In today’s digitally interconnected world, people and places seem closer than ever before. Information is mere clicks away. However, no matter how accessible we think the world is, there are still some places that remain out of reach.
Check out the following list of 49 places in the world that are off-limits to the common person and learn why they will remain so.
Whether or not you like Coca-Cola, it’s hard not to be impressed by how long the company has guarded its secret recipe. Since the late 1800s, the soda’s invaluable list of ingredients has been safely protected in a set of vaults in Atlanta, Georgia.
While people can view the outside vault, the inner one remains incognito. Only two employees have access to the recipe; if one of them dies, the other needs to choose a successor from within company ranks.
Off the coast of Brazil lies Snake Island, aptly named for the majority of its scaly occupants. Home to 430,000 snakes, many of which are endangered species, the 430,000-square-meter island is so overrun by serpents that the snake-to-land ratio is about one snake per square meter.
It’s no wonder then that Snake Island is off-limits to travelers; the only way to visit is with the Brazilian Navy, though it might be difficult finding a tourist who would want to visit.
Google’s reach spans the globe, and so do its high-security Data Centers, where the company stores users’ personal information. Located in 15 different highly secured sites around the world, Google Data Centers also store companies’ proprietary information.
Given the vast amount and sensitive nature of the data being stored and protected at these centers, they are not open to visitors. Company-Authorized pictures are the only way that Google allows people to catch a glimpse of their Data Centers.
Hawaii offers many picturesque views, but one of its islands, Niihau, is memorable for an additional reason: Its residents live there rent-free. Before you start packing your suitcases, know that Niihau had not allowed newcomers since 1864, when the Robinson family purchased it from the Kingdom of Hawaii.
Non-natives can still dream of life on Niihau. It is serene, with no cars or roads. However, there is also no running water, telephones or stores. Neighboring islands deliver necessities by boat.
While diamonds are mined all over the world, Canada’s Northwest Territories is home to some of the most beautiful gems. Since opening in 2003, the Diavik Diamond Mine and its 1000-strong workforce have significantly contributed to the world’s supply of rough diamonds.
With a state-of-the-art industrial complex, the mine annually produces between 6-7 million carats of rough diamonds, weighing a total of 1400 kilos. A one-of-a-kind destination, yet its valuable output makes the Diavik Diamond Mine off-limits to visitors.
For centuries, Turkmenistan has been Central Asia’s crossroads of civilization, and its capital city, Ashgabat, is a historic jewel. Preserving Ashgabat’s beauty for the world to see is of utmost national importance, so, according to rumors, natives are not allowed in the capital.
While open to international tourists, Ashgabat has many rules, including prohibiting tourists from sleeping on public transportation. But who would want to close their eyes and miss out on enjoying all of the city’s beauty?
In 1986, the Ukrainian city of Chernobyl was evacuated after the worst accident in history at its nuclear power plant. Even after 30 years, the affected 30-kilometer area, called the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Zone of Alienation, remains a ghost town.
Today, Chernobyl has only a few hundred people, with only two stores and one hotel for the few tourists that dare to visit with Ukrainian-government-organized tours. This decimated city has health risks, as its surroundings are the world’s most polluted.
The Ise Grand Shrine is one of Japan’s most holy sites and is home to the Sacred Mirror, considered to have been created by a Shinto deity but lost in a fire during the 9th century. The Shinto shrine complex contains two main shrines where annual festivals are held for the public.
While people can visit many parts of this complex, including its beautiful surrounding forest areas, there are many parts of the shrine complex where the public entrance is forbidden.
Every Aliens lover and conspiracy chaser around the globe is more than curious about Area 51 in Nevada. For decades, the top-secret activities within its premises have been the source of conspiracy theories, including many involving Aliens and UFOs.
Though the CIA admitted to Area 51’s existence in 2005 following a Freedom of Information Act request, the intelligence agency has remained tightlipped about its actual purpose and goings-on. Officially known as Groom Lake and Homey Airport, Area 51 is a forbidden destination full of mysterious secrets.
