Virtual Tourism

Virtual tourism, google maps mashup, google video

Neues Palais, Potsdam


The New Palace (German: Neues Palais) is a palace situated on the western side of the Sanssouci royal park in Potsdam. The building was begun in 1763, after the end of the Seven Years' War, under Frederick the Great and was completed in 1769. It is considered to be the last great Prussian baroque palace.

The building of the palace commenced at the end of the Seven Years' War, to celebrate Prussia's success. The war is also variably referred to as the Third Schleswig War, owing to the dispute over the duchy of Schleswig-Holstein. In an architectural form, Frederick the Great sought to demonstrate the power and glories of Prussia attributing it as fanfaronade, an excess of splendour in marble, stone and gilt.

For the King, the New Palace was not a principle residence, but a display for the reception of important royals and dignitaries. Of the over 200 rooms, four principal gathering rooms and a theater were available for royal functions, balls and state occasions. During his occasional stays at the palace, Frederick occupied a suite of rooms at the southern end of the building, composed of two antechambers, a study, a concert room, a dining salon and a bedroom, among others.

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Philae Temple of Isis, Egypt


Philae or Pilak or P'aaleq (Egyptian: remote place or the end or the angle island) or Arabic: Anas el Wagud, is an island in the Nile River and the previous site of an Ancient Egyptian temple complex in southern Egypt. The complex is now located on the nearby island of Agilika.

The temple at Philae was nearly lost under water when the high Aswan dam was built in the 1960s. Fortunately the temple was rescued by a joint operation between the Egyptian government and UNESCO. In an engineering feat to rival the ancients the whole island was surrounded with a dam and the inside pumped dry. Then every stone block of the temple complex was labelled and removed later to be assembled, like a giant jigsaw puzzle, on the higher ground of Agilka island. The whole project took ten years and has saved one of Egypt's most beautiful temples from certain destruction.

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Toon Crisis, Soho Square, London

Something a bit different today. Instead of a video of Soho Square we have a game 'Toon Crisis', that takes place in and around Soho Square in London. The game features video shot by Peter Bathurst and is a first person shooter. Enjoy!

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Topkapi Palace, Istanbul


Topkapi Palace (Topkapi Sarayi in Turkish, literally the "Cannongate Palace" - named after a nearby gate), located in Istanbul (Constantinople), was the administrative centre of the Ottoman Empire from 1465 to 1853. The construction of the Topkapi Palace was ordered by Sultan Mehmet II in 1459. It was completed in 1465. The palace is located on the Seraglio Point between the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara in Istanbul, having a splendid view of the Bosphorus. It consists of many smaller buildings built together and surrounded by four courts.

The First Court (or Alay Meydani) spans over the entire Seraglio Point and is surrounded by high walls. The main gate is called Bab-i Humayun, simply the Imperial Gate. Apart from the Topkapi Palace, the First Court also contains the old imperial mint (constructed in 1727), the church of Hagia Eirene, the Archeology Museum (constructed during the 19th century) and various fountains (including the Fountain of the Executioner), pavilions (for example the Cinili Pavilion) and gardens (including the Gulhane Park, the old imperial rose garden).

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Blue Mosque, Istanbul


The Sultan Ahmed Mosque (in Turkish Sultanahmet Camii) is a mosque in Istanbul. It is regarded as one of the greatest masterpieces of Islamic architecture. The Mosque is famously known as the "Blue Mosque" for its appearance.

The mosque was built between 1609 and 1616 by order of the Sultan Ahmed I, after whom it is named. He is buried in the mosque's precincts. It is located in the oldest part of Istanbul, in what was before 1453 the centre of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. It is next to the site of the ancient Hippodrome, and a short distance from the great Christian Church of the Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia).

It is within walking distance of the Topkapi Palace, residence of the Ottoman Sultans until 1853 and only a short distance from the shore of the Bosphorus. Seen from the sea, its domes and minarets dominate the skyline of the old part of the city, as was its builders' intention.

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Kim Il Sung Square, Pyongyang


Kim Il-sung (15 April 1912 - 8 July 1994) was the leader of North Korea from its founding in 1948 until his death, when he was succeeded by his son Kim Jong-il. He held the posts of Prime Minister from 1948 to 1972 and President from 1972 to his death, although his real power came from his position as General Secretary of the Korean Workers' Party where he exercised dictatorial power. As leader of North Korea, he ended up switching from a Marxist-Leninist ideology to the Juche idea and established a personality cult. North Korea officially refers to him as the "Great Leader" and he is designated in the constitution as the country's "Eternal President". His birthday and the day of his death are public holidays in North Korea.

