Virtual Tourism

Virtual tourism, google maps mashup, google video

Piazza Anfiteatro, Lucca


The Piazza Anfiteatro was built around the remains of an old Roman Amphitheater. In medieval times, houses were built on the Roman remains; later from 1830 the area was used as a marketplace. The entire piazza is curved to mimic the original structure.

Lucca is a city in Tuscany, northern central Italy, situated on the river Serchio in a fertile plain near (but not on) the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Lucca. Lucca was founded by the Etruscans (there are traces of a pre-existing Ligurian settlement) and became a Roman colony in 180 BC. The rectangular grid of its historical center preserves the Roman street plan, and the Piazza San Michele occupies the site of the ancient forum.

This article is licensed from Wikipedia under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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For Strong Swimmers Only

The Consumerist reports today that if you ask Google Maps for directions from Chicago to London you are advised to 'Swim across the Atlantic Ocean for 3,462 miles'.

You can check out this advice on Google Maps yourself here. The offending instruction comes at step 20 or 21.

Checking this out for myself I found that to get from New York to London Google again advises you to swim across the Atlantic. Even stranger is that in both cases the directions expect you to swim to France rather than England and then Google is rather elusive about how you should get from Calais to Dover. Although a number of people have actually swum the English Channel in the past Google presumably assumes you will be a little tired after swimming the Atlantic and will allow you to take it easy by catching the Calais to Dover ferry instead.

Pre Rup Temple, Cambodia


Pre Rup is a temple at Angkor, Cambodia, built as the state temple of king Rajendravarman and dedicated in 961 or 962. It is a temple mountain of combined brick, laterite and sandstone construction.

Architecturally, Pre Rup is composed of two enclosures, each with four gopuras, and a pyramid of three narrow tiers, conceived as a simple pedestal for the five towers of the upper platform. The eastern part of the last enclosure is occupied, unusually, by two groups of three towers aligned symmetrically with respect to the axis, set on a common plinth. One of these - the first to the north of the entrance - remains unbuilt, although its base platform has been prepared - unless perhaps the bricks have been re-used elsewhere following its demolition. The central tower of each group of three predominates and is more developed than usual, with a square sanctuary chamber of 5 metres each side and upper tiers which reduce slightly but are particularly high - their colossal dimension causing the upper sections of brickwork to crack, and in places collapse.

This article is licensed from Wikipedia under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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City of Arts & Sciencs, Valencia


The Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències or City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia is a futuristic collection of new buildings designed by Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava and started in July 1996.

The "city" is made up of the following buildings, usually known by their Valencian names:

* El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía — Opera house and performing arts centre
* L'Hemisfèric — Imax Cinema, Planetarium and Laserium
* L'Umbracle — Walkway / Garden
* El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe — Science museum
* L'Oceanogràfic — Open-air oceanographic park

Surrounded by attractive streams and pools of water, it and the surrounding areas of the "city" are typically used as a relaxing place to walk day or night. Santiago Calatrava, who master-minded most of the complex, says" I am proud of the fact that people can walk through and around the main buildings without paying. It is a city to be discovered by promenading."

You can promenade for more than seven kilometres around the complex thanks to the vision of this internationally acclaimed architect, artist and engineer who allowed his imagination free rein when it came to designing one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken by his native city.

This article is licensed from Wikipedia under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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London Eye


This animated 3D model of the London Eye has to be the coolest thing yet on the very cool London Eye. The model was developed by 'barnabu', a member of the Google Earth Community. Download the London Eye model (You must have Google Earth installed). After it loads, look for the time slider in the upper right of the GE screen and select the Play button.

If you don't have Google Earth you can get an idea of what you are missing by watching this movie of the London Eye model. Or why not check out this movie embedded on Google Maps.


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Roma, Italy


In response to Google's new features in Google Maps (see post below) we have created a Google Map of Rome which features all the videos that we have featured on the eternal city.

The map also includes a number of different layers which highlights the buildings of ancient Rome, the churches of Rome, the transport system and provided up to date weather information.

View the Map of Rome

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Google Maps Update

Google have added a new feature to Google Maps that allows maps to feature KML or GeoRSS data. Essentially this means that Google Maps can now show a lot of data that users have produced for Google Earth.

To get an idea of what is possible check out this map I quickly knocked up today, Kwideo. So far the map allows you to view;

  • USA Air Quality - updated hourly
  • Hurricane Tracker
  • New York Traffic Alerts
  • Recent Earthquakes
  • New York Weather
  • BBC News
  • Yahoo News
  • Major Soccer Stadiums
  • Minor League Baseball Stadiums
  • Major League Baseball Stadiums
  • US Navy Losses of WWII
  • Meteorite Impact Craters
  • The London Underground

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Hungarian Parliament, Budapest


The Hungarian Parliament Building is the seat of the National Assembly of Hungary. It lies in Kossuth Lajos Square, right on the bank of the Danube, in Budapest.

