Megan Bryant is a passionate writer and traveler who has combined her two loves to help others fulfill their traveling dreams. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually curled up with her 3 Dachshunds and a good book or planning her next adventure—wherever that may be.
In a world of social media and selfies, it probably comes as a shock that there are some destinations where photography is prohibited—destinations or landmarks that you may have already snapped pictures of without even realizing it.
Taking a photo in these 11 locations throughout the globe could bring with it some serious consequences. From the Eiffel Tower in France to the Taj Mahal in India, be sure to put your camera away upon arrival—unless you want to run the risk of fines or even jail time!
Eiffel Tower, France
You can’t visit Paris and not snap a picture of the Eiffel Tower. And although it is completely fine to do so during the day, taking a picture of the tower when it’s glowing at night is actually illegal.
European copyright laws state that images of the tower at night cannot be distributed without approval—including uploading them to Instagram and Facebook. In fact, you actually need authorization before you even take a picture of the tower, to begin with.
Considering how many people visit the Eiffel Tower each and every year, it’s hard for the law to actually be enforced. However, if you are near the Eiffel Tower at night with your camera out, then you could be told off by local police.
Taj Mahal, India
One of the most beautiful palaces on the planet and one of India’s most iconic landmarks, the Taj Mahal actually forbids photography. You’ll see plenty of photographs of the outside of the mausoleum, but photos inside the building and near the tombs, are strictly prohibited.
Upon entering the Taj Mahal, you’ll be asked to put your camera away and switch your phone off. If you’re visiting with a large bag, day pack, or a tripod, then you’ll actually have to leave your belongings outside, collecting them once you’ve finished with your tour.
The Sistine Chapel, Italy
It’s no secret that the art inside the Sistine Chapel in Italy is absolutely breathtaking. And although you’ll be tempted to snap a few photos to share with your friends and family, you actually aren’t allowed.
During the eighties, a Japanese broadcaster, Nippon TV, funded a multi-million dollar restoration project of the Chapel, and in return, they asked for exclusive photographic rights. So, if security sees you taking photos, they have the authority to delete them from your camera roll. At the end of the day, it really isn’t worth it, so do everyone a favor and enjoy the beauty of the Chapel with your eyes only.
Tower of London, United Kingdom
Millions of tourists flock to London every year. And even though you can take pictures all around the city, there is one place where photos are prohibited—inside the Jewel House.
The Jewel House in the Tower of London is home to the Crown Jewels, which kings and queens wear during coronations and other important occasions. Despite dozens of security cameras that survey every inch of the Jewel House, visitors aren’t allowed to take photographs or videos of the precious Crown Jewels. If you’re caught, guards have the authority to intervene, and you can end up facing serious consequences.
Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, North Korea
North Korea has extremely strict rules when it comes to photos and videos—especially when those photos are of monuments that honor previous North Korean leaders.
As tourism to the country is only allowed in groups that are organized by North Korean officials or by approved travel agencies, it’s crucial that you listen to your guide in regards to when you are allowed and not allowed to take photos.
One place where photography is strictly prohibited is inside the Kumsusan Memorial Palace of the Sun—the mausoleum of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. Upon entering, visitors must surrender their phones and cameras to security, collecting them on departure.
Red Light District, Amsterdam
For the most part, Amsterdam is a photo-friendly place—that is, except for the Red Light District. The world-famous Red Light District is one of Amsterdam’s most popular attractions. But although prostitution is legal, understandably, business owners and sex workers don’t take too kindly to unauthorized photos.
Temples, Shrines, or Religious Statues in Japan
Japan has an abundance of temples, shrines, and religious statues that draw in tourists from far and wide. But in some of these sacred places, photography and videography are prohibited. The reason for the ban is mainly due to religious reasons. However, insensitive behavior from tourists setting up tripods in the middle of walkways or damaging gardens and pillars to get the perfect shot has also contributed to certain places forbidding cameras.
Valley of the Kings, Egypt
Egypt is home to so many fascinating historical sites, and the Valley of the Kings in Luxor is definitely one of them. The burial site for Egypt’s Pharaohs has 63 underground mausoleums, all of which have vividly-colored hieroglyphics decorating the walls. In order to protect the tomb’s paintings, flash photography is prohibited, and only those with photo permits are allowed to take photos.
You will find, however, that photos in select tombs in the Valley of the Kings are strictly prohibited, including the most famous Pharaoh of them all—Tutankhamun.
16 Locations in Mumbai, India
Mumbai is one of India’s busiest cities and a popular hotspot for tourists visiting the country. In most circumstances, taking selfies is a harmless action. However, after a high number of selfie-taking-related deaths, Mumbai has put a strict ban on taking photos in 16 locations throughout the city—police even patrol the area to enforce the law and ensure everyone’s safety.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia
The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in central Australia is one of the country’s most iconic landmarks. Home to Uluru or Ayer’s Rock, the National Park is a sacred spot for Australia’s Aboriginal people—the traditional owners of the land. For this reason, photography in certain areas around the rock is not allowed, and commercial photography has been banned completely.
United Arab Emirates
When visiting one of the seven Emirates, there are certain camera laws you need to abide by. Snapping pictures around palaces, military locations, and government buildings is strictly off-limits. And even taking harmless pictures on the street could be risky.
In the UAE, laws state that if you took a photo and someone was in the background, you’d need their consent or permission to share that photograph on your social media. So, for example, If there were five people in the background of your picture, you’d need to ask all five people for their permission. If one person were to object to you posting the photo, then it would be illegal to do so.
In airports throughout the United Arab Emirates, photography and videography is also banned. Failure to comply with the rules could see you receiving fines, being arrested, and in extreme cases, even jailed.
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