Typically, the locations of safe houses are kept secret from all but a limited number of people, for the safety of those hidden within them.
Many religious institutions will allow one to obtain sanctuary within one's place of worship, and some governments respect and do not violate such sanctuary.
Safe houses were an integral part of the Underground Railroad, the now-famous network of safe house locations that were used to assist slaves in escaping to the primarily northern free states in the 19th century United States. Some houses were marked with a statue of an African-American man holding a lantern, called "The Lantern Holder".
Safe houses also provided a refuge for victims of Nazi persecution and for escaping prisoners of war. Victims, such as Anne Frank and her family, were harbored clandestinely for extended periods of time.