Pyongyang is the capital city of North Korea, located on the Taedong River. The official population of the city is not disclosed; given as 2,741,260 in 1993, it was reported as 2.5 and 3.8 million in 2002 and 2003 by Chosen Soren, a pro-North Korean organization.

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The Getty Center, LA


The Getty Center in Los Angeles, California, USA, is the current home of the J. Paul Getty Museum as well as a research institute, conservation institute, grant program, and leadership institute. The museum opened on December 16, 1997.

The Getty Center, designed by architect Richard Meier, is the flagship museum of the J. Paul Getty Trust. It has a seven-story deep underground parking garage with over 1,200 parking spaces. It is located on a hill in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California overlooking Interstate 405 and is open to the public for free (although there is a charge for parking). The Getty Center is high enough that on a clear day, it is possible to see the snow at Big Bear as well as the Pacific Ocean and the entire Los Angeles basin. Much of the buildings and grounds are made of travertine. Other parts are made of white marble.

An automated, three-car tram takes passengers to and from the museum.

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Plaza Nueva, Bilbao


The Plaza Nueva (New Square) of Bilbao is a monumental square of Neoclassical style built in 1821. Its name comes from the previously existing Plaza Vieja or Old Square in the place where the Ribera Market was built. The square is enclosed by archaded buildings and accessed by arches known as cuevas. The main building was the site of the Biscay government, until a new palace was built in 1890. The place is now the site of Euskaltzaindia, the Basque language academy.

The arches host many traditional taberns and restaurants, some of the most ancient and typical of the city. Each sunday the square provides space for a traditional flea market where ancient books, birds and flowers are sold. The square is used often for folk demonstrations, festivals and concerts.

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Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto


Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion Temple) is the name of one of the buildings in the Rokuon-ji (Deer Garden Temple) in Kyoto, Japan, and is the main attraction of the temple grounds. The Golden Pavilion (formally called 'Shariden') was originally built in 1397 to serve as a retirement villa for Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. It was his son who converted the building into a Zen temple of the Rinzai school. The temple was burned down several times during the Onin War. Yoshimitsu's grandson used Kinkaku-ji as the inspiration for Ginkaku-ji, a Buddhist temple, which he intended to cover in silver.

The entire pavilion except the basement floor is covered with pure gold leaf. The pavilion functions as a shariden, housing relics of the Buddha. On the roof of the pavilion is a golden fenghuang or "Chinese phoenix".

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Caral, Peru


Caral is a large settlement in the Supe Valley, near Supe, Barranca province, Peru, some 200 km north of Lima.

Caral was inhabited between roughly 3000 BC and 1600 BC, enclosing an area of 66 hectares. Caral is the oldest known urban center in the Americas, accommodating more than 3,000 inhabitants. Caral is the center of the Caral Supe Civilization, spread over several settlements along the Peruvian coast. A quipu was discovered below the steps to one of the pyramids, dated to an age of roughly 5000 years, fixing the earliest date of this tradition of written communication 2000 years earlier than was previously thought.

The Caral pyramids date from as early as the 27th century BC. Construction of the pyramids is thought to have continued until the 21st century BC. Their age is thus comparable to that of the Great Pyramid of Khufu in Egypt, built between 2600 and 2480 BCE.

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Helsinki Cathedral


The Helsinki Cathedral (in Finnish Helsingin tuomiokirkko) is an Evangelical Lutheran cathedral and the seat of the Diocese of Helsinki, located in the centre of Helsinki, Finland. The church was built as a tribute to the Grand Duke, Nicholas I, the Tsar of Russia and until the independence of Finland in 1917, it was called St. Nicholas' church.

A distinct landmark in the scenery of central Helsinki, the church was built in 1830-1852, representing the neoclassical style. It was originally designed by Carl Ludvig Engel, and later altered by his successor Ernst Lohrmann.

Today it is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Helsinki. Annually more than 350,000 people visit the church, some of them to attend religious events, but most are tourists. The church is in regular use for both worship services and special events such as weddings.

