Tourists Keep Going Nude at Historic Monuments... What Gives?


The newest travel trend? Tourists stripping down to their skivvies at ancient landmarks. (Photo: Instagram; Courtesy of Naked at Monuments)

By Jennifer Ceaser

We totally get why looking at a monument might move you — but move you to drop trou and snap a belfie in front of it?

Yet that’s just what tourists around the world have been doing — stripping down in sacred spots like Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu and capturing their bare butts, breasts, and beyond to share on Instagram. But authorities aren’t taking the “naked tourism” business lightly — folks caught in the act are getting fined, deported, and even banned from visiting the countries.

In response to a rash of cheeky antics at Angkor Wat, the ancient holy archaeological complex in Cambodia’s Siem Reap province, officials will translate the Visitor Code of Conduct into multiple languages and post it at the entrance to the temples starting in July. They are hoping to curb incidents like the one that occurred earlier this month, when three tourists were arrested for taking photos of their bare bottoms in front of the temples.

Two men — an Italian and an Argentinian — were literally “caught with their pants down,” as a third person, a Dutch woman, snapped photos. Sentences for the trio have yet to be handed down, but it’s likely they’ll receive the same treatment as others who have been convicted of violating the code, which states: “Any act of looting, breaking or damaging Angkor, or exposing sex organs and nudity in public area is a crime punishable by law.”

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One traveler couldn’t wait to show Machu Picchu what he’s made of. (Photo: Courtesy of Naked at Monuments)

In February, two American sisters were found guilty of breaking the code at the site’s Preah Khan temple. Lindsey and Leslie Adams, of Prescott, Ariz., “lowered their pants to their knees and took pictures of their buttocks,” a local police official stated. The women each received a six-month suspended sentence and a fine of 1 million riel (about $245); they were also deported and banned from entering Cambodia for four years.

That followed an incident in January 2015, when three Frenchmen bared all in front of one of the Buddhist temples. They, too, received suspended sentences, fines, deportation and a four-year ban — and their camera equipment was confiscated.

Signs at Machu Picchu also warn tourists to respect the UNESCO World Heritage Site — explaining that removing clothes is a “crime against culture.” The warnings were posted following a string of nude escapades. Most notable was a video of a couple streaking through the sacred Incan site. Police in Peru detained the New Zealander and Australian in 2013, but it inspired a wave of similar behavior.

In 2014, several groups of tourists — Americans, Australians, and Canadians — used iPhones and a camcorder to document themselves in the buff at the site. Amichay Rab, an Israeli accountant, posed nude on one of the ancient rocks and posted the shot (along with others he took throughout Central and South America) on his blog, My Naked Trip.

A tourist gets up close and personal at Machu Picchu. (Photo: Courtesy of My Naked Trip)

Paul Marshall, whose Facebook page and Twitter account Naked at Monuments documents his and others’ quests to strip down and photograph themselves at historic sites, listed Machu Picchu as No. 3 on the “top seven historic monuments to get naked at.” Others that make the cut include Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia, the Great Wall of China and the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. (Indeed, a few days ago, Marshall posted an artful black-and-white shot of a naked man standing atop the Great Wall.)

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A month ago at Giza, porn actress Carmen De Luz posted on Instagram a photo of herself in a thong atop a camel with the pyramids in the background. While not technically nude, the revealing pic had the Ministry of State for Antiquities in an uproar.

But things went far beyond nudity at Giza — there were at least two porn videos shot in front of the pyramids this year: One showed a Russian couple doing the nasty on and around the Giza Necropolis grounds.

So what, exactly, is the allure of getting naked at such historic sites — and risking arrest?

Marshall rationalizes it on his blog thusly: “For some reason people find the naked body funny. We’re more than happy to watch people slit each other’s throats and blow each other’s heads off in movies, but as soon as we see a naked body, we either laugh or tense up. We want to break down some of these barriers and let the world know it’s okay to get naked. We were all born naked, and I’m damn sure going to die naked.”

Rab, meanwhile, was less philosophical about why he liked to strip down, simply noting on his blog: “Some places were really hot and I had to do something about it.”

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