The Eiffel Tower, Mount Rushmore & 22 other landmarks with secret chambers

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Some of the world’s most revered landmarks host flocks of curious visitors mesmerized by these monuments’ cultural, architectural and historical value.

But the average visitor doesn’t know that most of these buildings have something more than meets the eye. Secret passageways, caves, apartments, and crawlspaces offer a different perspective on these iconic landmarks.

Here is a roundup of 24 hidden chambers in famous landmarks.

Medici Chapels
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1. The Medici Chapels: Michelangelo’s secret room

Location: Florence, Italy

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Located in the “cradle of the Renaissance,” Florence, Italy, The Medici Chapels of the Basilica di San Lorenzo is one of the world’s most cherished cultural marvels. But beneath the chapel’s art masterpieces and gasp-worthy architecture is a tiny secret chamber of a similar cultural value.

In 1975, the then-director of the Medici Chapels Museum, Paolo Dal Poggetto, while looking for a new exit route for visitors discovered a trapdoor under a wardrobe that led to a room. The room, 23 feet by 6-and-a-half feet, revealed dozens of scribbles and doodles on the walls, which called to mind known works by the Renaissance master Michelangelo.

While the sketches were not signed, art historians are confident they belong to the artist who is believed to have used this secret room as a subterranean hideaway in 1530 to escape the wrath of the Pope.

Related: This 1730 restaurant is the oldest in the US

Eiffel Tower
Vasilii Binzari/iStock

2. Eiffel Tower: Private apartment

Location: Paris, France

The Eiffel Tower is the first thing you think about when you hear of Paris. The “Iron Lady” has been towering over the French capital for more than a century, when it was first revealed as the centerpiece of the 1889 World’s Fair.

Today, thousands of visitors climb to the top of the iron structure every day to enjoy the amazing views of the city. Gustave Eiffel had a similar plan in mind, so when he designed the iconic landmark, he built a private apartment for himself at the top.

When he died, he left the small but cozy apartment in mint condition.

After being off limits for years, the apartment can now be viewed by visitors who have a ticket to the top.

Rome Colosseum
vwalakte / iStock

3. Roman Colosseum: Secret tunnels

Location: Rome, Italy

The Colosseum has been luring visitors since ancient times when thousands of curios spectators would gather at Rome’s massive amphitheater to witness battles between enslaved men, convicted criminals, and untamed animals. To this day, thousands of tourists flock the Flavian amphitheater to marvel at its remains.

But there is more than meets the eye. Beneath the iconic landmark, there is a network of subterranean chambers known as the hypogeum. The ancient Roman engineers designed this underground maze to house facilities for the gladiators and the wild animals as well as store complex machinery needed for special effects.

This level also provided access to tunnels that connected the Colosseum with nearby buildings.

The hypogeum has been open to the public since 2018.

Statue of Liberty
AndresGarciaM/iStock

4. The Statue of Liberty: Room in the torch

Location: New York City, New York

New York City’s Statue of Liberty has been welcoming visitors and newcomers to the “Big Apple” since 1886. Millions of visitors every year come to give a closer look at the colossal neoclassical lady, with many stepping inside the crown, the structure’s known highest point accessible to the public.

But this was not always the highest point of the statue. There is a room in the torch of “Lady Liberty” that offers magnificent panoramic views of New York City. This room was open to the public until June 30, 1916, the day of the “Black Tom” explosion, when German agents blew up munitions stored in a warehouse on a nearby island in the New York Harbor.

The blast damaged the Statue’s arm, which made the route to the panoramic room unsafe for the public. While the arm was repaired, the torch remains closed for everyone except the National Park Service staff, who have to climb a 40-foot ladder to access the room to maintain the floodlights.

Mount Rushmore
iofoto/iStock

5. Mount Rushmore: The Hall of Records

Location: Keystone, South Dakota

Visitors to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota who come to greet the faces of the four Founding Fathers don’t know that the carved mountain holds a secret.  There is a hidden room behind the chiseled sculpture of Abraham Lincon, known as the Hall of Records, that contains text from some of America’s most important documents, such as copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

The sculptor of Mount Rushmore, Gutzon Borglum, planned for this monument to surpass the popularity of iconic sites like Stonehenge but feared that it lacked real meaning, so he designed a chamber to house documents and related artifacts.

Grand Central Terminal
tarabird / istockphoto

6. Grand Central Terminal: Tenis courts

Location: New York City, New York

Every day, New York’s busiest and most famous train station is packed with thousands of people running around the place in a hurry. Not all of them are running to catch a train, though, as some of them rush to the station’s tennis court to smack some tennis balls.

 

On the fourth floor of the station, there is a tennis court located in a secret space called the Annex. This area has seen several renovations as well as several owners over the years. It used to be an art gallery and a recording studio, and it used to be owned by former President Donald Trump.

Currently, the space is known as the Vanderbilt Tennis Club, and it’s open to the public. For $200 to $280 per hour, you can spend some time playing tennis at this secret space.

