WARNING: This story contains the descriptions of off limits places where people are not allowed to go. Read on, but watch your step. Things could get dangerous.
Off Limits Places
For even the most seasoned travelers, like those of you who have been to every state and every continent, there are still places that for whatever reason—be they geographical, political, or even for your own personal safety—you just can’t visit.
The Ise Grande Shrine – Japan
Each year, more than six million people make the pilgrimage to the Ise Shrine complex on the Honshu island in Japan. But they can only reach the nearby gates, where if they strain, they can see a bit of the shrine’s thatched roof. The location dates back to the third century, and it is believed that one of the main shrines houses the ‘Sacred Mirror,’ a magic mirror famous in Japanese folklore. Only the high priestess or priest, who is a member of the Japanese Imperial Family, is allowed access to the shrines.
The Vatican Archives – Vatican City
The Archivum Secretum Apostoplicum Vaticanum is a private, 52-mile archive of some of the oldest pieces of paper in the world, buried in a library below Vatican City. The archives, which are made up of 35,000 pieces, house papal books, historic documents and letters, some from such luminaries as Michelangelo, King Henry VIII and Mary Queen of Scots. Want to check it out? You can—if you happen to be a qualified scholar from a certain selective higher educational background. And only then can you begin the rigorous application procedure which will eventually result in your entry. Or your exclusion.
The Heard Island Volcano – Australia
Bad weather. A remote place. And an active volcano. This Australian island has been called one of the most remote places on earth. At 368 square miles, the terrain is rough, with more than 40 glaciers and mountains—and one active volcano, Mawson’s Peak. On top of that, it’s a minimum two-week sail to the nearest land. While some have visited, it is extremely difficult to get to this place, even if you wanted to. Which brings us to the next question: Why would you want to?
Poveglia Island – Italy
Crank up the creepy factor. This place was once used as a mental hospital, and there are more than a few scary stories associated with it. But what cannot be disputed is its real-life horror stories: It was used as a quarantine spot during the Black Death and the Bubonic Plague. Reportedly more than 160,000 sick people were sent there to die, and now, the island is closed to locals and visitors.
Area 51 – Nevada
Put on your tinfoil hats and get ready: Area 51 is waiting for you. But you won’t be able to get in, so don’t bother. And for those who have tried, they’ve had to deal with black helicopters circling overhead and armed guards waiting to shoot whoever tries to trespass. Area 51 is attached to Edwards Air Force Base in California and has been known to be a place where the U.S. government tests new military equipment. The 90,000-acre complex is also rumored to be home to reverse-engineered UFO technology from recovered alien spacecrafts. Of course, who could know? Those allowed in the facility are sworn to secrecy, and no one else can go inside. And even though people can see part of the base from the peak of a nearby mountain, the U.S. government didn’t even acknowledge its existence until 2013.
Snake Island – Brazil
(Samuel L. Jackson voice): Have you had it with these snakes on this island?
You would–if you could go there. Snake Island, off the coast of Brazil, features about 4,000 of the world’s most dangerous slithery beasts, the golden lancehead pit viper, and is off-limits to visitors for that reason. With venom that can melt human flesh, only scientists are allowed to visit the island every few years.
The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone – Ukraine
In 1986, a nuclear reactor exploded in Ukraine. It affected an area of almost 19 miles, and sent thousands fleeing from their homes. Now, the site has become a bit more hospitable, with a bar, post office, hotel, hundreds of workers, and even some of the original residents coming back to stay. Still, the government regulates how long people can work – 15 days inside the zone, then 15 out—and the residents have returned even though they have been warned multiple times to stay away. One can only go there by making an officially-sanctioned visit with a local tour guide.
By Ryan Clark, contributor for Ripleys.com