5 famous sights that are illegal to photograph

We all become a little snap-happy on holiday. We take photos of anything and everything, from famous monuments to every meal and even the most benign of objects that seem endlessly amusing to foreigners like us. But every now and then, even the most seemingly innocent and well-intentioned holiday photo lands tourists in trouble. Last … Continue reading “5 famous sights that are illegal to photograph”

We all become a little snap-happy on holiday. We take photos of anything and everything, from famous monuments to every meal and even the most benign of objects that seem endlessly amusing to foreigners like us. But every now and then, even the most seemingly innocent and well-intentioned holiday photo lands tourists in trouble.

Last week it emerged that a British tourist in Egypt had been arrested over a video he took with his mobile phone at the airport that happened to capture a military helicopter in the background.

Muhammed Fathi Abulkasem, 19, from Manchester, was arrested shortly after arriving in Alexandria and has been charged with collecting intelligence on the Egyptian military, the Associated Press reported. He had filmed the video as his flight was landing at the airport. Taking unauthorized photographs or footage of military facilities, equipment or personnel is outlawed in Egypt.


Many countries prohibit photography or filming of military aircraft, tanks, naval ships and other vehicles, military personnel, bases, storage facilities and other military-related matter.

But other, less obviously sensitive photo subjects can also get tourists in trouble, from places of worship, airports, museums and galleries, bridges, tunnels and railway stations, department stores and shopping centers, and even buildings and public works of art. Those things often dominate people’s holiday photo collections, so you could be a criminal and not even realize it.

Here are some of the surprising things tourists can’t take photos of.

Eiffel Tower at night

It’s the most famous building in France, and possibly all of Europe. Certainly it’s one of the most iconic landmarks in the world.

But anyone who has a photo of the Eiffel Tower at night-time — and who among us hasn’t? — has technically broken the law.

Here’s why. Under European copyright law, works are protected for the lifetime of the artist, plus another 70 years. The tower’s designer, Gustave Eiffel, died in 1923, so the building entered public domain in 1993.

But the lights and projectors on the tower weren’t installed until 1985, by artist Pierre Bideau. They’re held as artistic work and still protected under copyright law.

So if you take a photo of the Eiffel Tower without the lights, you’re fine. But if the photo is taken when all those glittering lights are on — you’ve broken the law.

Tokyo’s most famous nightspot

They say if you didn’t take a photo it didn’t happen, but when it comes to Tokyo’s Golden Gai District, your mates will just have to take your word for it.

Golden Gai, in the heart of the city’s Shinjuku district, needs to be seen to be believed. It’s a basically a tiny block packed with about 200 miniature bars — some are only big enough to fit five people, including the bartender — with a series of super narrow alleys woven throughout.

It’s always a great night out and a brilliant place to people-watch.

But signs throughout the district warn bar hoppers and tourists photos are strictly banned — and as it’s heaving with people, you probably wouldn’t get away with a sneaky snap if you tried.

You’ll just have to commit your night out to memory (if you can).

Sistine Chapel — but it’s not what you think

Instagram is littered with photos and selfies from inside Vatican City’s papal residency that’s famous for extraordinary frescoes, including Michelangelo’s "Last Judgement" and "The Creation of Adam" and Cosimo Rosselli’s "Last Supper." But those tourists got away with it — photography and filming are banned inside the Sistine Chapel, and guards can make you delete anything you took.

You may think it’s because flash photography could endanger the priceless artworks, and yes, that’s a concern. But, for a while at least, that wasn’t the primary reason photos were banned inside the Sistine Chapel — it was because a Japanese TV company had the exclusive rights.

Between 1980 and 1994 a major restoration project saw frescoes get cleaned for the first time in centuries.

Vatican officials turned to an outside source to help fund the expensive project. The highest bidder was the Nippon Television Network Corporation of Japan, which offered US$4.2 million in funding in exchange for the exclusive rights to photograph and film the restored art, The New York Times said at the time.

Nippon TV produced a big array of documentaries and art books from the deal. Its exclusivity expired three years after the completion of each artwork’s restoration, but in any effect, the photo ban is still on.


Chinese pandas

Bad news, panda fans. In October, authorities in China’s Sichuan Province issued a ban on tourists taking photos of, and with, the region’s famous pandas.

The new rule was part of a series of measured aimed at stopping people getting too close to the endangered animals at places like the popular Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.

