A Brief History of Secret Doors

Giza pyramids

Ancient Times

Secret doors have been used in structures for thousands of years. Though in modern times we often think of them in whimsical terms due to their frequent dramatization in movies, their historical ubiquity is in fact due to their highly effective security benefits.

Some of the most fascinating secret doors can be found in the intricate passageway systems of ancient Egyptian pyramids. While the pyramids served as an ostentatious memorial of the Pharaoh, they were an obvious target for thieves. Large amounts of gold and gems were stored with each monarch so they could bring their riches to the after life. To thwart robbers the kings were buried in chambers secured by secret passageways.

Giza pyramids
Secret Tunnel

Historic Castles and Strongholds

Prestigious homes and buildings throughout the ages are filled with hidden doors.

In medieval castles this was almost a standard feature. One notable example is the secret door in Predjama Castle, Slovenia. Connecting to an extensive cave system, it allowed inhabitants to survive an extended siege. In Victorian mansions hidden bookcases, secret wall panels, and even hidden staircases were all sought-after features. 

In the 20th century, with more sophisticated building processes, technology, and machinery, new ways for discreet storage have become available. One popular method of secret storage is the murphy bed. The murphy opening method focuses on discreetly placing required features of a room – in this case a bed – in a convenient location when it is not being used. This provides more usable space in a room.

Modern Security

Secret doors for the purpose of security have seen increased demand in recent years. The same concept that has made hidden doors popular though the ages also make them popular today: a criminal can’t steal what he can’t find. 

New products like hidden safes have also become available. However, a safe only provides a limited amount of storage. The virtually unlimited secure spaced provided by a secret bookcase or hidden mirror is a huge benefit.

Those with valuables to protect understand that almost any form of protection is vulnerable to the right tools, expertise or amount of time that a criminal might have. For high level security, secrecy and discretion has always been – and continues to be – the way to go

Library in a castle
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