Virtual Tourism

Virtual tourism, google maps mashup, google video

London Video Mapplet

We have developed our first mapplet which we have called London Video Map. To add the mapplet to Google Maps just click on the link and when you are asked to "Please confirm you want to add this to Google Maps" just click on the 'Add it to Maps" button. You will then be able to watch tourist videos of a number of sights in London, including Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Tower Bridge etc.

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Piazza del Campo, Siena

For many Siena's Piazza del Campo is Europe's finest medieval public square. It is certainly one of the largest. Each year a horse race, The Palio, is run around the Piazza.

The piazza was originally a marketplace established before the thirteenth century on a sloping site near the meeting point of the three hillside communities that coalesced to form Siena: the Castellare, the San Martino and the Camollia. It was paved in 1349 in fishbone-patterned red brick with nine lines of travertine radiating from the mouth of the gavinone (the central water drain) in front of the Palazzo Pubblico

View a video of Piazza del Campo on Google Maps

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Google Update Tour

As promised here are links to some of the tourist attractions that have been given higher resolution in the latest Google Earth / Maps update. The attractions I have linked to are The Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Bourges, Piazza del Campo Sienna, Arles Roman Arena, Karlsruhe Castle, Hannover Neues Rathaus, Kingdom Tower (Arabic: برج المملكة) in Riyadh , Juche Tower Pyongyang and The National Museum Brasília.

Hopefully we will be able to upload videos of some of these destinations this week.

View in Google Maps
View in Google Earth

Where in the world is... (Answers)

The Google Lat Long Blog has published the answers to their 'Where in the world is...' clues for the latest Google Earth update. Most of the answers have already been given on this blog but we might have left some out.

The Lat Long blog also has a detailed list of other places given higher resolution on Google Earth and from what I can see Google Maps as well. For example the Piazza del Campo in Sienna appears in reasonable detail for the first time, as does the Arles Amphitheatre. We will bring you a kml tour of some of the best soon.

Google LatLong: Where in the world is... (Answers)

Microsoft Live Derby

To promote their Live Search Maps Microsoft have produced a Flash driving game, which allows players to drive on top of the satellite imagery of Microsoft Maps. Microsoft Live Derby is a Pacman type game in which you drive around picking up tokens whilst avoiding being hit by the other cars.

The game comes only a few days after we reviewed Tom Scott's Real World Racer for Google Maps.

There are also a couple of flying games for Google Maps, Wings and Goggles.

A game very popular on Digg at the moment is Statetris a Tetris clone in which players slot together American states rather than shapes.


Chapel Bridge, Lucerne

The beautiful, covered Chapel Bridge in Lucerne is Europe's oldest wooden bridge. The covered bridge, constructed in 1333, was designed to help protect the city of Lucerne from attacks. Inside the bridge are a series of paintings from the 17th century depicting events from Luzern's history.

Adjoining the bridge is the 140 feet tall Wasserturm (Water Tower), an octagonal tower made from brick, which has served as a prison, torture chamber, watchtower and treasury. Today the tower, which is part of the city wall, is used as the guild hall of the artillery association.

View the Chapel Bridge on Google Maps

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World's Strangest Sights - Part Two

PC World's 'Strangest Sight's on Google Earth' (see post below) has a section called 'unexplained'. One of the so called 'unexplained' sights is the concrete giant pictured here.

Gulliver is the longest concrete sculpture in Europe. It was constructed in the late 70s by a team of local adults and young people under a Craigmillar Festival Job Creation Scheme after being designed by Jimmy Boyle whilst in prison. Children were consulted and alterations made at their request. Not only did it take them off the streets, it provided scope for imaginative play.

You can read an article by Jimmy Boyle about the project here.

View Gulliver on Google Maps

View Gulliver on Google Earth

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The World's Strangest Sights on Google Earth

PC World has produced a huge list of the strangest sights to be found on Google Earth. Anyone who is a regular Google Earth user will be aware of a lot of these already but you will definitely find some you have never seen before in this exhaustive collection. The high resolution image of the elephants pictured here is a find I had never come across before.

The collection seems to have been compiled from submissions to the Google Earth Community but it was a good idea to put them all together in one KML. The collection is organised into a number of categories:

Only from the sky
Caught in the act
Hugh and unique
Hi res
Airplanes in flight ... and many more

Download the KML here

Read the original PC World article here.

