Virtual Tourism

Virtual tourism, google maps mashup, google video

Independence Hall, Pennsylvania

OK, we admit we are a little late in marking Memorial Day, but we have finally gotten around to it. Today's video was shot on Memorial Day in 2006 and shows Independence Hall, Philadelphia. Independence Hall is a U.S. national landmark known primarily as the location where the Declaration of Independence was debated and adopted.

As well as the Declaration of Independence the Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitution were all signed at Independence Hall. The building is now part of the larger Independence National Historical Park and listed as a World Heritage Site.

View Independence Hall on Google Maps

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Google Developer Day

Today Google held a developer day in ten different locations around the world. At the event Google announced a number of developments centred on Google Maps.

The one that excited me most was Google Mapplets. Google Mapplets are Google Gadgets for maps. They are mini-applications that you can embed within the Google Maps site. I have quickly hacked together a mapplet that links to all the videos of Rome on Virtual Tourism.

To preview the Virtual Tourism mappplet right click on the link and select 'copy link location'. Then go to Google Mapplets. On this page click on the 'Add by URL' link (to the right of the search box) and paste in the link you saved. Then click on the 'Back to Google Maps' link in the top left of the page. You should then be able to select the Virtual Tourism mapplet.

The Civic Center, Denver

Today we take a visit to the Civic Center in Denver. The Civic Center is the home of the arts, government, and culture in Denver setout in a neo-classical symmetrical design around a park.

You can walk around the Civic Center on the new street view in Google Maps here or if you want to relax you can just sit back and watch the video here.

Around the park you will find the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Public Library's Central Library, the Colorado State Capitol and the City and County Building of Denver, the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Office Building, the Colorado History Museum, the Colorado State Judicial Building and the Denver Mint.

View the Denver Civic Center on Google Maps

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Google Maps Street View

The latest new feature for Google Maps is Street View. Street View is available for five US cities, San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, Las Vegas, Denver and Miami.

If you click on the blue area in any Google Map that offers Street View an interactive panoramic image appears of that location. The images are Flash files similar to Quicktime panoramic pictures, some of which you can see by viewing the Quicktime Panorama Map.

Google's Panoramic images however contain arrow links that allow you to progress along a street and double clicking on a part of the image zooms you in on that point, so offer more interactivity than Quicktime panoramas. This is another great development from Google, go play.

Google Siteseeing win the prize for the first to find an interesting shot in Street View, with this panorama of Google employees posing outside their office. I've got to say it was damned lucky they were all standing outside just at the moment the photographer walked passed.

Puu Oo, Hawaii

In today's video you can actually see the process that formed the Hawaiin Islands in action. The islands are the tops of massive volcanoes, most of whose bulks lie below the sea surface. Puu Oo on the eastern rift zone of the Kilauea volcano has been erupting continuously since January 3, 1983, making it the longest-lived rift-zone eruption of the last two centuries.

The eruption has added 544 acres (2.2 km²) of land to the island of Hawaii. Watch the video and you can clearly see how.

Watch a video of Puu Oo on Google Maps

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Pearl Harbour, Hawaii

At 6:09 a.m. on December 7, 1941 183 Japanese planes, composed of torpedo bombers, dive-bombers, level bombers and fighters attacked the American Navy at Pearl Harbour, Hawaii. 2,403 people were killed that morning and 21 ships were sunk. The following day the United States declared war on Japan and on December 11th, after Germany declared war on America, the Americans entered World War II.

Watching this video of the peaceful harbour it is hard to imagine the noise and chaos that ensued on the morning of December 7th, 1941.

Watch video on Google Maps

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Lincoln Cathedral, England

I bet you didn't know that Lincoln Cathedral had a starring role in the movie of The Da Vinci Code. No, neither did I. But apparently this thirteenth century cathedral was the body double for Westminster Abbey in the film of Dan Brown's novel.

The video we are showing is not from the film but it does show a stunning view of the cathedral from the air. This aerial shot really helps to show how impressive the cathedral's towers look as you approach the city.

View the video of Lincoln Cathedral on Google Maps

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Amazing 360 Degree Video Tours

Sometimes you come across something on the Internet that just makes your jaw drop in amazement. We have been embedding movies on Google Maps for over eighteen months but thanks to Google Maps Mania and Digital Urban we have just discovered something even more amazing.

The sites below have not just embedded any old films on a map but have embedded films in which you can control the camera. Both sites show a film of a drive in which you can turn the camera 360 degrees at all times, so you control what you see.

OK it is a bit hard to explain so go visit the sites and wait for your jaw to hit the floor.

MSNBC Katrina Damage 360 Degree Tour

Map-Movin 360

Ostankino TV Tower

A fire seems to have broken out in the Moscow Ostankino TV Tower. The tower was involved in a previous fire in 2000 that killed three people so we hope that no one is hurt in today's fire.

Ostankino was also set ablaze in 2005, and fire safety is apparently becoming an increasing problem for the 40-year old building. This time though, the fire is not considered very serious, and it is limited to a segment at a 30-40 meter height of the tower (read more on this story).

