50 Historical Landmarks That Actually Have Secret Rooms
Just about every historical landmark in the world has a secret of some kind deep within its wall. Join us as we travel around the world exploring the top 50 historical landmarks that actually have secret rooms in them.
From hidden passages to stairways concealed behind shelves and tunnels to escape certain death — or sneak in an unrequited lover — we have them all. You may already know about some of these secret treasures, but others may surprise you.
Eiffel Tower’s Secret Apartment
The Eiffel Tower is one of the world's most popular landmarks, attracting thousands of visitors each year. When it was first built, people thought it was ugly, but the tower's designer, Gustave Eiffel, loved the design.
He treasured it so much that he included a small flat on top of it. Many French elites tried to persuade him to sell the small apartment, but Eiffel refused and decided to live up there himself. Today, the apartment is reportedly vacant.
Predjama Castle’s Secret Tunnel
The Predjama Castle was built during the Renaissance at the entrance of a cave in Slovenia. It was the residence of the notorious robber baron, Erazem Lueger. If you are able to go see it, it is one of the most famous and remarkable structures you will ever see in your life.
Reportedly, the castle has a hidden passage leading to a network of nearby caves. This allowed Lueger to enter the castle even if it was under siege. It also allowed him to sneak people in when he wanted companionship.
Statue of Liberty’s Room Inside the Flame
Yes! You did read that correctly! There's a secret room inside the flame of the Statue of Liberty. Unfortunately, you cannot access the room for any reason. In 1916, the Torch Room had to be closed after an explosion (sabotage by German agents during World War I).
The space has never been reopened since, mainly due to terrorism fears and some damage, but in 2011 a camera was installed in Torchhis room, allowing visitors to take in the panoramic view from there.
Roman Colosseum’s Secret Tunnels
The Roman Colosseum attracts millions of tourists every year. Many come to this landmark to see the Flavian Amphitheater, but many don't know that it has a network of underground tunnels called the Hypogeum.
Records show that these tunnels were used to house wild animals, such as bears and lions, which were lifted into the Gladiator's arena via a pulley system. The labyrinth has been hailed as an excellent archaeological find, and tours are now open to the public. However, archaeologists have criticized such tours of these secret rooms, believing they could endanger the structure.
Mount Rushmore’s Hidden Hall of Records
As for records, there's a hidden room behind Abraham Lincoln's head, originally built to store the most secret artifacts and documents of American history. This includes documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
Today, these significant documents are kept somewhere else, and the hidden hall houses an archive of records revealing how and why Mount Rushmore was created. Interestingly, this is also not open to the public.
Leonardo da Vinci Statue in Rome’s Secret Chamber
Since its unveiling on August 19, 1960, the colossal statue of Leonardo da Vinci has been located at Rome's Fiumicino-Leonardo da Vinci Airport where it still serves as one of the country's historical landmarks. Millions of travelers and tourists have passed by it for decades, but it wasn't until 2007 that the secret was revealed.
In 2007, during restoration work, one of the site workers discovered a strange little hatch about 30 feet high in the statue's center. Carefully opening the hatch revealed a small space with two parchments in perfect condition.
Buckingham Palace’s Hidden Passage
One of London's most popular attractions, and the King of England's most famous residences, Buckingham Palace has more secret rooms than the public knows about. Having spent most of his life here, King Charles knows how to get to the far corners of the Palace grounds using the secret rooms and tunnels.
These walkways are not open to the public and can be moved around to surprise guests. Can you see the entrance to what was reportedly Queen Elizabeth's favorite secret passageway? Of course not. It's behind an unexpected (and inconspicuous) panel.
Paris Catacombs’ Underground Cinema
There are roughly 200 miles of tunnels in the Paris Catacombs. In fact, it's the reason it's easy to get lost down there. It contains the remains of more than six million people who reportedly settled there from Parisian cemeteries between the 17th century and 19th century.
