Forbidden Places People Are Not Allowed To Visit

The world is a big, beautiful place with many wonders. And though off-the-beaten-track travels have gathered some momentum in recent years, there are some places that you just cannot visit - well, at least very difficult to visit. Here is a list of places all around the world that are off-limits to visitors - you might know some of them already. But the others are rather obscure, with equally obscure reasons.  

Marshall Islands

Image Credits: Getty Images

Image Credits: Getty Images

Well, the islands themselves are not off-limits - just in certain areas. Marshall Islands, contrary to popular beliefs, is actually a sovereign state, with a close connection to the United States. So why is it on the list? Well, certain areas are - between 1946 and 1962, nuclear testing was carried out in the area, and therefore some places are still at risk of heavy radiation contamination. 

Pravcicka Brana, Czechia

Image Credits: Getty Images

Image Credits: Getty Images

The Pravčická brána, also known as the Pravčice Sandstone Gate, is a naturally formed sandstone gate in Czechia, also the biggest in Europe. It was open to the public before - but due to the risk of it collapsing caused by tourism and natural corrosion (and avoid injuries to tourists), it has been forbidden to step foot on the arch since 1982. But no worries - it is still possible to admire it from a distance. 

Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, Ukraine/ Belarus

Image Credits: Pixabay/Денис Резник

Image Credits: Pixabay/Денис Резник

Like my life thus far, not great, not terrible. The HBO series certainly brought much attention to the Chernobyl disaster again, a nuclear disaster that happened in 1986, in Pripyat, Ukraine. Even though 34 years have passed since the nuclear accident, the radiation level in the proximity remains relatively high, and even lethal in certain areas. Although now it is possible to travel by tours to certain areas in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, certain areas remain off-limits. There are groups known as stalkers who roamed secretly in the exclusion zone - but that’s something we do not recommend at all.

North Brother Island, New York

Image Credits: reivax

Image Credits: reivax

Similar to Poveglia Island that we covered already, North Brother Island is also, well, an island. Jokes aside, it is also an abandoned island, that once housed quarantine facilities. Typhoid Mary, the first known Typhoid case in the US, was admitted to the facility on North Brother Island. The medical nature of it explains why it was off-limits - but though it is abandoned already, it remains off-limits to visitors.

Niihau, USA

Image Credits: Getty Images

Image Credits: Getty Images

Ni‘ihau, or Niihau for its anglicized spelling, is an island located in Hawaii. The island has been privately owned by the same family since 1864 when Elizabeth Sinclair purchased it from King Kamehameha V for $10,000. However, this was not the reason why it was off-limits - a polio epidemic shut the island off from the outside world. Technically, to enter the island today, you have to be invited by either a member of the Robinson family or a permanent Niihau resident.

Dugway, Utah

Image Credits: Getty Images

Image Credits: Getty Images

Similar to the Marshall Islands, Dugway was also part of a nuclear test site - known as the Dugway Proving Ground. But instead of nuclear weapons, the nature of this test site is more sinister - biological and chemical agents, and meanwhile develop procedures to counter their effects. Again, you cannot visit the area for sure - but you can have a look at the photos, here.

Surtsey Island, Iceland

Image Credits: Getty Images

Image Credits: Getty Images

Surtsey Island is the youngest entry on this list - I mean seriously, as this island was formed on November 14, 1963, after a volcanic eruption. It is an island under Iceland’s sovereignty since it’s only 32 km from the south coast of Iceland. So why is it off-limits? Well, for a noble cause actually - free from human interference, Surtsey has been producing unique long-term information on the colonization process of new land by plant and animal life. Only certain scientists and researchers are allowed to step foot on the island. 

Lascaux Caves, France

Image Credits: Getty Images

Image Credits: Getty Images

Now, something older than most other entries from this list - much older actually. Lascaux is the setting of a complex of caves located in Southwestern France - but the caves aren’t what made it so special. Inside the caves, it contains over 600 parietal wall paintings, dated back to about 15,000-17,000 BCE, with the earliest art being created no later than 17,000 BCE. Today the cave is closed to help preserve the paintings. 

Poveglia, Italy 

Image Credits: Getty Images

Image Credits: Getty Images

Located between Venice and Lido in Northern Italy, Poveglia was used as a plague quarantine station from 1793-1814. Then In 1922, a mental hospital was opened in Poveglia - perhaps you kind of see what we are getting to here. Rumor has it that it was haunted - with thousands of people who spent their final days here. It was also said that the patients in the mental hospital were subject to inhumane treatment - that garnered its reputation. It is prohibited to enter the island these days. 

Norilsk, Russia

Image Credits: Getty Images

Image Credits: Getty Images

Russia is home to many, many closed cities in the world that are off-limits to visitors. Being the biggest country in the world, we are not surprised that there are hidden places that we have never heard of. One that is somewhat popular compared to others is Norilsk, a city situated above the Arctic Circle in Siberia. Known to be the world’s largest producer of palladium, nickel, platinum, and copper, it is also known for its poor pollution. And due to the abundance of strategic resources, it is off-limits to non-residents - if you can make it there, that is, since it is cut off from the rest of the country. Interested in what life there looks like? Check out the stunning photos from Russian photographer Elena Chernyshova.

Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Norway

Image Credits: Getty Images

Image Credits: Getty Images

Talking about disaster prevention, nearly a century later Norway has a more sensible way to prepare for the worst. Opened in 2008, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is home to 983,524 seed samples in 2018 - also hailed as the Doomsday Vault, the purpose of it is to have a reserve of seeds and plant samples should a total disaster happen, so that civilization will not face full extinction. Situated on an island above the Arctic Circle between Norway and the North Pole, it is not accessible by plane - it will only get you as far as Svalbard. Also, due to its nature - it is off limit to all visitors. So even if you somehow made it that far - you probably cannot get in.

Snake Island, Brazil

Image Credits: Flickr/governomunicipaldeitanhaem

Image Credits: Flickr/governomunicipaldeitanhaem

Ilha da Queimada Grande in Portuguese, Snake Island is an island off the coast of Brazil in the Atlantic Ocean. And as the name implies - it is full of snakes. I mean seriously, a lot of snakes. It is estimated that there are between one and five snakes per square meter, with an estimation of 2,000 and 4,000 snakes in total. The snakes aren’t the nice types either - it is home to the bothrops insularis, a very poisonous viper. Technically with permission from the Brazilian Navy, it is possible to enter the island legally - but why would you want to do that?

North Sentinel Island, India

Image Credits: NASA

Image Credits: NASA

You might have recalled this place from the case in 2018, where an American Missionary was attacked by the natives of the island. North Sentinel Island is situated in the Bay of Bengal, India. It is also the to the Sentinelese tribe, who rejected contacts with the outside world thus far. And in order to protect the island natives from contracting diseases that they have no immunity for, a bill was passed in 1956 to ban entry to the island and prohibits any approach closer than five nautical miles. Though prohibited and highly dangerous, there was an occasion where researchers were able to reach the island.

Space Shuttle Hangar, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan

Image Credits: David de Rueda

Image Credits: David de Rueda

This one is interesting - Baikonur, formerly known as Leninsk, is situated in Kazakhstan. Though it is under the sovereignty of Kazakhstan, the Baikonur Cosmodrome is leased to Russia until 2050, and it is the spaceport for Russia’s space operations. If you have the money, it is possible to join a tour around the spaceport. However, within the spaceport, there is also the hangar that houses the doomed space shuttle projects, which is off-limits to all visitors. The space shuttle, Buran, was developed under the Soviet Union. After its completion in the 80s, it did flew once into space in 1988. However, due to various reasons (e.g. the collapse of the USSR), the project was scrapped.

Ozersk, Russia

Image Credits: DIG Films

Image Credits: DIG Films

Known as 'The graveyard of the Earth', Ozersk, a closed city in Russia, is located inside Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia. Under the Soviet regime, it was only known as City-40, and the birthplace of the Soviet nuclear weapons program - for some time, residents were not able to leave the city, nor to make contacts with the outside world, their identities were even erased from the Soviet census. And yet, they were offered luxurious commodities that surpassed any other cities in the country. Even today, it is off-limits to visitors - and with the consequences of the Mayak incident that happened in the area, it’s probably not a good idea to visit there either. 

Peace Village, North Korea

Image Credits: Getty Images

Image Credits: Getty Images

Sometimes, international politics plays an important role in the creation of these forbidden places - Kijŏng-dong (Peace Village) is a fine example of that. Located inside the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, Kijŏng-dong is sometimes called the propaganda village - furnished houses, clean streets, organized planning… These are all in place to convince the other side that they are doing well. However, on closer inspection, the village seems to be uninhabited, with windows painted on, and the sole purpose of it is to convince the outside world that all is well in North Korea. 

Sha Tau Kok, Hong Kong

Image Credits: Getty Images

Image Credits: Getty Images

Talking about places whose existence is related to international politics - further away down South, a similar thing happened in Hong Kong. Hong Kong, whilst under the British Colonial rule, maintained a border with mainland China - and even after the change of sovereignty that took place in 1997, a border is still in place. Sha Tau Kok is a village on the frontier, inside the protected Frontier Closed Area - though technically it is possible to enter the area, a permit is required

Hashima Island, Japan

Image Credits: Getty Images

Image Credits: Getty Images

Also known as the Battleship Island, Hashima Island is an island located approximately 15km off the coast of Nagasaki. Once a prosperous industrial town, it was closed in 1974 when mining activities ceased on the island, and since been abandoned. A bit like Pripyat in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, nothing much changed after all these years, with abandoned buildings standing still, like a ghost town. But good news - it is technically possible to visit Hashima Island under certain restrictions. Fun fact: this is also the filming location for the movie Skyfall (James Bond).

