People use vaults for all types of things. Some use them to store their jewels and others have massive amounts of cash that they want to keep safe from the rest of the world. Still others decide to store things inside that are either one of a kind or are extremely rare. In some very rare cases, you might have an eccentric individual or two that decides to use a vault to store things that are purely important to them on a personal basis. After all, the items stored inside don't always have to have monetary value, but they often do.
In the case of the 10 vaults that are listed below, you can almost bet that there's something of tremendous value stored inside. As a matter of fact, these are the 10 most secure vaults in the entire world. Obviously, the people who are storing things in them want to keep those items safe and they have gone to great lengths to do so.
10. Bahnhof (Stockholm, Sweden)
This building was once a nuclear bunker. Securely located several feet beneath the White Mountains, it served as a near-perfect location to keep people and valuables safe during the Cold War. These days, it's used for something entirely different but it still serves an important purpose. In addition, most people have no idea that it even exists, as it's impossible to see it from the ground level. In fact, you would have to traverse into the mountains around Stockholm and then find a well hidden entrance that leads you several feet underground, right in the heart of those mountains. Even when you know where you're going, it's almost impossible to find. As such, it's become one of the most secure locations in the world.
What is so important that's being stored in the building today? If you're thinking of jewels or money, you're wrong. It's actually become an extremely high-tech facility that stores data. The overwhelming majority of it is believed to be of a military nature or have something to do with national security. Otherwise, it's highly unlikely that it would be stored in this particular location. Nevertheless, this marks one of the very first times that a vault of this type has been used to store sensitive data and keep it safe from the rest of the world.
As such, it's constantly monitored and the technology used to keep the information stored there safe from prying eyes is ever-changing. As it becomes easier for people to use technology to get their hands on information they shouldn't have in the first place, this location has to stay a step ahead of them and prevent them from succeeding. It's definitely not an easy task, but it's one that they have been doing successfully for several years.
9. Bank of England’s Gold Vault (London, England)
The Bank of England is one of the world's oldest banks, having been founded in 1694. Today, they issue almost all of the banknotes circulated throughout both England and Wales. They also have a massive amount of gold stored in this particular vault. A few years ago, it was estimated that they had as many as 400,000 bars of gold stored inside the vault. That's roughly 3% of all the gold in the world.
As you might imagine, they keep a very careful watch over the gold that is stored here. As a matter of fact, most people are never even allowed access inside the building, much less allowed to see the gold itself. Just once, they allowed the BBC (the UK's major news outlet) inside, but they wouldn't allow them unfettered access to the gold, nor would they allow them to film a great deal inside. Aside from officials that are there to protect the gold, those who have certain positions within the bank and royalty, no one else has ever seen it. Moreover, it's highly unlikely that anyone ever will.
8. Bank of New York (New York, New York)
Speaking of gold bars (as in the example above), this particular location serves as part of the United States Federal Reserve. It also just happens to store roughly 497,000 bars of gold. Keep in mind, this is just the gold for the country, as this particular bank serves as the Fiscal Agent for the United States. In addition to holding this gold, they also hold gold for a number of foreign countries. For those individuals who are rich enough to have substantial amounts of gold in private accounts, this is typically where you might find it.
While the United States Federal Reserve System is complicated and consists of no less than 14 different locations scattered throughout the country, this is hands-down the location that has the best security. That's largely because it stores more gold and other valuable items than most of the other locations put together. This particular bank was founded back in 1914 and it has some of the best security you'll find anywhere in the world, not just in the country.
7. Chamber of Gold (Madrid, Spain)
The Chamber of Gold is not an actual location in and of itself. Moreover, it is a location within a location, existing 37 feet below the Bank of Spain in Madrid. It's a separate chamber that houses an unknown amount of gold as well as other items, many of them unknown. In fact, there is very little known about the location and that's by design. The Bank of Spain has long had to fend off curious individuals who wanted to find out what was in there. Aside from some gold coins that are older than the modern-day banking system itself, no one really knows what is stored in there aside from several bars of gold.
The level of curiosity associated with this particular bank only increased when the Netflix show “Money Heist” became so popular, as one entire season actually focuses on stealing gold from this very chamber. Like many forms of entertainment, not everything in the show is entirely correct. However, they did get some of it right. You might be surprised to know that if someone manages to get far enough inside that a possibility of reaching even one of the three steel doors protecting the chamber exists, the entire vault is flooded with water. It essentially prevents anyone from getting inside that isn't already there and traps anyone who is inside. It's easy to see why people would feel like their valuables are safe in this location when you consider that and other state-of-the-art security measures.
