Going on holiday means something different for each and every one of us. Some prefer to relax on a beach for ten days in a row, while others hike over 30 kilometers a day and find that more satisfying than anything else. And then there are those who are bitten by the cultural, historical bug. Those who have to visit at least ten different historical sites in every city or country they’re visiting. Those who have a list on their phone with all the places they’d like to visit in the future.
Well, today, we’re about to frustrate the hell out of those people. How? Well, we’ll be talking about five historical sites within Europe that are stunning to say the least. Yet, there’s one common downside to all of them: because of their historical importance and their rareness, they’re actually closed to the public. Meaning you can dream about them and fantasize all you want, you’re probably never going to see them in real life. So dream on and be ready to get frustrated!
1. Poveglia, Italy
If you’ve searched for things to do around Venice, you’ve maybe already heard about this place. The island of Poveglia is located not so far from La Serenissima and served as its quarantine station for those suffering the plague and other diseases for over a hundred years, starting from 1776. In reality, the people sent there never came back and it is said several tens of thousands people perished on the island. Later, the buildings on the island were turned into a mental hospital. Since its closure in 1968, Poveglia has been vacant and closed to the public.
2. The Queen’s bedroom, United Kingdom
Even though ‘The Crown’ might have you thinking otherwise, some things about The Queen have to remain private. Especially her bedroom. Yes, Buckingham Palace opens its doors to the public every year. And yes, over the years we’ve been able to peak into quite a lot of its rooms. Yet one room always remains shut: Queen Elisabeth II’s bedroom. Only those who are invited into the room can tell what it looks like, with one exception: Michael Fagan, who became famous in 1982 because he was able to enter Her Majesty’s room around 7:15 AM on July 9.
3. Mount Athos, Greece,
Here, we’re talking about a bit of an exception. Mount Athos, housing about 2.000 monks on this day, isn’t totally closed to the public. Just half of it. Since 1060, women – including female animals – can’t set foot on the peninsula. Why? Well, simply because it’s the easiest way to secure celibacy, according to Dr Graham Speake, author of ‘Mount Athos: Renewal in Paradise’. And since there are twenty different monasteries on its grounds, it’s often regarded just as one big monastery. However, there are two exceptions to the rule, one for cats – the monks don’t want any mice – and one for chickens – a man has to eat, after all.
4. Lascaux Cave, France
History fanatics will without a doubt be familiar with the famous Lascaux Cave in France. It’s one of the best examples of cave art worldwide, with over 600 different paintings spread over the cave complex. It was discovered on 12 September 1940 by 18-year-old Marcel Ravidat when his dog, Robot, fell in a hole and after he went to rescue him with three of his friends. The portrayed animals and flora correspond with the fossil record of the Upper Paleolithic in the area. It is thought the drawings are about 17.000 years old and even though tourists have been able to visit the cave in the past, it has been closed to the public since 1963, when algae started to show. Luckily, there are three replicas of the cave which you can visit if you want to have an idea of how it looks.
5. Vatican Apostolic Archive, Vatican City
One of the pope’s many prerogatives is being able to consult the Vatican Apostolic Archive as much as he wants, while most of us will never set foot in the library. Only a lucky few – namely high profile researchers and carefully selected members of the clergy – have the chance to take a look inside this wonderful archive. Everything from state papers to centuries-old manuscripts is held inside its walls so it’s no wonder that access is very limited. All in all, the archive is believed to hold no less than 85 kilometers in material – way too much for one person to read in a lifetime.