Historic Landmarks That Actually Have Secret Rooms

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Many countries in the world are home to famous landmarks and monuments that attract millions of visitors each year. But some landmarks have areas inaccessible to the public - or anyone at all. These rooms might be a secret to most visitors, but they're usually not built for secretive reasons. These spaces have all sorts of purposes, from record keeping to providing a living space to recreation - or even no real purpose at all.

Some of these spaces may not be anything more than a glorified maintenance closet, but due to their proximity to a famous landmark, they're still the subject of fascination. Here are 12 secret rooms inside historical landmarks. 

Photo: Rijin / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

  • 1
    2,254 VOTES

    The Apartment At The Top Of The Eiffel Tower

    When the Eiffel Tower was completed on March 31, 1889, it was a major accomplishment both in terms of architecture and science. The unusual iron structure was double the height of the previous world's tallest object, the Washington Monument. It was also a kind of research laboratory and eventually a radio tower. 

    The Eiffel Tower was completed ahead of schedule in just over two years, in time for the Paris World's Fair. That was enough to provide designer Gustave Eiffel some serious perks, like an apartment for himself at the top of the tower. It offered Eiffel one of the best views of the city.

    Eiffel constantly declined offers to rent his pad, and rarely invited anyone up, but currently the apartment is viewable to the public. 

    2,254 votes
  • Wine Cellars In The Brooklyn Bridge
    Photo: Dietmar Rabich / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
    1,983 VOTES

    Wine Cellars In The Brooklyn Bridge

    The Brooklyn Bridge currently has two wine cellars, one on each side of the East River. When the bridge was built, portions of neighborhoods in Manhattan and Brooklyn had to be demolished in order to build the bridge's two anchorage sections, which attach the bridge to land. To compensate local merchants and offset some of the bridge's $15 million budget, wine cellars and other vaulted spaces were incorporated into the bridge's design. 

    Several wine merchants and other alcohol sellers began renting the spaces in 1883, when the bridge was completed. Except for the Prohibition years, the cellars remained in operation until World War II. 

    1,983 votes
  • 3
    1,450 VOTES

    The Movie Theater And Restaurant In The Paris Catacombs

    In 2004, French authorities discovered what was described as a small movie theater and restaurant in the catacombs underneath the city. Even stranger, writings and symbols on the walls speculated it was under the operation of some kind of secret society. 

    That actually turned out to be the case. In 2011, a representative of a group called UX, or Urban eXperiences, took credit for the site. The group claimed to have 100 members who were working in small groups to turn Paris's unused urban spaces into "a theater for new experiences." 

    1,450 votes
  • The Attic In The Washington Square Arch
    Photo: Matthew G. Bisanz / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
    1,253 VOTES

    The Attic In The Washington Square Arch

    The Washington Square Arch in New York City is not a completely solid building. The 72-foot arch includes a hollow upper portion with 17-foot ceilings.

    Building a hollow arch had the advantages of being less top-heavy and costly to construct. It's accessible by a spiral staircase in the western column of the arch, although it's not open to the public. 

    Today, the space is used for maintenance, and it once held a Parks Department office.

    1,253 votes
  • Apartments In New York Public Libraries
    Photo: New York Public Library / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
    1,641 VOTES

    Apartments In New York Public Libraries

    In 1901, steel baron Andrew Carnegie gave New York City a grant to build a system of 67 public libraries, which amounted to $5.2 million (about $100 million today).

    Carnegie's libraries were heated by coal furnaces and required live-in caretakers, or custodians. Some New York City public libraries included apartments to house custodians and their families. Most have been unused since the 1970s, but the city began renovating them in 2016.

    1,641 votes
  • 6
    1,348 VOTES

    The Tiny Police Station In A Light Post At Trafalgar Square

    In 1926, miners across the UK went on strike to protest against an involuntary 13% wage cut, as well as an increase in weekly labor. This led to the general strike, when workers in other industries refused to work in solidarity. The stoppage lasted nine days. 

    Protests were common throughout that year, especially in London's Trafalgar Square. Police wanted to build a temporary police station in the square to monitor protesters, but public outcry forced them to drop the project. Instead, the police used one of the square's large light posts to house a tiny police station, hiding it in plain sight. It's currently used for custodial storage. 

    1,348 votes