Have you ever wondered what it takes to keep certain important locations around the world safe? Well, wonder no more! From prisons to vaults to the White House, we’ll take a look at exactly what precautions are necessary to keep these places as secure as possible. Here is our list of the top 10 most secure places on earth.
10 – ADX Florence Prison
Known as a “Supermax” prison, ADX Prison is located in Florence, Colorado. It has housed many high profile and very dangerous inmates – including mobsters, members of Al Qaeda and “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski. A former warden once described the high security prison as, “a cleaner version of hell.” It’s easy to see why. This prison is specifically designed for criminals who have had countless disciplinary problems at other prisons – including killing other inmates and prison guards. As a result, the all-male prison is under the highest constant security. Moreover, ADX has even been included in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most secure prison in the world.
There are six levels of security at the prison – from the highest level to the least restrictive. Firstly, the least restrictive unit is for those prisoners in the “Step Down” program who are working their way out of the system. Those in the highest level security units have it a bit rougher. Confined to a 7 foot by 12 foot cell, these prisoners sleep on a bed of poured concrete and have just a four inch slice of window to look outside.
They are on 24/7 lockdown. Moreover, the entire prison is surrounded by a 12 foot high razor sharp fence – just in case anyone gets any bright ideas.
9 – The Parksafe Car Park
Also known as Bold Lane Car Park, this parking garage in Derby, England is one of the most secure places you could ever park your car.
They take many precautions including strict entry restrictions, motion sensors and a lockdown if your car is in danger. The car park was opened in 1974 and was just an ordinary, run of the mill parking garage. It wasn’t until the 1990’s, when the large structure became overrun with the homeless and beggars that something needed to be done. In 1997 alone, there were 161 reported crimes committed at the car park – from robberies to drug deals.
At this point, the owners decided to up their security – and up it they did! Subsequently, renovations began and the owners upgraded all the cameras. Further, they also began to add motion sensors in the ground beneath the car. Drivers are also given a ticket with a barcode when they enter the car park.
This ticket activates all the security bells and whistles when the driver parks their car and enters their spot number. If there is any movement of their car or even near their car, an alarm will sound. These upgrades have led to zero criminal incidents since they were installed and have landed the car park on this list.
8 – The Vatican’s Secret Archives
The Vatican Secret Archives feel like a scene out of a movie. Visitors to the archives enter through the Porta Sant’Anna – a gate just outside the Vatican.
Those wishing to enter must first obtain a security card that requires a lengthy application process. Most importantly, this application is only provided to scientific researchers and qualified scholars. The archives hold close to 35,000 volumes of records and documents and is highly monitored. Of those volumes, almost 30,000 have been chipped with a radio frequency identification tag.
Security is so tight at the Vatican that it has sparked controversy and conspiracy theories worldwide. As a result, many have criticized how guarded the documents within the archives are. Since only certain high-qualified clergy and those approved by the Vatican are gained admittance, there are those who speculate what the Vatican may be trying to hide within the centuries old documents. In February of 2017, Pope Francis announced that he would unseal a collection of scrolls dating back to 463 AD.
The Pope hopes this will provide “greater transparency” within the Catholic Church. This move will definitely squash some of the negative theories about what the church has been hiding with their extensive security.
7 – Fort Knox
You know what they say about Fort Knox, right? When your name is synonymous with being heavily guarded, you know it must be one of the most secure places in the world. This building houses thousands of tons of gold and stores unbelievably valuable and important historical documents like the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence. Also known as the United States Bullion Depository, this vault was built in 1936 and is now equipped with the most advanced security systems in the world. Moreover, armed officers who were hand selected by Washington officials are on constant watch in four ground level stations around the perimeter. These guards are armed with Thomson machine guns… just in case.
The windows of Fort Knox are sealed from the outside, as well as the inside. They’re bullet-proof, fire-proof and blackened so no one can see inside. The 22-ton door makes it impossible for anyone to make their way inside. Further, it’s made of a completely blast-proof material, so no amount of force is cracking this door open!
The walls of the depository are 4-foot-thick solid granite and many speculate this would make it possible for the structure to withstand an atomic bomb hit. Every square inch of Fort Knox is under surveillance at all times. In addition to all these precautions on the inside, some of the extra security on the outside include several electric fences surrounding the building.
6 – The White House
This may seem like an obvious one, but the amount of security and protection at the White House makes it easily one of the most heavily guarded places in the world. Between the iron fence surrounding the grounds to the bulletproof windows to the rumored biometric screens to gain access, I’d say they know what they’re doing in terms of security. But the real secret weapon is the Secret Service – who are meant to keep the President safe at all costs.
The Secret Service is comprised of the top law enforcement officers in the world. With over 3,200 special agents and another 1,300 officers, this unit is one of the largest and extensively trained security teams in the world. The Secret Service views the grounds of the White House as three separate security zones. These zones include the fence surrounding the house, the house itself and the interior of the house, namely the President. Each zone is designated a special team to focus on a different directive. The agents assigned to the President’s safety alone are known as the President Protection Detail, or PPD.