This fire comes only a few days after much of the famous Cutty Sark ship was destroyed by a fire in London.

View a video of the Ostankino Tower on Google Maps

Burning Man, Nevada

With summer almost upon us it is time to start planning for outdoor festival fun. The Burning Man festival, which takes place each year in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, takes place over eight days. The climax of the festival being the burning of a large effigy of a man on the festival's sixth day.

On Google Maps you can clearly see the layout of what is known as 'Black Rock City'. The city is arranged as a series of concentric streets in an arc composing two-thirds of a 1.5 mile diameter circle. Each year the effigy of the man takes pride of place at the centre of the circle.

View a video of Burning Man on Google Maps

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Athens, Greece

At the weekend the English FA Cup final encouraged us to take a visit to the new Wembley. Today the European Champions League final takes place in Athens, so today we thought we would visit the Greek capital.

Athens is not to everybody's taste. Many complain that it is a dirty and polluted city but there is no denying it is also an historically important city with some beautiful buildings.

Two of our favourite sites in the city are the amazing Parthenon and The Temple of Olympian Zeus

View a video of the Parthenon on Google Maps
View a video of the The Temple of Olympian Zeus on Google Maps

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Chittorgarh Fort, Rajasthan

Last week we visited the beautiful Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur. Today we travel 120 odd miles south east from Jodhpur to the former capital of the erstwhile kingdom of Mewar, Chittorgarh.

Chittorgarh is perhaps best known for its huge fort, which stands on top a 180m-high hill and extends for about 280 hectares. The fort holds a special place in the hearts of many Rajputs, as it was a bastion of the clan at a time when every other stronghold succumbed to invasion. Looking at the immensity of the fort on Google Maps it is easy to see how it was able to remain undeafted.

View a video of the fort on Google Maps

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Cutty Sark, London

This morning (Mon 21st May) a fire severely damaged the famous 19th Century ship Cutty Sark in Greenwich, London. Luckily 50% of the ship had been removed from the site for restoration work, so the damage caused is not as bad as it might have been.

The extent of any damage is not known but there is concern that it may have affected the framework of the ship. The fire was reported to the fire service at 4:46 a.m. British Summer Time (GMT+1) by members of the public. A representative of the fire brigade said at 7:09 a.m. that the fire was well under control and that damage was extensive but until the experts can make a full damage assessment survey, it is unknown just how much has been lost.

View Cutty Sark on Google Maps

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Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur

The Umaid Bhawan Palace was one of the last of the Royal Palaces to be built in India and was not completed until 1944. Whilst not as famous as the Taj Mahal (strictly a mausoleum rather than a palace) it is certainly as glamorous as Jaipur's Palace of Wind's.

The building's beauty partly comes from eshewing mortar and cement to bind its stones together. Instead it uses carved stones joined together in interlocking positive and negative pieces.

View video on Google Maps

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Wembley, London

Today being the day of the English FA Cup final there is only one place we could be - Wembley. The new Wembley stadium is the largest roof covered stadium in the world. However the sun is predicted to shine on London today so hopefully that roof will not be needed as Wembley plays host to Manchester United and Chelsea in the first FA Cup final at the new Wembley stadium.

View video of Wembley on Google Maps

Temple of Edfu, Egypt

Yesterday's visit to the Temple of Kom Ombo merely whetted our appetite for Egyptian temples. So today let's pay a visit to the Temple of Edfu.

The Temple of Edfu is the second largest temple in Egypt after the wondeful Temple of Karnak. The temple is dedicated to the falcon god Horus. Horus is the Egyptian god of the sky

View video on Google Maps

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The Temple of Kom Ombo, Egypt

With so much else to see visitors to Egypt often overlook the marvellous Temple of Kom Ombo. Of course if you are going to Egypt you will not want to miss the Giza Pyramids or Abu Simbel but you also shouldn't miss this unusual double temple to Sobek and Haroeris.

The temple was started by Ptolemy VI Philometor (180-145 BC) at the beginning of his reign and added to by other Ptolemys, most notably Ptolemy XIII (47-44 BC), who built the inner and outer hypostyle halls.

View The Temple of Kom Ombo on Google Maps

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FlickrVision is a great new Google Maps and Flickr mashup. This mashup from David Troy displays the latest pictures posted to Flickr in real time on a Google Map. It is very cool work.

Wat Pho, Bangkok

Wat Pho or The Temple of the Reclining Buddha is the largest and oldest temple in Bankok. The temple is adjacent to the Grand Palace which is itself home to Wat Phra Kaew, the temple containing the Emerald Buddha.

The Reclining Buddha is forty-six metres long and fifteen metres high, decorated with gold plating on its body and mother of pearl on its eyes and the soles of its feet. It is the largest Buddha in Thailand.

View video on Google Maps

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Port Pierre Canto, Cannes

Let's face it most of us are never going to be able to afford the lifestyles of the rich and famous. But it is free to dream.