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Palacio Real, Madrid


The Palacio Real de Madrid (Royal Palace of Madrid) was the official residence of the King of Spain, located in the Spanish capital of Madrid. King Juan Carlos and his family do not actually reside in this palace, instead choosing the smaller Palacio de la Zarzuela, on the outskirts of Madrid. However, the Palacio Real de Madrid is still used for state occasions.

The palace is located on the Calle de Bailen, in the western part of downtown Madrid, east of the Manzanares River, and is accessible from the Opera metro station.

The site of the palace dates from a 10th-century fortress, called mayrit, constructed as an outpost by Mohammed I, Emir of Cordoba and inherited after 1036 by the independent Moorish Kingdom of Toledo. After Madrid fell to Alfonso VI of Castile in 1085, the edifice was only rarely used by the kings of Castile. In 1329, King Ferdinand V of Castile convoked the cortes of Madrid for the first time. Philip II moved his court to Madrid in 1561.

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Tokyo Tower


Tokyo Tower is a tower in Shiba Park, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan. It is 333 m (1093 ft) tall, making it the world's highest self-supporting steel tower and the tallest structure in Tokyo.

The design of the tower is based on the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. Despite being 9 meters taller than the Eiffel Tower (33 if the latter's TV antenna is not included), Tokyo Tower only weighs about 4000 tons, whereas the Eiffel Tower weighs about 10100 tons.

It is painted in white and international orange according to air safety regulations. From dusk to 12 PM, the tower is brilliantly illuminated in orange. The lighting is occasionally changed for special events; for the Japan premiere of The Matrix, for instance, the Tower was lit in neon green.

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Chiemsee, Bavaria


The Chiemsee is a freshwater lake in Bavaria, Germany, between the towns of Rosenheim and Salzburg. It is often referred to as the "Bavarian Sea". The rivers Tiroler Achen and Prien flow into the lake, the river Alz out of it. The chiemsee is divided into the bigger, north section in the northeast called Weitsee and the Inselsee in the southwest.

The region around the Chiemsee is called Chiemgau and is a famous recreation area.

Two of the main islands on the Chiemsee are Herrenchiemsee (biggest island) and Frauenchiemsee, also known as Herreninsel and Fraueninsel, respectively. The third main island - the Krautinsel - is even smaller than Frauenchiemsee. It is uninhabited.

Herrenchiemsee contains a castle built by King Ludwig II in 1878 also called Herrenchiemsee. This castle was never completed, but was meant to be a replica of Versailles in France. Many of the more interesting rooms of the castle are open to tourists and there are tours of the castle and its extensive grounds on the island all through summer.

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Schloss Nymphenburg, Munich


The Nymphenburg Palace (German: Schloss Nymphenburg) is a Baroque palace in Munich, Bavaria, Germany.

The palace was commissioned by the electoral couple Ferdinand Maria and Henriette Adelaide of Savoy to Agostino Barelli in 1664 after the birth of their son Maximilian II Emanuel.

Starting in 1701, the heir to the sovereign duchies of Bavaria, Max Emmanuel, conducted a systematic extension of the palace. Two pavilions were added each in the south and north of Barelli's palace by Enrico Zucalli and Antonio Viscardi. Later, the south section of the palace was further extended to form the court stables. As a balance, the orangerie was added to the north. Finally, a grand circle with baroque mansions (the Schlossrondell) was erected under Emperor Charles VII Albert.

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Breakers Mansion, Newport


The Breakers is located on Ochre Point Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island, on the Atlantic Ocean. It is a National Historic Landmark, and is owned and operated by the Preservation Society of Newport County.

The Breakers is a mansion, built as the Newport summer home of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, a member of the wealthy United States Vanderbilt family. Designed by renowned architect Richard Morris Hunt and with interior decoration by Jules Allard and Sons and Ogden Codman, Jr., the 70-room mansion was constructed between 1893 and 1895 at the then-astronomical cost of more than seven million dollars. The Ochre Point Avenue entrance is marked by sculpted iron gates and 30-foot high walkway gates are part of a twelve-foot-high limestone and iron fence that borders the property on all but the ocean side. The 250' x 150' dimensions of the five-story mansion are aligned symmetrically around a central Great Hall.