Cinderella Castle, Disney World
Spmartin15/Wikimedia Commons

7. Disney world: Secret hotel suite

Location: Orlando, Florida

While millions of people dream of a day at “the happiest place on earth,” many don’t know that you can also spend a night there. The iconic Cinderella Castle at Disney’s Magic Kingdom hides a super secretive suite and the only hotel room inside the park.

Dubbed the Cinderella Castle Suite, this exclusive room was specially designed for Walt Disney and his family, though he died before the park was completed. The suite was practically abandoned and unfinished for almost 40 years — until Disney decided to renovate it in 2006.

But don’t get your hopes up. One cannot simply book a night at the Cinderella Castle Suite. You need to either win a contest or be invited. The space is closed to public visitors.

Buckingham Palace
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8. Buckingham Palace: Secret passage

Location: London, United Kingdom

London’s Buckingham Palace is one of the most famous symbols of the Crown. The 775-room building has served as the official royal residence since 1837 and the administrative headquarters of the Monarch.

Having lived in the palace long enough to know the way around, Queen Elizabeth II also had a secret space made especially for her majesty.

In the White Drawing Room, there is a secret door behind a cabinet leading to a secret passageway which connects to the late Queen’s private residence. While the room is open to the public, the door, naturally, is not.

Lincoln Memorial
bloodua/iStock

9. Lincoln Memorial: Undercroft

Location: Washington, D.C.

Lincoln’s memorial, built to honor the 16th U.S. president, is a must-see for every visitor to the nation’s capital. But not everyone knows that there is a secret room underneath the colossal monument.

Beneath honest Abe’s feet lies a cavernous three-story, 43,800-square-foot basement.  In 1914, when construction on the memorial began, engineers filled this space with columns to support Lincon and his marble throne.

The place was abandoned until 1975 when renovations on the memorial began, and construction workers discovered a subterranean ecosystem of insects and rodents.

The National Park Service plans to open up the undercroft as retail space and storage. As of now, it is closed to the public.

Disney's secret Club 33 marker
Justin Barton / Flickr

10. Disneyland: Secret club

Location: Anaheim, California

Like its Florida cousin, Disneyland in California also has a secret area. In contrast to Disney World’s super secretive suite, the secret space in the California park is open to the public and even serves alcohol.

Club 33 is an exclusive members-only lounge that was originally planned to host VIP guests and Disneyland’s corporate sponsors. But after Walt Disney’s death in 1967, the club started offering individual membership.

 

The place temporarily closed for renovation in 2014 and reopened the same year. Unless you are willing to pay $25,000 up front and $10,000 every year, you will have trouble getting in.

Related: This art is garbage. Literally

Brooklyn Bridge
Marcio Silva/iStock

11. Brooklyn Bridge: Wine cellars

Location: New York City, New York

Brooklyn Bridge, one of the most recognizable parts of the New York skyline and among the most visited landmarks, holds one of the city’s best-kept secrets.

Underneath the 60,000-ton granite entrances are two empty vaults that used to store wine a century ago.

Portions of Manhattan and Brooklyn were demolished to build the bridge’s anchorage sections, which attach the bridge to the ground. To compensate local merchants and offset some of the bridge’s $15 million cost, several wine cellars were incorporated into its design.

A variety of alcohol vendors rented out the caverns below the bridge entrances during the late 19th and early 20th centuries because the anchorages of the bridge were always cool and perfectly subtle. Except for the Prohibition years, the cellars remained in operation until World War II.

 

The wine cellars, today, sit empty and off limits for visitors.

Supreme Court
bloodua/iStock

12. Supreme Court of the United States: Basketball court

Location: Washington, D.C.

 

It turns out there is a court even higher than the U.S Supreme Court: a basketball court located in the building itself.

On the top (fifth) floor of the U.S. Supreme Court, there is a basketball court where off-duty police officers, clerks, and other employees shoot hoops in between court sessions. Nicknamed “The Highest Court in the Land,” the court was once a spare room to house journals until the 1940s, when it was converted into a workout area for courthouse workers.

 

Among the VIPs s that have played in court are Supreme Court Justices, such as Byron White and Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist.

Trafalgar Square
AndreaAstes/iStock

13. Trafalgar Square: Secret police station

Location: London, England

In London’s Trafalgar Square, there are many lampposts, but one particular lamppost is more than meets the eye. In this particular lamppost, there was once a tiny police station— the smallest in London, actually.

 

The tiny police station was installed in 1926, so police officers would keep an eye to the protests that were a regular occurrence back then. It even had a direct phone line to Scotland Yard.

Today, visitors who peek into the tiny police station can see only mops as the place is now used as a cleaning closet.

Paris Catacombs
Michael Lehigh/iStock

14. Paris Catacombs: Secret cinema

Location: Paris, France

Beneath the City of Lights lies a 200-miles-long network of tunnels keeping the remains of around six million people who were relocated there from the Parisian cemeteries because of overcrowding.

While the Parisian Catacombs are far from secret, there’s something there that is indeed hidden and maybe illegal t had been for quite a while:  an underground cinema and an adjoining restaurant.