Keep reading to find where the secret recipe is held for everyone’s favorite fast-food dish
Corporate security expert Bo Dietl watches as Roger Eaton, president of KFC USA, places Colonel Harland Sanders’ handwritten Original Recipe into KFC headquarters’ newly modernized vault.
When chicken tastes as good as Kentucky Fried Chicken does, it’s no surprise that the recipe is in high demand. But the company takes steps safeguarding its secret recipe, which is signed by Harlan Sanders and kept in a vault.
For instance, half of the recipe’s spice mixture is created in the Griffith Laboratories before being sent to McCormick company, where it is completed. Once the herbs and spices are mixed to perfection, the mixture is then sent to KFC.
Raw, pure beauty abounds in Iceland, and so do volcanos. However, one of the country’s volcanic islands, Surtsey, won’t be around much longer to admire. Starting in the 1960s, the island experienced four years of constant eruptions, which resulted in major land erosion.
Surtsey’s land mass diminished from 2.7 square kilometers to less than half of that area. According to scientists, the only ones allowed on Surtsey, by 2100, what remains of the island will fall below the sea level.
Only a lucky few can experience a fairy tale come to life. At Disneyworld, the Disney Family renovated a Cinderella hotel suite that had been created just for them, turning it, instead, into special VIP hotel rooms. The suite features castle-like stone walls, an inlaid marble floor, and hardwood paneling.
It is also elaborately designed with the pumpkin coach that swept Cinderella to the ball. However, this dream-like suite is only available to specially invited, rich and famous guests.
Keep reading to learn where England stashes its wealth
The Bank of England, established in 1694, is the United Kingdom’s Central Bank, whose safes are kept safe underground, well beneath London.
The Bank of England not only safeguards gold reserves belonging to the UK and 30 other countries, but it also stores 3% of all gold that is mined, which is worth more than £156 billion. Therefore, its security systems are unparalleled, at least a thousand times stronger than those of any other regular bank in the entire country.
Italy offers more than just beauty and romance – it also has a haunted island full of chills. Located between Venice and Lido lies the Poveglia Island, where, during the 18th century, numerous victims of the Black Death were buried. Since then, more than 100,000 people have died on this island.
It also once had a hospital and asylum where doctors were rumored to perform lobotomy experiences. It is no surprise that Poveglia Island has been known for its paranormal activities.
While London’s stunning Buckingham Palace, the Royal Family’s place of residence, is open to tourists, there are some rooms, like the Queen’s bedroom, that are naturally off limits. However, in 1982, one person, Michael Fagan, succeeded in sneaking past security to enter the Queen’s bedroom.
In what appeared to be his second attempt to meet the Queen, a daring Fagan managed to get through the Royal Bedchamber and decided to wake up a startled Queen Elizabeth, who called security immediately.
For history buffs interested in World War I, France may be appealing for its restricted 1200-square-foot area called the “Zone Rouge” or “Red Zone.” While this area was eradicated during the war 100 years ago, it is off limits still today because of a large number of explosives and bodies that remain in and around it.
Therefore, the French government has prohibited anyone from trespassing in this zone, though it is taking steps to clear the area.
In the Bay of Bengal lies North Sentinel Island, far removed from modernity and the comforts of the Western world.
This island’s natives prefer seclusion, going to great lengths to keep the outside world from encroaching on their way of life. For instance, they’ve been known to shoot arrows and throw rocks at approaching helicopters and aircraft, and have killed fishers who accidentally reached their shore. As such, the Indian government has made this island a forbidden destination to travelers.
In England’s North Yorkshire, there is a Royal Air Force station situated in a town called Harrogate that belongs to Her Majesty’s government but is administered by U.S. authorities.
Besides community facilities and housing, the Royal Air Force station contains hi-tech installations rumored to be part of the international surveillance program, ECHELON system, which can intercept private and commercial communications. Though interesting to both sides of the Atlantic, this Royal Air Force station is only accessible to its employees.