As it happened, security cameras set up at the research based captured tourists capturing photos with the pandas, which outraged animal groups and prompted the ban, the Global Times reported.

North Korea: Virtually everything

Remember what we mentioned earlier about paranoid countries? It comes as no surprise in the hermit state of North Korea, photography of pretty much everything is heavily controlled.

In September Getty Images photographer Carl Court spent a week in the Communist state documenting people at work and at play.

Court explained the things he was, and wasn’t, allowed to photograph. And one of the biggest rules was capturing only full-frame images of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il statues and iconography.

“You can’t crop the feet off the statues. You can’t cut a bit of the corner off,” Court said.

Tourists in North Korea are only allowed to enter the country if they’re with a state-approved travel group that regulates where they go and what they see.

Tourists are warned their mobile photos and electronic devices may be searched by North Korean authorities.

Read the full story in News.com.au.

Bride suing Sandals Resorts for $30 million, claims butler molested her

This Jeeves turned out to be a real skeeve.

A New Jersey bride and her husband are suing Sandals Resorts for $30 million, saying they booked their dream wedding at one of its properties in the Bahamas — only to have her molested by the “butler’’ assigned to them.

“This was a guy who came in and was assigned to them as a butler to make it a memorable wedding — and indeed he did, but it is a ghastly memory for them,’’ the couple’s lawyer, John Nicholas Iannuzzi, told The Post.

The bride, Ashley Reid, 32, of Red Bank, says she was fast asleep in the bedroom of the couple’s suite around 2 a.m. April 15, 2016, following a welcome party for 70 guests on the eve of their wedding.

Her soon-to-be husband, Jeffrey Pascarella, 32, was in the bathroom.


That’s when the couple’s Sandals-assigned personal valet, Moral Adderley, snuck into the room, according to the Manhattan Supreme Court suit.

“Something was prompting me to wake up, something was wrong,” Reid told The Post. “As I started to wake myself up, I realized his hands were down my pants and I jumped out of bed.

“I screamed. He got up, he ran out of the room. I was just kind of disheveled and disoriented. I couldn’t make sense of what just happened. I was in shock.’’

Pascarella rushed out of the bathroom, made sure Reid was OK and then took off after Adderley.

The butler — provided by Sandals as part of an extravagant wedding package that also included a pre-ceremony manicure and signature cocktails — was arrested after the couple gave statements to resort security and the police.

Resort officials assured Reid that Adderley had been terminated that evening and his work phone with contacts of clients taken away.

So she was horrified the next morning, when the manhandling manservant called her cell phone to take her breakfast order as if the assault had never occurred, she said.


Despite the terrifying wedding eve, the couple decided to go ahead with their nuptials.

“We had almost 70 people there. We couldn’t disappoint them,” Reid said.

But she said her wedding was hardly what she’d imagined.

“It was surreal. It just didn’t feel like what you grow up imagining your whole life what your wedding would be like,” she said.

A week later, Adderley pleaded guilty to indecent assault — but only after the couple insisted on involving the police over the resort’s objections, Pascarella claimed.

“Throughout the process, the [resort staff] were just very dismissive,” Pascarella said. “They didn’t want us to call the police. I think they were just doing everything they could not to escalate this and just move on.”

The resort only offered a refund for the cost of the $15,000 event — and would have required the pair to sign a nondisclosure agreement if they accepted it, the couple said. The pair declined.

Reid underwent two years of therapy to try to cope with nightmare, they said.

“I was diagnosed with PTSD,’’ she said.

“It’s been true personal and emotional torture,” Reid said. “I have been going to a therapist since the events happened. I’m just trying to get back to a level of normalcy.”

Her husband gave her “a lot of credit for speaking up.”

“There was obviously some reluctancy between both of us to want to take anything public but we felt it was the right thing to do,” Pascarella said.


Their lawyer said the “pittance” the resort offered in the form of a refund didn’t come close to compensating the couple. “This is something that will stay with these folks for the rest of their lives. This was their wedding and it wasn’t a breaking of glasses and spilling of an entrée, it was so traumatic,” Iannuzzi said.

A Sandals spokeswoman said in a statement, “There is nothing more important than the safety and security of our guests, and we take allegations of criminal assault at our resorts seriously.

“We have worked tirelessly over decades to create a safe and enjoyable environment at our resorts, and our efforts include collaborating with various government and law enforcement resources to ensure we are among the safest resorts operating in the Caribbean.”

This story was originally published in the New York Post.