The existence of the catacombs is no secret, but the recent discovery of a secret underground theater and restaurant has taken everyone by surprise. That's right, you can catch dinner and a movie near the remains... of... WHAT? No, thank you!
Brooklyn Bridge’s Wine Cellars
The Brooklyn Bridge now has two wine cellars on each side of the East River. When engineers built the bridge, parts of the Brooklyn and Manhattan neighborhoods were demolished to build the two mooring sections of the bridge that connect it to land.
Wine cellars and other vaulted rooms were incorporated into the bridge's design to compensate local merchants and offset some of the $15 million budget for the bridge. In 1883, when the bridge was completed, several wine merchants and other alcohol vendors began renting the building. Except during Prohibition, the cellar continued to function until World War II.
New York City Public Library’s Apartment
In 1901, steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie gave New York City a $5.2 million (about $100 million today) grant to build a system of 67 public libraries. Carnegie's library was heated by a coal stove and required a janitor or live-in caretaker.
Many New York City public libraries included apartments for caretakers and their families. Most have gone unoccupied since the 1970s, but the city began renovation on these properties in 2016.
Trafalgar Square’s Tiny Police Station
In 1926, miners across England went on strike to protest an involuntary wage cut of 13% and an increase in working hours per week. This led to a general strike as workers from other industries refused to work in solidarity. It lasted for nine days.
Over the course of that year, there were several protests, and most happened in Trafalgar Square in London. Police wanted to set up a makeshift police station in the square to monitor protesters, but public outcry forced the project to be halted. Instead, the police used one of the square's tall lampposts to house a small police station hidden in plain sight. Currently, the city uses it for storage.
Washington’s Square Arch’s Secret Attic
New York City's Washington Square Arch is not a completely solid building. A 72-foot arch includes a hollow upper section with a 17-foot ceiling. The construction of the hollow arch had the advantage of not being top-heavy or costly to build, so they added an attic to the structure.
It is not open to the public but is accessed via a spiral staircase on the western pillar of the arch. This room is now used for maintenance purposes and once housed the park's management offices.
Lincoln Memorial’s Basement
Beneath the Lincoln Memorial lies the Undercroft, a 43,800-square-foot vault in the basement of this landmark. Despite the fancy name, until recently, it resembled an unfinished basement rather than a secret room.
This colossal monument was built in 1914 on a recently formed floodplain by the Potomac River. In the muddy area, builders had to dig a foundation 40 feet deep to build the large concrete piers that would support the monument. The Undercroft was abandoned and forgotten by 1975, but plans for renovating the space began in 2020.
Supreme Court’s Basketball Court
The U.S. Supreme Court building actually has a basketball court on the building's fifth floor, one floor above where the judges of the Supreme Court hear cases.
The basketball court of the Supreme Court was a storage room until the 1940s when it was converted into a multi-purpose training room where judges and staff partake in various activities. From pick-up basketball games with Supreme Court justices to women-only yoga classes, it all happens there.
Grand Central Station’s Tennis Court
Since 2011, anyone willing to pay between $100 and $250 an hour can play tennis at New York City's Grand Central Terminal. Surprisingly, tennis courts have existed in some form at the station for decades.
Geza A. Gazdag, a Hungarian entrepreneur, founded the Vanderbilt Tennis Club in the 1960s and named it after railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, who built the first railway station on the site in 1871. The club ultimately fell into disrepair until Donald Trump bought it in 1984 and turned it into a club until 2009 when he sold it.
Empire State Building’s Secret 103rd Floor
The Empire State Building officially has only 102 floors, with the Empire State Building's main visitor building's observation deck on the 86th floor. However, there is another observation deck on the 103rd floor. This one is a smaller, more exclusive deck that has no railing barriers except a small stone wall about two feet high.
The observation deck on the 103rd floor was built into the antenna installed at the top of the tower in 1950. While not open to the public for obvious reasons, private views of the city are usually available to celebrities and other well-known people.
