There's nothing more intriguing than a forbidden place. The fact that you are not allowed to go somewhere makes you want to visit it even more. Well, if that's your kind of thing, prepare for a joyful ride as we discuss the world's most mysterious and forbidden places, many of which are impossible to visit. In this list, compiled by Bored Panda, we discover everything from secret societies to islands where you'll end up killed if you decide to go. These are places that are like magnets for the curious of mind, you probably shouldn't try to go, but you definitely should want to! Because there's nothing more interesting than the unknown.
Scroll down to learn more, and if you know other interesting places we're not allowed to visit, make sure you tell us in the comments!
#1 Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Norway
Deep inside the Arctic circle, on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, the Global Seed vault is hidden deep inside a mountain. It is sometimes called 'The Doomsday Vault”, because even in the worst scenario of a disaster to mankind it would preserve the diversity of the world's food crops and restore the plant kingdom. It was built to last around 200 years and withstand earthquakes and explosions. It was placed on the side of a mountain so even if all the ice on earth melts, it will still be above sea level. The vault contains 100 million seeds, a complete ‘backup’ of Earth's food-crop seed at the present time.
Policy is invalid here – even North Korea has frozen its seeds there. The first withdrawal from the vault was recently made by Syria in order to recreate an International Research Centre in Aleppo which was lost to war. It was used to store the genetic material of crops. Today these lost stores have become of vital importance in war-torn and drought-affected Syria.
Make sure you check our article to learn more about the Global Seed Vault!
#2 North Sentinel Island, India
North Sentinel Island is a home to the Sentinelese, which is one of a few tribes in the world that have zero contact with modern civilization. It is believed that the tribe survives by hunting, fishing, and collecting wild plants, but there are no signs of agriculture or fire. The first successful expedition was in 1967, lead by T.N. Pandit. Despite that, to this day the tribe refuses to have any contact with the modern world, as they violently drive away anyone who tries to enter their premises. In 2006 the tribe killed two fishermen who accidentally entered their territory but no attempt was made by the Indian government to prosecute the murders. Now, it is strictly forbidden to enter this island, and entering it may result in death.
Make sure you check our article about this island to find out more!
#3 Ploutonion At Hierapolis Or Pluto’s Gate, Turkey
Located in the ancient city of Hierapolis (Turkey), it was once a site dedicated to the Roman god of death, Pluto. Ancient historian Strabo visited the place and said that “Any animal that passes inside meets instant death. I threw in sparrows and they immediately breathed their last and fell”. After discovery in 1965, Pluto’s Gate’s dangers were proven to be more than just a myth. Scientists measured the CO2 concentration and discovered that while during the day the sun dissipates the gas, at night, when the temperature drops and CO2 becomes heavier than air, it pools at the bottom forming a deadly “lake”. At dawn, the CO2 concentration 40 centimeters above the arena floor reaches 35%, which is enough to kill animals and even people within minutes. Luckily, the concentration drops significantly with height, so standing by the “gates” would only pose a threat to smaller animals.
#4 The Catacombs, Paris
One of the best known mysterious and scary places from all around the world are the Catacombs of Paris. What was first built as a tunnel network to consolidate Paris’ stone mines became a storage for 6 million dead bodies at the end of XVIIIth century. Even though a very small part of these tunnels is open to the public, where you can see thousands of bones and skulls stacked together, 99% of the 170-mile long maze is forbidden to enter because getting lost there is almost a guarantee. Yet that does not stop people and mysterious secret society members from finding their ways into these places and making trouble for the special Catacomb Police Force, the Cataflics.
Make sure to check our article to learn more about the Catacombs.
#5 Poveglia Island, Italy
Poveglia is an island known as one of the most mysterious and creepy places in the world. It all started during the Roman Empire when the island was used to home victims of the plague. Later, during the medieval era, when the plague returned, the island once again became a home to thousands of deadly sick people. A terrible amount of people were dumped into the ground, buried in the same graves and even burned. People say that the land became so affected by the burned and rotten human corpses, its soil is now 50% composed of human ash. Then, back in 1922, they opened a mental hospital here. It is safe to say that it did not affect the patients in a positive way, since the island already had a truly creepy vibe to it. Now, you can still find washed up human bones on the island’s shore due to the horrific amount of humans killed there. With many people saying this place is haunted, no wonder this island is illegal to visit, and we’re not sure anyone would want to go there.
