Today it feels like the whole world has been explored, but there are still a handful of places around the world that are off-limits to humans. Today let’s look at 10 places you’re not allowed to visit.
You know that the most useless sign in the world is keep out sign. Because all of us have that voice of indignant rage in our head, the one that sees a keep out sign and is immediately like, “Oh, yeah, I’m going in there”
Can’t stop me! You can’t tell me what to do!
Let me tell you the story of how I almost got arrested by the Mexican police.
I was just out of college and a friend of mine invited me to his brother’s wedding in Nuevo Laredo, which is right across the Texas border from Laredo, this is where he grew up.
And I’d never been to Mexico before and back then I think crossing the border was easier because I didn’t even have a passport and I think Nuevo Laredo and Laredo were the same municipality, it just spanned the border so it was kind-of a middle-ground between countries…? I don’t know, thinking back the whole situation was kinda weird.
Anyway, as we were driving down he was giving me a heads up on how things worked and how the police operated… a little differently down there.
Basically, you could buy them off. Like you were supposed to buy them off, if the police stopped you, it was a shakedown situation.
He told me the magic phrase, which I don’t remember the exact Spanish translation but it meant, “Let’s take care of this here and now.” In other words, let me give you some money so you don’t take me to jail.
So one night he took me to this place that was his favorite spot when he was a kid. It was a giant mound out in the middle of a field away from the city where the skies were dark and you could see, like, all the stars, it was great.
So we’re hanging out, enjoying the view, having a few beers, talking about life and we see a car driving down the road and it stops behind where his car was parked.
And I didn’t know who this was, it was pretty nerve-wracking, you know you hear a lot of stories about things that happen across the border, gangs and whatnot so I was a little concerned but then we realized it was the police. And at first I was like, “Oh, good, it’s the police.” And then I thought about it. And then I was like, “Oh, shit, it’s the police.”
I should also point out I didn’t know who owned this land. And neither did my friend, it was just a place he found when he was a kid.
So we climbed down off of this mound and rushed back to the car. And my friend starts talking to the police and I’m just standing there not knowing what’s going on because my Spanish is… muy mal.
And it’s all kind of fine at first but then it starts to get heated. And my friend is like, “No! No no no!” And then he says that phrase. Which means they were wanting to take us to jail and he was offering to pay them off.
He turns to me and goes, “Go back to the car and grab as much cash as you can” So I do, I just walk over to the car and start digging around, which is kinda crazy in itself, they were perfectly fine with me sneaking back to the car to “grab something”. Don’t think that would fly here.
But I grabbed all the cash I could find, which amounted to… I kid you not… Three dollars.
In my defense, I was just out of college, that was probably my life savings at that point.
So I go back and show it to my friend and he’s like, “That’s it?” And I’m just (shrug shoulders). And I give it to the cop. And he looks at it. And he looks at me.
And I’m just standing there like, “Lo siento.” (I’m sorry)
Dealing with a couple of broke college pukes and decided they were wasting their time and told us to just get out of there, which we did.
The point of that story is… Well there’s not really much of a point except we were having a really great night before that.
There is something about forbidden places, there’s a draw they have, there’s something really interesting about going to a place that either nobody else has ever been… or you’re just not supposed to go.
And I think especially today when it feels like everything’s been mapped and explored the idea that there’s a place that you can’t go… It just kinda trips your brain.
But the world is actually full of forbidden places and secret spots that sadly, you’ll probably never get to see. So I picked 10 of them to talk about today.
Join me on a journey to the forbidden world!
Narrowing this list down to 10 means that obviously a lot of places are going to be left out, so some of the decisions here are just based on what I thought was most interesting.
But I decided to leave out obvious things like secret military bases like Area 51 or secret societies like the White’s Club in England or Club 33 at Disneyland, although if you want to see a video on those topics, just let me know. I know a guy that could make that happen. (beat) That guy is me.
Also to cram 10 places into this video I had to keep them short and sweet so if you want a deep dive on any of these places, you know what to do.
By the way, little bonus fact before we get started, something I just ran across, apparently the most powerful passport in the world is from the United Arab Emirates.
That’s according to the Arton Capital’s Passport Index, apparently the UAE passport offers visa-free or visa-upon-arrival access to 160 destinations, which is more than any other country’s passport. But even the most powerful passport in the world won’t get you in to these 10 places.