Imagine then, if you can, sipping cocktails aboard your yacht, with the sun setting over the Mediterraneana and the Hollywood stars promenading up and down the boardwalk. On the otherhand, why imagine when you can just watch a video of Cannes on Google Maps.

If Cannes is a little too downmarket for your tastes then try St. Tropez or Monaco instead.

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Most Popular Destinations

It seems that this month a lot of people are either planning to visit London or just like viewing the London sites. By far and away the most popular popular pages on Virtual Tourism this month have been those in London.

The most popular page has been the London Eye with nearly 25% of all traffic on Virtual Tourism.

Anyway, here are this month's Top 5 Destinations:

1. The London Eye
2. Big Ben
3. Wembley Stadium
4. The Iguaza Falls
5. The Schönbrunn Palace

The Iguaza Falls always comes near the top, mainly we suspect because it is top of the menu on the right-hand side of this page. The Schönbrunn Palace featured in a recent post which probably helped give it a boost. Why London is suddenly proving popular we don't know.

Dohány Street Synagogue, Budapest

Over the last year we have visited a number of great cathedrals. Here are just some:

Helsinki Cathedral
Mainzer Dom
St. Michael's Cathedral, Kiev
Notre Dame, Paris

We have also brought you a number of great mosques:

The Blue Mosque, Istanbul
Badshahi Mosque, Lahore

Now we have finally got around to bringing you one of the world's finest synagogues, The Dohány Street Synagogue in Budapest.

View Dohány Street Synagogue on Google Maps

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The Globe Theatre

After yesterday's excursion to the Burgtheater, one of the premier German language theatre's in the world, today we pay a visit to what was undoubtably the premier English language theatre of it's age, Shakespeare's Globe.

In truth the present Globe is just a reconstruction that was opened in 1997 but it still manages to capture the magic of the Elizabethan stage. There are now plans to build a New Globe in a fort on Governor's Island, New York, which we of course fully support. Why not beat the crowds and have a sneak preview of the fort before the proposed work begins?

View Shakespeare's Globe, London
View The New Globe, New York

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Burgtheater, Vienna, Austria

There aren't many more romantic cities than Vienna. Who hasn't dreamed of boarding the Orient Express and leisurely travelling across the Austrian Alps to disembark in the city of The Third Man.

Whilst in Vienna there is much to see. On our previous visits we have taken in the Hofburg Imperial Palace, the Schönbrunn Palace and the marvellous Stephansdom. Today we pay a visit to one of the most important German Language theatres the Burgtheater.

View video on Google Maps

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Biar, Spain

Today's itenerary take us on a jouney to the south of Spain, to the little town of Biar in Valencia. Our tour will pay particular attention to the walled castle resting on the hill overlooking the town.

The town itself is only 39 kilometres from the city of Alicante and lies at the foot of the Sierra de Mariola.

View video on Google Maps

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American Airlines Center, Dallas

Google have added a new layer to Google Earth in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the American Institute of Architects. The new layer (which can be found under 'Featured Content' features 150 3D models of the most popular buildings and structures in America.

One of our favourites in this collection is the American Airlines Center in Dallas. The center is home to the Dallas Stars (NHL), the Dallas Mavericks (NBA) and the Dallas Desperados and it's architect was David M. Schwarz/Architectural Services.

View video on Google Maps

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Nosara, Costa Rica

Surf's up in Nosara! We found this video of surfers off the beach in Nosara in Costa Rica on this Costa Rica Tourist Map. The map was created with Google's new My Map feature. My Maps is a great new tool that allows anyone to create their own Google Map mash-ups.

Well we liked the video of this beach so much we decided to post our own map of the beach ourselves. Nosara lacks nearly any development directly on the beach as much of it consists of the Ostional Wildlife Refuge. So it truly is a site to behold. So why not surf over to the beach yourself.

View video on Google Maps

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Live News Map

The Live News Map has been updated to include even more GeoRSS feeds. The Live News Map now also plots news from CNN, Associated Press and The Washington on a Google Map.

The Live News Map also features a number of live video feeds from various news sources such as the BBC, CNN and NBC and, if that wasn't enough, displays a news ticker powered by the new Google AJAX Feeds API.

So if you want to know what's going on in the world - visit the Live News Map now.

Segesta Temple, Siciily

Walking down the hill from the Roman Theatre (see post below) we soon come to the wonderful Greek temple of Segesta. This unfinished hexastyle doric temple is one of the best preserved Greek temples in the world.

Th temple was probably built around 430-420 BC, but it was never completed and its columns stand in the rough, waiting to be fluted.

View video on Google Maps

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Segesta, Sciliy

Continuing with this week's theme of Roman theatres on Google Maps today we bring you the Roman theatre of Segesta in Sicily, Italy. The town Segesta is perhaps better known for its outstanding Greek temple, which is said to be one of the best preserved Greek temples in the world.

The town of Segesta however also has a superb Roman theatre. The theatre itself is a little outside the town to the northwest. It sits on the top of a mountain and consequently has a beautiful panoramic view of the vista to the north.

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

View video on Google Maps

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