TRAVEL
12/16/2013 07:31 am ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

7 Secret Spots With Cooler Views Than You Ever Thought Possible

A keyhole in a door in Rome. A hidden, three-bench park in Paris. These are the kinds of spots that offer such unique, such pristine views of our world's monuments that we should probably keep them as secrets all to ourselves. But c'mon, we're nicer than that...

...Just don't tell anybody else.

1. The Knights of Malta Keyhole, Rome
Secret view of: St. Peter's Basilica
This is the mother of all secret viewing spots. It's a teensy-tiny keyhole in a door which, if you peer through and allow your eyes to focus, perfectly frames St. Peter's Basilica in the distance. The hole is in a door at the villa which serves as headquarters for the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, the world's oldest order of knighthood. To get to it, climb Aventine Hill, one of the seven hills upon which ancient Rome was built.
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2. The Champ de Mars Mini-Park, Paris
Secret view of: The Eiffel Tower
There are loads of places to watch the Eiffel Tower's nightly light show, and it's pretty much guaranteed you'll rub shoulders with hoards of other tourists at all of them. But this is not so in what examiner.com claims is an always-empty, hidden park. According to their site:

As you approach the Tower from the Champ de Mars (the long green park behind the Tower), head towards the Seine on the right side of the Tower. You will first come to an unexpected pond few know of, just before, and almost beneath the Tower... Just beyond the pond, and somewhat hidden behind the foliage, is a walkway that climbs up to a small, almost camouflaged mini “park”, consisting of only 3 benches and a retro street light.

Sounds très romantique to us.

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*Note: This is not a view of the tower from the secret park. We couldn't find any photos from that spot... it's that secret.

3. Liberty State Park, New Jersey
Secret view of: The Statue of Liberty
The Staten Island Ferry and all those tour boats are so overrated... and total seasickness hotbeds. For a local's view of the statue, take a quick ferry or train ride out of Manhattan to the New Jersey side of the harbor, where grassy fields and fresh air await. It's the closest view you'll get without rocking around on a crowded sea vessel. Unfortunately (yet to the delight of some tourists), the view here is of Ms. Liberty's backside.
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4. Invalids' Cemetery, Berlin
Secret view of: The Berlin Wall
It's not painted in psychedelic colors, and there aren't any souvenir kiosks, but this is probably the most authentic -- and secret -- slice of Berlin Wall you're ever going to see. Built in 1748, Invalids' Cemetery was intended for Prussian soldiers. Later, the Nazi regime used it as a resting place for a number of its top leaders, like Army commander Werner von Fritsch. When the Wall went up, over a third of the cemetery was destroyed to make room for watch towers and barracks. Today, in eerie silence, you can walk through the broken, wood-paneled wall from what was once East Germany to the West.
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5. The Battistero, Pisa
Secret view of: The Leaning Tower of Pisa
You could take those cheesy "leaning against the Leaning Tower" photos on the ground, but the aerial view from the top of Pisa's baptistry is one to die -- er, climb -- for. Pass the throngs of tourists at the famous bronze doors and ascend the baptistry's stairs to its second level, where you'll watch the tower lean from way up high.
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6. Mount Lee, Los Angeles
Secret view of: The Hollywood Sign
The most awesome place to see the sign is not on the road, but rather on a hike-- up in the hills, you'll see the sign clearly without buildings getting in the way. On the Mount Lee hike, you have the option to duck out from the regular trail and take a secret path that leads right up behind the Hollywood Sign's massive white letters. To find it, clamber a couple miles up the Mount Lee trail with everyone else, then take a sharp turn at the summit. You'll end up behind a fence with the word "Hollywood" and all of Los Angeles at your feet. It's tempting to hop over and touch the letters... if you do, make sure you can outrun the police helicopters.
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7. Potters Fields Park, London
Secret view of: The Tower Bridge
Take a pair of buses to "one of the few remaining green open spaces" along the River Thames. You'll get some sun and a stellar view of the Tower Bridge's first arch while less savvy folk try to snap pictures from the street.

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