Lascaux Cave – France
This one’s kind-of a bummer really.
The Lascaux Cave is located in southwestern France. It includes almost 600 prehistoric cave paintings that date to around 17,000 to 15,000 BCE.
Most of the paintings are of animals applied either by fingers, brushes made of hair or moss, or by blowing pigment on a stencil or directly onto the walls.
Four boys discovered the cave in 1940. It opened to the public in 1948 but then was closed to people in 1963.
While it was open, as many as 1,500 visitors a day viewed the paintings. Carbon dioxide and human breath started to degrade the paintings.
Algae even began growing on the cave’s walls because of all the visitors.
Fungi is still an issue that is being controlled to this day in the cave.
But while you can’t visit the real cave, you can visit Lascaux II, which is a replica of the Great Hall of the Bulls and the Painted Gallery sections.
It opened in 1983 and is just 200 meters (656 feet) from the original cave.
North Sentinel Island
North Sentinel Island is located in the Indian Ocean. But good luck stepping foot on it or getting within five kilometers (three miles) of it.
The Sentinelese people who inhabit the island are extremely hostile to visitors, who may get met with arrows and pointed spears.
In fact, they so don’t like people coming to their island that they attacked and killed two fishermen who washed up on shore in 2006.
It’s unknown exactly how many people live on the island, but anthropologists believed the inhabitants have lived there in seclusion for the last 60,000 years.
With little to no contact with the outside world, the inhabitants’ immune systems are poorly equipped to handle anything passed along from visitors.
They just want to be left alone.
But that didn’t stop John Allen Chau in 2018.
Chau was a 26-year-old American missionary who ignored the warnings and tried three times to spread the message of Christianity on the island.
Much like visitors before him, the Sentinelese people killed Chau and buried him.
There’s another island you aren’t allowed to visit. But it’s not because of who lives there.
Located between Venice and Lido, Italy, Poveglia is nicknamed “the world’s most haunted island” and “the island of ghosts.”
For that reason, it’s a popular place for paranormal programs to film their shows.
And why might there be ghosts there?
It’s because during the Bubonic Plague in the 1300s, anyone showing signs of the disease was forced onto the island.
Tales say that Poveglia hosted more than 160,000 infected people over the years, with many of them burned and buried there.
One legend even claims that 50 percent of the soil is composed of human remains.
In 1922, the island was home to a mental hospital where it’s said that a doctor tortured and butchered many of his patients.
The hospital closed in 1968, but its ruins are still there, slowly being reclaimed by nature. In fact, all the structures are falling apart.
No boats go to the island, and Italy prohibits visits to it, unless you want to fill out a lot of paperwork.
Or for the right amount, you could probably find someone to boat you over to Poveglia.
Vatican Secret Archives
Since we’re in the area, let’s talk about the Vatican and its secret archives.
Okay, yes I’m breaking the rule I stated earlier about leaving out exclusive archives and clubs, but this place houses a lot of cool items.
Known as the Vatican Secret Archives until 2019, the place now goes by the name of the Vatican Apostolic Archives.
Pope Francis renamed it to remove the negativity around the word “secret.”
The archives include millions of documents across 12 centuries.
Some of the documents are the original acts of the 1633 trial of Galileo by the Roman Inquisition, King Henry VIII’s request to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn, and a document excommunicating Martin Luther from the Catholic Church.
The archives are only open to serious scholars who have to renew their credentials every six months.
They’re also only allowed to view up to three folders a day from a catalog of items written in Italian or Latin.
So, mark this one as just secret enough to spur some conspiracy theories of what’s in it, like a time machine and extraterrestrial skulls.
Snake Island, Brazil
Ilha da Queimada Grande is an island about 40 kilometers (25 miles) off the coast of Brazil. But visiting it may lead to your death.
It’s nicknamed Snake Island for a reason. It’s filled with golden lancehead snakes, which is a pit viper species and one of the world’s deadliest snakes.
One bite could cause you to die within an hour.
There are believed to be up to 4,000 snakes on the island, which used to be part of Brazil’s mainland.
But rising sea levels 10,000 years ago separated it from the South American landmass.
The isolated snakes evolved differently than those on the mainland.
Since they had no prey but birds, they evolved their venom to be extra potent so they could kill almost instantly any bird.
