10 Real-Life Panic Rooms

HiddenPassageway.com / HiddenPassageway.com

Panic rooms were brought into the public eye by the 2002 film starring Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart. Sometimes called safe rooms, these fortified bunkers are meant to shelter people during an attack, a burglary, or an extreme weather event like a tornado. Some of them are in plain sight, some are built into a foundation, and some are concealed behind bookshelves, staircases, or fireplaces. Most include communication equipment so you can call the police after you barricade yourself inside.

Panic rooms are far from common. The real estate site Trulia reports that only 0.00016 percent of all their listings include the words "panic room." And panic rooms are not for the hoi polloi—the average price of listings with a panic room is $1,656,565. Since the locations of panic rooms are often kept secret until after a buyer is secured, most of Trulia’s listings that include panic rooms don’t provide a picture.

Here's a sampling of the real-life safe rooms we discovered in private homes and on the market.

1. Hideaways for the Rich

Courtesy of HiddenPassageWay

The fanciest safe room doors we found came from a company called Creative Home Engineering. These wouldn't look out of place on your estate in the Hamptons.

2. Tickets to the Gun Closet

Courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle

Panic rooms got more popular after September 11, 2001, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The one pictured here has a handy gun rack.

3. Off to Narnia

Courtesy of HiddenPassageWay

This armoire with a false back can be installed to conceal the entrance to a panic room. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, anyone?

4. Hurricane Ready

The DuPont company makes a safe room fortified with Kevlar, meant to withstand a category 5 hurricane. They use some kind of crazy space-age epoxy to glue the thing to a cement slab, usually in your garage.

5. Through the Mirror

Courtesy of HiddenPassageWay

Nothing is getting through these doors.

6. Best Fort Ever

Courtesy of Barnorama

This panic room looks like it’s doubling as a playroom.

7. Keeping the Wine Out of Sight

Courtesy of Trulia

The underground safe room in this Colorado house doubles as a wine cellar.

8. Hide the Wine Better

Courtesy of Core77

In fact, we could take this whole underground wine cellar idea one step further. No one can break into a room they cannot find, right? And you'll have some liquid courage to keep you company while the intruders search your house.

9. Fool Them with Books

Courtesy of Trulia

A bookshelf on the landing of this house in Texas swings inward to reveal a panic room.

10. Secret Priest Chambers

Courtesy of Aquiziam

Panic rooms are nothing new. Earlier versions, called priest holes, were once built into the homes of Catholics in England, so visiting priests would have a place to hide during raids by anti-Catholic authorities. This house in Worcestershire has several.