican Apostolic Archives, previously known as the Vatican Secret Archives, is an underground library with a rich collection of historical papers spanning twelve centuries.
In 1881, Pope Leo XIII restricted access to the collection to scholars stating that the notes exchanged and authored by nobility should not be viewed by the general public. Furthermore, Pope Paul V separated the Secret Archive from the Vatican Library, where scholars had limited access, and the archive remained inaccessible to the general public.
Not until Pope Leo XXIII in the nineteenth century did the archive become accessible to researchers. Contrary to popular belief, the Vatican’s Secret Archives are not actually secret. The term “secret” comes from a misinterpretation of the Latin word “secretum,” meaning private. The archives were established to serve as the official repository for the Holy See’s administrative documents, as well as the Pope’s correspondence and other related materials.
While many people may be interested in exploring this incredible trove of documents, unfortunately, it is not possible for visitors to wander around the Vatican Apostolic Archives. Currently, the archives are only accessible to scholars once they reach the age of 75.
10. Diego Garcia
Diego Garcia is a remote island located in the Indian Ocean, which is a British territory. The island is home to a significant military base, which is jointly operated by the United Kingdom and the United States.
Due to the island’s strategic importance, access to Diego Garcia is highly restricted, and the public is unable to visit. The military base on Diego Garcia has been used for a variety of purposes, including intelligence gathering, air and naval operations, and as a refueling station for military aircraft.
As a result, the island is considered a highly sensitive area, and access is limited to authorized military personnel only.
“Take memories only, leave footprints behind.”