10 Places Around the World Where Photography is Banned
- Marianne Stenger
- 21st June 2019
Considering that roughly 95 million images are uploaded to Instagram every day, it’s difficult for most of us to imagine photography being restricted or even illegal. But the reality is that there are still plenty of countries, cities, and historical sites or religious buildings where taking a simple photo could get you into trouble.
Here are ten examples of places where photography has been banned or restricted for reasons ranging from religious beliefs and fears of terrorism to plain old annoyance with tourists.
2. South Korea
Although you’re probably already aware that North Korea has strict rules and regulations in place for anyone wanting to visit, taking certain types of photos in neighbouring South Korea could also get you into trouble. For example, in South Korea, photographing people, even in public, without their consent is considered a criminal offense. Breaking this law could see you jailed for up to five years.
3. The Sistine Chapel, Vatican City
Visitors to the famous Sistine Chapel in Vatican City are required to follow a number of rules such as wearing long trousers or skirts and covering bare shoulders. Because camera flashes could cause damage to the artwork, all photography and video recordings within the Sistine Chapel are strictly forbidden, and security staff is authorised to delete any photographs or recordings.
4. Red Light District, Amsterdam
Although you can snap photos to your heart’s content just about anywhere in Amsterdam, including in its notorious ‘coffee shops,’ there is one place where taking photos is strictly forbidden. In Amsterdam’s Red Light District, photography is prohibited and anyone trying to sneak in a few photos can expect to have their camera confiscated by irate business owners.
5. United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates, which includes Abu Dhabi and Dubai, has stricter laws surrounding photography than most photographers will likely be accustomed to. Because of local superstitions, cameras are not allowed in certain locations and photographing certain bridges, palaces, and government buildings is illegal. Taking photographs in any of these forbidden places could result in fines and even imprisonment, so do your research before visiting, and when in doubt, just leave your camera in its case.
Although Japan’s numerous temples, shrines and religious statues are famous for their beauty, taking photos in and around some of these sacred places is prohibited. This is partly for religious reasons, but according to some reports, more temples and shrines have begun banning photography due to a recent influx of tourists exhibiting bad manners. Insensitive behaviours include setting up tripods in the middle of walkways, trampling into gardens to get the perfect shot, and causing damage by leaning on walls and pillars while taking photos.
7. Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Egypt
The Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt is a fascinating historical site where the ancient Egyptians buried their Pharaohs. The area has no less than 63 elaborate underground mausoleums with vividly-coloured hieroglyphics covering the walls. Unfortunately, however, photography within the tombs is not permitted, and anyone sneaking in a camera or trying to take photos will risk being fined and having their camera confiscated.
8. Mumbai, India
If you were planning on snapping some selfies in Mumbai’s tourist hotspots, you’ll be disappointed to know that the city has implemented a ban on this type of photography. The ban was put into place after an unusually high number of deaths were linked to selfie-taking in popular tourist areas. Selfie-taking is now prohibited in 16 separate locations, and the city even has police patrolling these areas to enforce this unusual law.
9. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is home to one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks; Uluru or Ayer’s Rock. But as beautiful as it is, the landmark is considered sacred by the Aboriginal people who are the traditional owners of the land, which means photography is off-limits in certain sacred areas around the rock. Commercial photography has been banned altogether.
10. Westminster Abbey, London
Even in our very own capital city, photography isn’t welcomed everywhere. Westminster Abbey, for instance, does not allow photography as it is thought to “diminish the sacred and intimate atmosphere” of the building. Although trying to take a discreet photo in the Abbey won’t get you fined or imprisoned as it would in some of the places on this list, you’ll most definitely be told off and might even be asked to leave.