Google Maps Racing Game

Tom Scott has produced a racing game for Google Maps called Real World Racer. You can race on the virtual streets of Paris, Boston or Swindon. In the game you race against three other cars as you attempt to be the first to the winning post.

The game features an innovative approach to sound in games with, and I quote, "HumanSound™ for maximum enjoyment, make "bvvv, bvvvvv" noises as you accelerate and "EEEEE" noises as you turn"

Spotted in Google Maps Mania: Google Maps Mania: Google Maps Mania links for 2007-07-28

Darfur Video Blog Map

In the last two weeks we have written a little about how Google Maps is being used by some news organisations to help explain news stories (see the UK flood maps below). The Google LatLong Blog has today posted a story about how StopGenocideNow has produced a video map of their visits to refugee camps along the Chad-Darfur border.

As the Google LatLong blog points out the use of video "helps to put names and faces to the people who have been affected by what the United Nations has described as one of the world's worst humanitarian crises." Placing these videos on Google Maps also gives viewers a better understanding of the geographical location of these stories.

Google LatLong: Darfur video blog map

The Google LatLong blog also has a link to the Crisis in Darfur layer in Google Earth.

Google Earth Update - Part 3 and Out

We concede defeat. Whilst we were only half way through solving the clues to the image updates in Google Earth, Mickey on the Digital Earth Blog went ahead and solved them all. He has even created an individual KML for each area. So if you want the answers go to the Digital Earth Blog.

However if you want to see them all in one go on Google Earth then click here.

(Actually they aren't quite all there, I left out a few, e.g. Italy, that I thought you might be able to find yourselves.

Google Earth Updates - Part Two

I've created a KML that shows eight of the areas that have been updated to higher resolution on Google Maps. If you click on the KML you can view the updates yourself in Google Earth.

I was able to do this with of the help of some of our readers (see post below) and I have guessed a couple myself. We will of course add the rest if you find them. Two of the answers are countries, so I haven't bothered including them as part of the KML.

Do check out the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base on Google Earth - now that is a lot of planes.

Google Earth Updates

Google have announced another huge update to the high resolution imagery on Google Earth. The Google LatLong blog says there are updates to North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania.

In a post entitled Where in the world is... the blog has listed a number of clues to the areas updated. Here are the clues:

  • Two states known for their majestic peaks have gotten an upgrade.
  • I can now see where my favorite maple syrup is made.
  • Certain Florida beaches (and 1 mountain) are looking much improved.
  • Try counting the warthogs in the Boneyard.
  • Peek inside the home of the Brew Crew.
  • You can read the Skin's logo painted on their field.
  • An historic state capitol building is now in high res.
  • This city was named after the Native American name of a nearby mountain, "Tacobet."
  • A "far away" city that played a key role in trans-Saharan trade can now be seen close up.
  • The town where Jane Austen spent her final years is much clearer.
  • The topic of Vincent van Gogh's Cafe Terrace at Night is now bright as day.
  • Take a look at "la ville noir," where Cointreau was invented.
  • Only a third of this country's land is arable, but you can now view the entire country in high res.
  • From 1880 to 1884 this German city was home to the world's tallest building.
  • Rockets may be used to disrupt rain clouds over this city next summer.
  • This country received an impressive terrain update, you might call it Lord of the Terrain.

I'm guessing the last one is New Zealand.

UK Video Map

Buckingham Palace, Stonehenge, Big Ben, Tower Bridge and many more UK tourist attractions can now be seen on the UK Video Map. The UK video map is a collection of all the UK videos we have mapped on one page.

The UK Map is the first of a number of country video maps we have planned.


Measuring Tool For Google Maps

Google Maps have introduced another new feature. In essence the new feature allows you to measure the length between two points (or more than one if you want) or measure an area. You can read more about it on the official Google Maps blog, Official Google Maps API Blog: v2.85: Wondering how looong your polylines are or how BIG your polygons are? We have the answers!

Or to just get a feel you can work out how many kilometres I run when I jog around West Ham Park near my home in East London. I make it about two kilometres per circuit - but I'm not telling you how many circuits I manage.

Kio Towers, Madrid

The Puerta de Europa towers (Gate of Europe or Europe's Gate or just Torres KIO) are two twin office buildings in Madrid. They were commissioned in 1996 by the Kuwait Investments Office (hence their initial name "Torres KIO") and designed by the American architects Philip Johnson and John Burgee.

Each building is 115 m tall with an inclination of 15º. They are located near the Chamartín railway station, on the sides of the Plaza Castilla bus station, north from the Paseo de la Castellana and near the Cuatro Torres skyscraper park.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.

