16 Forbidden Historical Places Around the World
Temples filled with treasure, haunted asylums, and unopened tombs? It sounds more like “Tomb Raider” or a Spielberg flick. Contrary to popular belief, these places are very much real and grossly forbidden. That doesn’t stop people from trying to take a sneak peek to some of the world’s most off-limit locations, however. Here are the 15 historical places that spark the imagination and release untapped curiosity.
Poveglia Island, Italy a.k.a. the ‘most haunted place in the world’
There are often historical places with a dark story, avoided by passersby yet sought out by others. It could be that rumored “haunted house” at the end of the lane, a graveyard just on the other side of town, or even a creepy hospital. Now imagine all three and put it on an island in Italy and you have Poveglia Island.
The island is located in Italy and a boat ride away from Venice. The island has served as both a refuge and stronghold against invaders, and a place of exile; a dumping ground and graveyard for the dying and diseased. The island was first called home to settlers in 421 A.D. by those fleeing from barbaric invaders.
The Vatican’s secret archives
The Vatican is home to the Papa of all Papas, the Pope. In this small city housing a little under 1,000 people, there is a place where archaic treasures lay in wait under the protection of the city. It’s known as the Vatican secret archives. Don’t let the name fool you, as it was a misnomer thanks to the Latin word “secretum,” or “private” in the name “Archivum Secretum Vaticanum.”
The collection is located in a storeroom, housing documents that span almost 12 centuries (from the 8th to 20th centuries according to the archive’s official website). Altogether, the archives carry 53 miles of shelving and 35,000 volumes of catalogs. So what makes the archives so mysterious? Not everything has been brought to light.
Precious artifacts are housed inside
Despite the miles of shelves, not everything is available to the public. Back in 2010, the Vatican archives opened to journalists. In the past, entry was permitted strictly to scholars. After Dan Brown’s popular novel “Angels and Demons” highlighted its existence, however, the Vatican began to allow visitors to peruse the centuries-old documents.
But they weren’t too lenient. There are parts of the archive that are still barred from the public, which includes anything written or documented after 1939. There are also rumors of valuable treasures stemming back from the 8th century (housed in the archives). There’s one speculation that the Catholic Church may be keeping extraterrestrial secrets under lock and key.
Lascaux Caves, France
The Lascaux Caves were found completely by accident. In 1940, two boys were out in the Lascaux Hills in southwestern France when they found themselves in a bit of a predicament. Their dog slipped into a hole near the hill and couldn’t climb its way out. When the boys traversed into the pit where their dog fell, they found something incredible.
What they found was an entire cavern filled with paintings. Cave paintings (don’t worry, the dog was rescued with little to no injury)! The entire cavern was alive with frescos of sepia, ochre, and charcoal-colored animals ranging from deer, horses, aurochs, ibex, and bison. For a long time, however, archaeologists had a tough time believing the paintings were from our primitive cousins.
The cave paintings were growing mold
The cave paintings were way too “fresh” to the eyes of early archaeologists. However, as decades passed, scientists analyzed the paintings and discovered they were in fact 20,000 years old! The discovery of the cave paintings brought on a wave of tourism, with many flooding the caves to get a glimpse of the mural paintings left by their ancestors.
There was a problem, however. As people came in and out of the cave, their clothes created lint build up in the caves, and their body temperatures changed the humidity of the caves, leading the precious paintings to grow mold. In the end, the cave was closed to the public in the 60s.
The abandoned Chateau Miranda in Belgium
Chateau Miranda, also known as “Castle Miranda” or “Noisy Castle,” stood as a bookmark in the pages of time. Although it looks like a fairytale castle on its exterior, the inside is an entirely different story. Located in Namur, Belgium, the fabulous structure was built by English architect Edward Milner in 1866.
Milner was commissioned by the wealthy Liedekerke-Beaufort family to replace the castle that was destroyed in their home country. Chateau Miranda would prove to be a major undertaking, however. Unfortunately for the Liedekerke-Beaufort family, Milner passed away before the castle was finished. Thankfully, his successors took over, followed his blueprints, and completed the castle in 1907 with the installment of its bell tower.