Keep reading to find out where adults can have as much fun as their kids
Disneyworld has many appealing aspects for visitors. However, it also boasts perks for the rich and famous. One of the many includes the mysterious Disney Club 33, whose membership is based on the exclusive invitation or exorbitant fees. It is said that the annual membership fee is around $10,000, with an additional $25,000 initiation fee.
While the original Disney Club 33 is located in California’s Disneyland, apparently, there are two additional clubs located worldwide for global VIPs with deep pockets.
As known from movies and television, no one is allowed on the US president’s airplane unless specifically invited and cleared by security. Some journalists have been known to wait as long as a year to get Secret Service clearance.
As we can only imagine, Air Force One contains a presidential suite, a hi-tech electronic defense system, a situation room, and even a gym! For extra protection, the airplane, which can withstand a nuclear blast, has been outfitted with bulletproof windows.
Deep within Russia’s southern Ural Mountains lies a yet hard-to-reach town called Mezhgorye. Founded in 1979, this secluded town is one of the country’s designated nuclear missile bases and contains a secret nuclear facility.
It is believed that Mezhgorye has sensors set up that can detect a nuclear attack coming from abroad and has the capabilities to launch a counter nuclear attack on the enemy simultaneously. There’s no telling what visitors will encounter here if they can even find it.
Where’s Indiana Jones when we need him? For those interested in biblical artifacts, the Ark of the Covenant may remain a mystery. Believed to be a golden chest with two stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments, this relic resides in a secret location that, until this day, has not yet been discovered.
Sources think it may be in Ethiopia, in the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion. We’ll never know for certain, as an entry to this church is forbidden.
In the 17th century, Pope Paul V took it upon himself to divide the Vatican documents. By doing so, he created the Vatican Secret Archives. These pages contain so much history that the archives require approximately 85 kilometers of shelving.
The archive’s oldest document is said to date way back to the 8th century. Though full of intrigue and historical importance, these papal documents are not for everyone’s eyes. It appears that only qualified researchers can access them.
California is home to the exclusive Bohemian Grove, part of what is known as the Bohemian Club. Its men-only members include celebrities, politicians, musicians, and many more from various social circles of the rich and famous.
Those members of the Bohemian Grove are lavished over with an annual two-week retreat full of rest, relaxation, and the best money can buy. Sorry ladies – and regular folk – you’ll have to find another grove in which to spend your free time.
Keep reading to find out where Moscow’s leadership hides out
Russia always has an air of mystery about it. Rumors have it that the country’s Moscow Metro-2 is may or may not exist. If it does exist, it is thought to be a second subway system running through Moscow, and in use today.
Russia’s subway systems were built to facilitate any sudden and necessary evacuation of government leaders. Even in cases on non-emergency, the Metro-2 also enables such leaders to commute more efficiently and securely.
Kentucky is home to Fort Knox, which safeguards the U.S. Bullion Depository. The compound contains a fortified vault, which is surrounded by layers of razor-wire fencing, armed guards security cameras, and electrified fences.
If that’s not enough, there is also an entire army unit and a 21-inch-thick wall made of fire- and drill-resistant materials, all of which is protecting America’s entire gold reserves and treasures. Though Fort Knox is open for visitors, the vault is not part of the tour.
Though discovered in 1940 by teenagers, the Grotte de Lascaux caves are more than 17,500 years old. Located in Southern France, the caves, which feature more than 600 paintings on its walls and ceilings, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After World War II, so many people came to visit the caves (as many as 1200 per day) that they were soon closed for preservation’s sake. Scientists are trying to determine how many people can safely visit in the future.
If you’re a nature and animal lover, you may have heard about the Heard and McDonald Islands, which are located between Antarctica and Madagascar. These volcanic islands have no human inhabitants.