View the Kio Towers on Google Maps

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BBC and Sky Flood Maps

BBC Berkshire has produced a 'My Map' of the current floods in this area of the south of England. You can see the map here. The BBC have included YouTube clips of viewers' videos of the floods as well as links to local radio reports.

Sky News have taken up the mantle and embedded a Google Map of the floods in the north of England in their website. Like the BBC map Sky have included photos and video in their embedded map.

One of Sky's Embedded newscasts

At Virtual Tourism we think the joining of video and maps is a great way to communicate some news items. Last week we produced own own map of the Japanese earthquake which included clips from newscasts. Hopefully this is an area that the established media will start to develop.

Update 1:
the Google LatLong Blog is now featuring the BBC's map but hasn't picked up on the Sky map - Google LatLong: BBC Interactive Flood Map

Update 2: Someone has produced a Google Map of Emergency Water Points in Gloucestershire. During a flood the drinking water supply often becomes contaminated by the flood waters so this map could prove very useful. The map is embedded below. It seems to have come form someone at the Open University (at least that's what I'm guessing from the web address).

Blues Brother Animation

It wasn't long before someone took up the challenge to make an animation of the Blues Brothers bridge jump (see post below). There is now an animated timeline of the Blues Brothers' car jumping the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge in Google Earth.

Here is a movie of the jump,

And here is the KLM to watch it in Google Earth.

San Francisco Streetview Map

We have added a number of new locations to the San Francisco Tourist Map.

One of the sites added is the Schoenstein Organ Company factory (pictured). The factory was established in 1877 and is still making organs.

The map is fully interactive. If you click on the images you can zoom in and move around by clicking on the arrows.

View the San Francisco Tourist Map

San Francisco Streetviews

Do you fancy a virtual tour of San Francisco? Our new map allows you to tour the main tourist sights of San Francisco through Google's Streetview.

The maps includes streetviews of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and Lombard Street as well as some lesser known tourist attractions such as The Octagon House and The Camron-Stanford House.

View the San Francisco Tourist Map


Blues Brothers in Google Earth

Only yesterday I was viewing the 3d model of The Empire State Building in Google Earth and thought to myself wouldn't it be cool if someone animated King Kong hanging off the side. Well I couldn't find King Kong but I did find on the Google Earth Blog a link to a Blues Brothers 3d model.

This model of the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge in Google Earth has the car from the Blues Brothers jumping over the gap in the drawbridge. Pretty cool. It just needs someone to animate it now.

Where are the Squirrels?

Avid fans of Google Maps will be aware of Where's Tim?, a web page that tracks the location of Tim Hibbard on a Google Map via a GPS enabled Nextel phone. It is an idea that has been much copied, and it has now even been taken up in the animal kingdom.

According to Engadget fourteen squirrels have been arrested by Iranian authorities for espionage. Apparently the squirrels were found equipped with GPS technology and the Iranians have said that, "the rodents were being used by Western powers in an attempt to undermine the Islamic Republic".

Clearly the squirrels were merely following Tim's example and are pioneers of the geo-web. The campaign to free the 'Squirrel 14' starts here!

BlinkGeo - A Digg for Geospatial News

BlinkGeo is a community driven site for geospatial news. It is very similar to Digg in design, in that users vote for stories and the top voted stories float to the top.

The pineapple shaped icon that now appears near the title of stories on this page allows readers of this blog to submit a story to BlinkGeo if they think that it will appeal to other readers. I've also added the feed to the MetaMap Mashup page of interesting Google Map and Google Earth feeds.

Tower of Hercules, A Coruña

The Tower of Hercules is the oldest Roman lighthouse in the world. It is an amazing 1900 years old and still in operation. It is located in the northern Spainish town of A Coruña.

A Coruña itself was built when Hercules slew the giant tyrant Geryon after three days and three nights of continuous battle. Hercules then—in a Celtic gesture— buried the head of Geryon with his weapons and ordered that a city be built on the site. Hence the lighthouse's name, The Tower of Hercules. Well, at least that's what they say.

View a video of The Tower of Hercules on Google Maps

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Drive Like Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton is setting the world of Formula 1 on fire. Famously he started racing carts at eight and when he was nine approached McLaren F1 team boss Ron Dennis and told him that he would drive for him one day.

