Who needs to explore the world when you’ve got Google Earth? The sister-service to Google Maps reveals just about every corner of the globe, all from your computer screen.

You can use Google Earth in your browser, or you can download the app for more features – steps about the download option can be viewed here.

[Read more: From HMS Victory to Pearl Harbour: How to explore wartime sites using Google]

Unlike Google Maps and Street View, Google Earth provides a satellite’s view of the world from above – and best of all, it’s free.

But not everywhere can be seen on Google Earth. Some top secret and high-risk locations have been blurred or removed for security reasons. Here we reveal some of them…

Marcoule Nuclear Site, France

Marcoule Nuclear Site, France

The Marcoule Nuclear Site may have been decommissioned in 1984, but the French remain en garde for anything and have decided to pixelate the view from prying eyes.

On September 12, 2011 an explosion occurred at the site in an oven being used to melt metallic waste. One person died and four others were injured.

See the Marcoule Nuclear Site on Google Earth

US / Mexico border

US / Mexico border

Anyone thinking of planning to get across the US/Mexico border should think again if they intend to find their way using Google Earth. Images showing a stretch of the landscape renowned for violent drug trading are twisted to obscure them.

See the US/Mexico border on Google Earth

[Read more: The 7 wonders of Google Earth]


NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany

NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany

The NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen is the main site for the Airborne Early Warning Control Force's E-3A Component, used by NATO as an early warning radar system.

See NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen on Google Earth

Portlaoise Prison, Ireland

Portlaoise Prison, Ireland

Portlaoise Prison is a high-security prison situated in Ireland which houses some of the country’s most dangerous criminals. You can see the prison on Google Maps, but it’s not quite what it seems… Observe carefully and you’ll notice that the colours don’t match the surroundings. This is because the view of Portlaoise Prison actually uses old images so no one can plan an escape.

See Portlaoise Prison on Google Earth


Known as one of the most sacred Christian pilgramage sites in the world, Gethsemane is the garden where Jesus spent the night before he was crucified. It's situated in the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, but on Google Maps, it appears mysteriously pixelated.

See Gethsemane on Google Earth

[Read more: Google Earth: All the new features]