Budapest was united from three cities in 1873 and seven years later the National Assembly resolved to establish a new, representative Parliament Building, expressing the sovereignty of the nation. A competition was published, which was won by Imre Steindl, but the plans of the other two competitors were also realized, facing the Parliament: one serves today as the Ethnographical Museum, the other as the Ministry of Agriculture.

The construction of the winner's plan was started in 1885, inaugurated in the millennium anniversary of the country in 1896, and was completed in 1904. Tthe architect of the building went blind before its completion and he could not live up to the completion of his plan.

This article is licensed from Wikipedia under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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Ex-Stardust Casino, Las Vegas


It must be a thankless task for those poor Google Maps compilers, especially when people just go around blowing things up. The satellite image porrayed on this Google Map shows the Stardust Casino, or rather what was the Stardust Casino, because now it is an ex-casino, it has ceased to be.

As you can see by watching the accompanying video the Stardust Casino has now been blown to smithereens. And this being America the demolition is accompanied with fireworks, lasers and a giant countdown clock.

There are no prizes for guessing why the Stardust is being demolished. That's right it is being replaced with an even bigger and better casino, the Echelon Place which will take up a massive 83 acres of land.


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The Bugatti Veyron at Ehra-Lessien


James May of the BBC's Top Gear programme took the Bugatti Veyron for a quick test drive around the Ehra-Lessian test track in Germany. The Ehra-Lessien is Volkswagon's test track in Germany. It has an unbroken straight 9 kilometres in length. In fact it is so long that if you stood at one end of the track you would not see the over end because of the curvature of the Earth.

The Bugatti Veyron 16.4 is currently the fastest, most powerful, and most expensive street-legal production car in the world. In the test drive whilst May didn't quite reach the Veyron's theoretical top speed, he did manage to equal the fastest speed of any production road car, reaching 253 miles, or 407 kilometres per hour.

The car is built by Volkswagen AG subsidiary Bugatti Automobiles SAS in its Molsheim (Alsace, France) factory and is sold under the legendary French Bugatti marque. It is named after French racing driver Pierre Veyron, who won the 24 hours of Le Mans in 1939 while racing for the original Bugatti firm. It is also the world's second supercar with 16 cylinders, after the Cizeta Moroder V16T.

Watch May Drive the Bugatti around Ehra-Lessian

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Fisherman's Bastion, Budapest


The Halászbástya or Fisherman's Bastion is a terrace in neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque style situated on the Buda bank of the Danube, on the Castle hill in Budapest, around Matthias Church. It was designed and built between 1895 and 1902 on the plans of Frigyes Schulek. Its seven towers represent the seven Magyar tribes that settled in the Carpathian Basin in 896.

The Bastion takes its name from the guild of fishermen which was responsible for defending this stretch of the city walls in the Middle Ages. It is a viewing terrace, with many stairs and walking paths.

A bronze statue of Stephen I of Hungary mounted on a horse, erected in 1906, can be seen between the Bastion and the Matthias Church. The pedestal was made by Alajos Stróbl, based on the plans of Frigyes Schulek, in Neo-Romanesque style, with episodes illustrating the King's life.

This article is licensed from Wikipedia under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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Wembley Stadium, London


This Saturday sees the first ever football game at the new Wembley Stadium. The game is an Under 21 match between England and Italy.

Wembley Stadium (often called "Wembley") is a football stadium in Wembley, London. The largest roof-covered football stadium in the world, it stands opposite Wembley Arena.

The previous Wembley Stadium (officially the Empire Stadium, but called Wembley due to its location) was arguably the world's most famous football stadium, being England's national stadium for football. In 2002, the original structure was demolished and construction began on the new stadium, originally intended to open in 2006. This was later delayed until early 2007. The final completion date of the stadium came on 9 March 2007, when the keys to the stadium were handed over to The Football Association.

Wembley was designed by the world-renowned architectural firm HOK Sport and Foster and Partners. It is the most expensive stadium ever built at a cost of £798 million and has the largest roof-covered seating capacity in the world.

This article is licensed from Wikipedia under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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Sydney Harbour Bridge


This month the Sydney Harbour Bridge marks its 75th year. The structure, which took nine years to build, was declared open for traffic in March 1932 and remains to this day the world's largest steel arch bridge. Today more than 200,000 people took the rare opportunity to walk across a structure normally filled with traffic.