But don't worry it is never too late and if you harbour dreams of competing on the streets of Monaco then don't despair. Thanks to Singapore's Geo-Mashup Community you can begin practising for next year's Singapore Grand Prix today.

They have created an amazing demonstration of Singapore's Formula 1 circuit that allows you to zoom around the track, whilst 3d buildings of Singapore flash by.

View the circuit on Google Earth.

San Francisco Earthquake

Today San Francisco suffered a 4.2 magnitude earthquake. The epicenter was a couple of miles north-east of the center of Oakland. The earthquake occurred at 4:42 a.m. and caused a power outage to 5,000 homes in the area.

Thankfully the earthquake was not as serious as the quake that hit Japan this week.

There are a number of earthquake KML files available from the USGS Earthquakes Hazards program.

For example, this KML shows earthquakes that have occurred in the last seven days on Google Earth.

And this one shows the Bay Area Faults

The USGC also has a number of layers about the tragic 1906 earthquake in San Francisco.

Origin Time and Epicenter of the 1906 Quake
Historic Photographs of the 1906 Earthquake

Place des Vosges, Paris

The beautiful Place des Vosges is one of these hidden gems that most tourists are unaware even exist. It is the oldest square in Paris and the model for many of the residential squares in Europe.

The houses around the square were built to the same red brick design and tower over vaulted arcades. The next time you are in Paris escape the crowds and visit one of the many restaurants that now surround the square and then after eating enjoy the art in the galleries that have also taken root on the square.

View a video of the Place des Vosges on Google Maps

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Remember Google is Watching

Yesterday we warned you that a Google Streetview car was coming to a street near you. If you thought we were being paranoid then watch this fictional film,

The video comes with a warning 'that some viewers may find this video distasteful'. The video is SFW, although that doesn't make it any less distasteful.

Spying on Google

A Gizomodo reader took this photo of a fleet of cars in the Google parking lot. Apparently there are at least 30 brand-new Chevy Cobalt cars here, most without license plates yet.

As you can see each of the cars has a metal mounting on its roof which looks like a vertical extension for mounting Google's Streetview 360° camera. We can therefore assume that Google is preparing to invade the towns of America.

This is great news for those of us who love 'streetview spotting' (and if that includes you then you should add the gadget in the left-hand column to your iGoogle page).

So be warned America Google is coming.

Middlehaven, Middlesbrough

The Middlehaven Dock area in Middlesbrough is currently home to Middlesbrough FC's new Riverside stadium and the famous Transporter Bridge, However the once busy docks are no longer in use and the area is largely a wasteland. Tees Valley Regeneration, which has been given the role of coordinating the area's redevelopment, has employed Will Alsop to come up with a masterplan.

Alsop is known as the 'bad boy' of English architecture. His radical design for the area is to create a riverside community with 750 new homes and 1000 new jobs. Already planning consent has been granted for the first two, nine-storey “sugar cube” buildings. You can get a better idea of Alsop's vision by watching the promotional movie on the map.

View Middlehaven on Google Maps

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Uspenski Cathedral, Helsinki

Today we are adding to our huge collection of cathedrals with our second cathedral in Helsinki. The Uspenski Cathedral is an Eastern Orthodox cathedral in Helsinki, Finland, dedicated to the Dormition of Theotokos (Virgin Mary).

On the back of the cathedral is a plaque commemorating Tsar Alexander II of Russia, who was the ruler of Finland during its construction. It is the main cathedral of the Finnish Orthodox Church in the diocese of Helsinki, and the largest orthodox church in Western Europe.

View a video of The Uspenski Cathedral on Google Maps

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Japanese Earthquake

A major earthquake has today hit northern Japan. Hundreds of people were injured when the 6.8-magnitude tremor struck the Niigata area and at least seven people were killed. We have been thinking recently about using Google Maps to help illustrate the news. So today we quickly knocked up this page on today's earthquake.

Under the picture on the page are two links to the Google Map and a video. When you open the map click on the links to zoom in.

Like a lot of the pages on this site this page works best in Firefox. It is still useable in Internet Explorer but it doesn't look as good. If you haven't done so already you should update your browser to Firefox. There is even a link at the bottom left of this page.

Chinese Low Flying Plane

Last year some virtual tourists thought they had found a Chinese version of the Ekranoplan. An ekranoplan (literally "screen plane") is a vehicle resembling an aircraft but that operates solely on the principle of ground effect.