Those that do live there are penguins, seals and some migratory birds who breed there. Good luck finding these islands, as they are considered among the world’s most remote places. Even if you do locate them, there’s no chance to stay for a visit.
Located just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah is the Mormon Church’s Secret Vault. This granite vault is said to contain the historical archives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, including detailed genealogy records.
While interesting and inspiring, visitors are not allowed hear or inside the vault. However, those interested in its contents can still take heart. The Latter-Day Saints Church’s website has some records that are available to the public.
Keep reading to learn more about the world’s most dangerous no man’s land
Not that North Korea is a tourist hot spot, but tourists to South Korea would do well to steer clear of the Korean Demilitarized Zone, which divides North and South Korea. This restricted area place is part of a historic agreement that ended the devastating Korean War.
The Demilitarized Zone is strictly prohibited for tourists to visit. Tourists should know that soldiers guarding the zone have the authority to shoot on site anyone they think is trespassing.
In Central Australia, there lies Pine Gap, which falls under both Australian and U.S. authorities. Within Pine Gap, there are over 200 antennas set up that are intended to help both countries with their satellite communications.
Pine Gap is part of the international surveillance ECHELON surveillance network, which is designed to intercept communication, like phone calls, emails, and faxes, from anywhere in the world. This site is not for visitors unless you are an official employee of Pine Gap.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor in the Shaanxi province of China sounds like a promising historical site to visit, mainly since it was built between 246 and 208 BC. However, the excavations are still not complete.
Visitors will have to contain their excitement because the site isn’t open for visitors yet. This is because the soil surrounding the tomb contains high levels of mercury, which can pose dangerous health risks to the public.
Dulce Base is yet another place that is associated with aliens. This location is situated underground near Dulce, New Mexico.
The U.S. government has never discussed its existence. Talk of Dulce Base began with a conspiracy theory initiated by Paul Bennewitz. Ever since, Dulce Base has become and remained popular within pop culture and, especially, among believers in the UFO community. As for visiting, there is nothing official to confirm or deny the location or any reason to travel there.
In the tiny nation of Israel lies the powerful Negev Nuclear Research Center. According to government officials, the center is only used for atomic science research.
However, contradicting rumors assert that it is Israel’s primary source of production for the country’s arsenal of nuclear weapons. So, while a visit to Israel and even to its southern region, where the Negev is located, is welcome, stopping by at the Negev Nuclear Research Center will most likely not be.
Visiting Genghis Khan’s tomb remains impossible. The Emperor made sure that he would not be disturbed in his final resting place by purposely being buried without any markings. It is rumored that the funeral party killed anyone who passed by his burial ground.
Even the Royal Court had no idea where the emperor was buried, according to Marco Polo, who spent time in the court of Genghis’s grandson, Kublai Khan. While his palace was discovered in 2004, his tomb remains hidden.
Keep reading to learn about the one place in the world that can withstand a natural disaster
In the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia is the Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center. This center is of special importance: In the case of national disaster, the Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center is the gathering place for the highest level of the U.S.
officials to strategize. It remains fully secured for obvious reasons. Not a place for tourists, and hopefully there will be no reason for any civilian to have to visit.
In North Korea, there seems to exist a top-secret office called Room 39 that is seemingly involved with illegal activities.
These are rumored to include: the counterfeiting of money, international insurance fraud, and drug production. Room 39 is rumored to generate more than $500 million a year from its activities and it provides a major source of funding for Kim Jong-Un’s nuclear weapons program.
In the basement of the White House’s West Wing hides the White House Situation Room. This conference room, which differs from the emergency bunker, is where the president, together with representatives from the HAS and NSA, make important strategic decisions affecting U.S. national security.
No one can forget catching a glimpse President Obama and others in the White House Situation Room after Operation Neptune Spear successfully took out Osama Bin Laden.
In case of a global disaster, Norway has a backup plan. It’s Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which was established in 2008, contains 5000 plant species. Its purpose is to preserve humanity if a global disaster threatens to wipe out humanity.