The bridge, which is known affectionately as the Coathanger, has 6m rivets in its 52,000 tonnes of steel. Today's celebrations also had a moment of commemoration - a plaque was unveiled to honour the 16 workers who died during its construction.

The bridge was finished in the Great Depression and was sometimes called the iron lung because it helped breathe life into a city and country experiencing terrible economic hardship.

The design of the bridge still arouses debate - both Australian engineer John Bradfield, who oversaw the project, and British consultant engineer, Ralph Freeman, are cited. Both are on the opening plaque.

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Hearst Castle, California


Hearst Castle was the palatial estate of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. It is located near San Simeon, California, on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Donated by the Hearst Corporation to the state of California in 1957, it is now a State Historical Monument and a National Historic Landmark, open for public tours. Hearst formally named the estate ‘La Cuesta Encantada’ (’The Enchanted Hill’), but he usually just called it ‘the ranch’.

Hearst Castle was built on a 40,000 acre (160 km²) ranch that William Randolph Hearst’s father, George Hearst, originally purchased in 1865. The younger Hearst grew fond of this site over many childhood family camping trips. He inherited the ranch, which had grown to 250,000 acres (1000 km²), from his mother, Phoebe Apperson Hearst, upon her death in 1919. Construction began that same year and continued through 1947, when he stopped living at the estate due to ill health. San Francisco architect Julia Morgan designed most of the buildings. Hearst was an inveterate tinkerer, and would tear down structures and rebuild them at a whim, so the estate was never completed in his lifetime.

This article is licensed from Wikipedia under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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Bellver Castle, Mallorca


Bellver Castle (Catalan: Castell de Bellver) is a circular castle on a hill near Palma de Mallorca on the Island of Majorca, Balearic Islands. It was built in the 14th century for King James II of Mallorca. It was used as a military prison during the 18th and 19th centuries. Now it is one of the main tourist attractions of the Island. It was used as a prison in the 1950s, a period where many people where still being prosecuted for their loyalty and commitment to the Republic during the Spanish Civil War 1936-39.

After the Civil War, the insurgents, being victorious in part through the aid of National Socialist Germany and Fascist Italy, and also the reluctance to come to the aid of the democratic Spanish Republic by such major European powers as Great Britain and France, the leader of the Nationalist-Falangist rebellion, Franco, established a dictatorship that would last until his death in November 1975. Some estimates put the total number of executed prisoners in Spain in the first decade of the dictatorship as high as 60,000, some of whom may have spent time incarcerated in Castell de Bellver.

This article is licensed from Wikipedia under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome


The Mausoleum of Hadrian, usually known as the Castel Sant'Angelo, is a towering cylindrical building in Rome, initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. The building, located in the rione of Borgo, spent over a thousand years as a fortress and castle, and is now a museum.

The tomb of the Roman emperor Hadrian was erected on the right bank of the Tiber, between 135 and 139. Originally the mausoleum was a decorated cylinder, with a garden top and golden quadriga. Hadrian's ashes were placed here a year after his death in Baiae in 138, together with those of his wife Sabina, and his first adopted son, Lucius Aelius, who also died in 138. Following this, the remains of succeeding emperors were also placed here, the last recorded deposition being Caracalla in 217. The urns containing these ashes were probably placed in what is now known as the Treasury room deep within the building. Hadrian also built the Ponte Sant'Angelo facing straight onto the mausoleum -- it still provides a scenic approach from the center of Rome and the right bank of the Tiber, and is renowned for the Baroque additions of statuary of angels holding aloft elements of the Passion of Christ.

This article is licensed from Wikipedia under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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Piazza Ducale, Vigevano


Vigevano is a town and commune in the province of Pavia, Lombardy, northern Italy, which possesses many artistic treasures and runs a huge industrial business. It is at the center of a district called Lomellina, a great rice-growing agricultural centre.

Vigevano's main attraction is one of the finest piazzas in Italy, the Piazza Ducale, an elongated rectangle that is almost in the ideal proportions 1:2 advocated by the architectural theorist Antonio Filarete, which is also said to have been laid out by Bramante, and was certainly built for Ludovico il Moro, starting in 1492-93 and completed in record time, unusual for early Renaissance town planning. Piazza del Duomo was actually planned to form a noble forecourt to his castle, unified by the arcades that completely surround the square, an amenity of the new North Italian towns built in the 13th century. The town's main street enters through a sham arcaded façade that preserves the unity of the space as at the Place des Vosges. Ludovico demolished the former palazzo of the commune of Vigevano to create the space.

This article is licensed from Wikipedia under the GNU Free Documentation License.