'Ground effect' enables planes to achieve a high lift/drag ratio. Wings traveling close to the water (or ground) feel an extra lift by a cushion of air compressed underneath them. This enables the planes to carry extremely heavy loads while using significantly less fuel

On Tuesday, scientists from Tongji University in Shanghai announced that they had indeed designed a new model of the famous but largely unknown "wing-in-ground" (WIG) plane, Reuters reported. The plane, which can carry up to 4 metric tons (nearly 9,000 pounds), flies just 18 inches over the surface of the water, yet manages speeds of up to 180 mph.

To get a better idea you can watch a video of an ekranoplan and see the Chinese Low Flying Plane on Google Maps

Plaza de Armas, Santiago

Many towns in South America have a Plaza de Armas. Most cities constructed by the Spanish Conquistadores were designed on a standard military fashion based on a grid pattern, taken from the Roman Castrum, of which one of the blocks would be left vacant to form the Plaza de Armas. It is often surrounded by governmental buildings, churches, and other structures of cultural or political significance.

Santiago is no exception. It has a grand Plaza de Armas surrounded by a cathedral and various government buildings.

View a video of the Plaza de Armas on Google Maps

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Pamplona, Spain

We are about a week late with this story, because the festival of San Fermín, in the city of Pamplona (Navarre, Spain), actually ends at midnight tonight. The most famous event of the San Fermin festival is of course the encierro, the running of the bulls.

Since 1924 13 people have been killed, the most recent was an American tourist in 1995 and over 200 have been seriously injured.

The festival was central to the plot of The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway, which brought it to the general attention of English-speaking peoples. It has become probably the most internationally renowned fiesta in Spain.

View a video of the bull run on Google Maps

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Table Mountain, Cape Town

Table Mountain over looks the beautiful South African city of Cape Town. It is a significant tourist attraction, with many visitors using the cableway to take a ride to the top.

The main feature of Table Mountain is a level plateau approximately 3 kilometres (2 mi) from side to side, surrounded by steep cliffs. The plateau, flanked by Devil's Peak to the east and by Lion's Head to the west, forms a dramatic backdrop to Cape Town and its Table Bay harbour, and together with Signal Hill form the natural amphitheatre of the City Bowl.

View a video of Table Mountain on Google Maps

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Tour de France Live

I went along to watch the start of the Tour de France in London at the weekend. I've got to admit I wasn't that impressed. But if watching men in cycle shorts is your thing then you will like the Tour de France Live Tracker.

OK, to be honest I'm not sure if the fact that I prefer watching small pixels move on a map than watching the real thing is an indication of how boring cycling is or how much of a nerd I am. I strongly suspect the second. Nevertheless this live tracker of the Tour de France is an impressive bit of Google Maps hacking.

Where's Matt?

Matt Harding was a pioneer of travel videos on the Internet. He quickly built a cult following by posting videos of himself dancing at various tourist destinations around the world. You can see for yourself in this compilation:

Now Google have teamed up with Matt to produce a KML for Google Earth of some of the places Matt has visited.

Surfing the Shark Part 2

Welcome readers of Google Sightseeing. Unfortunately the links to the correct Google Map is not working on Google Sightseeing. Here is the right link on Google Maps.

Michael in the comments on Google Sightseeing has found this writing on the sand just to the left of the so called shark. I think someone knew Google were flying over.

Brooklyn Bridge, New York

A video of the Brooklyn Bridge is the latest addition to our growing collection of famous locations in New York.

You can now view all of the New York videos on one Google Map. We have started using My Maps to provide individual city maps of the videos we have found. So far you can view the following cities:

New York

Or if you prefer you can just view a video of the Brooklyn Bridge on Google Maps.

We are working on putting together a My Map page on SanFrancisco. Whilst you are waiting for that you could just add our Streetview gadget to your iGoogle page. This brings you a different view of San Francisco every day.

Just click on the +Google button above to add to iGoogle or alternatively you can add this gadget to Facebook.

(If you click on the image you can roam around San Francisco at will.)


Someone has done a good job of ripping off a Google Map of interesting streetviews that I put together a while back. What is interesting is I can't remember actually publishing this on the web, but I guess I must have and just forgotten about it.

Because I wasn't aware of having published this I'm not too bothered about it being copied. Have a look for yourself here. The big clue that this was 'borrowed' are the links to this blog. So hopefully I will at least get some traffic from the page.

What is a bit cheeky is if you look on the site's link page they have linked to a number of Google Maps Video sites without linking to Virtual Tourism.

The New Seven Wonders

After a global poll, in which around 100 million votes were cast, seven new wonders of the world have been chosen.