North Brother Island, NY
Like Poveglai, another place off-limits to visitors because of crumbling buildings is North Brother Island in New York.
Humans used to live on the island, which housed the Riverside Hospital from 1881 to 1943.
The hospital included the Tuberculosis Sanatorium and pavilions for designated illnesses, laboratories, and homes and dormitory facilities for doctors, nurses, and other staff members.
In fact, “Typhoid Mary” lived and died in those facilities.
But time has done its toll, and all 25 buildings are in various states of dilapidation.
Northern Brother and South Brother islands are part of the Harbor Herons Region. The birds use the islands in spring to nest and rear their young.
For that reason, no visitors are allowed from March 21 to September 21.
But also, you can’t visit because of the physical conditions of the buildings. Only people with academic or scientific purposes are allowed on the island.
Room 39, North Korea
Okay, I’m going to kind of break my rule again and talk about a room that’s inaccessible to an average visitor.
It’s believed to be located in the Workers’ Party building in Pyongyang, North Korea, one of the world’s most secretive nations.
The place is called Room 39, and what we know about it comes primarily from defectors.
It’s where the North Korean government plotted and conducted a lot of nefarious activities. These include
- Money counterfeiting
- Illegal arms and drug deals
- Cybercrime operations
In fact, cybercrime may be Room 39’s biggest operation, with thousands of hackers thought to be working there.
For now, Room 39 will remain a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.
Winston Churchill is the one who originally said, “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” But he was describing Russia when he said it in 1939.
Like North Korea, Russia is known to be highly secretive. And one of its secrets is a tunnel system called Metro-2.
Apparently, Joseph Stalin had this secret system built so that he and his loyal comrades could escape if a revolution took place.
And just like North Korea, what we know about Metro-2 comes from defectors, like former KGB colonel and double agent Oleg Gordievsky.
“You still do not know the main KGB secret yet: a huge underground city, a whole communications network of such facilities,” he said. “But they will not show you. They will never, of course.”
Surtsey Island, Iceland
Now we go from secretive to something remarkably special, an island that’s off-limits because scientists want to see how life evolves there.
Surtsey is located about 32 kilometers (20 miles) from Iceland’s south coast.
It’s a new island formed by volcanic eruptions that happened from 1963 to 1967. It’s been protected since its birth.
Surtsey has produced information on the colonization process of new land by animal and plant life.
Scientists started studying the island in 1964 and have seen the arrival of seeds carried by ocean currents; the appearance of bacteria, fungi, and molds; and the first vascular plant in 1965.
There have been 89 species of birds recorded on the island. Insects and marine animals are also present.
Chapel of the Ark of the Covenant, Ethiopia
The Ark of the Covenant is a sacred, gold-covered chest of the Israelites. It is rumored to contain the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s rod, and a pot of manna.
In the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Nazis wanted to find it because ownership would make an army invincible.
I won’t spoil the plot for you in case you haven’t seen it, but I will tell you where the ark is currently.
Or maybe I should say, where it’s rumored to be, which is in Aksum, Ethiopia, in the Head Church of the Churches, Holy of Holies, the Virgin Mary of Zion.
Ethiopian Orthodox Christians believe it was brought to Aksum by Menelik, the son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon of Israel after Jerusalem was sacked in 586/587 BCE.
A priest is appointed for life to watch over the ark, and he’s not allowed to leave the precincts.
No one is allowed to see the ark, not even the head of the Ethiopian church.
But there’s been at least one non-Ethiopian person who saw the ark: Ethiopiologist Edward Ullendorff.
“I’ve seen it. There was no problem getting access when I saw it in 1941,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1992. “… they have a wooden box, but it’s empty. Middle- to late-medieval construction, when these were fabricated ad hoc.”
For the record, Ethiopians say it’s inconceivable that he saw it. He must have been shown a fake, they say. But I guess we’ll never know.
, those are 10 places I ran across, maybe theres’s a few in there that you haven’t heard of but my question is, if you could go to any of these, which one would it be?
Mine would be Lascaux cave. Like it really does bum me out that you can’t go there, but I get it.
Actually, here’s an even better question – have any of you actually been to any of these places?
I said it was impossible but I mean obviously some people have gone to those places.
No, I’m really curious, I wonder how many people who see this have actually been to one of them. Sound off in the comments, I wanna know.