The underground movie theater was discovered in 2004 by French authorities who suspected that the structures may be under the operation of a secret society. And they were right. In 2011, a group called UX, or Urban eXperiences, claimed responsibility for the site and claimed to have 100 members working in small groups to turn it into “a theater for new experiences.”

Empire State Building
ventdusud / istockphoto

15. Empire State Building: 103rd floor

Location: New York City, New York

A tourist favorite, the Empire State Building host millions of visitors every year who enjoy the New York skyline either from the deck on the 86th floor or the top deck on the 102nd floor.

But few people know that there is one more floor in the Art Deco skyscraper: a secret 103rd floor.

 

A staircase on the 102nd floor leads to the sky-high floor which is usually only accessible to engineers and celebrities. A staircase on this floor leads to the “capsule” of the Empire State Building, and above it is the infamous antenna.

Washington Square Arch
todamo/iStock

16. Washington Square Arch: Secret attic

Location: New York City, New York

The famous arch in Washington Square Park is not a completely solid building. The 72-foot arch houses a spiral staircase and a 17-foot-tall with amazing views of New York City.

This space once held a Parks Department office, and today is mostly used for maintenance and is inaccessible to the public.

Statue of Leonardo da Vinci
MPB_sf/Wikimapia

17. Leonardo Da Vinci Statue: A secret chamber

Location: Rome, Italy

Leonardo da Vinci’s massive statue has been a major landmark at Rome’s Fiumicino-Leonardo da Vinci Airport since it was inaugurated on August 19, 1960. While number of travelers and tourists have passed through it over the decades, it wasn’t until 2006 that its secret came to light.

In 2007, during renovations, workers cane across a strange hatch, located at a height of approximately 30 feet in the middle of the statue. Inside the hatch were two parchments, still in perfect condition.

. New York public libraries
LUNAMARINA/iStock

18. New York public libraries: Secret apartments

Location: New York City, New York

New York City public libraries hold countless hidden literature gems and secrets. But they also hold secret apartments which were once inhabited by the library custodians and their families.

There was a time when libraries were heated by coal furnaces and custodians lived on-site, so secret apartments were built to accommodate them.

Since the 1970s, many of these dwellings were unused. In 2016, the city started renovating these pods and some of them might be accessible to visitors.

Drum Castle
raagoon/iStock

19. Drum Castle: Ancient room

Location: Aberdeenshire, Scotland

The 14th-century Drum Castle stunned archeologists while working on a conservation project in 2013 when they discovered a hidden medieval chamber complete with a medieval toilet.

Shortly after, archaeologists discovered another secret room that according to a legend is where Mary Irvine, an inhabitant of the castle, hid her brother for years after defeat in the Battle of Culloden.

Waldorf Astoria
SeanPavonePhoto/iStock

20. Waldorf-Astoria hotel: Abandoned train tracks

Location: New York, New York

Beneath New York city’s iconic Waldorf Astoria, there is a somewhat abandoned Metro-North station known as Track 61.

The abandoned train station can only be accessed via a private elevator and a locked door on 49th Street. Allegedly, back in the day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt used this track to avoid the public eye when he was in New York City.

The station still has an antique train car parked permanently, and supposedly VIPs still use it for stealthy getaways.

Related: 15 beaches with the clearest water you’ve ever seen

Niagara falls
jferrer/iStock

21. Niagara Falls: Secret cave

Location: Niagara County, New York

In the Niagara Gorge, not far from the throngs of tourists at Niagara Falls, lies a small limestone cave dubbed the Cave of the Evil Spirits.

The cave is believed to be haunted; in 1763, British soldiers were ambushed and killed by a Seneca tribe here, and their bodies were found floating in the Niagara River.

Frick Collection
Gryffindor/Wikimedia Commons

22. Frick Collection: Bowling alley

Location: New York City, New York

The Frick Collection in New York City hosts one of the city’s most elegant bowling alleys and billiard rooms seven floors below the surface of the building.

The bowling alley was built in 1914 when the building was the private mansion of the steel magnate Henry Clay Frick.

Now a museum, the Frick Collection still houses the bowling and billiard facilities, but the public cannot access them.

Monticello
Lana2011 / istockphoto

23. Monticello: Secret quarters

Location: Charlottesville, Virginia

In 2017, during the Mountaintop Project restoration to return Monticello, the estate of Thomas Jefferson to its original floorplan, archaeologists and restoration experts discovered an area beside where Jefferson was believed to have slept, a hidden room.

Small and windowless, this secret quarter is believed to have been built in 1809, it may have been where Jefferson’s slave, Sally Hemings slept.

Predjama Castle
Jan Zabrodsky/iStock

24. Predjama Castle

Location: Predjama, Slovenia

Undoubtedly, it is one of the most striking and prominent buildings you will ever see. A renaissance castle built into a cave mouth in south Slovenia in the little village of Predjama, served as the home of the notorious robber baron Erazem Lueger.

According to reports, the castle has a secret passage leading to a cave network nearby, allowing Erazem Lueger to enter the castle when it was under siege.

This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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