The video for this post comes from the excellent Vistitnow. This site is another excellent video and Google Maps mashup, showcasing the area of Lombardia in Italy.

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Cricket World Cup


This one is for the cricket fans among you. The Cricket World Cup gets properly under way today in the West Indies. The Radioactive Yak has created a Google Earth tour of all 12 venues. Download the kmz file here.

Or if you want to watch the action have a look at Cricket World Cup which will feature daily highlights of the games.

Caerphilly Castle, Wales


Caerphilly Castle (Welsh: Castell Caerfili) is a Norman castle that dominates the centre of the town of Caerphilly in south Wales. It is the largest castle in Wales, the second largest in Britain (second to Windsor castle) and is one of the largest fortresses in Europe. Built mainly between 1268 and 1271, it is an early example of a concentric castle and is surrounded by large but fairly shallow artificial lakes to slow attackers and prevent the undermining of its walls.

Unlike many other Welsh castles, Caerphilly castle was not built by Edward I in his crack-down on the Welsh lords, but by Gilbert 'the Red' de Clare, a powerful, redheaded nobleman of Norman descent as a response to a dispute between him and a nobleman of Welsh origin, Llywelyn who was later a supporter of Simon de Montfort.

This article is licensed from Wikipedia under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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Erta Ale, Ethiopia


Erta Ale is an isolated basaltic shield volcano that is the most active volcano in Ethiopia. The broad, 50-km-wide volcano rises more than 600 m from below sea level in the barren Danakil depression. Erta Ale is the namesake and most prominent feature of the Erta Ale Range. The 613-m-high volcano contains a 0.7 x 1.6 km, elliptical summit crater housing steep-sided pit craters. Another larger 1.8 x 3.1 km wide depression elongated parallel to the trend of the Erta Ale range is located to the SE of the summit and is bounded by curvilinear fault scarps on the SE side.

Fresh-looking basaltic lava flows from these fissures have poured into the caldera and locally overflowed its rim. The summit caldera is renowned for one, or sometimes two long-term lava lakes that have been active since at least 1967, or possibly since 1906. Recent fissure eruptions have occurred on the northern flank of Erta Ale.

This article is licensed from Wikipedia under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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Berlin in 3D

Denver used to have the most comprehensive collection of 3D models in Google Earth. However as of yesterday it has been outdone by Berlin. Now Berlin has 44,000 buildings which amounts to nearly 10% of the city in 3D. If you have Google Earth click here to go straight there, but be warned you need a fast computer and a good graphics card. Alternatively simply view the fly through in the movie below.

Kim Il-Sung Statue, Pyongyang


The Kim IL Sung statue is, unsuprisingly, a giant statue of Kim IL Sung in Pyongyang, North Korea. 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.

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. The city was split from the South Pyongan province in 1946. It is administered as a Directly Governed City (Chikhalsi), on the same level as provincial governments, not a Special City (Teukbyeolsi) as Seoul is in South Korea. Some sources, mostly older and South Korean, refer to Pyongyang as a Special City, but it has been reported that even the South Korean government adopted the Directly Governed City terminology in 1994.

This article is licensed from Wikipedia under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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Arlington National Cemetary


Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Virginia, is an American military cemetery established during the American Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, formerly the estate of the family of Robert E. Lee's wife Mary Anna Custis Lee, a descendant of Martha Washington. The cemetery is situated directly across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., near to the location of The Pentagon, and is served by the Arlington Cemetery station on the Blue Line of the Washington Metro system.

Veterans from all America's wars are interred in the cemetery, from the American Revolution through to the military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Pre-Civil War dead were reinterred after 1900.

This article is licensed from Wikipedia under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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Wartburg Castle, Eisenach


The Wartburg is a castle situated on a 1230-foot (410 m) precipitous hill to the southwest of Eisenach, overlooking the town in Thuringia, Germany. In 1999, Wartburg Castle was selected to the World Heritage List as an "Outstanding Monument of the Feudal Period in Central Europe".

The castle was founded in 1067 by the landgrave de:Ludwig the Springer. According to myth, the castle (Burg) got its name when its founder first laid eyes on the hill upon which the Wartburg now sits; enamored with the site, he is supposed to have exclaimed, "Wait, mountain -- thou shalt become a castle for me!" In addition, he is said to have had clay from his lands transported to the top of the hill, which was not quite within his lands, to be able to swear that the castle is built on his ground.

Wartburg was the seat of the Thuringian landgraves until 1440, and as a place of courtly culture it became around 1207 the venue of the Sängerkrieg, the Minstrels' Contest, with contestants such as Walther von der Vogelweide, Wolfram von Eschenbach, Albrecht von Halberstadt, and many others, taking part. It was later to be treated with poetic licence in Richard Wagner's opera Tannhäuser.

