Have you ever stopped to think about what you’re allowed to do in the world in a general sort of way? There are laws against things like murder and stealing of course, but those make sense to most people right away. And there are also rules that apply to certain people and not others like “authorized personnel only” which means certain people can do a thing and others can’t. Even that makes sense to most of us. But every so often you come across a thing which no one is allowed to do, and it just doesn’t seem to make much sense at all, even if there’s a reason.
10. No One Is Allowed to Move a Ladder That’s Been at the Holy Sepulchre Church For Centuries
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre has existed in Jerusalem since the fourth century. It’s supposed to be built on land covering both the site of Jesus’s crucifixion and the cave from which he came back from the dead. As you can imagine, in Christianity, it’s a pretty significant place. And it also contains a ladder no one can touch.
Christians don’t all see eye to eye and there are six different denominations that oversee this one single church. As such, some sections of the church are common or shared areas and some are strictly overseen by just one sect. It’s that spirit of sharing Jesus was so into. They’re so rigid in their control of this church that there are rules, officially called the Status Quo, about who can move about inside and when. All factions must agree fully to everything or nothing can happen. That includes mundane details like who can open a door or light a candle. Apparently these rules are violently defended and monks of different orders have gotten into fistfights over it. Again, very Christ-like.
So what does this have to do with a ladder? The simple five-run ladder is outside a window on the second story of the church above the entrance. It has been there for 265 years or more. The Status Quo rules don’t cover the ladder and so no one has the right to move it. As such, no one ever has or apparently ever will. In fact, when a tourist once pulled it in a window and hid it, they tracked it down and put it back.
9. No One in North Korea is Ever Allowed to Hold the Title of President
North Korea has been a geopolitical anomaly for many years with the country at once instilling fear and being the butt of jokes. The nation’s reclusive nature and overt aggression ensure it’s never quite taken seriously and, in the West especially, the most recent leaders of the country have been mocked mercilessly. This includes current leader Kim Jong-un and his father, Kim Jong-il.
Jong-un’s title as ruler of the nation is General Secretary though most media sources just call him the leader. He’s also Party Chairman. But he’s not President, nor was his father. Instead, his grandfather Kim Il Sung retains that title, despite the fact he died in 1994.
Il Sung holds the title of Eternal President, and the office of President was written out of the Constitution so that no one else could ever hold it.
8. No One Can Visit U Thant Island in New York
There’s a tiny island in New York’s East River called U Thant Island. U Thant was once the Secretary General of the United Nations but the island was never his home, or anything like that. It’s too small to have been used for much of anything, actually. If you see pictures it appears to be rocky shore, some scattered weeds and trees, and what appears to be some janky metal scaffolding and a small radio-type tower.
Also known as Belmont Island, it only came into existence in the 1800s when a tunnel being dug under the East River allowed it to build up and emerge from the water. It was called Belmont at first for the man who funded the tunnel but then later a Buddhist group rented it and gave it the unofficial name of U Thant Island. They are the ones who put up the metal monument to the UN leader.
No one can visit the island these days thanks to a series of unrelated events. First, its proximity to the UN headquarter has always meant visitation was limited. But in 2004 an artist set up a protest there claiming it was a sovereign nation. And now it’s a bird sanctuary so travel to the island is strictly prohibited.
7. No One is Allowed Outside for 24 Hours During Bali’s Day of Silence
Bali has long been a hot spot vacation destination and there are plenty of resorts there and tourist attractions for those looking to experience some exotic luxury in Indonesia. But it’s worth knowing if you do head to Bali you need to check your calendar to see when they’re celebrating Nyepi Day, the Bali Day of Silence.
It’s a New Year celebration, but it’s pretty much the exact opposite of any other New Year celebration you’ve seen. No one is allowed out on Nyepi Day and that literally means no one. You have to stay indoors for an entire 24 hours. No driving, no walking, no setting foot outside of your house. You’re not even supposed to turn lights on at night or make loud noises. There are no flights for the whole day, hotel guests are confined to hotel grounds.
There are celebrations for a few days leading up to the event, so it’s not like there’s no party at all. But the day of, which starts at 6 am, is clearly different. There are some minor exceptions because it’s a modern world with modern problems, so emergency vehicles are allowed on the roads. And a few people who are allowed out do so as a sort of local watch to make sure everyone else is following the rules.