Vatican Secret Archives, Vatican City

Image Credits: Getty Images/ Vittoriano Rastelli/ Corbis

Image Credits: Getty Images/ Vittoriano Rastelli/ Corbis

Honestly this kind of makes sense. Vatican City, the smallest country on earth, also houses one of the most secretive archives in the world - the Vatican Apostolic Archives. It is off-limits due to the storage of extremely valuable documents and priceless archives - including letters about King Henry VIII’s requests to divorce Catherine of Aragon, and the original acts of the 1633 trial of astronomer Galileo. It is understandable why it is off-limits. But good news - though you might not be able to enter the archives, you might be able to see the content still, in the near future.

Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor, China

Image Credits: Pixabay /Jacques Savoye

Image Credits: Pixabay /Jacques Savoye

According to history, Emperor Qin was the first Emperor in Chinese history to unite the entire country - geographically at least. Despite this feat, there had been disputes regarding his ruling, and numerous questionable policies were in place under his reign. Like many powerful figures in history, he too seeks immortality - thus, a gigantic mausoleum was built as his final resting place, with the terracotta warriors protecting him for centuries to come. Though parts of the mausoleum were open since its discovery, large areas of it remained unexplored due to the enormous size, and lethal traps that were left. Who knows, maybe one day we will get to pinpoint Qin Emperor’s grave’s location.

White´s Gentleman Club, England

Image Credits: Facebook/ Travel Summit

Image Credits: Facebook/ Travel Summit

White's is the oldest Gentleman's Club in London - also the most exclusive club there is. How exclusive you might ask? It’s members-only, first of all. And notable members included Charles, Prince of Wales and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. Former British Prime Minister David Cameron was also a member, whose father Ian Cameron had been the club's chairman. The club is an establishment made exclusively for gentlemen - and thus, no women were admitted. There were two exceptions though, when Queen Elizabeth II made a visit, the ban was lifted briefly. Ian Fleming, the man behind the creation of James Bond, was also a member of the club.

Moscow Metro-2 (D6), Russia

Image Credits: Wikipedia/ Anakin

Image Credits: Wikipedia/ Anakin

As we mentioned, there are a lot of hidden, unknown places in Russia - but this time, instead of Siberia, it is situated in Moscow, the nation’s capital. Metro-2 is a nickname given to the metro line, which is rumored to have been created in parallel to the actual metro that is open to the public. Also codenamed as D6 by the KGB (USSR’s equivalent of CIA), it was supposedly built under Stalin, to connect the strategic points in Moscow, such as Kremlin and the KGB headquarters, should a nuclear war/ total disaster break out. No one is entirely sure if it is still in use, nor how far exactly does it go - but explorers in Moscow seemed to have found an entrance to it.

Heard Island Volcano, Australia 

Image Credits: © DSEWPaC/ Steve Wray

Image Credits: © DSEWPaC/ Steve Wray

Heard Island is an Australian external territory that lies between Madagascar and Antarctica, approximately 1,700 km from the Antarctic continent. It contains Australia’s tallest mountain, with an active volcano - I guess now you know why it is off-limits. But apart from the potential danger from the volcanoes, the natural habitat there is also why it is off-limits to visitors. 

Zelenogorsk, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia

Image Credits: Getty Images

Image Credits: Getty Images

Another closed town in Siberia - however, this one is actually closer to the rest of civilization. Zelenogorsk in Krasnoyarsk Krai (not to be confused with other cities of the same name), like Norilsk, is also a closed town situated within the Krasnoyarsk Krai. Here is the place where the soviets (and the Russians) enrich the uraniums needed for nuclear energy - therefore off-limits to visitors. During the Soviet time, it was designated Krasnoyarsk-45 - which was actually a code for post offices, implying the place was actually located inside the city of Krasnoyarsk.

Coca Cola Vault, Georgia, US

Image Credits: Coca Cola

Image Credits: Coca Cola

I believe you must have heard of it somehow - Coca Cola is very protective when it comes to their secret recipe, it was believed that only a few people in the world know the exact recipe. It is so secretive that they claimed on their website that the secret formula of Coca-Cola is written on a piece of paper that is kept in a vault. Whether you believe this claim or not, it is nearly impossible to get into that vault, that’s for sure.

Mount Weather, Virginia, US

Image Credits: US Government

Image Credits: US Government

We covered a lot of secret military locations in Russia that’s off limit - but there are also a number of them in the US. One of them is located in Virginia - on Mount Weather. The Mount Weather national emergency operations center is run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which already explains its strategic importance. It is used as the center of operations for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and it is activated when there is a national emergency.

Have you heard of these places before? Would you like to see some of them at some point? Some of these places look amazing and I would love to see them with my own eyes...perhaps do Naruto run there as well. If you enjoyed reading this article, why not share it with your friends? Who knows, maybe one day these places will be open to visitors! 

Source: CNET, BBC, UNESCO, Lens Culture, Vice, Time, Atlas Obscura, NBC, Forbes, National Geographic, Wired, CNN, The Atlantic

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