#6 Mausoleum Of The First Qin Emperor, Qin Shi Huang, China
Located in Lintong District, Xi’an, Shaanxi (China), Qin Shi Huang’s tomb is a place where entry is forbidden. Even though discovered when the Terracotta army was unearthed in 1974, the tomb hasn’t been excavated yet. Opponents of excavation believe that current technology couldn’t preserve anything that the tomb holds, therefore access to it is forbidden.
#7 Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, Ukraine
1986 is the year of the tragic nuclear accident now known as the Chernobyl disaster. Due to high radiation levels, every local was ordered to immediately leave the premises and the territory quickly became abandoned. Now, you can still find abandoned shoes, toys and other possessions left behind because of the rapid evacuation. Even though there are excursions that allow you to check some parts of the town, there is a 19 mile zone, also known as Chernobyl Exclusion Zone or The Zone. This territory is strictly forbidden for any access as it will result in radioactive contamination.
Make sure to check our article about Chernobyl and how it looks 32 years after the tragedy.
#8 Ilha Da Queimada Grande (Snake Island), Atlantic Ocean
Ilha da Queimada Grande island is located off the coast of Brazil in the Atlantic Ocean. It is the only home to now critically endangered venomous golden lancehead pit viper. The island is closed to the public in order to protect this snake population as well as protect the visitors, as by some estimates there is one snake to every square meter of the island.
#9 Surtsey, An Island In Iceland
Surtsey is a piece of land that formed in 1963, after a huge volcanic eruption that lasted for 3 years. Now, the land is only used for scientific research. The main focus of the work is to better understand how an ecosystem forms without any human impact. There are only a couple of scientists that are allowed on the island’s premises, making it one of a few forbidden places on earth. One of the main rules for scientists is not to bring any seeds with you. Well, someone did not pay close enough attention to this rule and pooped on some lava. After that, a tomato plant sprouted up on the island leaving the scientists truly mystified. After they realized the origin of the plant it was immediately destroyed, as it would disturb their scientific research.
Make sure you check our article about this island to find out more interesting information!
#10 Area 51, USA
Area 51 is a U.S. military installation that is located 100 miles north of Las Vegas. It is considered to be one of the most mysterious places in the world since the U.S. government denied its existence until just 2013. Now, it is mostly known for its many UFO conspiracy theories. The area is mainly used by CIA and the U.S. Air Force as a testing territory because of its remote location. Despite it being a military installation, many people believe that it might be the place where scientists research a crashed alien spacecraft. Many conspiracy theory enthusiasts visit the nearby territory to Area 51, yet entrance is completely prohibited.
#11 Metro-2, Line D6, Russia
During the reign of Stalin, a secret system of underground transport was built known as Metro-2. This mysterious metro system supposedly connects administrative institutions like the Kremlin, Vnukovo-2 airport and General Staff Academy. It is reported that the tunnels also include apartments and technical rooms. Since the system was not available for outsiders, it is believed to be a secret escape tunnel for high-level officials during war. The Moscow metro administration denies the existence of these tunnels, yet back in 1994 an urban exploration group claim to have found the entrance to the underground system. Now, only one out of four lines is confirmed to exist, and that is the line D6. Access to this place is strictly forbidden for outsiders and it can only be entered with a special pass.
#12 The Lascaux Caves
The Lascaux Caves is a complex of caves near the village of Montignac. The ceilings and walls of this cave are covered with parietal wall paintings, representing primarly large animals. It is believed that the age of the paintings is estimated at around 17,000 years. Back in 1940 the caves were discovered by 18-year-old Marcel Ravidat, leaving many people wondering about their origin and meaning. Antropologists believe that these paintings might symbolize past hunting success, or a mystical ritual in order to improve hunting in the future. Opening the caves during WWII changed the cave environment. The 1,200 visitors per day, changes in air-circulation, and the presence of light caused irrepearable damage to the paintings, resulting in a closure of these caves in 1963.
#13 Vatican Secret Archives, Vatican City
The Vatican and the Catholic Church already seem to be mysterious as it is, but did you know they had a secret archive where they store documents relating to the Catholic Church, and some of them can date as far back as the eighth century? The entire archive is so huge it has 53 miles of shelves, and entrance is strictly forbidden for anyone who is not a researcher with a special permission for access. The place includes such documents as information of Martin Luther’s excommunication and a letter from Michelangelo to Pope Julius II.