Want to see them? OK, here are videos of them embedded on Google Maps:

Christ Redeemer, Brazil
The Great Wall, China
Machu Picchu, Peru
Petra, Jordan
The Roman Colloseum, Italy
The Taj Mahal, India
Chichén Itzá, Mexico

Alternatively, you can view all seven on Google Earth.

One tourist destination that didn't make it on to the list was Prague's Charles Bridge. However that hasn't stopped the lavish celebrations that are taking place today to celebrate its 650th anniversary. You can of course watch a video of the Charles Bridge on Google Maps.

Nevada Solar One

Following yeaterdays's Earth Watch Concerts it seems to natural to follow with a post about renewable energy. So today we bring the third largest solar power plant in the world, Nevada Solar One. The plant is located just outside Boulder City and is truly immense.

Nevada Solar One uses parabolic troughs as thermal solar concentrators, heating tubes of liquid (solar receivers), instead of the power tower concentrator (as Solar One used). These solar receivers are specially coated tubes made of glass and steel which were designed and produced by Solel Solar Systems as well as by Schott Glass. About 19,300 of these four meter long tubes are used in the newly built power plant.

View a video of Nevada Solar One on Google Maps

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Google Live Earth

Today's Live Earth concerts are being held in eight different countries. The Google Earth Blog has created a KML file so that you can view all eight locations on Google Earth. Just click on the link below to view in Google Earth.

Live Earth Venues

Alternatively you can see videos of two of the locations right here on Virtual Tourism (sadly without today's music).

View a video of Wembley Stadium on Google Maps

View a video of the Oriental Pearl Tower, China on Google Maps

Chinese Ballistic Missile Sub Spotted

Hans M. Kristensen at the Strategic Security Blog claims that Google Maps has captured in its satellite imagery the new Chinese Jin class submarine. A submarine definitely can clearly be seen here on Google Maps.

The U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence said in December 2006 that China might build five Jin-class SSBNs. Well according to Hans Kristensen they have built at least one.

The Lingotto Building, Turin

The Lingotto Building in Turin was, when it was built, the biggest car factory in the world. The Lingotto Building was unusual in that it had five floors, with raw materials going in at the ground floor, and cars built on a line that went up through the building. Finished cars emerged at rooftop level, where there was a rooftop test track.

The building is no longer a factory but a modern complex of concert halls, theatre, convention centre, shopping arcades and a hotel.

View a video of the Lingotto Building on Google Maps

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Chernobyl, Ukraine

Today's entry is a rather chilling video from Greenpeace marking the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant explosion. The Chernobyl nuclear meltdown provoked a radioactive cloud which floated over Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Croatia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Poland, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Ireland, France and the United Kingdom.

In fact the western world only became aware of the disaster because workers at a Swedish power plant detected a rise in radioactivity and began to suspect they were coming from the Soviet Union.

View a video of Chernobyl on Google Maps

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Did somebody say calamari?

We nearly let the iPhone launch hype pass without making a link to Google Maps. Nearly but not quite.

This iPhone ad shows someone using Google Maps to find a restaurant called Pacific Catch.

Now why didn't they use streetview? It's easy - here is Pacific Catch on streetview.

Click this button to add a daily updated streetview just like this one to your iGoogle page Add to Google

Surfing the Shark

These surfers are riding the waves on a sunny day off the beach in North Sydney. However little do they know that a shark is circling around waiting to strike. At least that is how the story is being told by The Daily Telegraph. They claim that the shape at the top right of this photo is a shark.

Now if you examine the actual image on Google Maps you can clearly see that the shark is in fact a ghost image of a surfer (a little below this picture on the map) rotated about 200 degrees.

See for yourself on Google Maps.

Hampi, India

India is certainly one of my favourite destinations. Unfortunately I've never managed to visit the village of Hampi, but it is now definitely on my itinerary of places to visit.

Hampi was the capital of the last great Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar. In a spectacular natural setting, fabulously rich princes built Dravidian temples and palaces. So it isn't hard to see why it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site or why the Global Heritage Fund is so keen to conserve its history

View a video of Hampi on Google Maps

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Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

We've updated the Golden Gate Bridge page so that it includes the 'street view' from Google Maps. Which means now you can watch a video of the bridge and also take a stroll across it (well virtually).

We have also changed the video to a stunning short film of the bridge in the Fall fog.

View a video of The Golden Gate Bridge on Google Maps

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