Travel lovers are well aware of all the main attractions offered by popular tourist destinations. Anyone can visit those places to see them with his or her own eyes. But there are other corners of Earth: spots that, for one reason or another, remain forbidden to ordinary sightseers.
We have recently learned about some of these truly mysterious locations. We would love to see those places for ourselves — wouldn’t you?!
The Kofuns, Japan
These artificial islands are the ancient burial sites of members of the Japanese Imperial family. On rare occasions, they can be visited by archaeologists, but only with the permission of the Imperial Court.
North Sentinel Island, India
The natives living on the island will stop at nothing to protect their land from outsiders. So, for the tourists’ own safety, the Indian authorities prohibit anyone from approaching the location.
Area 51, USA
The existence of this top secret facility was only officially confirmed by the US government in 2013. According to the partially declassified documents, Area 51 is a US Air Force base where next generation aircraft are being developed and tested.
Church of St. Mary of Zion, Ethiopia
A specially built chapel houses the church’s holiest treasure: the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark’s guardian — the only person who has access to the relic — is forbidden to ever leave the church’s premises. Neither can he converse with outsiders.
Kaho’olawe Island, USA
Throughout its history, this arid island used to be a site of religious rituals, a penal colony, and a US Navy training ground. These days, Kaho’olawe enjoys the status of a nature reserve. The only way you can visit it is by joining one of the volunteer teams working to restore the local environment.
British Telecom Tower, United Kingdom
Ever since an incident involving an explosion inside the tower, the revolving restaurant and observation deck remain closed off to the public. Occasionally, when the BT Tower plays host to charity events, a few hundred people still get the lucky chance to see London from a different perspective.
Ise Grand Shrine, Japan
The territory of Japan’s holiest shrine complex is only accessible to priests and members of the Imperial family. Everyone else has to make do with admiring the roofs of the shrines from behind several rows of fences.
The ghost town of Varosha, Cyprus
This resort, adjacent to the city of Famagusta, used to be Cyprus’s top tourist destination. But everything changed in July 1974 when, following a mass evacuation, the deserted city was taken over by invading Turkish troops. Ever since then, Varosha remains fenced off, forming part of the buffer zone patrolled by the Turkish army.
Sable Island, Canada
Situated in the Atlantic, this drifting sandy island has a population of fewer than 30 people and is a veritable graveyard of sunken ships. Because of its unique features, Sable has been declared a nature reserve. To visit it, you have to write a petition to the government of Canada, explaining the necessity of the trip.
Pionen Data Center, Sweden
Built in Stockholm during the Cold War, this nuclear bunker has lately been transformed into an ultramodern office environment for a Swedish Internet service provider. Here, at a depth of 98 feet and hidden behind three-and-a-half-foot thick doors, the information belonging to many famous websites is being stored.
Lascaux Cave, France
To preserve this cave’s unique prehistoric paintings, the entrance to Lascaux is now closed to tourists after 15 years of unrestricted access. You can visit an exact replica of the cave or enjoy a virtual tour.
The “Don-2N” Radar Station, Russia
This modern-day pyramid has a height of 131 feet and a width at the base of 459 feet. It is a key element in the city of Moscow’s missile defense system. On rare occasions, journalists are allowed a guided tour of the facility. But, rest assured, they’re only being shown a small fraction of what’s inside.
Mount Rushmore Hall of Records, USA
In addition to the famous giant bas-reliefs of America’s greatest presidents, Mount Rushmore has another intriguing feature: a secret room carved out deep inside the rock. The room is a time capsule, containing copies of the country’s most important historical documents. The entrance to this room is barred by a granite slab door, equipped with a combination lock mechanism.
An illusive underwater waterfall, Mauritius
When viewed from above, Mauritius Island in the Indian Ocean seems to be located near a fascinating underwater waterfall. However, this beautiful phenomenon is just an optical illusion created by a run-off of silt and sand deposits.