Apparently cameras and selfie sticks aren't enough for some visitors to Germany's most iconic spots. The truly demanding want a bird's eye view of the entire place and are using drones to get it.
“We've noticed there are ever more,” said Wilhelm Schulte, director of Nordkirchen Palace in Münsterland. At first it was mainly film and engineering students. “We've been receiving ever more requests from hobby pilots in more recent times.”
Now one of Germany's most famous landmarks, Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam - known as the Versailles of Westphalia - has banned the unmanned aircraft altogether, following in the footsteps of palaces in other parts of the country.
The Foundation for Prussian Palaces and the Gardens of Berlin & Brandenburg decided to take the measure after a drone crashed on their premises. While no one was injured, the Foundation argued in a statement that drones pose a threat to public safety.
“There are ever more unrequested drone flights on our grounds,” said a spokesperson for the Foundation, adding that the number of requests was also rising.
But the ban is not complete, the Foundation made clear, stating that permission can be given if the drone is being used to film for scientific or journalistic purposes.
Bavaria has also banned drones from flying over important cultural sites, while Saxony is planning a blanket ban.
A speaker for Saxon Palaces said that the drone flights were often for commercial purposes, explaining “most of these recording are not for private purposes but are meant to be published on the internet.”
“The concern is understandable,” said Elmar Giemulla, air law expert at the Technical University of Berlin (TU). “It's proof that the need has arisen for politicians to set out a legal framework.”
It is not altogether clear whether Sanssouci is even allowed to ban drones, the TU expert added..
“The airspace does not belong to the property owner. But when the building or people are put at risk by the drones then the property owner has the right to ban flights,” explained Giemulla.
But even this only applies to planes which fly at the height of the building. For planes flying above the roof, state flight control authorities set permissions.
But it seems that not all heritage sites find themselves threatened by a new wave of unmanned aircraft.
A spokesman for Friedenstein Palace in Gotha said “this is not an issue for us.”