#14 Niihau Island, Hawaii
Niihau is an island situated in Hawaii that is often called ‘The Forbidden Island’. Back in 1864, it was bought by Elizabeth Sinclair and it has been privately owned ever since. It first got its name back in 1952 when, during the polio epidemic on the Hawaiian islands, it was forbidden to leave and enter the island in order to avoid the disease. Luckily, this way nobody on the island got sick. Now, with a population of 170 people, this island remains one of the most coveted travel destinations in the world, yet only a few receive permission to visit it. People say that even royalty or extremely rich people have to request entry. For example, music legend Mick Jagger was once denied clearance to land his helicopters on the island's premises.
#15 North Brother Island, Usa
North Brother Island is a 13-acre piece of land located in the East River, a couple of miles away from Manhattan, New York. It is a place where over 1.000 people died after a passenger ship sank in the island’s waters. Later it was a Riverside Hostipal where they treated contagious diseases. The most notorious resident was Mary Mallon, better known as Typhoid Mary. Mary was the first documented person in the USA to be identified as an asymptomatic carrier of the bacteria that causes typhoid fever. It is believed that she infected more than 50 people with the disease, 3 of whom died. While she always denied being a carrier, she rarely washed her hands while making desserts and apparently spread the bacteria to anyone who ate them. The island was later abandoned until the 1950’s when a center opened to treat drug addicts. Now it is a bird sanctuary for herons and other wading shorebirds. The island is currently abandoned and off-limits to the public.
Make sure you check our article about this island to find out more!
#16 Fukushima Exclusion Zone, Japan
Back in 2011, the Fukushima nuclear disaster struck Japan, residents within 18 miles of the plant were urged to evacuate. It is the second disaster to be given the Level 7 event classification of the International Nuclear Event Scale, next to Chernobyl. Due to its extreme radiation, nobody is allowed to enter these premises, yet one man was brave (or foolish?) enough to go there, without any proper equipment. Keow Wee Loong, a 27 -year-old Malaysian photographer, chose to illegally sneak into Fukushima’s exclusion zone. “It feels like a real-life version of Fallout” – Keow Wee told Bored Panda.
Make sure to check our article about Keow Wee's trip to learn more about the Fukushima tragedy.
#17 Grand Shrine Of Ise, Japan
The Grand Shrine of Ise is a holy or sacred place where they worship Amaterasu, a goddess of the sun and the universe of the Shinto religion. The temple is built without using any nails, but simply joining wood instead. The most interesting part is that the temple is rebuilt every 20 years, honoring the Shinto concept of death and rebirth. It is also a way to continue the long ongoing tradition of building the temple by only interlocking the joints. Despite the beauty and the holiness of the temple, only the priests and the representatives of the imperial family can enter the territory. So, the only chance to catch a glimpse of this incredibly holy place is through wooden fences, and you can’t take any photos either.
#18 Bohemian Grove, Usa
Bohemian Grove is an annual ‘camp’ located in Bohemian Avenue, in Monte Rio, California. Every year around 2,500 elite men participate in this event, that first started back in 1872. The event invites only the most important figures in the world, such as high-ranking politicians, nobel prize winners, various military officials, also the presidents of elite universities such as Harvard or Yale. It is said that during the event, the Bohemian Club performs plays and rituals as a part of the tradition. The Club’s motto is “Weaving Spiders Come Not Here”, which implies that outside concerns are not to be discussed during the event. To this day the event is strictly male-only as women can only work as employees there. Journalist Jon Ronson described the club as simply immature: “My lasting impression was of an all-pervading sense of immaturity: the Elvis impersonators, the pseudo-pagan spooky rituals, the heavy drinking. These people might have reached the apex of their professions, but emotionally they seemed trapped in their college years.”
#19 Morgan Island (Monkey Island), South Carolina
Morgan Island, located north of Beaufort in South Carolina, is also known as Monkey Island. It got its nickname from the colony of around 4,000 rhesus monkeys living there. However, the population is not native as the monkeys were relocated there from La Parguera, Puerto Rico. As monkeys infected with the herpes B virus started escaping and La Parguera was overpopulated with monkeys, South Carolina offered to relocate the colony to their uninhabitated Morgan Island. Currently, the law prohibits anyone visiting the island for their own (as well as the monkey’s) safety. The only people allowed on the island are researchers working for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), who own the monkeys living there.