When looking at monuments and famous landmarks, people tend to think more about the history of the structure and less about the features not found in textbooks. Those tourists might be shocked to learn that some landmarks are home to secret rooms and hidden corridors.
Take the New York Public Library system. On top of those gigantic buildings are apartments from centuries ago. And would you believe there is a police station inside a lamppost in London’s Trafalgar Square? Keep scrolling to learn more about some of the surprising and unique rooms hidden away in a few of the word’s famous landmarks.
There’s An Apartment At The Top Of The Eiffel Tower
When Gustave Eiffel designed the famous Paris landmark known as the Eiffel Tower, he built a secret room in it. At the top of the tower is a tiny space Eiffel used as a personal apartment. Talk about a room with a view!
Interestingly, when Eiffel passed away, he left the apartment in mint condition, including all of the furnishings. Today, no one lives in the apartment, but it does house some memorabilia. If you purchase a ticket to the top of the tower, there is a tiny window you can peer inside. There are mannequins of Eiffel and Thomas Edison, one of the few to visit the apartment.
Under The Colosseum Is A Secret Storage Room
The Colosseum is one of the most frequented landmarks in Rome. And while most of its visitors know a bit about the building’s history, there are only a few who know about the secret hypogeum. Located under the main structure, the room was once a storage facility during the gladiatorial games.
Complex machinery used for special effects, facilities for the gladiators, and wild animals were all stored in the hypogeum. The underground room also connected the Colosseum to surrounding buildings. Today, you’re able to travel down to the hypogeum only if you purchase a ticket through a tour company.
In London’s Trafalgar Square, There’s A Tiny Police Station
You’d never know it, but in iconic Trafalgar Square in London, there is an itty bitty police station. It’s actually the smallest law enforcement precinct in all of London. The station is hiding in plain sight, inside an out-of-place looking lamppost located at the south-eastern corner of the square.
Although it is no longer utilized as a station, the lamppost was once able to hold up to two prisoners but was mainly used to house one officer. Today, the tiny police station is used as nothing more than a cleaning closet.
The Supreme Court Has A Basketball Court
Considering that Americans are very passionate about their sports, it should come as little or no surprise that the Supreme Court has a secret basketball court inside the infamous building. Aptly nicknamed “The Highest Court in the Land,” the basketball court is located directly over the building’s large courtroom.
Judges, lawyers, police officers, and other people who work at the building all have access to the basketball court. It’s a nice option for those who need a breather from fighting it out in court.
Roxy’s Suite Above Radio City Music Hall
If you ever go to see the Rockettes during Christmas at Radio City Music Hall, keep in mind that there’s a secret room above the theater. When the infamous theater opened in 1932, broadway producer Samuel Lionel “Roxy” Rothafel wanted an apartment built.
Roxy was the proud owner of an art deco-inspired suite on the fifth floor of the theater. Today, it’s called Roxy’s Suit and is reserved for performers and VIP guests. But it is also available to the general public to rent for a hefty price. Or, if you don’t feel like breaking the bank, go on the Stage Door Tour to take a peek inside the suite.
The New York Public Library System Has Secret Apartments
When the New York Public Library system’s buildings were first constructed a century ago, they needed staff to take care of the buildings, which weren’t exactly tiny! To make things simple, apartments were built on top of the city’s libraries to house the custodial staff and their families.
The secret apartments have been vacated since the 1970s and ’80s, but the rooms are still there! They’re not used as staff lodging anymore, but rather for storage. According to Time Out New York, however, the Washington Heights Library is reopening some of its apartments.
Mount Rushmore Has A Secret Hall Of Records
If National Treasure taught us anything, it’s that historical landmarks are more than meets the eye. Take Mount Rushmore, for example. You’d probably never expect a secret hall designed to hold shelves of important documents to be located behind Abraham Lincoln’s head.
Well, when Gutzon Borglum carved the historic sculpture, that’s exactly what he built. The hall was originally designed to hold important historical documents, such as The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. And while both of those documents are housed elsewhere, there is a library full of records explaining why and how the mountain carving came to be — supposedly, since it’s not open to the public.
The Frick Collection Houses A Bowling Alley And Billiards Room
Once upon a time, the Frick Collection in New York was the home of steel magnate Henry Clay Frick. After he passed away, Frick’s mansion became one of the city’s many art museums. However, there are features of the museum that are not open to the public.
Sitting seven stories below the main structure lies Frick’s personal bowling alley and billiards room. Both were built back in 1914 with the rest of the mansion. Even though the public isn’t allowed down to that level, the bowling alley is said to be very elegant.
Uffizi Gallery And Pitti Palace Are Linked By A Secret Corridor
Connecting the Uffizi Gallery and Pitti Palace is a secret passage called the Vasari Corridor. Cosimo de’ Medici built the passage in honor of his son’s marriage, back in the 16th century. The thing is, you’d never notice the passage unless you knew what to look for.
On the first floor of the famous Uffizi Gallery is an unmarked door that leads to the beginning of the corridor. Today, the passage is a museum, rather than a way to get between buildings. The hall features artwork, mainly from the 16th and 17th centuries, and self-portraits from famous artists.
