15 Places It’s Illegal to Take a Selfie
Think before you snap.
People love selfies. Whether it’s a snapshot with a favorite A-lister or a portrait set against a breathtaking vista at golden hour, the medium has overtaken social media feeds like a highly infectious, insanely stylized virus. And people will go to insane lengths to rack up the likes a perfect shot will get: they’ll dangle out of helicopters, they’ll leap off of cliffs, they’ll scale skyscrapers. One woman even climbed all the way up Christ the Redeemer, the iconic, 125-foot-tall statue overlooking Rio de Janeiro.
Still, no matter how far some people will go to nab the perfect selfie—no matter how determined or courageous—there are some shots that are simply impossible to get. Why? Because it’s illegal.
In recent years, thanks in no small part to the fact that pretty much everyone has a camera in their pocket nowadays, officials have ramped up anti-selfie and anti-photography rules. Here are 15 places where that’s the case. If you find yourself at any of them, you might want to think twice before snapping.
You might think that posting photographic evidence of yourself voting might encourage your friends to get out the vote. But before you start posing with your ballot, make sure you don’t live in one of the 18 states—including New York and New Jersey—where taking photos in or near a polling station is against the law.
The Garoupe beaches in Antibes, France, have designated selfie-free zones in an attempt to diminish the countless annoying photographs tourists take on the daily, crowding the space for and invading the privacy of locals. These no-selfie areas are referred to, cheekily, as “No Braggies Zones,” since tourists seem to post photos on social media for no other reason than to brag about vacationing on the French Riviera.
In Saudi Arabia, laws have been put in place to prohibit pilgrims from taking selfies in Mecca’s Masjid al-Haram and Medina’s Masjid an-Nabawi. The ban is meant to preserve the sites and maintain a peaceful environment for worshippers at both holy sites.
In the Empire State, feel free to snap as many selfies as you want—as long as there are precisely zero large cats in the photo. State law prohibits people from taking selfies with lions, tigers, and other oversized felines. Also, per the books, circuses, traveling zoos, and other fairs aren’t allowed to make any big cats available for selfies.
Lake Tahoe, California
In the same vein as New York’s “no big cat” selfie ban, Lake Tahoe—at least on the California side—banned so-called “bear selfies.” Officials put the law in place to protect both people and bears. The “people” part makes sense. But we’re still at a loss as to how a human armed only with an iPhone X could hurt a 500-pound beast with a mouth full of daggers.
In Pamplona, Spain, taking selfies on the bull-running course is illegal for painfully obvious reasons. In fact, cameras are outright banned, and those who attempt to bring them on the course could be slapped with fine ranging from €600 to €60,000 (about $680 to $68,000).
It’s illegal to take selfies—or any photos, for that matter—in London’s most famous church, to “retain the sacred and intimate atmosphere of [the] building.” Still, there are no rules on the books against taking selfies right outside the church: tourists even continued to snap photos on Tuesday, August 14th, 2018—the same day Westminster Abbey was the target of a terror attack.
You might want to think twice before trying to capture the perfect selfie inside the crown jewel of Vatican City. (Even taking photos of Michelangelo’s famous ceiling is considered against the law.) According to Conde Nast Traveler, taking photos inside the Sistine Chapel has been illegal since 1980, when the Vatican raised $4.2 million in renovation funds from Japan’s Nippon TV in exchange for exclusive photo and video rights to all of the art inside the Sistine Chapel.
More than 2.5 million people visit The Alamo Mission—which has been around since the 18th century, and served as the site for one of the most memorialized battles in American history—each year. You’re sure to get a nice history lesson if you visit, but be warned: taking photos of any kind inside is not allowed.
With palatial structures and cerulean vistas, Mumbai’s oceanfront is breathtaking. You’d think it’s the perfect backdrop for a #travelenvy selfie. Well, think again, because it’s illegal to snap selfies here. Too many selfie-related deaths have happened in the region that officials have been forced to ban the practice.
Feel free to snap selfies at the Pentagon Memorial, just across the street from the headquarters of our nation’s Defense Department. The rest of the Pentagon has a strict zero-photograph policy (for security reasons).
The Van Gogh Museum
Some museums have strict no selfie-stick policies. But the Van Gogh Museum, in Amsterdam, has taken things one step further and banned photography altogether. The rule has nothing to do with safety or preservation, however. According to the museum’s website, it was put in place simply to minimize annoyance to other museum-goes.
Taking pictures inside the Taj Mahal is strictly prohibited, because the structure is a mausoleum (for Mumtaz Mahal, the wife of Shah Jahan, the 17th-century Mughal emperor). As such, snapping photos is considered disrespectful. Luckily, the outside is just as breathtaking, and selfies of all kinds are allowed.
The Statue of David
In theory, it could be funny to take a selfie next to history’s most perfect epitomization of man in history. But you’ll have to take a mental photograph, because snapping any real ones of the statue is against the rules of Accademia Gallery (where David lives).
You’re not allowed to take any pictures, let alone selfies, at Buckingham Palace. If you must take a photo, head to one of the spots where it’s allowed, like the garden (which, by the way, is the largest privately owned garden in London). And for a total masterpiece of the selfie form, Here’s Why This Woman’s Mind-Bending Mirror Selfie Is Going Viral.
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