It was taken over by the German army in World War II
Despite having their lavish castle and living their lives in opulence, with the approach of WWII, the Liedekerke-Beaufort family faced adversity. As Hitler’s army raided Europe, the “Battle of the Bulge” occurred a stone’s throw away from the castle, nearly in the generously sized backyard. That was when German soldiers began to occupy the castle grounds.
The Liedekerke-Beaufort family was forced to seek greener pastures elsewhere. As time continued, the enchanting castle saw the faces of multiple owners, and later became an orphanage until its doors closed in 1991. The property is currently privately owned but remains in disrepair. Over the years, there have been whispers of repair, but, ultimately, nothing has changed.
Air Force One
Of course Air Force One would be completely off-limits! Well, at least to us commoners. The jumbo jet is meant to usher one person and one person only, the President of the United States. Believe it or not, the iconic plane tasked to transporting the U.S. leader was not always the blue and white jet known today.
In fact, the name “Air Force One” wasn’t coined until Dwight D. Eisenhower’s presidency in 1953. Before that, it was dubbed as “the Sacred Cow” while under FDR’s presidency and had since been called so until it’s a current namesake. Who would have thought that an airplane would bear witness to an accordion of events that would shape our country?
Why is Air Force One seafoam blue?
As the decades passed, the jet was updated, and you can thank John F. Kennedy for the re-design. When he became president in 1961, he sought to change his transportation by collaborating with Raymond Loewy, who was known at the time as one of the “fathers of industrial design.”
Loewy was responsible for the design of Lucky Strikes Cigarette packaging and the Coca-Cola vending machine. He came up with various designs, and at one point, the plane was to have a splash of red. But, in the end, JFK opted for seafoam blue, a color that makes the plane look horizontal and sleek. It was due to their collaboration that we see the same body and face of today’s current Boeing jet.
Chernobyl nuclear plant, Ukraine
Chernobyl is one of the largest man-made disasters in history, one that rivals and surpasses the Hiroshima bomb by the displacement of 400 times more radiation. It was the kind of stuff made of nightmares, one that perpetually fueled the anxieties of every human being on the planet. The disaster resulted from two massive explosions that blew the roof off one of the plant’s reactors on April 26, 1986.
What was meant to be a routine test turned into a cataclysmic disaster, one that resulted in two direct deaths (and countless more due to radiation exposure). One would be thoroughly shocked to discover that the disaster didn’t end there. To this day, people are still dealing with the nuclear fallout in Chernobyl.
Many are still feeling the radioactive effects after the explosion
Twenty-eight more deaths were reported in direct correlation with the Chernobyl explosion, not including the thousands of people who would later show signs of declining health from the exposure. Of course, as decades have passed, the radiation has lessened but it doesn’t mean that it is no longer detectable.
There is still evidence of the aftereffects of the explosion lingering around the plant, particularly in the nuclear plant’s basement, where a gross mass called the “Elephant’s Foot” rests. “Elephant’s Foot” is a mass of toxic mayhem comprised of nuclear waste silica and various other materials that, if exposed for more than five minutes, can have fatal consequences.
In comparison, the destruction that befell Oradour-sur-Glane in southwest France would be similar to the invasion of the Gauls against ancient Rome in 387 B.C. This massacre triggered by events following WWII, which left the small town in utter destruction. It all began on June 10, 1944, when German soldiers infiltrated the town with a force that amounted to 700 soldiers.
In their raiding of the land, enemy soldiers massacred men, women, and children, leaving behind only six known survivors. It’s a grim outlook, but war, in the most understated sense, is just that – Grim – and a shallow grave for the innocent. It was the brutality of what occurred in the village of Oradour-Sur-Glane that led locals to agree on one decision.
Locals left the village as is
Instead of rebuilding the small, peaceful, and provincial village, locals decided to let it remain as a ruin. As a reminder of the village slaughter, locals never attempted to rebuild. A vintage Opel is left burned and rusted on vacant a lawn, and the scorched and crumbled buildings are reminiscent of the ruins of Pompeii.