This article is licensed from Wikipedia under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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Piazza dei Signori, Treviso


The Piazza dei Signori is a public square in Treviso, northern Italy. The piazza is lined with enormous brick buildings from the 1200's which were rebuilt after the city was bombed during World War II. The Pallazzo dei Trecento (Palace of the three hundred) is the only surviving palace of the old comune on the piazza. Also on the piazza are the Palazzo del Podesta, Monte di Pieta and the Torre Civica (Civic Tower)lo. The Monti di Pieta contains walls of gilt leather with painted beamed ceilings.

A large external stairway leads inside the The Pallazzo dei Trecento, where 15th and 16th century sculpture which survived the 1944 bombings can be seen. Great vaults are located under the Palazzo dei Trecento, where Treviso's inhabitants meet for pleasant breaks.

This article is licensed from Wikipedia under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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Hamlet's Castle, Elsinore


To be, or not to be. That is the question. Today's video brings us Hamlet's castle in Elsinore, Denmark.

Kronborg Castle is situated near the town of Elsinore. The castle has for centuries been one of the most important Renaissance castles in Northern Europe and was added to UNESCO's World Heritage Sites list on November 30, 2000.

Kronborg is known by many also as "Elsinore," the setting for much of William Shakespeare's famous tragedy Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Hamlet was performed in the actual castle for the first time to mark the 200th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, with a cast consisting of soldiers from the castle garrison. The stage was in the telegraph tower in the southwest corner of the castle. The play has since been performed several times in the courtyard and at various locations on the fortifications.

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The Pompidou Centre, Paris


Centre Georges Pompidou (constructed 1971–1977 and known as the Pompidou Centre in English) is a building in the Beaubourg area of the IVe arrondissement of Paris, near Les Halles and the Marais. It houses the Bibliothèque publique d'information, a vast public library, and the Musée National d'Art Moderne. Because of its location, the Centre is known locally as Beaubourg. It is named after Georges Pompidou, who was president of France from 1969 to 1974, and was opened on January 31, 1977. Under the guidance of its first director, Pontus Hultén, it quickly became a noted attraction in Paris.

Designed by Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers, Sue Rogers, Edmund Happold and Peter Rice, the building structure is very distinctive: it has been described by critics as "an oil refinery in the centre of the city." In the beginning, it was highly controversial; however, its unique appearance has become more accepted. The coloured external piping is the special feature of the building. Air conditioning ducts are green; water pipes are blue; and electricity lines are yellow. Escalators and elevators are red. White ducts are ventilation shafts for the underground areas. Even the steel beams that make up the Pompidou Centre's framework are on the outside.

This article is licensed from Wikipedia under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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Google Maps & Google Earth Updates

Both Google Earth and Google Maps have had major updates in the last few days. New high resolution satellite imagery is now available for:

the entire country of Switzerland terrain at 10m, the Swiss Alps are now high-res!
the entire country of Denmark at 50cm
the French cities of Lyon, Le Mans, Lourdes, Riems, Nancy, Limoges, Lille & Arles
Potsdam and Magdeburg, Germany
Barcelona, Belem, CapeTown, Galapagos (Isabella Island), Manaus, Mt Saint Helens, Recife, Rio, Venice)
Whistler British Columbia
full state coverage for Wyoming & Utah

If you have Google Earth you should definitely check out the Swiss Alps. If you haven't got Google Earth then you should check out this beautiful video of The Matterhorn on Google Maps.

The Matterhorn, Switzerland


The Matterhorn is perhaps the most familiar mountain in the European Alps. On the border between Switzerland and Italy, it towers over the Swiss village of Zermatt and the Italian village Breuil-Cervinia in the Val Tournanche. The mountain derives its name from the German words matt, meaning valley or meadow, and horn, which means peak.

The Matterhorn has four faces, facing the four compass points, with the north and south faces meeting to form a short east-west summit ridge. The faces are steep, and only small patches of snow and ice cling to them; regular avalanches send the snow down to accumulate on the glaciers at the base of each face. The Hörnli ridge of the northeast (in the center of the view from Zermatt) is the usual climbing route.

The Matterhorn was climbed later than most of the main mountains of the Alps, not because of its technical difficulty, but because of the fear it inspired in early mountaineers. The first serious attempts began around 1857, mostly from the Italian side; but despite appearances, the southern routes are harder, and parties repeatedly found themselves on difficult rock and had to turn back.

This article is licensed from Wikipedia under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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