Tomb of the Qin Shi Huang, China
The tomb of China’s first Emperor, Qin Shi Huang, who died in 210 BC, is buried deep beneath a hill in Central China. The burial complex consists of a complicated network of underground caverns that were filled with all the things the emperor would need in the afterlife, including clay reproductions of his armies, family, servants, horses, and staff, widely known as the Terracotta Army. Since its initial discovery in 1974, over 2,000 statues have been excavated, each of them completely unique, and experts believe that there may be more that 8,000 in total surrounding the central tomb, still yet to be uncovered. However, the Chinese government might never allow the excavation of the emperor’s tomb, choosing to respect the ancient burial rites.
Area 51, Nevada
No list of prohibited places would be complete without a mention of Area 51 — the nickname for a remote detachment of United States Air Force facility Edwards Air Force Base, located in Southern Nevada. The facility is shrouded in secrecy and while it has long believed to be a testing facility for experimental aircraft and weaponry, conspiracy theorists favorite theory that the base is where the U.S. government examines and stores a crashed alien space craft and the alien occupants, including evidence from a supposed alien crash landing in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947.
North Sentinel Island, Andaman Islands
This small, heavily forested island in the Bay of Bengal is completely encircled by coral reef, making it difficult to approach by boat. However, its inaccessibility is not the main obstacle to a visit: North Sentinel Island is inhabited by a small indigenous population known as the Sentinelese, who have rejected contact with all other peoples — they are among the world’s last communities to remain untouched by modern civilization. In 2008, two fisherman whose boat accidentally strayed too close were reportedly killed by the tribe. And in the wake of the massive 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and resulting tsunami, research helicopters assessing the damage in the area were attacked by the Sentinelese, who shot arrows and threw stones as the aircraft flew over the coastline.
Vatican Secret Archives, Vatican City, Italy
Buried deep within the walls of Vatican City, and mostly underground, are the Vatican Secret Archives, which house the immense history of the acts of the Holy See, along with historic documents, state papers, papal account books, and other official correspondence, some of which dates back to the eighth century. Items include letters from Michelangelo, a letter from Mary Queen of Scots written while she was awaiting her execution, and King Henry VIII’s request for a marriage annulment.
Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Norway
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a vast subterranean seed bank and storage facility on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, around 800 miles from the North Pole, built 400 feet into a mountainside. Officially opened in February 2008, the facility now stores around 840,000 samples of 4000 different species of seeds, from all over the world. The idea behind the seed bank is to provide a safety net against accidental loss diversity in the case of a major global or regional event. It functions much like a safety deposit box at the bank, allowing organizations or governments to ‘deposit’ seed variations in the vault for safe keeping, and only they have access to their deposits. The 11,000-square-foot facility is protected by highly advanced security systems and access is strictly limited to a handful of employees.