Famous Buildings That Have Secret Rooms

Monica Gray - June 21, 2023

Vatican City

The Vatican is full of surprises. That’s part of the reason it’s so famous. There’s St. Peters Basilican and the Apostolic Palace. The Vatican Secret Archives is one of the world’s most extensive historical archives, which stores secret documents that probably give us some insights into the world’s best-kept secrets. Normally, these rooms aren’t open for visitors, and to see them you have to book a special tour. You’ll have the Room of the Masks, the Niccoline Chapel, and the Bramante Staircase, which was a way the pope went down inside the palace. Bramante came up with the idea of the double helix, and at the top, you’ll have gorgeous, sweeping views of Rome (Rome Wise).

Scottish Castle Associates

Drum Castle

There’s nothing better than having your secret bathroom in a big castle! Unfortunately, that’s not the reality for most of us, but it is for those who occupied Scotland’s Drum Castle. In 2013, archaeologists renovating the castle, which dates back to the 14th century, discovered an underground chamber. No one knew about this chamber until then. This medieval bathroom had a 14th-century toilet, which they called a “garderobe.” Not only that, but they also found a second chamber which they believed was a hiding place for the Irvine family during the Jacobite Rebellion in 1745. Dr. Jonathan Clark participated in the excavations that eventually led to the discovery of the bathroom. He said. “We knew that there were hidden passages because there were window openings at the first-floor level, but we couldn’t see from the inside of the tower where the windows were because they are hidden by the bookshelves of the 19th-century library. We were surprised that when we carefully unblocked the windows and peered in, and through the dim light of a torch and the mists of dust trapped for centuries, to find a perfectly preserved medieval chamber, complete with the remains of the garderobe (toilet) including the remains of the original toilet seat and the original entrance doorway for the medieval hall.” This contributed to their knowledge of how 14th-century towers were used (Scottish Castles Association).


Mount Rushmore

This one is more of a rumor. But many people believe that Abraham Lincoln’s head has a secret room. It’s called the Hall of Records and is right where the frontal lobe of Abraham Lincoln is. It contains some of America’s most important documents as if it’s straight out of the movie National Treasure. In the 1930s, designer Gutzon Borglum envisioned an 800-foot stairway leading to a grand hallway, with a large bronze eagle. And even though he died before that vision became a reality, there’s a record of America’s history inside the Hall of Records. No one is getting inside, as it’s sealed by a 1,200 pound of granite (Business Insider).

Tour Eiffel

The Apartment Inside The Eiffel Tower

There’s nothing more romantic than the Eiffel Tower. But what about the secret apartment that lies hidden within the Eiffel Tower? Gustave Eiffel, the mastermind behind the tower, built himself his very own apartment at the top. He rarely had visitors, though when he did, they included people like Thomas Edison. At the time of completion in the 1880s, it was the highest apartment in the world. The apartment itself has a homely and cozy feeling, a stark contrast to the rustic, industrial tower it sits inside. There’s a grand piano, oil paintings, and a gramophone (Headout).


The Hotel Room In Disney World’s Cinderella Castle

Step inside Disney World, and you enter a completely different world, full of colors, sights, and sounds that’ll make your jaw drop. And even though this secret hotel room isn’t necessarily a huge secret, it’s still the most exclusive hotel room in all of Disney World. Since the castle’s completion in 1971, they used the interior for storage, and at one time, housed the telephone operators for the parks. But in 2007, the builders of the castle announced the Cinderella Castle Suite. It’s almost impossible to spend the night in the Cinderella Suite, and the park has declined bribes of up to $40,000. There’s a salon, a bed chamber, a foyer, and a bathroom. You’ll see Cindarella’s glass slipper and pumpkin coach and a Victorian-style rotary phone (Travel And Leisure).

Simply France

Palace of Versailles (Château de Versailles)

In the Palace of Versailles, you’ll find hidden rooms and secret passageways where the Royal family moved around discreetly. There’s also the Queen’s secret cabinet, where Marie Antoinette would reportedly go for moments of solitude. The Palace has 12 secret rooms, and around the estate, are secret tea rooms, forgotten churches, and deserted groves that offer spectacular insight into the life of Marie Antoinette and other occupants of the estate. There are even private libraries, and if you’re clever enough, you can peek through keyholes to get a glimpse into the Versaille life (Simply France).


The Waldorf Astoria

You’ve probably heard of The Waldorf, but you likely haven’t heard of Track 61, the secret train platform that lies just beneath it. It comes as no surprise that Manhattan has some of the most exclusive apartments and buildings in the world. In 1913, the creation of Grand Central Station occupied space above and below ground, and opened a world of connection to other parts of America. The Waldorf and Astoria hotels merged, as they’re located directly above these train platforms. But the public never used the platform. Only elite customers used it. FDR used this platform at one point, and Andy Warhol hosted a party on the platform in 1965. The NY Times reported on this station, and said, “Guests with private rail cars may have them routed directly to the hotel instead of to the Pennsylvania Station or the Grand Central Terminal, and may leave their cars at a special elevator which will take them directly to their suites or the lobby.” Imagine you’re so important, you have a secret room just for yourself in one of the busiest stations in the world (Gothamist).

China Highlights

The Forbidden City In China

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).

Conde Nast Traveler

The Tower Of London

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).

Museum of Lost

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).

Business Insider

The White House Bomb Shelter

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).

Prague City Line

Prague Castle

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).


Medici Chapel

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).

Live in Italy Mag

Labirinto della Masone

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).

Radio City Music Hall

Radio City Music Hall

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).

Cicerone Granada

The Alhambra

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).

Atlas Obscura

The Bowling Alley In The Frick House

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).


Russia’s Amber Room

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).