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Konigsplatz, Munich


The Konigsplatz (King's square) is a square in the inner city of Munich and together with the Karolinenplatz a part of the Brienner Strasse, one of four royal avenues. The square was designed at the command of Ludwig I of Bavaria by Karl von Fischer and laid out by Leo von Klenze with the "Doric" Propylaen and the "Ionic" Glyptothek. The "Corinthian" State Museum of Classical Art was erected by Georg Friedich Ziebland, on its back side St. Boniface's Abbey is situated.

During the Third Reich the Konigsplatz was designed as a field for the Nazi Party's mass rallies. Two "Honor Temples" were erected at the east side for the remains of the sixteen Nazis who died in the 1923, but both temples were detonated after World War II. Two buildings of the Nazi party constructed by Paul Troost next to the temples still exist, in one of them the Munich Agreement was signed in 1938.

The area around Konigsplatz is today the home to the Kunstareal, Munich's gallery and museum quarter.

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Plaza de Armas, Lima


The Plaza de Armas has been the centre of Lima since 1535. Over the years it has served many functions, from an open-air theater for melodramas to an impromptu ring for bullfights. Huge fires once burned in the centre for people sentenced to death by the Spanish Inquisition. Much has changed over the years, but one thing remaining is the bronze fountain unveiled in 1651. It was here that José de San Martín declared the country's independence from Spain in 1821.

This grand plaza features many important architectural monuments and buildings including the Archbishop's Palace with its elegant balconies, the Government Palace dating from 1924 and Lima Cathedral.

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Mainzer Dom, Main


Mainz Cathedral, formally known in English as St. Martin Cathedral (in German Mainzer Dom, sometimes Der Hohe Dom zu Mainz) is located near the historical centre and pedestrianised market square of the city of Mainz, Germany. This Roman Catholic cathedral is the site of the episcopal see for the Bishop of Mainz.

Mainz Cathedral is predominantly Romanesque in style, but later exterior additions over many centuries has resulted in the appearance of various architectural influences seen today. It stands under the patronage of Saint Martin of Tours, although the eastern chancel is christened Saint Stephen.

The interior of the cathedral houses tombs and funerary monuments of former powerful Electoral-prince-archbishops, or Kurfurst-Erzbischofe, of the diocese and contains religious works of art spanning a millennium. The cathedral also has a central courtyard and statues of St. Boniface and The Madonna on its grounds.

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Sun Yat-Sen Memorial, Nanjing


The Mausoleum of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen is situated at the foot of the second peak of Mount Zijin (Purple Mountain) in Nanjing, China. Construction of the tomb started in 1926, taking three years. On the first of July 1929, Dr. Sun was buried there. Sun, considered to be the Father of Modern China both in mainland China and in Taiwan, fought against the imperial Qing government and after the 1911 revolution ended the feudal system and founded the Republic of China. He died in 1925 in Beijing, China.

Reclining on mountain slope, the majestic mausoleum blends the styles of traditional imperial tombs and modern architecture. Lying at the mountainside, the vault is more than 700 hundred meters away from the paifang on the square below, which is the entrance of the mausoleum. There is a three-tier stone stand on which a huge bronze ding, an ancient Chinese vessel symbolizing power, perches. To the north of the square, the paifang towers high.

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Summer Palace, Beijing


The Summer Palace or Yiheyuan; literally "Garden of Nurtured Harmony" is a palace in Beijing, China. The Summer Palace is mainly dominated by Longevity Hill (60 meters high) and the Kunming Lake. It covers an expanse of 2.9 square kilometers, three quarters of which is water. In its compact 70,000 square metres of building space, one finds a variety of palaces, gardens, and other classical-style architectural structures.

The Summer Palace started out life a in 1750 (Reign Year 15 of Emperor Qianlong). Artisans reproduced the garden architecture styles of various palaces in China. Kunming Lake was created by extending an existing body of water to imitate the West Lake in Hangzhou. The palace complex suffered two major attacks--during the Anglo-French allied invasion of 1860 (with the Old Summer Palace also ransacked at the same time), and during the Boxer Rebellion, in an attack by the eight allied powers in 1900. The garden survived and was rebuilt in 1886 and 1902. In 1888, it was given the current name, Yihe Yuan. It served as a summer resort for Empress Dowager Cixi, who diverted 30 million taels of silver, said to be originally designated for the Chinese navy (Beiyang Fleet), into the reconstruction and enlargement of the Summer Palace.

