Travel and Tourism

Forbidden Destinations You Can Never Visit

Considering the staggering rates of global expansion and technology development, it’s impossible to imagine that there is even a sliver of this planet that remains undiscovered or unexplored. So there’s a certain comfort in knowing that, even today, there are mysteries that remain unexplored.

From man-made, guarded structures to natural enigmas protected by environmental science, a slew of spots across the globe are entirely forbidden to outside travelers. Picture islands teeming with vipers, extraterrestrial secrets, locked mysteries of religion, virgin wildlife and entire societies that have never made contact with the outside world. Many of these locations are still shrouded in intrigue, with their goings-on staying behind closed doors. Other locations are better understood, though still off-limits due to a variety of safety, scientific or governmental regulations.

While the allure of the taboo and forbidden is undeniable, you’d be hard-pressed to swindle your way into these 15 forbidden places — and in many cases, you probably wouldn’t want to. Still, in a world full of places you can discover, it’s intriguing to consider the places you can’t.

Located on the remote island of Spitsbergen, this subterranean seed storage facility was carefully built 400 feet into a mountainside. The complex houses approximately 840,000 samples of 4,000 different species of seeds from all over the world. The bank operates like a safety deposit box, allowing governments to leave seed samples for safekeeping in the event of a major global or regional event that would wipe out major food supplies.
Only official “depositers” are allowed inside what is ominously described as “the final back up.”

 

The Terra-Cotta Warriors at Xi’an is one of the most important discoveries of all time. Thousands of unique, one-of-a-kind lifelike statues depicting ancient Chinese warriors filled underground caverns of the burial complex of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang. But while the site is one of China’s most prominent tourist attractions, the tomb itself still remains a guarded mystery.
The tomb will likely remain sealed for the foreseeable future, as it is rumored that there are booby traps protecting it from invaders. There is also a high concentration of mercury within the tomb that would be deadly to anyone who entered without the proper precautions. The only glimpse we have into this treasure are the 2,000 warriors that are exposed to the public. Still, it is said another 6,000 remain within the tomb, along with a myriad of other treasures.

 

The secrets of religion are some of the most heavily guarded in the world…and none more so than the Vatican Archives. Centuries of secrets remain a mystery within the vaults of the Vatican, from state papers to accounting to letters. Speculation on what lies beneath include evidence of demons, extraterrestrials and even the Church’s alleged contribution to the fascism of the mid-20th century.
Today only the highest qualified scholars and educators are allowed in the vault, and only after stringent review. Those looking to simply take a peek will sadly never know what sits between these storied pages.

 

Twisted doesn’t begin to describe the history of Poveglia Island, a small island between Venice and Lido in Northern Italy. For centuries the small island has been prime real estate for, well, dumping of the dead. The island became a quarantine colony in the 14th century for victims of the Bubonic Plague. In the 19th century, Poveglia became an asylum for the area’s mentally ill, where it was rumored that a cruel doctor performed experiments on the patients.
Today the island is abandoned, save for the ghosts of the tortured souls that once lived there. Tourists and locals are banned from visiting, unless you want to undergo a lengthy paperwork process. But as this is considered the most haunted place in Italy, that’s likely for the best.

 

There’s the ends of the earth, and then there’s Heard Island. One of the most remote islands in the world, Heard Island technically belongs to Australia but can be found somewhere between Madagascar and Antarctica.
The island is known for its two active volcanoes, but for the most part it’s thoroughly blanketed in ice. Inhabitants include seals, birds and four types of penguins. Humans, however, are not permitted to visit, though landings to the nearby McDonald Islands are allowed solely for “compelling scientific reasons.”

 

On North Sentinel Island, a small island in the Andaman chain in the Bay of Bengal, natives have long been opposed to the influences of the modern world. In fact, the Sentinelese people who live on the island refuse communication with any outsiders, and are willing to get violent to protect their isolation. Following the 2004 tsunami, when the Indian Coast Guard flew a reconnaissance mission over the island, men reportedly emerged from the forests to shoot arrows at the helicopter, which did not land.
The Sentinelese have lived on the island for some 60,000 years, and with the protection of the Indian government — which prohibits visitors of any kind — it has successfully resisted anthropologists, authorities and tourists.

 

A conspiracy theorist’s playground, Area 51 has stumped the public for decades. The hidden military base in the Nevada desert has kept its purpose a secret for quite some time, though many like to believe it’s kept for alien testing.
One thing is for sure — attempting to access the forbidden area would be highly irresponsible, as the grounds are protected by mines and other defenses.

 

In the quest to discover the history of the human race, there is one spectacular place that provides enormous insight. The Lascaux Caves in southwestern France are home to a series of stunning Paleolithic paintings, estimated to be up to 20,000 years old. The paintings, which plaster the walls of the cave, are hauntingly vivid, depicting stags, cattle, bison, cats and more. But the most incredible of all the paintings can be found in the Hall of the Bulls, which is known for its four bull murals, one of which is 17 feet long.
Sadly, the caves have been banned to the public since the 1960s, as they have been invaded by fungi and black mold, both detrimental to human health. Plus, human presence is considered destructive to the works of art.
Fortunately, though, you can experience the next best thing: Last year, a museum and cave replica right next to the real deal opened to the public.

 

Places you can not go
About 93 miles off the coast of Sao Paulo, Brazil is Ilha da Queimada Granda, also known as Snake Island. To what does it owe this title? Researchers estimate there are between one and five snakes here per 10 square feet. The snakes, specifically golden lanceheads, are known for their poison, which literally disintegrates flesh around their bites.
So maybe it’s not such a bad thing that you’re not allowed to visit Snake Island…
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