20 Places That Have Been Blacked Out on Google Maps

Kangtega, Nepal

Approximately 20 miles from Mount Everest, deep in the Nepali Himalaya, lies a snowy area near Kangtega that’s been mysteriously blacked out. Some reckon this is because of a border dispute between Nepal and China. Others, however, believe the site marks the entrance to a hidden U.F.O. base.

Roses, Spain

Roses, on Spain’s Costa Brava, is more often associated with vacations than conspiracy theories. But look at the destination on Google Maps and you’ll notice an ominous blacked-out area a couple of miles to the north-east. What’s being hidden? No one seems to know.

Volkel Air Base, The Netherlands

Approximately 70 miles east of Rotterdam in The Netherlands is Volkel Air Base. The Royal Netherlands Air Force facility is easy to spot on Google Maps, largely because it looks like it’s been crystallized using an image editing program. Why? Because the Dutch government would rather keep out prying eyes, it seems.

Commissariat à l’Énergie Atomique, France

France’s Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, which is located beside the Rhône near Bagnols-sur-Cèze, undertakes some highly sensitive work – everything from nuclear energy projects to high-end technological research. Presumably this is why it’s pixelated in Google Maps.

Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum, The Netherlands

Located just down the road from the German border in the south-east of The Netherlands, Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum is another base that’s seemingly been given the Photoshop crystallization treatment. Given that it’s a NATO command center – one that is likely responsible for a large-scale defense plan – the distortion is almost certainly because of security reasons.

Michael Army Airfield, Utah

From blackouts to whiteouts. This is the United States Army’s Michael Army Airfield in Utah, which appears to have been deliberately over-exposed in Google Maps. The remote facility – which, intriguingly, the army barely mentions – is part of a bigger site used for testing defenses in chemical, biological and even nuclear warfare.

Fangataufa Atoll, Pacific Ocean

Tiny Fangataufa Atoll, which is just under six miles long, looks pretty idyllic from what you can see of it on Google Maps. But the South Pacific island, whose image looks like it has been deliberately distorted, has been the location of around 200 French nuclear explosions – which is presumably why John Q. Public can’t look at it in much detail.

Rio Grande, Texas

There’s a stretch of the Rio Grande – approximately 70 miles south-east of El Paso, Texas in Hudspeth County – that’s really, really distorted. That the stretch comprises part of the frequently illegally-crossed border between the U.S. and Mexico would seem to be the obvious reason for its blurriness.

National Security Bureau, Taiwan

Taiwan’s National Security Bureau, located in northern Taipei, appears pixelated in Google Maps – probably for reasons of security. Little is known about its layout, despite the headquarters’ urban location and the fact that it’s been in situ since 1955.

Munitiecomplex Veenhuizen Arms Depot, The Netherlands

The Netherlands’ largest ammunition store, Munitiecomplex Veenhuizen, is located in the rural north of the low-lying country, approximately 25 miles south of Groningen. It’s little wonder that such a site, which has been given the crystallization treatment in Google Maps, is protected from public view.

Army Logistics Command, Taiwan

Taiwan’s Army Logistics Command headquarters has been subjected to the same Google Maps distortion as the island nation’s National Security Bureau. Despite being pixelated, however, the building – which is located in Taipei’s Nangang District – still kind of resembles a Transformers character.

Portlaoise Maximum Security Prison, Ireland

Ireland’s Portlaoise Maximum Security Prison looks like a pretty intimidating place. Located an hour-and-a-half’s drive south-west of Dublin, the jail is clearly visible on Google Maps. Look a little closer, though, and you may notice that an older satellite photo seems to have been superimposed over it – possibly to disguise a newer layout.

Prinses Margriet Army Base, The Netherlands

Another Dutch military base to be crystallized on Google Maps is Prinses Margriet. Located a few miles south-west of Zwolle, the facility is completely obscured in online satellite images, which only makes it more intriguing. And rather than deter onlookers, those crystallized shapes almost seem to encourage the viewer to stare at it for longer.

HWU transmitter, France

The HWU transmitter, which is used to send signals to the French Navy’s submarines, really stands out on Google Maps – just look at that symmetry. It would stand out even more if didn’t appear slightly blurred, though such distortion is understandable given the conspicuous facility’s strategic importance.

Central Taiwan Science Park, Taiwan

There’s something not quite right about the appearance of the Central Taiwan Science Park on Google Maps. Zoom in on the facility’s west and you will notice that a large section has been crudely overlaid by what is believed to be a section of a decommissioned cruise missile base.

Severnaya Zemlya, Russia

It’s not possible to go much further north than Severnaya Zemlya, an Arctic archipelago that belongs to Russia. Its northern reaches, which are entirely free of people, are strangely distorted on Google Maps. Some sections feature bizarre black-and-white diagonal stripes; others resemble landscapes from an eight-bit video game.

El Ejido Heliport, Spain

There was a time, from summer 2005 until spring 2007, when Spain’s El Ejido Heliport was visible in Google Maps. The squared facility, which isn’t far from the Mediterranean coast, now appears completely washed out, presumably due to issues of sensitivity. The actual reason, however, hasn’t been publicly confirmed.

Noordwijk aan Zee, The Netherlands

The Netherlands seems to be keen on crystalizing sensitive locations on Google Maps, but this one in the middle of Noordwijk aan Zee – on the Dutch coast halfway between Amsterdam and Rotterdam – is stranger than most. It’s reportedly the former town-center site of offices belonging to the Ministry of Defence, and it has apparently been distorted by mistake.

Cartagena Heliport, Spain

Another Spanish heliport given the washout treatment is the one just north of Cartagena. Like its El Ejido counterpart, which is approximately 140 miles along the country’s southern coast, it was visible in Google Maps until 2007, when the mapping service censored it – presumably for security reasons.

NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany

It’s not just The Netherlands which is fond of crystalizing sensitive military locations. The south-eastern section of NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, located in the far west of Germany, has received the same treatment. No doubt something particularly sensitive, and almost certainly secretive, occurs here.

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