Hidden Room Under Vatican City
Vatican City is the scene of dozens of espionage operations. It's ancient and full of mysteries, and for some, it's the city closest to God. But like God, it has dozens of secrets. For one thing, the Vatican has a huge city of the dead under the catacombs you can visit.
Yes, there is a Necropolis beneath the Pope's tiny city-state! It is said to be where Peter (the first Pope) is said to be buried. If you visit the Vatican, know that while you are walking around, you're on top of someone's tomb, possibly one of Jesus' disciples.
Egyptian Pyramids’ Secret Rooms
The Egyptian Pyramids are one of the Seven Wonders of the World and also have secret rooms. Recently, scientists decided to start scanning the pyramids using technology that can map the interior of the deep caverns of many Pharaohs' final resting places. Much to their surprise, there were even more secret rooms than originally thought.
It has never been a secret that the Pharaohs hid their treasures in their tombs, but it wasn't until scientists began scanning the Pyramids that we learned how many secret rooms there are.
Niagra Falls’ Secret Power House
According to the National Park Service, the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area has three National Historic Landmarks, one of which is the Adams Power Transformer House. What is not advertised on the attendant's website for the falls is that the waterfall area also has a secret cave that reportedly leads to the Adams Power House.
Furthermore, people believe the caves under the falls leading to the powerhouse are haunted and even cursed. Legend has it that, for over 300 years, the curse has caused the demise of anyone who dared to enter. We assume that's why the hidden caves and secret powerhouse rooms are closed off to the public.
Disneyland’s Secret Club
Disney has basically become a famous US landmark over the years. While hardcore Disney fans may believe they know all the secrets of the park, many have never heard of Club 33. This fine dining restaurant is hidden by an unmarked entrance in Disneyland's New Orleans Square.
If you plan to eat here on your next trip to Disneyland, don't expect it. Joining the club costs $25,000, and annual dues cost around $12,000. Reportedly, because the club is invitation-only, if you ask about the club, the Disney staff will deny it exists.
The House of Seven Gables’ Secret Staircase
Salem, Massachusetts, has spooky thrills, and so does the historic home, the House of Seven Gables. It was originally built in 1668, but it is best known for inspiring Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel of the same name. The house is a sprawling seaside colonial home with a big secret.
The 'Secret Staircase' was built from 1908 to 1910 by Joseph Chandler, a Colonial revivalist, and restoration architect, as a nod to the Ingersoll family, relatives who once owned the property. Mr. Ingersolls had once described wanting a secret staircase behind (and around) the chimney leading to the attic, so Chandler made it a reality in the 20th century.
Körner's Folly's Hidden Passageways
The mastermind of eccentric designer Jule Gilmer Körner, Körner's Folly is an eclectic house made up of oddly shaped hallways, trapdoors, and warped spaces.
Built in Kernersville, North Carolina, from 1878 to 1880, the house was filled with secret cubicles and passageways that allowed people to move unseen from different parts of the house. Today, visitors can walk around the house and see if they can find all the hiding places.
The Gillette Castle’s Secret Spy Paradise
It’s only fitting that William Gillette, the actor that once starred as Sherlock Holmes, had a house built that was full of mystery! In 1913, Gillette built his beloved castle, placing an elaborate mirror system throughout the castle along with a secret staircase, and a hidden room.
He loved to spy on guests and surprise them with a harmless prank or two. One of his favorite tricks was when he could make his bar disappear, which you could only access if you knew where to find the hidden level. Gillette watched his guests struggle to open the bar again, laughing at them all from his secret rooms.
Harvington Hall's Saintly Secrets
On the other side of the pond of a medieval mansion circa the 14th century, you can find hidden "panic rooms" throughout the interior of Halvington Hall. These hideouts date back to the 16th and 17th centuries when the Pakington family Catholics would hide priests from the Protestant queensmen.