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Aleppo Citadel, Syria


The Aleppo Citadel is built atop a huge, partially artificial mound rising 50 m above the city. The current structure dates from the 13th century and had been extensively damaged by earthquakes, notably in 1822.

Aleppo is a city and province in northern Syria. The city has a population of around 1.7 million (1999), making it the second largest city in the country after Damascus. It is one of the oldest cities in the region, known to antiquity as Khalpe, to the Greeks as Beroea, and to the Turks as Halep, and it occupies a strategic trading point midway between the sea and the Euphrates; initially, it was built on a small group of hills in a wide fertile valley on both sides of the river Quweiq.

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Meiji Temple, Tokyo


Meiji Jingu, located in Tokyo, Japan near Harajuku Station is the Shinto shrine dedicated to the souls of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken. Emperor Meiji died in 1912 and Empress Shoken in 1914. After the demise of the Emperor and Empress, this shrine was constructed to venerate them. Their souls were enshrined on November 1, 1920. The original building was destroyed during World War II. The present shrine was completed in October, 1958.

The shrine was built in a garden area where Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken sometimes visited. The shrine was built in the Nagarezukuri style and is made up primarily of Japanese cypress from Kiso, which is considered the best lumber produced in Japan.

The area around the temple is covered by an evergreen forest of 120,000 trees of 365 different species, which were donated by people from all parts of Japan when the shrine was established. This 700,000 square-meter forest (about 175 acres) is visited by many people both as a spiritual home of the people and as a recreation and relaxation area in the centre of Tokyo.

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Wild Goose Pagoda, Xian


The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda or Big Wild Goose Pagoda is located in southern Xian, China. The pagoda was built in 652 during the Tang Dynasty and back then had five stories. The pagoda was built to store sutras and figurines of Buddha, that were brought to China by the Buddhist translator and traveller Xuanzang.

In the beginning of 8th century under the ruling of Empress Wu Zetian five more storeys were added to the pagoda. Sadly wars on later times damaged the pagoda reducing its height to its current seven storeys. It stands 64 meters tall and from the top it offers great view over the city of Xian.

Around the pagoda lies the Temple of Great Maternal Grace; Da Cien. The temple was originally built in AD 589 and rebuilt in AD 647 by Li Zhi, who later became the Tang Emperor Gaozong. The Temple of Great Maternal Grace was built in memory of his mother Empress Wende. Xuanzang's statue stands in front of the temple area.

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Shwedagon Pagoda


The Shwedagon Paya is a 98-metre gilded stupa located in Yangon, Myanmar. The Paya lies to the west of the Royal Lake on Singuttara Hill thus dominating the skyline of the city. It is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda for the Burmese with relics of the past four Buddhas enshrined within, namely the staff of Kakusandha, the water filter of Konagamana, a piece of the robe of Kassapa and eight hairs of Gautama, the historical Buddha.

Legend has it that the Shwedagon Paya is 2500 years old. Archeologists believe the stupa was actually built sometime between the 6th and 10th centuries by the Mon, but this is a very controversial issue because according to the records by Buddhist monks it was built before Lord Buddha died in BC 486. The story of Shwedagon Paya begins with two merchant brothers meeting the Lord Gautama Buddha and receiving eight of the Buddha's hairs to be enshrined in Burma. The two brothers made their way to Burma and with the help of the local king found Singuttara Hill where other Buddha relics had been enshrined. When the hairs were taken from their golden casket to be enshrined some incredible things happened:

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Bamberg Cathedral


Bamberg cathedral is a late Romanesque building with four imposing towers. It was founded in 1004 by the emperor Henry II, finished in 1012 and consecrated on May 6, 1012. It was later partially destroyed by fire in 1081. The new cathedral, built by St. Otto of Bamberg, was consecrated in 1111, and in the 13th century received its present late-Romanesque form.

The cathedral is about 94 m long, 28 m broad, 26 m high, and the four towers are each about 81 m high. Of its many works of art may be mentioned the magnificent marble tomb of the founder and his wife, the empress Cunigunde, considered the masterpiece of the sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider, and carved between 1499 and 1513. Another treasure of the cathedral is an equestrian statue known as the Bamberg Horseman (germ. Der Bamberger Reiter). This statue, possibly belonging to the emperor Conrad III, most likely dates to approximately 1200.

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