For over 500 years, The Forbidden City in China contains secret rooms where the emperors would sneak to and hide. During renovations, people are constantly discovering new rooms that were previously unknown. There are 9,999 rooms, one less than the 10,000 rooms in the palace in heaven. In 2025, 85 percent of the total Forbidden City will be open to the public. But that means there’s still another 15 percent that we don’t know about. What’s going on behind those shut doors? (China Highlights).
It’s rumored that the secret rooms and hidden spaces in the Tower of London operated as places of imprisonment. Inside the tower, you’ll also find a lookout concealed by a barrel. Supposedly, the owners kept 23,500 jewels in a safe inside the Martin Tower. As history says, only 10 people lost their heads at the Tower, contrary to popular belief. To seal his name on the throne, Richard III disposed of his nephew’s bodies on the Two Princes Staircase (Standard).
The Ballroom In The Flinders Street Station In Melbourne
As the busiest railway station in Australia, it might not be surprising to learn there’s a secret ballroom. Almost 100,000 passengers per day flood the halls and wander through the station. No one thinks about the top-floor ballroom. In 1910, when the station opened, the spacious third floor was home to many different rooms serving the Victoria Railways staff. Eventually, the owners converted it into a dance hall in the 1950s. It’s been off-limits, but if you manage to get your hands on a “Golden Ticket,” you might be one of the lucky ones that get to view this ballroom. The Table Talk magazine of 1910 said, “There is a billiard room with three of the best tables, a games room, a reference and lending library, reading and smoking rooms, and classrooms.” Best of all, the owners furnished the rooms ornately and substantially, and decorated the walls with framed and artistic pictures. Because the 30s and 40s were the height of dancing in Melbourne it was only suitable if there was a ballroom in the busiest station in the city, and country (Museum Of Lost).
High-ranking officials need a place to hide, which is why there are secret rooms at The White House. One, in particular, is the bomb shelter. To protect President Roosevelt from assassination, construction workers built this room. There was an assassination attempt on Roosevelt regardless. But after the war ended, President Truman expanded this bomb shelter into a Cold War-era bomb shelter, where it was a temporary command center. Now, it might not be much of a secret, as President Trump spent time in the safety bunker during the Black Lives Matter protests. In her 2010 memoir, First Lady Laura Bush said, “The PEOC is designed to be a command center during emergencies, with televisions, phones, and communications facilities.” There are also underground tunnels for extra safety measures (Business Insider).
Head to Prague Castle for secret rooms, hidden passageways, and underground tunnels. This is where famous Czech Kings, Roman emperors, and famous presidents roamed the halls and even snuck away using the secret passageways. The Old Royal Palace to St. Vitus Cathedral has some of these secret hidden steps. The Golden Saloon is another secret room that only the most elite people have access to. A secret tunnel between the second and third courtyards is intended to protect the President from the general public as he moved about the Castle (Prague City Line).
It wasn’t until the 1970s that the director of the Medici Chapel discovered a secret drawing room underneath the chapel. They found a trapdoor in a wardrobe, and of course, they followed it. Construction workers completed the Chapel in the 16th century as the burying place of the Medici family, but it dates back even further. And until the70ss, the director assumed they’d looked at every nook and cranny possible. The illustrations of Michelangelo cover the walls of this secret room. The room is 23 feet by 6.5 feet. After discovering the room, they believed Michelangelo hid inside his secret room for months, where you’ll find decorations with sketches and designs for sculptures. The director, Paola d’Agostino, said, “You have to go down a series of very steep steps, and you start seeing all these breathtaking drawings.” At least six of them are Michaelangelos (NPR).
Welcome to the largest bamboo maze in the world. It has 17 acres and hidden rooms, you can discover just by doing the maze. Head to the bamboo labyrinth and explore the brainchild creation of Franco Maria Ricci. In the 1980s, he invited his favorite writer Jorge Luis Borges over. He said, “It is a well-known fact that the Labyrinth was one of his favorite themes. And the paths traced by the hesitant footfalls of the blind writer as he walked around me, made me think of the uncertainty of those who move amid forks in the path and enigmas. I think that it was watching him, and talking to him of the strange journeys made by men, that the very first embryo of the project […] first took form.” He sourced the bamboo from Southeast Asia, and it now sits in his home in Italy. This is more than just a maze, it’s a journey (Live in Italy Mag).
If you’ve ever visited New York for Christmas, then you probably went to Radio City Music Hall for some Christmas spectacle. Even though there are multiple secret rooms in this venue, the most lavish one has to be Roxy’s home. And we’re talking about Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel, an early pioneer of the movie theater industry. He helped design many of New York City’s venues like Roxy Theater, which is another spot you’ll probably recognize. He lived in Radio City Music Hall in a private apartment on the fifth floor. This is where he had 20-foot-high gold leaf ceilings, marble fixtures around the room, and custom-made wooden furniture. It’s not open to the public, but it is open to exclusive events saved for essential people. If you’re invited, you’ll roam the halls that Judy Garland, Alfred Hitchcock, and Walt Disney roamed (Rockefeller Center).
This palace, located in Granada, Spain, contains hidden chambers and a secret tunnel that connects the palace with the city. Once a month, the owners open the private parts of the Alhambra to the public. This 700-year-old citadel sits at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Spain. There’s a cave that’s partially, covered by ivy, which opens up to an underground gallery (English).
The Henry C. Frick House, located on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, is home to the Frick Collection. These priceless paintings include famed works like Titan and Hans Holbein the Younger. Since bowling was a new and exciting game that had just come out at that time, Frick had a two-lane bowling alley installed in his home, in addition to a billiards room. Unfortunately, he died three years after its construction, and after his passing, his wife Helen used the space to store books. This secret room is off-limits to most visitors. The lanes are maple and pine, with red-tiled floors, and mahogany-painted walls. Because this nearly untouched bowling alley does not live up to fire standards, it is off-limits to the public (Atlas Obscura).
The Amber room disappeared during WWII. In 1941, when the Nazis invaded Russia, the Amber Room was moved to Königsberg Castle. And that’s when the search for the fated Amber Room began, and when the Red Army seized the city in 1941, no traces were found. This room became the eighth wonder of the world. Anatoly Valuev, of the Kaliningrad History and Arts Museum, said, “But no traces of burning amber were found. And it was assumed that the room survived after all. It was hidden in the castle’s basement or it was taken somewhere else.” The former USSR reconstructed the Amber Room, which you can see on display today, though no one truly ever found out where the real Amber Room was (BBC).