Amsterdam | A Collection of Curiosities

status quo . Sometimes their role of concealing and hiding their terms in fact was the exact opposite, and they were built with the intention of actually drawing public attention. Whatever their purpose, the background and histories attached to many of these secret passageways and rooms are worth uncovering. Here are a few that have fascinated me:

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1. Il Passetto di Borgo, Rome .

Il Passetto di Borgo is the raised passageway, atop the old Vatican wall, linking Saint Peter's Church to the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome. The Passetto (meaning 'small passage' in Italian) is an 800 meter corridor used exclusively by the papacy and was supposedly built in 1277 by Pope Nicholas III. It played an important role in the 1527 Sack of Rome, when the Passetto was used by Pope Clement VI to escape the Vatican, and take shelter in the fortified Castel Sant'Angelo.

Below is a bird's eye view of the Passetto , shown as a red line running from Saint Peter's (on the left) to Sant'Angelo (on the right).

2. The Vasari Corridor, Florence .

3. Our Lord in the Attic (Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder), Amsterdam .

This is my favorite museum in Amsterdam. It is a 17th century residential canal house, originally owned by the merchant Jan Hartman. Hartman converted the top 3 floors of the bourgeois house into a secret Catholic church in 1663, a time when Catholicism was increasingly oppressed by Protestantism and the celebration of public mass and worship was forbidden. The lower floors of the house remained the living quarters of the Hartman family, and the stairway was built on the side of the house for the Catholics to climb when secretly congregating in the attic church for mass. The museum is well worth visiting for the secret church, but also for what the middle class family home looked like during the 'Dutch Golden Age'.

4. Priest Holes, UK .

5. Krifo Scholio, Greece

Krifo Scholio, Greek for 'secret schools', were the supposed Greek clandestine schools that illegally taught the Christian doctrines and Greek language, country was under Ottoman rule between the 15th and 19th centuries. Historians who believe these secret schools to be true suspect that they operated throughout Greece and were overseen by monks from the nearby monasteries. The most well known Krifo Scholio is thought to have been in the Peloponnese Monastery of Philosophos in the mountain village of Dimitsana. The monastery's inaccessibility made it the perfect location for a secret school, as seen in the photo below.

This photo shows the entrance to the church, also the supposed site of the secret school:

  • Adam Floyd