Although the village serves as a reminder of the terrible destruction, it’s also a token of its survival. Out of the ruins, what remained of the fire and bloodshed, are remnants of what once was a tranquil village. The ruin serves as both graveyard and epitaph; a memorial of those who perished and is left alone out of respect.
First Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s tomb
Most great discoveries are often uncovered by accident (like the Lascaux Caves), only to astonish archaeologists and scholars alike. The unveiling of the First Emperor of a United China’s tomb is among one of those startling discoveries, and it was thanks to a couple of farmers that made the find of a century.
In 1974, just outside the city of Xi’an, China, farmers were digging a well when they stumbled upon a clay statue of a soldier. Startled, they informed authorities, who, in turn, called professors to inspect their discovery. As it turned out, the farmers had located the tomb of one of China’s most controversial emperors, Qin Shi Huang.
The emperor’s tomb has yet to be opened
In the tomb, archaeologists found 8,000 clay soldiers standing at the ready in a series of trenches. There were also clay war horses standing four abreast along with pottery, chariots, and weapons. It took 700,000 laborers to build his tomb along with the mausoleum, which has never been opened.
Though his resting place is yet to be excavated, archaeologists have reported high levels of mercury behind the tomb doors. After looking through historical documents, reports indicated that the inside the tomb is a replica of Qin Shi Huang’s kingdom, replete with a flowing river of mercury and figures depicted in acrobatic poses inside. There have also been indications that untold treasures lie inside.
Secrets in Area 51
“X-Files,” “Ancient Aliens,” “Project Blue Book,” etc… the concept is the same. What many believe to be a military base, others are convinced that Area 51 is a place rife with government conspiracy. It’s a no-brainer that Area 51 is the epitome of all forbidden places, as access is only granted to those with high-level clearance.
What is the government “hiding” behind hangar doors of the infamous base? Well, it may be commonplace for those expecting something extravagant. Area 51 is secretive for a reason, and it started in the throes of the Cold War. Then, Area 51 was a secret military base that served as the staging ground for experimental spacecraft. And no, not extraterrestrial aircraft.
The ‘Oxcart Program’ was ‘hush-hush’
Testing experimental craft only known as “black aircraft,” Area 51 was home to a top-secret Cold War-era program known as “Oxcart.” The program was developing an undetectable spy plane that was virtually invisible and could gather valuable information on the Soviet Union. What they ended up developing was the Archangel-12 or A-12.
This aircraft traveled at speeds surpassing 2,000 miles an hour, and could take clear, candid photos from an altitude of 90,000 feet! Of course, this wasn’t enough for fan-conspirators. It’s prettier to believe the lie than the reality of the truth. Despite what goes on in this patch of Nevada desert, many still believe a cosmic supernatural force at work there.
The Kiev River Boat – Kiev
This large ship has been left abandoned since the end of the Soviet era. This mysterious looking ship was designed to make trips along the Dnieper in Kiev toward the Kiev sea. To this day, it remains the only single-deck high-speed passenger ship, however abandoned it may be.
This vessel was named ‘Sunrise’ and could reach traveling speeds of 60km per hour. Government officials don’t recommend visiting it because they can’t guarantee the safety of explorers. Nevertheless, it still boggles the mind how something so monumental could be left in ruin.
Check out this abandoned swingers’ pad, where the pool is now empty but still has the furniture at the bottom from the last wild party. The Swingers’ Tiki Palace is one abandoned mansion you don’t want to visit, with the dilapidated property made more haunting by its owner’s chilling history.
The mansion which was once discovered after years of isolation and abandonment in the same exact state it was once left in. But once word got out about its location, sadly, it was taken over by vandals. They spray-painted the walls and the pool, smashed everything in sight that was once intact, and left this 5,600-square-foot swingers’ palace to rot.
A tycoon with a chilling history
The party mansion in Birmingham, Alabama, was built by adult-club tycoon Billy Hull in 1972. It fell from the heights of popularity into deep disrepair after Hull was arrested for income tax evasion. He was later convicted of hiring an assassin to kill his wife’s lover after he discovered she was having an affair.
