Libraries captivate the imagination. These storehouses of knowledge contain countless secrets and mysteries. Unfortunately, many of these treasure troves of wisdom have been lost over the centuries. Those that remain are preciously guarded. Knowledge is power.
10. Vatican Secret Archives
The Vatican’s Archivum Secretum is one of the world’s most mysterious libraries. Founded in 1612, the archives were closed to the public until 1881. Pope Leo XIII allowed only Catholic scholars into the collection.
Since then, the restriction has loosened—slightly. Journalists, students, and amateur historians are strictly prohibited. Only accredited scholars who meet the Vatican’s stringent requirements can enter. Even then, they can only request three items per day.
In 2012, the Vatican allowed 100 items out of the secret archives. Considering the collection’s 80 kilometers (50 mi) of shelves, this barely begins to hint at the mysteries of the Archivum Secretum.
The released documents included Leo X’s papal bull excommunicating Martin Luther, transcripts from the trials of the Knights Templar and Galileo, a petition from English clergymen asking for an annulment of Henry VIII’s marriage, and the Inter caetera, which split the New World between Spain and Portugal.