Top 10 forbidden places you will never visit

By Tomi Stojanovic
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Some people say that they have the world in the palm of their hand, but unfortunately for them, there are some places they’ll never see. The world has many fascinating and amazing places that we can’t wait to explore. But, amongst them, there are places that are dangerous, forbidden, protected or secretive. Only selected people are allowed to see these particular spots, often at the risk of getting injured or worse, die.

If you’re planning to take a trip around the world, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to cross these ten destinations off your list. While these places are mysterious and beautiful, they are often forbidden to travelers. From restricted holy sites to former insane asylums, here is a list of 10 places you cannot visit.

1. Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Norway

Svalbard Global Seed Vault – Author: Landbruks- og matdepartementet – CC BY-ND 2.0

Located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen near Longyearbyen, this facility is set to save humanity, if needed. It holds a series of vault houses that contain a global supply of different seeds, in the case of a catastrophic disaster impacting the Earth unexpectedly. Unless you’re a researcher or a scientist, you’re not allowed anywhere near it.

2. Lascaux Caves, France

Wall painting in the Lascaux Caves, France

The home of one of the most celebrated examples of Palaeolithic painting, the labyrinthine Lascaux Caves are located in southwestern France. According to archeologists, the artwork, which primarily depicts large animals, is probably more than 17,500 years old. Sadly, you will never see it, unless you already have. Once, the caves were open to the public but were later closed when the humidity, carbon dioxide, and other contaminants that visitors produced began to damage the wall art. These days, the caves are protected by UNESCO, as a World Heritage Site, and almost no one is allowed inside, except a security guard, who visits once a week.

3. Poveglia, Italy

Poveglia Hospital – Author: Chris 73 – CC BY-SA 3.0

Located between Lido and Venice in Northern Italy, this small island is a real-life version of Shutter Island. It was once home to a mental institution where scientists allegedly used to torture and experiment upon patients. It was also used as a quarantine colony. During times of plague, many bodies were brought there and burned on giant pyres. Today, this small island is one of the most off limits of travel destinations, mainly due to the fact that it’s widely considered to be haunted.

4. Ilha da Queimada Grande, Brazil

Ilha Queimada Grande – Itanhaém – Author: Prefeitura Municipal Itanhaém
– CC BY 2.0

For most people, the name of this island sounds lovely and exotic. It’s not hard to imagine a tropical beach, a cocktail in your hand while you sunbathe in the sun and the azure waves lap the shore. That is, until you hear its nickname: Snake Island. On this Brazilian island, there are no human residents, only thousands of golden lancehead pit vipers, which are considered to be one of the deadliest snakes in the world. The government has banned any visits to this scary island, except for some, probably insane, scientists.

5. Area 51, Nevada, USA

Area 51, Nevada

This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the famous Area 51, a secret military base in southern Nevada. Until 2013, this site wasn’t even officially acknowledged, when CIA released documents that confirmed its existence. Nobody knows what exactly happens in this facility. Most likely, it’s used for the development and testing of weapons and aircraft for the US military, but many conspiracy theorists believe that it’s used to research extraterrestrial objects. So, unless you work for one of the top government institutions, there is no chance of getting inside.

6. North Sentinel Island, Andaman Islands, India

North Sentinel Island, India

Located in the Bay of Bengal, North Sentinel Island is occupied by nobody other than the indigenous Sentinelese people. The native population has the reputation of being hostile, and they reject any contact with all other people. That’s why this island remains untouched by modern civilization. The government of India has declared it as an exclusion zone, and we recommend you don’t go anywhere near its shores unless you want an arrow in your leg.

7. Surtsey, Iceland

Surtsey Island – Author: CanonS2 – CC BY-SA 2.0

This island is known as one of the youngest places on the planet. It emerged from the Atlantic near the southern coast of Iceland after an extended volcanic eruption in the 1960s. The island is one of the world’s most pristine natural environments since only a few scientists have been allowed to set foot on it. Researchers who visit this island stay in a tiny hut with few amenities. After every visit, they have to erase all traces of their existence from this young island.

8. Mezhgorye, Russia

Mezhgorye, Republic of Bashkortostan – Author: Pesotsky – CC BY 3.0

Just like Area 51 in the States, Mezhgorye is a closed, mysterious town in the Republic of Bashkortostan, in Russia. Most likely the residents of this town are working on a secret program related to nearby Mount Yamantaw, a bunker or a nuclear facility. Throughout the years, the Russian government has given different inconclusive answers regarding its purpose, ranging from food storage to being a repository of national treasures, to a coal warehouse. One thing is for sure, this place won’t be your next travel destination.

9. Vatican Secret Archives, Vatican City, Italy

Vatican Secret Archives – Author: Collective – CC BY 3.0

Deep within the walls of the Vatican City, sit the famous Vatican Secret Archives. Home to an immense historical treasure of papal account books, official correspondence, state papers, and other important documents, some of which are more than a thousand years old. The archives have been estimated to span over 52 miles of shelving and consist of more than 35,000 items. They include letters from Michelangelo, a request for a marriage annulment by King Henry VIII, a letter from Mary Queen of Scots before her execution, and many others. Unless you are a qualified scholar from one of the select higher education and research institutions, the chances of getting in are minimal. Even then, you’ll have to go through a meticulous application process to access this facility.

10. Tomb of Qin Shi Huang, China

Terracotta soldiers

This famous historical site is the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, China’s first Emperor, who died in 210 BC. Buried deep beneath a hill in Central China, the tomb is made of a complicated network of underground caverns, which were filled with clay reproductions of his family, horses, staff, servants, and army, also known as the Terracotta Army. The tomb was discovered in 1974, and since then over 2,000 statues have been excavated. Scientists believe that there might be more than 6,000 more statues in the central tomb, which is now a restricted area. The government doesn’t allow for the excavation of the emperor’s tomb, giving the respect due to the ancient burial rites. Luckily for you, there is a chance to catch a glimpse of the clay army if you go on one of the site tours. Unfortunately, you probably will never get the chance to go deep into the tomb itself.

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