The Pakington, especially the patriarch Humphrey Pakington, were devout Catholics and had many "hides" built around the building. Here you see one of these hidden rooms with a manikin representing a priest.
Casa Loma’s Secret Lab Hidden in the Stables
A Prohibition-era favorite, this historic Toronto home (mansion) was a favorite Prohibition retreat for many American celebrities. The "hill house" was built in 1914 and was turned into a hotel in the 1920s. It has since been used as a filming location for Hollywood movies such as X-Men and Crimson Peak.
Beneath the famous façade, however, is a tunnel spanning 800 feet. It leads to the estate's stables, and the mystery doesn't stop there! The stables were hidden during World War II and turned into an engineering lab where they built anti-submarine sonar sensors for the Allies.
The Sessions House’s Haunted Secret Passageway
Built in 1710 by Captain Jonathan Hunt, the house was designed to be a refuge for his family as he constructed a tunnel under the home so that he and his family could easily escape. Hunt's granddaughter even used the tunnel to have a secret meeting with an illicit lover.
Her family never allowed her to marry her "unrequited" love. According to rumors, the two still haunt these hidden passageways to this day.
Sarah Winchester Mystery House’s Hidden “Hive of Rooms”
It is a story many researchers of paranormal activity are familiar with. The widow of William Wirt Winchester, Sarah Winchester, and the Winchester gun fortune heir, purchased a massive San Jose farmhouse, but the home was cursed and even haunted by the souls of those killed by her family's inventions.
That started the large-scale home renovation, where she had some of the most bizarre architectural elements installed to ward off supernatural attackers. You know the stairs and the door that leads to the brick wall, but some of you may not know that there's a 30-room "beehive" behind the cupboards in one of the six kitchens in the house.
The Knights Templar At Quinta Da Regaleira’s Secret Chambers
The sprawling castle was completed in 1910 for a Portuguese aristocrat and his family. It was later purchased by a wealthy industrialist. It turns out that the new owner had a predisposition for the mystical, and he built two 25-meter towers under the mansion adorned with Templar symbols.
At the base of an underground tower called the “initiation wells,” is an intricate series of caverns, also entirely man-made. For decades, few knew of the secret caverns, but now it is one of the most well-known secret rooms in the world.
St. Mark’s Basilica’s Secret Crypt
Most people who visit are so fascinated by the primary area of St. Mark's Basilica that they don't even think there might be something more wonderful underneath. Yet, below the sides of the chapels and the presbytery is a much smaller crypt, which for centuries was the repository for the remains of St. Mark.
It is reported that it was also used as the burial place of the Patriarchs of Venice. Getting to visit the hidden crypt isn't as easy as the rest of the cathedral.
Grand Central Station’s Secret Subway
Deep below the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City lies a secret subway station that leads all the way to Grand Central Station. It was built so that the well-to-do didn't have to mingle with the public.
It was primarily used in the 1930s throughout the 1960s when it was abandoned by transit workers. Eventually, it was completely closed off to anyone, except for in 1965 when Andy Warhol rented the space out for a party.
London’s Secret Mini Rail
The hidden railway under Grand Central Station and the Waldorf-Astoria is not the only well-known secret railway. In London, the postal service has an adorable miniature underground railway tunneling system that was once used to transport mail from one side of the city to the other (and all points in between).
Today, you can ride the Mail Rail and get a glimpse of how this historical landmark once made the postal service more efficient, but don't be scared if you see a few mole people. It's to be expected.
Radio City Music Hall’s Swanky Secret Apartment
The Radio City apartment was built for Samual "Roxy" Rothafel, the first impresario. He brought in many first-class artists, and the entire place became his bachelor pad and party venue.
For many years, only the elites knew of its existence. If you weren't friends with the right people, you might know about the apartment but have no idea what it looked like or even where it was within the music hall. Today, the entire apartment could be yours - it's kept in top condition and available for rent.