Ultimately, this horrific crime landed him a 20-year prison sentence, and, ultimately, the loss of this mansion. After he was found guilty of putting out the hit, the playboy styled mansion’s owner had no choice but to leave his home in the same state as the rest of his life, a complete wreck.
Back in 2011, a startling discovery that would rock the foundation of archaeological history was unearthed in the chambers of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerala, India. Built in the 6th century B.C. and renovated in the 16th century, the temple is the home to the Hindu deity, Vishnu, the god of universal balance.
Inside this architectural dream, there are chambers that rest within, ones that haven’t seen the light of day in 1,000 years. These chambers, or vaults, are reported to contain a promise of archaeological treasures, some that are impossible to perceive. When archaeologists opened five out of the six vaults within the temple, many would compare its contents to an Indiana Jones movie.
Archaeologists uncover treasures worth $1 trillion
Let’s not spoil the reveal by over-embellishing details. Observers encountered an unearthly amount of treasure when they opened the vaults in the Padmanabhaswamy Temple. Speaking of treasure, there were gold coins, precious jewels, gold chains, diamonds bigger than your thumb, and golden statues depicting the temple’s deity in the vaults.
Coins from ancient Rome and Europe filled the space. The treasure’s worth, according to Forbes, is estimated to be worth $1 trillion USD. Unfortunately, it’s currently unclear as to what officials will do with such substantial treasure. The royal family who was entrusted with the temple want to melt down the gold for the currency, while historians wish to preserve the treasure as a part of India’s cultural heritage.
Bohemian Grove is where the rich stay to play
Secrets are nothing more than an invitation for suspicion and wild imagination. Slap on the word “forbidden” and “selective,” and that’s how conspiracies about the Bermuda Triangle and Area 51 come into existence. So, it comes as no surprise that Bohemian Grove sparks imagination for the average American. Bohemian Grove is supposedly a summer camp-ish location where the wealthy and powerful vacation.
A 2,700-acre campground located in Monte Rio, California east of Sacramento, Bohemian Grove is shrouded in mystery. Two weeks in this “camp” typically involved excessive drinking, confidential discussions, and rumored druid worship. Yup, the occult was at the end of the elitists’ stay, as they frequently pay homage to the campsite’s deity, the Owl.
The elite offer a sacrifice to a 40-foot owl statue
This is difficult to believe, considering it sounds like something out of a Stephen King novel. The rumors of occult worship were revealed by Texas-based filmmaker Alex Jones, however, who in 2000, took a cameraman and recorded their closing ceremony. As people gathered in an amphitheater-like space, Jones captured a ceremony known as the “Cremation of the Care.”
Members wore costumes, and prostrated before a 40-foot-statue resembling an owl, and also offered it an effigy called “Care.” Jones claims that the ritual is the worship of a Babylonian god. Okay, just..what? Start playing the opening theme to the “Twilight Zone,” as we’ve just stepped into an entirely different dimension.
Ise Grand Shrine, Japan is reborn every 20 years
Surrounded by the serene and lush forests of mountainous Japan stands a 125-building structure that comprises the Ise Grand Shrine. What makes this shrine so sacred and so forbidden? First of all, it is burned down once every 20 years. Yes, you read right, the temple is burned down every 20 years.
The act of setting the shrine on fire could be perceived as an act of blasphemy for some, but for those living in the Mie prefecture in Japan, the burning represents renewal and rebirth. Created in the 4th century B.C., the shrine is dedicated to the Japanese sun goddess, Amaterasu. Once the shrine is burned down, it is rebuilt, but never in the same place twice.
Priests plan ahead before burning down the shrine
Before the shrine is burned down, priests mark the future location of the new Ise Shrine Temple with a “Kodenchi,” or a seven-foot pole or small hut. The erection of the Kodenchi is usually placed right after the Ise Ise Shrine is rebuilt and is considered a sacred place.