Agents assigned to protecting the White House as a whole are known as the Emergency Response Team, or ERT. Surrounding the White House fence are uniformed officers, counter snipers and K-9 units who are responsible for jumping into action quickly if trouble arises. The actual number of Secret Service agents on the premises at any time is classified – the bottom line is, the President is well protected.
5 – The Federal Reserve Bank
This vault is located way down beneath the streets of Manhattan with security that is so impenetrable that foreign countries rent out space to keep their gold there, as well. There are currently 12 federal reserve banks in the United States. But the New York location is considered the best of the best. The vault sits 80 feet below street level and contains 10% of all the gold in the world.
Only three people can grant access to the vault. And they must all be present at the same time for gold to be deposited into the vault. Two of those people are members of the New York Federal Gold Vault staff and one is a member of the New York Federal internal audit staff. The location itself is extremely reinforced with a 90-ton cylinder that, when closed, forms an airtight seal.
Once the cylinder is closed there are four rods made of steel that are inserted into the cylinder engaging a time clock which locks the vault until the next business day. Other precautions taken to maintain the security of the vault are steel-reinforced concrete walls around the vault and 24-hour surveillance of the outside and inside of the vault using security cameras. These precautions help ensure this location is one of the most heavily guarded places on earth and that it stays that way!
4 – The Korean Demilitarized Zone
Did you know there is a thin strip of land separating North Korea and South Korea? This strip of land is called the Korean Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ.
It’s considered one of the most heavily secured borders on earth and for very good reason. Tensions run extremely high between North and South Korea. In 1950, the Korean War saw North Korea invade South Korea and they quickly took over much of the country. The United States intervened and tried to defend South Korea, causing a strain between the US and North Korea, as well. The wedge between the North and South was driven even further with the Cold War. There has been a lot of animosity between the two nations since. For this reason, the border marked by the DMZ is heavily protected.
Besides a barb wired fence making its way up and down the border, there is also an active minefield, stopping those who are not welcome – or who are not allowed to leave –right in their tracks. Security at the border of the DMZ is two-fold. On one hand, armed guards serve to defend North Korea from invasion from outside forces. And on the other hand, they also serve to keep North Koreans from trying to flee to South Korea. Experts think as much as 60 percent of North Korea’s artillery is kept only a few kilometers from the DMZ at all times. If this is true, North Korea would be able to unload 500,000 rounds of bullets in just the first hour if a war were to begin.
Another place nearby where North Koreans are known to guard the border at all costs is the Tumen River. This shallow river has become a gateway between North Korea, China and Russia.
North Koreans guarding the borders take their jobs very seriously. This river seems to serve one purpose and that is for North Koreans to flee across the Chinese border. Almost none make it safely across.
3 – The Zurich Vaults
Vaults located in Zurich, Switzerland, are known for being some of the most heavily guarded vaults in the world. There’s a reason why every spy movie refers to the villain having a Swiss bank account. The safety deposit boxes in the Zurich vaults require 3 keys to open. The vaults themselves are seriously reinforced.
Armed guards and state-of-the-art surveillance help keep the fortunes kept within secure. The benefit of keeping your fortune in a Swiss vault is also confidentiality. Swiss bankers aren’t allowed to discuss the existence of your account with anyone without your consent. It’s the most private place you can keep your money. Many people keep their fortune in Swiss accounts as a safety net – if they are sued anywhere else in the world, the money they have stashed in a Swiss account is safe because nobody will ever know it’s there.
2 – Iron Mountain
Iron Mountain was once a limestone mine located in Pennsylvania. But now it acts as a secure facility where many national treasures are stored in 1.7 million square feet of vaults.
From original photos of Albert Einstein to Thomas Edison’s patent for the light bulb to the remains of Flight 93, millions of historical relics are kept in this hidden bunker. It is now owned by Bill Gates’ company, Corbis. To maintain these priceless artifacts, the area is temperature controlled by pumps that use water from underground lakes to keep the air cool. Moreover, the facility itself is located 220 feet below ground to help guard against environmental hazards.
Security is extremely tight with around the clock surveillance and the former mine is reinforced with fire-safe materials. Two sets of armed guards protect the entrance of the facility and have the job of thoroughly inspecting all those who come and go.
1 – The Granite Mountain Records Vault
Also known as the Mormon Church’s secret vaults, this is probably the most secure place on earth. This location contains countless historical documents that are priceless to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints – or Mormons. Not only is the temperature controlled by constant monitors, but every inch is protected by heat and motion sensors. The records contained in these vaults date back centuries and mostly include family history records and genealogy reports.
Public access to the vault is prohibited, although the church has made most of the records within available online. To protect the documents within the vault, the church has spared no expense. The vault is buried under 700 feet of mountain rock. The entrance doors to the vault weigh 9 to 14 tons and are rumored to be able to withstand a nuclear blast.
The church has made it almost impossible for anything to happen to these records by maintaining the temperature, keeping out the public and securing the vault.
Which location do you think is the most secure place on our list? If you could visit any one of these places without getting arrested, which would it be? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!