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No Photos! 5 Surprising Places Where Pictures are Off Limits

Steve Palace
Thomas Wolf CC BY-SA 3.0 de
Thomas Wolf CC BY-SA 3.0 de

Sometimes it seems the whole world is open for a photo session. Social media makes it appear that anywhere and everywhere can be documented. But there are still locations where pictures are an absolute no no, totally off limits.

Here are 5 places where photography is a risky business…

5.Neuschwanstein Castle

Now that’s what you call a dining room but off limits.
Now that’s what you call a dining room but off limits.

The composer Richard Wagner has inspired many with his stirring compositions. Yet the ultimate tribute to his talent exists over in Bavaria. Ultimate Wagner “fan boy” King Ludwig II erected Neuschwanstein (“New Swan Castle”) to honor the maestro, such was his passion.

This bricks and mortar fantasy location brings operatic creations to life. “The third floor particularly reflects Ludwig’s admiration of Wagner’s operas” writes the castle’s website. “The Singers Hall, which occupies the entire fourth floor of Neuschwanstein also contains characters from Wagner’s operas.”

Built between 1869 – 86, it’s known as “the castle of the fairy-tale king”. Tragically Ludwig himself didn’t live to see it completed. His exacting standards ended with his demise, so the place is to all intents and purposes unfinished. Neuschwanstein’s legacy is assured, with Disney’s Magic Kingdom owing a debt to the castle’s appearance.

Naturally tourists want to capture the magical atmosphere for themselves. Sadly for them, the castle has a no photo policy for its interior. In this sense it truly is, as the site states, a “castle of paradox”…

4.Sistine Chapel

Credit; Snowdog CC BY-SA 3.0
Credit; Snowdog CC BY-SA 3.0

Michelangelo took a few years to paint the ceiling of this world famous part of the Vatican during the early 16th century. But photo opp enthusiasts looking for a quick snap are often disappointed by rules in place at the Sistine Chapel.

As Mental Floss writes, “visitors to the chapel will find their experience peppered with terse shouts of ‘No photo! No video!’ from security guards.” Visual material of the heavenly view is restricted to official merchandise. So who made Vatican authorities god of the ceiling and other assorted wonders? Actually the explanation concerns a more modern phenomenon – TV.

In 1980, Japan’s Nippon Television Network Corporation bankrolled a much-needed restoration. The work was undertaken over 14 years, and lucky photographer Takashi Okamura became the only snapper on the premises.

“Nippon has stated that their photo ban did not apply to ‘ordinary tourists’” notes Mental Floss. However, the prospect of countless camera flashes affecting delicate brushwork worried Papal authorities, who opted to block any unauthorized lens waving…

3.Casinos of Las Vegas

Casino New York-New York in Las Vegas, but again off limits.
Casino New York-New York in Las Vegas, but again off limits.

It isn’t just landmarks of yore that prohibit taking pictures. The neon towers of Vegas are also averse to a spot of amateur photography.

Gamblers and tourists alike are not actively discouraged from using a camera, with some establishments welcoming casual snappers. As long as people are aware that recording of any kind inside the casino is a high stakes activity.

Videoing the operation is definitely off the table. A group selfie should be alright, depending on where the lens is angled. Cameraphones are accepted, though wandering round with a tripod and zoom lens will attract a lot of attention.

Overall, casinos want to generate a relaxed but low key vibe. Website Vital Vegas observes: “casinos often cite security as the reason photography is prohibited, but the real reason they don’t like photography is related to customer privacy. Casinos know people are often in casinos that shouldn’t be, and are often with people they shouldn’t be with”.

Ignoring protocol might see a Las Vegas holiday become a little too much like a Martin Scorsese movie for comfort…!

2.Taj Mahal

Matthew T Rader – CC BY-SA 4.0
Matthew T Rader – CC BY-SA 4.0

The Taj Mahal, completed in 1648, is one of the most recognizable photo opps on the planet. Though visitors beware – the iconic white marble structure is beautiful, but it also serves a sacred purpose.

The awe-inspiring sight is a loving tribute from Shah Jahan – Mughal Emperor – to his precious consort Mumtaz Mahal, who passed during childbirth in 1631. Take pictures of the outside by all means. A photo from inside the mausoleum on the other hand is off limits.

The Taj Mahal’s status as a UNESCO World Heritage site means enormous care must be taken. The organization’s website states it “represents the finest architectural and artistic achievement through perfect harmony and excellent craftsmanship in a whole range of Indo-Islamic sepulchral architecture.” They add it is “a masterpiece” with “unique aesthetic qualities”.

With even the air quality strictly monitored, no wonder they’re not open to the tourists’ lens…

1.US Post Office

Looking north across 8th Ave at Farley Post Office on my way home from Brooklyn before midnight and yes, off limits to you too.
Looking north across 8th Ave at Farley Post Office on my way home from Brooklyn before midnight and yes, off limits to you too.

A friendly neighborhood mailperson won’t seem so friendly once post office photography rules are taken into account. The United States Postal Service is a stickler for detail with all things deliverable. And the rigor extends to something as apparently harmless as taking a picture.

“You can only take photos for personal use at the discretion of the postmaster, as long as they don’t disrupt the employees” writes Reader’s Digest. Furthermore, images must be “taken in areas that are accessible to the public.”

The move makes sense in terms of protecting information like names and addresses, which might be discernible on envelopes. Yet if you want to include an employee or customer in the frame, that is not the American way.

Another Article From Us: Iconic ‘Cheers’ Bar in Boston to Close Permanently due to Shutdowns

In an additional effort to deter wrongdoers, security cameras are also prohibited from appearing within the snap. A humble post office turns out to be one of the most inaccessible places for a photo in the world…