U.S. Capitol’s Secret Tunnels
Capitol Hill is not simply the famous domed building in Washington, D.C. There are also many small structures that tunnel between the offices connecting different buildings, so politicians wouldn't have to walk through the sometimes rough D.C. weather.
According to The Greater Washington, these tunnels were originally built in 1909. As soon as they were constructed, people began figuring out the best ways to get around them faster. However, they are not accessible to the public.
Mont Sainte-Odile's Secret Passage
Mont Sainte-Odile is a French mountain monastery that dates back to the 6th century. Although, when something like that has existed for that long, people often forget that there are secret passages within the walls of the monastery. According to The Telegraph, books suddenly began disappearing from the monastery's library one day.
As these ancient texts disappeared, they posted a security guard to catch the thief, to no avail. Two years later, they finally found out what was going on. A local teacher found a forgotten passageway from a hotel that was once part of the monastery to a secret panel in the library. They sealed it up, and the thieving stopped.
Dover Castle’s Wartime Tunnels
When you travel to the southeast corner of England to visit the ancient Dover Castle, you could be unknowingly standing over a labyrinth of secret tunnels. According to English Heritage, part of the tunnel was built as soldier barracks during the Napoleonic Wars in the early 19th century. But it wasn't until World War II that the tunnel came into its own.
A command center was established to manage military operations for the Navy in the English Channel in 1939. In 2012, the National Trust found hundreds of feet of tunnel and opened it to the public three years later.
The White House’s Secret
In 1919, secret tunnels with hidden doors and secret rooms were built to prevent Treasury employees from being robbed if they had to walk around with money. By the 1940s, however, all thought had turned to presidential security.
Parts of the tunnels were extended while others were seemingly abandoned. Although rumor has it, some of the "rubbish" in the tunnels might actually lead to top-secret rooms and passageways.
Florence’s Secret Gallery
Many people travel to Italy to explore the art scene, and one Florentine art gallery has a more secretive side that is completely closed to the public. In fact, for a long time, the general public didn't know this secret art gallery existed in Florence. Today, those wishing to see the collection must arrange private group tours.
That is because the gallery is actually in a secret passageway. The Vasari Corridor joins the Palazzo Vecchio and the Palazzo Pitti. It was built in 1564 in only six months, and only those considered noteworthy enough could walk through the secret room. Today, it currently houses over 1,000 works of art and remains reserved for the elites of Florence.
New Yorker Hotel’s Secret Art Deco Tunnel
New Yorker Hotel still has Art Deco tunnels that wind under it. It's directly connected to Penn Station, a convenience the hotel promoted proudly in the 1930s. The New Yorker Hotel Tunnel, featured in Atlas Obscura's Secret Places Summary, once took visitors down 34th Street in New York City.
At one time, a brass door was accessible to traffic, but it was blocked by the MTA in the 1960s. The tunnels are now crammed with furniture and old carpets, but the Art Deco tiling is still intact.
Washington Monument’s Secret Room for Its Tiny Monument
Many people don't know this, but on the grounds of the Washington Monument is a tiny secret room that contains a tiny monument. That's right. Surveyors use the scale model when evaluating structural changes in this historical landmark.
When these changes occur to the monument, the surveyors make sure to denote the changes, adding them to the miniature monument model.
The Pope’s Secret Tunnels
We’re not talking about the necropolis in the basement. No, we are talking about the hidden tunnel used to usher the Popes away from danger from their enemies. To keep him safe, the Swiss Guard knew they needed a secret, underground approach to keeping their holy man safe.
Built to look like an old fortress, the Pope's secret tunnel led him from Vatican City to Castel Sant'Angelo. Construction began in 850 AD but took a long time and was only completed in 1492. It was used for the first time to honor Alexander VI only two years after. It was used again in 1527 when Clement VII fled from the Holy Roman Emperor's 20,000 men.