The vault’s seeds are protected in three-ply foil packages, and the building is covered with permafrost. These efforts will safeguard the seeds safe even without electricity. No one other than the workers who store and preserve the seeds is allowed in.
In Florence County, Colorado, there exists a prison called Admax Prison, which is referred to as the Alcatraz of the Rockies.
Jailed inside this prison are supposedly the world’s most infamous and troublesome U.S. inmates. To ensure maximum security, the inmates here are kept in single-person cells in 23-hour lockdown. No one should ever want to visit Admax, especially not for long-term stays.
Australia’s Woomera Test Range, otherwise known as the Woomera Prohibited Area, is the country’s premier facility for testing weapons.
The highly secured and prohibited area is used to test long-range missiles and rockets. The RAAF operates the Woomera Test Range, which is not open to the public for security reasons, though it hosts more than 65,000 invited visitors a year.
Keep reading to learn where Europe’s precious diamonds are stored
In Belgium, the Antwerp Diamond Center Vault is a center for the diamond import-export business.
Diamonds are transferred from major diamond companies for various services. In 2003, thieves got through a few obstacles including a seismic sensor, Doppler radar, a magnetic field, and the vault’s private security force. They earned approx. $20 million in diamonds.
The U.S. government has authority over the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, which is a protective bunker in case of a nuclear explosion.
This bunker, which features 25-tonne doors, is said to be able to protect those inside of it from a 30-megatonne nuclear explosion. The Cheyenne Mountain Complex is not open to the public. It is hoped that there will never be a need for anyone to visit it.
In case of nuclear disaster, Pennsylvania’s Raven Rock Mountain Complex, located in Blue Ridge Summit, is there waiting to serve as the nation’s underground Pentagon.
This highly secure location is the ultimate command and communications center. It also serves as a shelter for essential U.S. government personnel in the case of an emergency. Visitors are not welcome or encouraged anywhere near the high-security vicinity.
At the White Gentleman’s Club in London, only men are allowed in, as the name implies. However, the club, founded in 1893, does make one exception: Queen Elizabeth is allowed in, but only on special occasions.
Located in the St. James’s Street’s building, the club is so exclusive that it only welcomes a new member who is invited by a current member. The annual fee for members is £850, which seems a small price to pay for such exclusivity.
For a long time, CIA Black Sites were merely a persistent rumor. This changed in 2006 when their existence was confirmed. These secret locations are secret prisons, where the CIA allegedly carries out enhanced interrogation tactics on its prisoners.
Torture is also apparently used in these Black Sites. While no longer a secret, the public is still being kept in the dark about the exact locations of CIA’s numerous Black Sites.
Companies are looking for ways to back up and store their data depend on Iron Mountain, a business that provides professional data storage, protection, and security. Its National Data Center headquarters is located 220 feet below ground, taking up an estimated 145 acres.
As it provides more than 2000 companies and governments worldwide with data protection, the Iron Mountain’s National Data Center is heavily secured with armed guards 24 hours a day, not to mention a 3-ton steel gate, onsite fire brigade, and crash barriers.
Keep reading to find out who Wikileaks trusts with its data
After Wikileaks was forced to part ways with Amazon Web Services, it approached the Bahnhof Data Center for its data storage and protection needs.
This data center is located in a nuclear bunker situated beneath the White Mountains. You can’t get much more secure than that, which is exactly what makes the Bahnhof Data Center so unique – and impossible to visit.
Thanks in part to some of its headline-grabbing celebrity members, the Church of Scientology has garnered national attention in recent years. While it welcomes new members, the California-based church does not invite or allow newcomers to roam freely around its halls.
After all, Scientologists have an interest in protecting its secret vault, which is part of its Trementina Base that safeguards its teachings in titanium capsules. This site has been under construction for years, in preparation to hold even more secrets.
As tempting as these places seem, they may sound better from afar. The world is full of other intriguing places that are far easier and safer to explore.