The Ise Grand Shrine is considered a holy place, and no tourists are allowed to enter the shrine grounds. The only people allowed to enter the shrine are the Japanese Imperial family. The last temple time the Ise Grand Temple was burned was back in 2013 and it has been reported that it will be burned again in 2033.
The Coca-Cola vault is under strict lock and key
What do you think is the secret ingredient of America’s most iconic soft-drink? Unfortunately, we don’t have an answer, or an inkling, of what the secret ingredient is. Only mystery and a splash of bubbly history (see what we did there?). The Coca-Cola company has a rich history that stems back as far as 1886.
It was once a drink meant for the elite, although it was later produced for the masses. The soft drink was created by Dr. John S. Pemberton, who was rumored to have put cocaine in his soft drink in order to sell his tonic for medicinal purposes (cocaine was used during the 19th century as a pain reliever and in pharmaceutical medicine). Of course, people bought the drink for not-so-medicinal purposes.
The formula is inside the vault
The public enjoyed drinking the carbonated treat and soon the Coca-Cola brand exploded. As the years went by, however, more people grew curious as to what was inside the soda. Coca-Cola proprietors were smart and kept the ingredients to themselves. The ingredients were turned over in 1919 until it was clear that the recipe needed to be safeguarded.
Initially, the formula was scrawled on a piece of paper and placed into a vault at the Guaranty Bank in New York. Then, as time passed, Coca-Cola proprietors removed the formula and relocated it to Atlanta, GA, where it was placed in the Trust Company Bank Vault (now SunTrust). Since it’s relocation, the formula has remained inside the bank vault for 86 years.
Port Arthur, Australia is rumored to be the most haunted place on the continent
Now, this is one place that not even the locals want to visit, forbidden or not, and for a good reason. Port Arthur is supposedly the most haunted place in Australia. Nevermind the creepy bugs and the bouncing marsupials, this place has a reputation born from its origins as a penal colony, one that slowly turned into “the Isle of the Dead.”
Located in Tasmania, the ruins of Port Arthur started from humble beginnings. Built as a penal colony in 1830, it was ultimately closed down in 1877. Despite the town’s best efforts to repurpose the site, devastating fires in 1895 and 1897 would make that difficult. And that was only the beginning.
Port Arthur made ‘Top 5’ most haunted on CNN
Port Arthur would be later labeled as a “haunted site.” In fact, CNN labeled Port Arthur as one of the most haunted places in Australia. Visitors who dare to walk the site’s grounds reported hearing a church figure known as “Reverend George,” a mean preacher who died in the 1870s and is said to have been seen more than a dozen times in the last 150 years.
However, Reverend George pales compared to the sightings of spectral convicts reportedly seen wandering the grounds. One, in particular, is said to be John Gould, a nasty man alive and dead, leers over crowds. Other strange phenomena include feeling misplaced emotions, often of dread, depression, or sorrow.
Willard Asylum for the Chronic Insane
Who doesn’t like a decrepit and abandoned insane asylum? Not many, fortunately, and those who do are the sort of folk who are addicted to the thrill of coming face-to-face with the supernatural. The Willard Asylum for the Chronic Insane was built for the exact purpose it was named, to house the mentally ill.
Built in 1869, the asylum would see the occupation of many mentally ill patients, and some are said to still haunt the asylum halls. The hospital didn’t start as dark and dim, however. In fact, the hospital was the first of its kind, meant to counter-practice what was reflected in other facilities, which often kept the mentally disabled in cages and mistreated.
There’s a reason why Willard Asylum is ‘haunted’
Despite their initial good intentions, doctors still kept traditional practices of treating the mentally ill reflective of the times, such as electro-shock therapy. Doctors would not permit patients to leave unless given permission, and sadly, very few did. Despite these series of unfortunate events, the hospital tried to make their patients comfortable.
The facility boasted a bowling alley, soda parlor, and sunroom for patrons to enjoy. But it wasn’t enough. The hospital shut down in 1995, left in complete ruin. Now, it’s a treasure for paranormal investigators. Some even found suitcases belonging to patients from the 1910s to 1960s. The hospital is well-known as one of “the most haunted places in America.”