There’s absolutely no doubt that Google Earth satellites are the ultimate spying tool.
With the aid of a computer anyone can simply key in an address and have a nosy around getting up close to some of the most famous places on earth.
But while you can hit up the White House, Buckingham Palace, the Egyptian Pyramids, the Great Wall of China and even get a bird’s eye view of the The Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang at the click of a mouse – some mapped sites are completely out of bounds.
Conspiracy theorists have uncovered a host of sites online that are obscured through pixelation, blurring or have a case of total wipe out.
We’ve picked some of those sites and gone behind the scenes to find out why they are so taboo.
Anthrax Island – Gruinard, Scotland
Anthrax island: Gruinard in Scotland is a no man’s land after testing was conducted (Image: Mirrorpix)
This small, oval-shaped Scottish island is just over a mile long and less than a mile wide, but if you try to hone in you won’t find much.
Located in Gruinard Bay, about halfway between Gairloch and Ullapool, it has been uninhabited for decades after British scientists exploded a series of anthrax bombs there during the Second World War.
Close up: this is as close to Gruinard Island as you will get on Google Maps (Image: Google Maps)
They tested the chemical weapons on 60 sheep all of whom died within days.
While it was “decontaminated” in 1990 – it was shut for five decades before this and to this day remains a Google Earth mystery – not to mention a no go zone.
Roswell – New Mexico, United States
Crash site: the Roswell UFO Museum Sign is there for all to see (Image: Getty)
Roswell is one of the most notable UFO sights in the world but try and take a peak at what it looks like from the sky on Google Earth and you’ll find difficulty.
This world-famous New Mexico community became notorious in 1947 when a United States Air Force ‘surveillance balloon’ crashed at a ranch close by.
Blackout: try and zoom into Roswell and you will have difficulty on Google Earth (Image: Google Maps)
Back then there were many reports that an “extraterrestrial spaceship” had crashed – and the military were quickly accused of being involved in a cover-up after claiming the incident involved a weather balloon.
Later in the 1970’s there was more claims an alien spacecraft had crash-landed and that the aliens were taken to a secret facility.
Garden of Gethsemane – Jerusalem, Israel
Beautiful: the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem as it looks from the ground (Image: AFP)
Gethsemane or גת שמנים in Hebrew is one of the most sacred Christian pilgrimage sites on the planet.
Mentioned in both the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Mark it is said to be the garden where Jesus spent the night before he was crucified.
Covered in olive trees, some of which are 900 years old, it is situated at the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, Israel.
Obscured: the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus is said to have spent his last night is a blur (Image: Google Maps)
Its exact location has been disputed over the years with some historians claiming it’s a few hundred yards north of its current site.
As well as being the place Jesus is thought to have settled the night before he died, it’s also said the Virgin Mary was buried there before being assumed to heaven.
But while millions of pilgrims have made it to the site to see for themselves – on Google Earth it’s all a bit of a blur.
Narssarssuk – Arctic Circle, Greenland
Artic circle: while it’s a draw for explorers some parts of Greenland are blurred out on Google Earth(Image: PA)
The 1968 Thule Air Base crash was one of the most shocking in history and was probably one of the most contaminated.
A B-52 aircraft carrying four hydrogen bombs came down after a fire started and forced the crew to abandon the plane over Baffin Bay near Narssarssuk.
While six crew of the members ejected safely one did not have an ejection seat and was killed trying to bail out.
Out of focus: Narsaarsuk cannot be seen clearly from the Google Earth posting (Image: Google Maps)
The nuclear weapon carrying bomber crashed onto sea ice in the North Star Bay causing its on-board explosives to detonate, which in turn caused the nuclear material to rupture and disperse making the entire site contaminated with plutonium.
Nowadays you’d be hard pushed to see what it looks like using satellite imagery.
Mururoa and Fangataufa atolls – French Polynesia, South Pacific
Bomb site: a Nuclear bomb explosion over Mururoa atoll, French Polynesia, Pacific Ocean
These beautiful atolls, located on the eastern edge of French Polynesia are around 620 miles away from Tahiti, the west coast of the United States, Latin America and the east coast of Australia.
And while they look like the perfect place to go on holiday in fact they are some of the most deadly sites on earth thanks to France.
Unclear: the site of the Fangataufa atoll is out of focus on Google Earth (Image: Google Maps)
Shockingly 193 nuclear test experiments were conducted there from 1966 to 1996, including 137 underground tests which were lowered into the lagoons.
Over the years many studies have been done to identify the damage and France has been urged to clean up the environmental damage which still exists.
Volkel Air Base – The Netherlands
Coloured in: Volkel Air Force base looks like someone took crayons to it (Image: Google Maps)
Volker is one site which has been digitally obscured from viewable satellite map services. According to reports the site was outed by WikiLeaks as having nuclear weapons on site.
And while it’s quite often used for air shows and by the Dutch Royal Air Force it’s presence is somewhat controversial.
Ground base: a military helicopter is pictured at Volkel Air Base (Image: AFP)
It’s well known that it has 22 tactical nuclear bombs which are said to be owned by its ally the USA, it was a strategic centre during the cold war, but in latter years has been described by the country’s former Prime Minister as “absolutely pointless”.
It is home to two F-16 Fighting Falcon squadrons, 312 and 313 as well as a traumahelicopter operated by ANWB Medical Air Assistance.
Medina – Hejaz, Saudi Arabia
Holy City: the city of Medina looks different from the ground (Image: Getty)
Medina or المدينة المنورة in Arabic is also known as “The Radiant City” but you wouldn’t be able to tell that from this Google Earth image.
Based in Hejaz, Al Madinah Region, Saudi Arabia, it is one of the most sacred places on earth for Muslims.
The Prophet Muhammad’s went to Medina during his Hijrah or long journey from Mecca.
Non-Muslims are forbidden from going inside the sacred core of Medina but they are welcome in the city centre.
Medina: Medina was Prophet Muhammad’s destination after his Hijrah from Mecca (Image: Google)