These Are the Most Difficult Places in the World to Break Into (and What They’re Protecting)
Maybe you’ve dreamed of sweet-talking a security guard to get backstage when your favorite band is playing. Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to sneak the VIP lounge at the airport. Gaining access to places you’re not supposed to visit is exhilarating — but it’s not always easy.
If you have a charming personality and a permanent sense of entitlement, you might be able to slip into some restricted areas. But there are certain spots in the world that are so heavily protected you have no chance of gaining access no matter how much you bribe the guards.
Ahead, check out the most strictly guarded places in the world and discover what they’re protecting.
1. Fort Knox
You know how they say something is “locked up like Fort Knox?” There’s a reason for that analogy.
In addition to thousands of tons of gold, this vault houses priceless documents like the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence. Forget about staging a break-in here — the walls are made from solid granite and the whole fortress is lined with armed guards and military personnel. The vault door code requires 10 different people and no one individual knows the whole thing. Only one president (FDR) has ever been inside.
Next: This prison houses the worst of the worst criminals.
2. ADX Florence Prison
Nicknamed the “Alcatraz of the Rockies,” this federal supermax prison in Colorado has some of the most intense security measures in the country. With trained attack dogs patrolling the prison walls, 12-foot high razor fences, 1,400 remotely controlled steel doors, and motion detecting laser beams, an inmate’s chance of escape is basically nil. A former prison warden described the place as, “a cleaner version of hell.”
ADX houses the most dangerous criminals in the nation including foreign and domestic terrorists, double agents, cartel members, organized crime associates, and white supremacist leaders.
Next: Some ancient secret documents are housed here.
3. Vatican Secret Archives
Certain people are admitted into the Vatican Secret Archives, but you’re probably not one of them. This stronghold of the Catholic Church contains 53 miles of ancient relics including a letter from Mary Queen of Scots pleading with Pope Sixtus V to save her from being beheaded along with documents detailing Martin Luther’s excommunication. Up to 60 researchers and approved clergy members are allowed in here at a time.
Next: You won’t believe how close you can stand to this much money.
4. Federal Reserve Bank of New York
You can stroll right past this Manhattan-based fortress but you have almost zero chance of getting in. The security here is so intense that the vault holds even more gold than Fort Knox! There are more than half a million gold bars in storage.
No people are allowed to access all that gold, however. Robots move the pallets around inside. The exterior is so well-protected that even foreign governments feel comfortable stashing their gold here.
Next: This place will save humanity from starving if there’s ever a disaster.
5. Svalbard Seed Vault
If you’ve ever wondered how humanity would rebuild following another world war or nuclear disaster, look no further than the Svalbard Seed Vault. This highly protected vault is located 320 feet into a mountain that’s between Norway and the North Pole. It contains 890,000 preserved seed samples from almost every country in the world. Almost no one is allowed entry.
Next: No one knows where this stuff is hidden.
6. The Iranian Gold Reserve
It’s literally impossible to break into a place if you don’t know where it is.
Iran stores their gold reserves in an undisclosed location. People have a few guesses about where it may be hidden — like in the Imperial Treasury or Iran Central bank — but no one knows for sure, and it’s most likely dispersed over several locations. The gold used to be housed in Europe until Iranian officials had it moved on the sly in 2010.
Next: Here’s where the United States stashes their most important stuff.
7. Iron Mountain
These vaults are built into a solid limestone mountain and the contents of them are highly secret. The U.S. owns most of the 1.7 million square feet of vault space here, but they’re not the only tenants. Warner Brothers, the Smithsonian Institute, and Corbis all store their most precious items here, too.
Rumor has it that the burnt remains of Flight 93, original recordings of Frank Sinatra, Princess Diana’s will, and Thomas Edison’s original lightbulb patent are kept here.
Next: There’s a lot of speculation about what’s hidden in here.
8. The Mormon church’s secret vaults
Like many other heavily guarded places on the list, the Mormon church’s vault has motion and heat sensors that will detect any attempts at breaching the perimeter. The vault is built inside a mountain of granite in Utah. Inside, you’ll find tunnels guarded by reinforced entrance doors that weigh nine to 14 tons each.
So what are they hiding? Conspiracy theorists may disagree, but LDS church leaders claim the vault just has copies of scripture, genealogical records, and rolls of microfilm.
Next: Nature took back this restricted area.
9. Korean Demilitarized Zone
The border between North and South Korea is known as the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and is so heavily guarded that even the most desperate defectors are too afraid to cross it. This pathway to freedom is 160 miles long and just two and a half miles wide. It’s so rarely crossed that it’s turned into a nature preserve and remains one of the most pristine stretches of land in Asia.
Next: There are zero incidents of vandalism in this top-security parking garage.
10. Bold Lane Car Park
Worried about leaving your car in a parking garage? Then consider parking at this Derbyshire, England car park, which is one of the safest in the world. There’s no way to get in unless you have a ticket stating your precise parking spot. Motion detectors protect your vehicle the whole time it’s parked there and if the alarm goes off, the whole building goes on lockdown.
The car park has never had any break-ins or vandalism in its existence.
Next: This bunker can withstand a nuclear explosion.
11. Cheyenne Mountain Complex
This was the former command center for the North America Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), though they’ve since moved to a different location. Located in El Paso County, Colorado, the military complex is made of solid reinforced granite and houses 15 three-story buildings. The bunker is able to deflect a 30 megaton nuclear explosion as close as one mile away.
Next: This is the safest mobile location in the world.
12. Air Force One
The president’s plane was built for safety in the event of an emergency. Considered one of the most secure moving locations in the world, the plane has the best in advanced flight avoidance, air defense, and technology packages. Some of the most interesting aspects of the plane such as the exact layout and specific defense mechanisms are classified. Not even journalists and White House staff are privy to certain areas of the plane.
Next: No one knows if the government hides aliens here.
13. Area 51
Is this where the top-secret alien experiments occur or is it just another well-protected military base? The world may never know. Area 51 is so secret that you can’t even fly over it to get a peek. Located in the middle of the desert and surrounded by motion sensors, there’s no chance of sneaking up to try and con your way in. It’s said that no scorpion around the perimeter goes undetected.
Next: This used to be a safe space for Congress in the event of an attack.
14. The Greenbrier
Ever wonder where government officials would go in a nuclear attack? Here’s your answer. Nestled deep in the forest of West Virginia, a 65,000 square foot estate with a 25-ton nuclear blast door and underground tunnel systems was built to protect all the members of U.S. Congress in the event of an attack.
The secret bunker was exposed in 1992 and became a tourist attraction and data storage facility. It’s guaranteed that a new bunker was built somewhere else for the same purpose — but no one knows where. For safety, of course.
Next: This is a safe space for you to keep your money.
15. The Swiss vaults
Ever notice how rich people always have secret Swiss bank accounts in movies? Well, there’s truth to that even in real life. Swiss bank accounts are notoriously safe and next to impossible to break into. The safety deposit boxes require not one, not two, but three keys to access.
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