In the era when instagram updates are a traveller's first impulse, the idea that there might be places where cameras cannot go is a refreshing notion.
Yet, you'll be surprised by how many famous landmarks are protected from photographers – with fines and heavy-handed guards to protect their images.
In some cases these photo bans are in place to protect the attractions – such as the fading paintings of the Netherlands's Van Gough museum, damaged by flash photography. In others the bans are there to protect the amateur photographers – such as the cliff tops of certain Sydney suburbs.
Whatever the reason, you might be surprised to hear some of these attractions are shut off to shutterbugs. They're some of the most iconic visitor attractions in the world, appearing on countless travel brochures.
Few tourists realise, just by taking a snap of these locations they could be breaking the law.
Taj Mahal - India
Picture the Taj Mahal - the white, domed mausoleum that is a symbol of the Indian subcontnent. Even if you have never been to Agra, the image is unavoidable. Now, picture the inside. You can't, can you?
Photography is banned from inside this icon of Mughal Architecture. Recently smartphones have been added to the extensive list of items banned by local government, to avoid the glowing screens detracting from the experience at night.
Pandas in Chengdu - China
For fans of all things fluffy, a panda cub photo ban might sound outrageous, however officials in Chengdu say its for the good of the animals. In 2015 the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuary stopped tourists from taking snaps of the black and white bears. Conservationists feared that tourists were getting too close to the endangered animals, putting them at risk of disease or exploitation.
Uluru - Australia
As of October last year, it is forbidden to climb Ayers Rock – but less attention is given to the fact that some photos of Uluru are also illegal.
note that certain aspects of the outback icon should not be committed to photograph, out of respect for the land's original owners. In particular there are views that are seen as "culturally important information and should only be viewed in their original location and by specific people."
The entire of the North face of Uluru is considered culturally sensitive – with photography and filming banned by law.
Mai Khao Beach - Thailand
Mai Khao Beach close to the approach to Thailand's Phuket airport became popular for trick photographers, who would pose with low-lying jets overhead.
However, local government and airport security became concerned that beachgoers were becoming a distraction for pilots and selfie-seekers were putting planes in danger.
Phuket brought carefree tourists crashing back down to earth last year, with a decree that photographers would be heavily reprimanded. "The maximum penalty is the death sentence," reported the Bangkok Post, who spoke to airport officials.
If you try taking a picture of the sling-wielding 5metre giant in Florence's Galleria dell'Accademia, museum guards will soon put you in your place. The gallery has strict rules on photography as a risk to the collections. Recently it has also suggested that the statue needs further protection from visitors, after the vibration from tourists' footsteps was shown to be damaging the 500-year-old marble.
Although if you take a photo of the replica in the Palazzo Vacchio, few will bat an eye.
Elsewhere in Italy the painted Sistine Chapel ceiling in Vatican City, also by Michelangelo, is protected from photographers.
Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel painting was restored with money from the Nippon television channel in Japan, and took thirteen men nine years to repair. The TV channel paid $6million for exclusive rights to the imagery according to Rome Reports – although this licence expired in 1997 – photos remain prohibited.
It seems the only thing the multi-talented Renaissance man could not do is have his artwork photographed.
Gion geishas - Japan
Badly behaved tourists chasing geishas for photos has led to a ban on photography in Kyoto's historic Gion precinct.
Local authorities introduced a photo ban and fines for camera-toting tourists after complaints of 'geiko' and 'maiko' being chased down Hanamikoji street. There were even reports of damage to historic buildings as visitors climb on the ornate lanterns to get a better shot.
The ban was brought in to tackle problem tourists ahead of the Japan Rugby World Cup, with $140 on the spot fine for snap-happy tourists.
Hollywood sign - USA
The bold block capitals on the Hollywood hills are a shorthand for the movie industry - so there is some irony in the fact that you can't film them without permission.
The copyright owners are not above petty lawsuits against tourists who happen to snap the HOLLYWOOD sign. With the amount of lenses in the filmmaking capital of the US, it seems almost impossible to enforce. But that doesn't mean they won't try.
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has taken film students and local tourism operators to court over the letters appearing on screen.
Eiffel Tower, France
Yes. In what must be France's must rampantly flouted copyright case, it is illegal to take images of the Gustave Eiffel's famous iron girders – buy only in certain circumstances.
The image of the Eiffel Tower at night was copyrighted by the site operators. The Société d'Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel (SETE) which runs the site on behalf of Paris city has claimed that it is the owner of any photo taken of the tower at night.
Under French law the lights which illuminate the tower at night are considered a "artistic installation" separate to the tower, and is therefore the property of the group since they began lighting up the tower in 1985.
"The use of the image of the Eiffel Tower at night is therefore subject to prior authorization by the SETE," says the Societe's website. "This use is subject to payment of rights, the amount of which is determined by the intended use, the media plan, etc."
However, if you happen to be visiting in daylight monsieur Eiffel's tower became part of the public domain in 1993 – 70 years after his death.
Photograph until your heart's content.