Ivy Green’s Secret Crawl Space
Ivy Green is the birthplace of Helen Keller and is located in Tuscumbia. The home is open to the public, and you can wander the rooms where “America’s First Lady of Courage” grew up. However, you cannot visit one little-known secret (mostly because they are no longer there, reportedly).
The legend is that Hellen was quite creative at hiding from her caregivers. One way she did this was with the hidden spaces allegedly within the home where Helen would hide. Rumor has it that they have since been boarded up during restorations of the home.
Baranof Castle’s Hidden Rooms
Baranof Castle, known as Castle Hill, is located in Northern Alaska. If you visit this historical landmark, you can trek to the top of the castle to experience the reenactment of Alaska Day, the day Russia gave the territory over to the U.S.
Where you cannot go are the secret rooms hidden within the castle walls. No one knows exactly where these hidden rooms are except for the people that own the property and some that work there. We don't even know how many there are inside the castle. We just know they exist.
Alcatraz’s Secret Control Room
Alcatraz housed many secrets, some so unimaginable that even the most gruesome Hollywood film about the prison couldn't do them justice. One such secret lies deep beneath the island’s lighthouse, a secret control room unknown by most inmates and even some staff.
Access requires the three Warden keys to open the large metal door. The room is equipped with an old computer, a few desks, some communication equipment, and a large console with a map of the continental U.S.
Old Swedes Church’s Secret Room
The Old Swedish Church was built by the first European settlers in the 16th century and is now the longest continuously operating place of worship in the United States. Visit the burial grounds where some of Sweden's first settlers are still buried.
Admire the 400-year-old colonial architecture, and visit the chapel to ring ancient church bells. Oh, and don't forget to ask about the secret rooms under the floorboards of the church. They won't tell you about them, but the look on the face of those who work there will be priceless if you do.
Litchfield House’s Hidden “Underground” Rooms
This house in Richfield, Connecticut, has hidden rooms that were once part of the Underground Railroad. When real estate agent Kris Lippi went to view a house she had been hired to sell, she was told the house had secrets, but she wasn't expecting it to hold so much history.
This 18th-century colonial historical home, set on four acres, is one of the first homes in the area (the fourth, to be exact). The true history here is not just hidden in the secret rooms, but the secrets it kept helping the enslaved escape to freedom.
Dunthorpe House’s Secret Prohibition Closet
Homeowners of this charming historical house built in 1920 in Dunthorpe, Oregon, were in love with this home even before they knew the secret. One day, while the owner's daughters were playing in the library closet, one put her foot on the wall, and it moved.
Upon further investigation, the homeowners discovered a secret door to a room that was once used as a hideout during Prohibition. The room no longer houses any items from that era, but the homeowners never waste a moment showing the room off to guests.
Belvedere Hotel’s Secret Speakeasy
According to Jeff Miller, co-founder of Dependable Homebuyers, Baltimore's historic Belvedere Hotel has a secret watering hole. In the Roaring Twenties, the Owl Bar was a (relatively) discreet drinking hotspot.
To access it, you had to pass through an elaborate labyrinth of small passageways. It also made the space ideal for hosting events during Prohibition. Today, it's just as exciting to have a drink at the tawdry establishment.
San Diego Historical Home’s Hidden Room
San Diego real estate agent Flavia Bellis was spying on a hidden room in a historic 1914 San Diego home. "It was very narrow, spanning the entire basement, with a small door with a window in it." During Prohibition, owners of the home used the basement as a makeshift saloon.
They would serve drinks through a small window in that door, and Berys believes the owner placed a bookshelf or another large piece of furniture in front of the door when the bar was not in use.
Hotel Monaco’s Secret Clubhouse
The Hotel Monaco is located in the historic district of downtown Portland, Oregon, and offers not only gorgeous and eclectic rooms but also a secret club room accessible only to insiders.
Anyone who enters the Red Star Tavern restaurant inside the hotel should look for a secret door hidden behind a bookshelf. That will be the only way you can get in, but don't forget your membership card.