The Brooklyn Bridge Is Hiding A Wine Cellar
The historic Brooklyn Bridge spans the East River, connecting Brooklyn to Manhattan. Built back in 1883, the bridge is crossed hundreds of thousands of times a day. But most people who cross the bridge are unaware of the secret vaults that were once wine cellars located on the ramps that lead up to the anchorages on either side of the massive structure.
Many liquor vendors utilized the vaults, such as Luyties & Co. and Rackey’s Wine Company, because their buildings were demolished to make way for the bridge. Today, the vaults are still standing, but they’re empty and void of spirits (of the liquid variety, at least).
A Tennis Court Inside Grand Central Station
If you can believe it, inside one of New York busiest train stations are some tennis courts! That’s right; Grand Central Station is home to a secret room called the Annex. The thing about the Annex, though, is that it has changed over the years.
It hasn’t always been a public tennis court. A few years back, the Annex was a recording studio! And after that, it was an art gallery. We’re curious to see what the room transforms into next since it doesn’t seem to stay one thing for more than a few years. If you’re interested in seeing the Annex, it’s open to the public.
St. Mark’s Basilica Has A Hidden Crypt
It’s kind of difficult to think of anything else when the beauty of St. Mark’s Basilica is looming right in front of you. But there is a secret lying underneath the magnificent chapel: a small crypt.
For centuries, it was believed that St. Mark’s body lies in the crypt, as well as the Patriarchs of Venice. Today, it’s not necessarily easy to visit the crypt. Some tour companies will bring people down after hours, but they are few and far between.
Honest Abe Has A Huge Basement Under His Feet
One of the more famous memorials in Washington D.C. is the statue of former president Abraham Lincoln sitting on top of a marble throne. And while a lot of people around the world are familiar with the statue, they aren’t privy to what lies underneath Honest Abe’s feet.
When construction began in 1914, workers designed a three-story, 43,800-square-foot basement right underneath the statue! There, they constructed columns and beams to support the heavy memorial. Today, the National Park Sevice wants to renovate the basement for retail and storage purposes.
The Empire State Building Has A Mysterious 103rd Floor
If you ask people, most will say the Empire State Building has 102 floors, since that’s where the top observation deck is located for those adventurous tourists who want a stellar view of New York City. Little do they know, that is not the “top floor” of the prominent building.
There is a secret 103rd floor that is not open to the public; only big-name VIPs are invited to the hidden level. It’s easy to disregard the “rumor” of the top floor since there is no elevator to take people that high up into the building. Good thing there’s a staircase on the 102nd floor!
Drum Castle Features Secret Ancient Chambers
One of Scotland’s oldest castles has a secret hidden within its walls. In 2013, archaeologists discovered a perfectly preserved secret chamber in Drum Castle, complete with an ancient bathroom with its original toilet seat. They were amazed, considering the room was not documented in any blueprints or design plans for the castle.
As it so happened, the archaeologists spotted windows on the outside of the castle, but when they entered, they found no such openings. It turned out that the chambers had been closed off when a library was built.
The Washington Square Park Arch Has A Secret Attic
One famous landmark people will most likely be surprised to hear has a secret attic is the Washington Square Park arch in Greenwich Village. The arch opened in 1892, but designer Stanford White didn’t stop at just the Roman-inspired archway. White added a spiral staircase inside the arch, leading up to a 17-foot tall attic!
As you can probably imagine, the attic offers amazing views of lower Manhattan. Unfortunately, the attic isn’t accessible to the public. If we had to guess, allowing people into the old structure would be a huge liability issue for the city.
There’s A Hidden Cavern In New Niagara Falls
If you look past the sea of tourists lined up to get soaked by the spray of the celebrated Niagara Falls, then you might notice that there is a hidden limestone cave carved into the side of the gorge. The history of the cave is a bit terrifying, though.
The “Cave of Evil Spirits” is aptly named due to its history. As the name suggests, people believe the cave to be haunted by British soldiers who were killed by the Seneca tribe way back in 1763. This is one secret place that you should only enter if you dare!
Inside Flinders Street Station, There’s A Ballroom
Melbourne, Australia’s Flinders Street Station holds a very elegant secret. On the third floor of the railway station is an elaborate ballroom, totally hidden from the public. The ballroom closed in 1985.
Since its closure, only VIP guests with a secret golden ticket are allowed to venture into the secret space. Ironically, it used to be open to the public as an activity and lecture hall. Then, in the 1950s and ’60s, the space was transformed into a ballroom for public dances.
Pixar Studios Has A Speakeasy Hidden In An Animators Office
Would you believe there is a tiny speakeasy located inside Pixar Studios? It all started when animator Andrew Gordon found a small door with a key in it. So, he obviously turned the key. Behind the door was a giant room. He ultimately turned the space into the Lucky 7 Lounge for studio employees to hang out and grab a drink.
Unfortunately, the only entrance to the speakeasy is in Gordon’s office. So, unless you know someone who works at Pixar Studios, it is very doubtful you’ll gain entrance to the private room.
The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel’s Abandoned Train Tracks
Underneath the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel is Track 61, a semi-abandoned train station. And while there are many abandoned stations in New York, this one is a bit different. For one, it is only accessible via a locked door on 49th street and a private elevator.
Today, there is an antique car permanently parked at the station. And high-profile VIP guests tend to utilize the infamous track to make private getaways and to stay out of the public eye.