Last week on Cool Stuff Strange Things, we brought to you some the most dangerous destinations and intriguing in the world…that you’ll never get to see for yourself. Back by popular demand: more off-limits places.
It doesn’t matter how much you have achieved. It doesn’t matter how much money you have. There are still some places in the world you cannot check off that bucket list.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault – Norway
Here, in a site nestled 800 miles from the North Pole and almost 400 feet inside a mountain, lies the 11,000-square-foot Global Seed Vault. Created in 2008 with the thought of global annihilation in mind, the vault holds 840,000 samples of about 4,000 different species of seeds—all in case we humans blow up the world, or Mother Nature decides to do the same, and we need to repopulate the vegetation. Have a seed you want to protect? Just make a deposit. But access is limited to employees only.
Lascaux Caves – France
About 17,000 years ago, humans painted murals of animals, shapes and themselves in the Lascaux Caves in France. But don’t think about going to see their beauty and overall strangeness. Because of several fungal invasions, the caves haven’t been open to the public since the 1960s. Only scientists have been allowed in every few years to study the ancient art.
Surtsey Islands – Southern Iceland
Some places are hard to get to for a reason. Take the Surtsey Islands, off the southern coast of Iceland. These islands are relatively young, forming after volcanic eruptions in the 1960s. There, in a tiny hut, are the only humans around—scientists, who are studying how seals and birds colonize new places.
The Jiangsu National Security Education Museum – China
Straight out of a 007 novel, there exists a museum in China that features a history of the country’s greatest spy gadgets. Want to see a tiny camera disguised as a wristwatch? They’ve probably got it there. However, no Westerner can really know because foreigners aren’t allowed in. The exhibits also reportedly explain China’s spy tactics, which we assume they wouldn’t want other countries to know about (if they don’t already).
North Sentinel Island – Bay of Bengal
Remember that scene in Indiana Jones where he’s racing to his airplane as he’s being chased by hundreds of spear-wielding warriors? That’s a bit like what you’d face if you went to North Sentinel Island, a heavily forested island in the Bay of Bengal which is home to an undocumented tribe of 50 to 400 people. These folks don’t take kindly to visitors, and they will drive you away with bows, arrows and rocks. In 2008, two fishermen washed up on their beach only to be killed. Circled by heavy coral, it is difficult for boats to get to the island, which is why it is one of the world’s last communities untouched by modern civilization.
Mount Weather – Virginia
What happens when the world is coming to an end? Well for you and me, it doesn’t make a bit of difference. We’re toast. But for the U.S. Government, they have several places to go to hide out until everything blows over. One of them is Mount Weather, in Virginia, which is designed to hold the civilian leadership of the U.S. government, including the President, the Supreme Court, Cabinet officials, and senior congressional leaders. Originally created as an observatory for the Weather Bureau, Mount Weather now features an underground city that can house thousands of staff. The city has its own sewage treatment, water, fire and police departments, and a bar. Good to know those government people will be cozy when the End Times come.
Chapel of the Ark of the Covenant – Ethiopia
Remember–don’t look at it directly. The Nazis got really messed up when they did that in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Not that you really have to worry, because you can’t get in to see it anyway, but here goes: In Ethiopia, there is a chapel that supposedly serves as protection for the Art of the Covenant and its contents, the Ten Commandments. Only one monk is allowed in the building to protect it. Once, some workers were let in to fix the roof. But other than that, no one! Still, you can see the building—Saint Mary of Zion in Aksum—or you can wait for one of the times the monks carry a replica through the streets, which they do seven times a month, before sunrise.
There you have it! And remember: There is NO way you can see things! Don’t even try!
By Ryan Clark, contributor for Ripleys.com
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