6. The British Museum Has Purloined Ethiopian Treasure No One is Permitted to See
It’s no secret that many museum exhibits in England have a sketchy pedigree insofar as, historically, many items on display had been stolen from countries once occupied or colonized by the British. This includes a fair amount of treasure that once belonged to Ethiopia.
The British Museum has a series of wooden and stone tablets that were taken from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and represent the Ark of the Covenant. In their tradition, only priests of the church are allowed to view these items. But they were seized in 1868 after the British Army defeated the Ethiopian emperor during the Battle of Maqdala.
Ethiopia has asked for these items back numerous times which were, by all accounts, simply stolen. The Museum has never agreed to return them. Which is ironic because, in the 150 years since they’ve been stolen, no one has ever seen them because the museum keeps them locked away from public view and they have never been on display. The British Museum itself acknowledges where the treasure came from and agreed to never display the items in accordance with the beliefs of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church but still has not agreed to their return.
5. Mt. Kailash has Never Been Climbed Due to Its Significance as a Religious Place
They call Mt. Kailash the Stairway to Heaven and with a name like that, you’d think people would want to be climbing it all the time. And the want part may be true, but it’s not actually happening. Officially, no one has ever climbed to the peak, at least in modern times, as the mountain is sacred to several religions in the area.
Hindus, Buddhists and others make regular pilgrimages to the mountain and you can camp near it, tour around it and spend a lot of time in the area but reaching the summit is just not permitted
4. You’re Not Allowed to Drive on the M-185 Highway
Some highways become oddly infamous over time. Route 66 is arguably the most famous highway in America and there are even songs written about it. But the M-185 highway in Michigan has its own claim to fame that no one highway can make. You can’t drive on this one.
With the exception of emergency vehicles, no one is allowed to drive a motorized vehicle of any kind on the M-186, located on Michigan’s Mackinac Island. It’s the only state highway in the country with this rule.
Mackinac Island isn’t very big and M-185 is just over 8 miles long. The rule stems from a ban on “horseless carriages” that the island put into place over a century ago. At that time, touring the island in a horse-drawn carriage was very popular so the carriage drivers petitioned to ban cars on the grounds they scared the horses. The ban went into effect in 1898 and was never lifted.
These days you can still take horses around or try a bicycle as most people seem to prefer.
3. There are Thousands of Prince Songs No One Has Ever Heard
Prince was a prolific musician during his lifetime and also something of a quirky and eccentric man at the best of times. He recorded 39 studio albums but also quite a bit more. There is a vault of recordings that he made and never released which few people, if any, have ever heard.
His output was almost hard to believe. Aside from an album almost once a year he recorded literally thousands of songs. While one documentary claimed there were 2,000 songs, others guessed as many as 8,000 are in his private collection having never been released or heard by anyone. Since he also wrote, sang and played most of the instruments on many tracks, it’s possible that some of these weren’t just heard by “barely” anyone but by no one other than Prince himself.
In talking about him, his keyboardist and musical director said he would just record songs and move on if he didn’t feel like they were right. He’d tell his bandmates that somebody would do something with the unreleased stuff one day, or maybe he’d revisit it down the line.
Because Prince died without a will, his song catalog is part of a dispute and, as such, is not something that will be released publicly until everything is resolved, if ever.
2. No One in New Jersey Can Pump Their Own Gas
The New Jersey state motto is Liberty and Prosperity but that liberty doesn’t extend to the gas pumps. Drivers in the state are not allowed to pump their own gas. The reason is prosperity, at least the prosperity of those who run gas stations. The law dates back to the proliferation of early self-serve stations which people felt were a danger to smaller gas stations. In order to ensure they didn’t get pushed out of business, the state made it a law in 1949 that no one could pump their own so workers wouldn’t lose their jobs.
Oregon has a similar law that dates back to 1951 though they have some areas where self-serve is allowed so it’s not as strict as New Jersey law. If you’re caught in one of these states pumping your own gas, you could get fined as much as $5,000.
1. Hell is in Grand Cayman But You Can’t Enter It
If a place is particularly awful for whatever reason, people may describe it as Hell on Earth. But there are also a few places that are literally called Hell here on Earth and one is in Grand Cayman. You can look at it from a distance but you can’t actually set foot in it.
Its name is from the black limestone formations which give it an ominous landscape. It’s a small plot of land, described as about the size of a soccer field, complete with a small tourist trap store that sells souvenirs. Though you can approach on a boardwalk and take pictures, you can’t go onto the rocks themselves. No one is allowed to actually enter Hell.