6. Teikoku Bank (Hiroshima, Japan)
There are two vaults located inside this bank that have been there since the 1920s. When the United States decided to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945, that bomb landed less than 400 meters from the building that housed both of the vaults. One would think that this would be enough to wipe everything in its path off the face of the Earth and in most cases, that is precisely what happened.
However, both vaults survived with relatively minor damage. It is believed that everything stored inside of them was kept completely safe. As a matter of fact, even the bank that houses the vault somehow managed to get through it all and remain standing. There was very little damage to the building, especially when you consider the proximity of the bomb blast and the power involved in something of that nature.
The fact that the vaults survived was something that the manufacturer wanted to exploit a great deal. It became something of a marketing gimmick for a number of years afterward. The company had a marketing department that was constantly reminding potential customers that their vaults survived an atomic explosion. As such, they started selling vaults to individuals. Known as Mosler, the company eventually went bankrupt and stopped manufacturing vaults in 2011. That being said, the two that were built so long ago for the bank are still standing and even still in operation.
5. Cheyenne Mountain (El Paso, Colorado)
This is one of the most secure facilities in the entire world. It used to serve as part of the United States space program and also held a number of important military secrets when it was part of NORAD. These days, it actually serves as an air base and a training facility, but that doesn't negate the type of security that exists there. As a matter of fact, its location alone makes it more secure than many of the other facilities on this list, as it's two thousand feet below the Cheyenne Mountains. It's located so deep in the earth that a very complex system has to deliver breathing air into the complex so that individuals can safely work inside, as there is absolutely no natural air that flows without the system.
There are also two 25-ton doors that protect the facility. It was designed to be completely resistant to a nuclear bomb blast. They definitely accomplished their goal, as a bomb the same size as the one that hit Nagasaki would have little to no effect if it were dropped directly on top of the facility. In fact, it would take no less than 25 of these bombs dropped in succession to even so much as crack the doors. As such, people working inside don't have to worry a lot about whether or not they are safe.
4. Iron Mountain (Boyers, Pennsylvania)
This is a sprawling 1.8 million square-foot facility located underneath the mountains in Pennsylvania. As a matter of fact, this particular vault is located roughly 220 feet below ground level. In reality, this is the biggest vault in the world, occupying the same space that was once occupied by a limestone mine. This is a location that is constantly monitored by both physical guards and electronic surveillance. There is also a 3-ton gate that prevents anyone from gaining access to the facility that shouldn't be there.
What is all the security doing here? This particular vault doesn't store cash or gold, but it does store the personal documents of some of the most influential people that have ever lived throughout history. Documents belonging to Charles Darwin and Princess Diana exist here. In addition, Bill Gates has a number of documents and photographs that are stored here. Many people have these documents stored in private, climate-controlled caves that are only accessible by them or the guards that work there. Apparently, it's believed that many of these documents could potentially alter the fate of the world and as such, they must be protected at all costs.
3. Granite Mountain (Salt Lake City, Utah)
This is another vault built more than 200 feet below ground level underneath a series of mountains. It was built in 1965 by the Church of Latter-day Saints in order to keep their records secure. There is a great deal about the vault that isn't known. However, it is known that this particular church maintains a wide berth of information about family histories pertaining to church members, many believe which date all the way back to the beginning of the church.
These days, other churches also choose to keep secure information there, as do a number of national libraries. To this day, it's not known exactly what is actually housed in this particular vault, as none of the entities responsible for storing information there have been terribly forthcoming with regard to the information kept there.
2. Svalbard Seed Bank (Spitsbergen, Norway)
There's no question about it, this is definitely a vault of a different type. It is one that involves storing examples of seeds from more than one million different crops around the world, all with the intention of using this information to kick-start life after some type of apocalyptic event. That's a frightening prospect in and of itself. When you consider the fact that government officials have taken this possibility into consideration enough to develop a facility such as this, it all takes on a new level of poignancy.
It's no longer the stuff of some cataclysmic science fiction film. It actually forces people to think about the possibility that something so catastrophic could happen that crops were wiped out all over the world, along with the vast majority of living creatures. If that should happen, as terrifying as it seems, this particular facility was developed to replant viable crops so that surviving individuals would be able to have food. This would effectively allow life to continue on.
1. Fort Knox (Elizabethtown, Kentucky)
The official name for this building is the US Bullion Depository. It is well established that it's likely the most secure building in the entire world, but details of just how secure it really is are not available because the government refuses to release anything related to this particular building's security measures.
What is known is that the building is used to house 147 million troy ounces of gold. It's unknown whether or not anything else is currently housed in the building. The only other things known about it with any level of certainty are that the building was designed to survive any and all types of modern warfare, including an atomic blast. It also has a steel fence that covers the entirety of the building, making it virtually impossible to gain access to the exterior of the building itself, much less get inside.
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson