Virtual Tourism

Virtual tourism, google maps mashup, google video

What's interesting around here?

Google have created an excellent mapplet that finds the location that you have centred on in Google Maps and finds interesting content created by others for that area.

I centred on my home in East London and immediately found 'Lower Lea Valley: An internet map introducing Jim Clifford's PhD Dissertation Project'. It probably wouldn't be of any interest to you but taught me some fascinating local history that I was completely unaware of. Of course using Google's new embed option you can check out the map for yourself:

View Larger Map

There I told you you wouldn't be interested. However add the Browse Popular Maps mapplet and search for maps people have created around your home and I bet you find some gems.

Google LatLong: What's interesting around here?

Videos of Germany in Google Earth

Today we bring you the Germany KML.

The KML contains videos of the Reichstag, The Schloss Nymphenburg and many other landmarks throughout Germany.

We have of course added the Germany videos to our Overall KML, which now contains well over 200 videos from around the world.

Note: These videos will only work if you have installed the latest version of Google Earth 4.2.

Germany KML
Overall KML

Videos of France in Google Earth

We have today completed the France KML.

The KML now not only contains videos of the Eiffel Tower and other sights in Paris but landmarks from the rest of France, such as The Palace Of Versailles, St Tropez, Cannes and The Milau Viaduct.

We have of course added the French videos to our Overall KML, which now contains well over 200 videos from around the world.

Note: These videos will only work if you have installed the latest version of Google Earth 4.2.

A Fifth of Americans Can't Locate the US

A new website Maps for Us has taken up the challenge highlighted by Miss South Carolina's recent announcement that,

"The children of the US America are in deep trouble. Because some people out there don't have maps. Such as South Africa."

They are therefore calling for concerned citizens to e-mail them maps to help alleviate this shortage. Or as their mission statement says,

"Your views of Attack of the Show's webpage will encourage our children to believe that there is a future outside of Asia. A future with maps. And such. South Africa."

Here is Miss South Carolina's plea again,

Video Mapping

We have now plotted over 200 videos in Google Earth. To view the KML you need to have Google Earth 4.2 installed (you will not be able to view the videos in earlier versions).

However you can view the videos in the Google Maps below.

View Larger Map

You can include this map in your own web page by cutting and pasting the code below:

Streaming Webcams in Google Earth

As part of Google Earth 4.2 it is now possible to watch live streaming webcams with Google Earth. We have put together a KML of a number of streaming webcams from around the world.

As with embedded YouTube videos this KML only works in Windows and you need to have downloaded the latest version of Google Earth. You will also need Windows Media Player to view the webcams.

Streaming webcams in Google Earth
Over 150 Videos in Google Earth

UK National Parks

Here is another video map for Google Earth. This time the videos are of the UK National Parks: South Downs National Park, Exmoor National Park, The Peak District, North York Moors, Lake District National Park, Yorkshire Dales National Park and Cairngorms National Park

View in Google Earth
View on Google Maps


Videos in Google Earth

We are now up to 175 hand-picked videos of attractions around the world embedded in Google Earth. Download the KML here.

Brazil is the latest country to have its own KML. Dowload the Brazil KML here.

Airport Videos on Google Earth

PlanePlaces are the only other site that I have found so far that has started producing KML files that embed videos on Google Earth. They have produced a file of Airport Videos that has over 2800 videos of airports around the world.

The file was created by running a ICAO airport identifier search against the YouTube API. As such, it's subject to errors but they have included e-mail alerting within the Google Earth balloons so the file should become more accurate the more it is used and viewed.

Over 150 Videos in Google Earth

We have now plotted over 150 amazing videos on Google Earth.

Download the KML here.

Or if you prefer you can download videos for individual countries and cities below:

Turkey Videos
UK Videos
America Videos
Paris Videos
Rome Videos
Canada Videos
China Videos
Egypt Videos
India Videos
Japan Videos
Australia Videos
Greek Videos

Video in Google Earth

The Holy Grail, in terms of this blog, has finally arrived. The Google Earth Blog have discovered that videos are now able to be embedded in Google Earth.

We will be working hard over the next couple of days to create Google Earth KML files for the videos used on this site.

Here are the first:

Turkey Videos
London Videos
America Videos
Paris Videos
Rome Videos
Canada Videos
China Videos
Egypt Videos
India Videos
Japan Videos
Australia Videos

Or if you wish all of the above in one KML of over 100 videos on Google Earth

All in One

It appears that Windows Media Player can also now be embedded on Google Earth. Here is an example of a number of TV news stations:

TV News

Click on any of the links above to open in Google Earth or right click on the link and press copy link location and then paste the link location into the search bar in Google Maps. If you open the KML's in Google Maps you can then use the new embed option to add the maps to your own website or blog.

Create an Embeddable Photo Map

Using Flickr's GeoRSS feeds, that were announced last week, with Google's new embeddable map option anyone can create a photo map for their blog in a matter of seconds.

Here is a map of the last 20 photos tagged 'streetart' and given a Geo-location on Flickr:

View Larger Map

To create your own photo map just paste the georss address below into the search bar in Google Maps. This will plot the latest photos tagged 'streetart' onto Google Maps. Change the word 'streetart' in the address to anything you like.

After the photos appear click on the 'Link to this page' option and then cut and paste the embed code.

Sky: The final frontier

The Google Lat Long Blog has today announced the release of Sky, an add on for Google Earth.

According to the BBC Google Earth users will now be able to "glide through images of more than one million stars and 200 million galaxies. Optional layers allow users to explore images from the Hubble Space Telescope as well as animations of lunar cycles."

To use the new feature you will have to download Google Earth 4.2.

Here is Sally Ride, the first American woman astronaut, introducing Google Sky:

Another new feature of Google Earth 4.3 is the 'Gigapxl Photos' layer. This provides a new way of viewing photos in Google Earth. The video below (no sound) will give you a better idea than me describing it.

Google LatLong: Sky: The final frontier

Embeddable Maps

Playing around with Google Maps new embeddable code it seems you can embed other people's MyMaps and even some KML files created for Google Earth.

Here is Catherine's Stalking Celebrity Map. I have no idea who Catherine is but a quick search for 'celebrity' on Google Maps brought up links to a KML she had created of celebrity haunts. From there it is just a simple cut and paste job to import the map to here.

View Larger Map

YouTube-style Embeddable Maps

Google's official Map blog 'LatLong' has some brief instructions on how to embed MyMaps (see post below)

Google LatLong: YouTube-style Embeddable Maps

Google Makes MyMaps Embeddable

Google has made MyMaps embeddable by simply cutting and pasting a small piece of code into a blog or webpage, exactly as you would embed a YouTube video.

To embed a MyMap go to Google Maps, open a map you have created and then click on the 'Link to this page' link. A new option appears allowing you to cut and paste the code for an iframe into your own page.

The Simpsons Map

A Simpson's fan has produced an interactive map of Springfield. View the map here. Unfortunately there are no satellite or streetview options - doh.

Ggantija Temples, Malta

The Ggantija Temples in Malta are the oldest free standing structures in the world, pre-dating Stonehenge and the Pyramids of Egypt. Ggantija is a megalithic temple complex on the Mediterranean island of Gozo (part of Malta). The two temples of Ggantija on the island of Gozo are notable for their gigantic Neolithic structures, which were erected during the Neolithic Age (c. 3600-2500 BC).

They are the world's oldest religious structures and probably the site of an Earth Mother Goddess Fertility Cult, with numerous figurines and statues found on site believed to be connected with that cult.

View a video of Ggantija Temples on Google Maps

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Nîmes Amphitheatre, France

The Nimes elliptical Roman amphitheatre was built in the 1st or 2nd century AD and was among the biggest in Roman Gaul. The amphitheatre is about 13 m long, 101m wide and 21m high. It is built on two levels with 60 arches each on each level. Inside, more than 20,000 spectators could attend the fights of the gladiators.

It is the best-preserved Roman arena in France. In medieval times it was filled with housing, when its walls served as ramparts, but they were cleared under Napoleon. It is still used today as a bull fighting and concert arena.

View a video of the Nîmes Amphitheatre on Google Maps

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El Djem Amphitheatre, Tunisia

Regular visitors to Virtual Tourism will know that we are great fans of Roman Amphitheatre and Colosseum, so we were delighted to discover that the El Djem Amphitheatre in Tunisia was another beneficiary of Google's latest satellite imagery update. The ampitheatre is a truly amazing sight, only Rome's Colosseum (about 45,000 spectators) and the ruined theatre of Capua are larger.

Until the 17th century it remained more or less whole. From then on its stones were used for building the nearby village of El Djem and transported to the Great Mosque in Kairouan, and at a tense moment during struggles with the Ottomans, the Turks used cannons to flush rebels out of the amphitheatre.

However the remaining ruins of the amphitheatre are still so impressive that they were declared a World Heritage Site in 1979.

View a video of the El Djem Ampitheatre on Google Maps

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Cerne Abbas Giant

In a recent publicity stunt to promote The Simpsons Movie in the UK a huge Homer Simpson was drawn next to the 180 foot high chalk figure of the Cerne Abbas Giant. The Cerne Abbas Giant is a hill figure of a large rather well endowed naked man. The giant Homer Simpson (coyly wearing y-fronts) is seen in the act of trying to throw a doughnut and hoop a certain part of the giant's anatomy.

The Cerne Abbas Giant is just one of a number of large Bronze Age chalk figures that are carved into hills in the UK. Google Sightseeing currently has a post linking to a number of them on Google Maps.

View the giant Homer and Cerne Abbas Giant in a video on Google Maps

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Herculaneum, Italy

Herculaneum is an ancient Roman town, located in the territory of the current commune of Ercolano. It is most famous for having been destroyed, along with Pompeii, in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.

After the eruption the town was buried under approximately 20 meters (50-60 feet) of lava, mud and ash. It laid hidden and nearly intact for more than 1600 years until it was accidentally discovered by some workers digging a well in 1709. From there, the excavation process began but is still incomplete.

View a video of Herculaneum on Google Maps

View a video of Pompeii on Google Maps

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Embedded Maps

According to Google Australia have announced that in a week or so Google Maps will be able to be embedded in blogs and web sites as easily as YouTube videos by cutting and pasting a small piece of code.

There are already a number of third party websites that allow users to embed Google Maps such as TakItWithMe and and you can also use an iframe to embed a map as I've done in the Los Angeles Times Homicide Map in the post below. However being able to embed maps direct from Google will presumably be quicker and is the final piece in the Google Maps jigsaw.

Now anyone will easily be able to create a MyMap and then take the code and embed it within their own blog, MySpace, Facebook account or web page. I predict another explosion in the use of Google Maps.

Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris

The Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris it is claimed is the most visited cemetery in the world. This is partly because of the number of famous celebrities buried here, such as Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde.

Originally the cemetery did not prove very popular so in 1804 the remains of La Fontaine and Molière were moved to the cometary and in the following years a number of other well known people's remains were also moved here. This strategy had the desired effect and people began clamouring to be buried among the famous citizens.

View a video of the Pere Lachaise Cemetery on Google Maps

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The Lady in the Window Speaks

Our much copied streetview of the woman above staring out of her window in Encinitas has now made it to the LA Times. This view was the one of the first we found when Google Maps recently extended Streetview to four more cities.

The woman has now been interviewed by the LA Times and she is of course a little concerned. The LA Times says,

"The 80-year-old retired dry cleaner said she found the idea of having her picture appear in an online program -- for all the world to see -- disconcerting.

"You ought to be able to look out your window without getting your picture taken by someone you don't even know," she said."

And to compound the intrusion we post the image all over again. Ironically if you swing the camera around 180 degrees and zoom into the garage opposite the old lady's house you will find a man who we understand is very upset that the old woman is getting all the publicity.

Los Angeles Times Homicide Map

The Los Angeles Times Homicide Map is the map interface of the LA Times' Homicide Report. It is the bast mash-up of Google Maps and data that I have seen. Users can filter the data in a number of ways; by race, gender, age, cause of death and day of week and see the results instantly on a Google Map. This throws up some interesting facts, for example Sunday is by far the most popular day for murderers (or is it their least popular day).

Being a map based interface you can also filter the data by geographical area and find results within a user defined distance of a user defined location. Furthermore you can then take the results in the form of a GeoRSS feed or KML to view in Google Earth.

Here is a map of homicides in Compton in the first six months of this year (and speaking as a European this looks frightening).

UFO Sightings

Flickr are now providing GeoFeeds and KML links for their photos. We have created a map that loads in the latest UFO, ghost, monster and alien photos posted to Flickr.

Unfortunately most of them seem to be obvious fakes, like the one pictured here.

View the UFO Map

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Soestdijk Palace, Netherlands

The Soestdijk Palace is one of the four official palaces of the Dutch royal family. It consists of a central block and two wings.

The palace was originally started as a hunting lodge that was built for Stadhouder William III between 1674 and 1678 by Maurits Post, who was also involved in building two other royal palaces, Huis ten Bosch Palace and Noordeinde Palace.

During the french invasion in 1795, the palace was seized as a spoil of war and turned into an inn for French troops. When Louis Bonaparte became king of Holland, he took possession of it and had it extended and refurbished.

It was presented to William II of the Netherlands in 1815 in recognition of his services at the Battle of Waterloo. In 1842 its contents were enriched by the addition of the neoclassical furnishings of his former palace in Brussels, today the Palais des Académies.

View a video of the Soestdijk Palace on Google Maps

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The Piss Screen

Saatchi & Saatchi (Germany) have invented a revolutionary new navigation system that could well be used to enhance Google Maps and MapJack (see post below). The system is a little difficult to describe but is more than adequately explained in this video:

MapJack - A Rival to Streetview

MapJack have a new Beta version of their 'streetview' style map of San Francisco. The new version is a big improvement and it now rival's Google's Streetview. The views are now navigable from the keyboard which makes the walk around San Francisco even more immersive. The transition from each 320 degree panorama has also been improved and the imagery is brighter than Google's, which seems grey in comparison.

The only area that MapJack really falls down in is in the linking. Google allows the user to link to a particular streetview which you cannot do with MapJack. If MapJack can add that feature they will have beaten Google's Streetview hands-down.

I received an e-mail from MapJack pointing out that you can link to particular panoramas. In fact here is a link to some pirates that are a favourite on streetview spotting sites.

Digital Urban were first with news of MapJack Beta Digital Urban: MapJack - Sneak Peak at Flash Street View (Beta)

Temple of Concord, Agrigento

Today's offering is a stunning video of the Temple of Concord in Agrigento, Sicily, Italy. The Temple of Concord is a Greek doric temple which was converted into a Christian church in 597 AD. The area around the "Temple of Concordia" was later re-used by early Christians as a catacomb, with tombs hewn out of the rocky cliffs and outcrops.

Agrigento (Girgenti in Sicilian) is renowned as the site of the ancient Greek city of Akragras (also Acragas, Agrigentum in Latin, Kerkent in Arabic), one of the leading cities of Magna Graecia. Ancient Akragas covers a huge area, much of which is still unexcavated today, but is exemplified by the famous Valle dei Templi "Valley of the Temples", where the Temple of Concord can be found.

View a video of the Temple of Concord on Google Maps

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Some More Streetviews

Cow in Red Boots
OJ Simpson's House with a knife sharpening van outside - creepy
Beach Buns
Rocket at Kennedy Space Center
Plane in Flight
Grounded Plane
Just Getting High, Man
I caught me a Toyota Civic
The Houston Stargate
Love is in the air
The Hospital used in Scrubs
Please tow me
Peking Duck
The Queen Mary

More Street View Cities

Google have the announced that they have expanded the number of cities that have streetviews on Google Maps.

The new cities are San Diego, Los Angeles, Houston and Orlando. San Diego is the only one with the hi-res imagery that is available in San Francisco.

Here is the Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA.
Darth Vader - really!
Jesus Written in the Clouds
A sailor kissing his girl
The light at the end of the tunnel

Google LatLong: More Street View Cities
No privacy even in your own home
Noses run in mine
Look at that surf
You Hum It
Big Binoculars
The Ivy, LA

Winchester Cathedral

Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire England is a site that benefits from Google Earth's recent image updates. You can now view the cathedral in high resolution on Google Earth and Google Maps.

Winchester Cathedral is one of the largest cathedrals in England, said to be the second longest, and with the longest nave, in Europe. It is dedicated to the Holy Trinity, Saint Peter, Saint Paul and Saint Swithun and is the seat of the Bishop of Winchester and centre of the Diocese of Winchester.

View a video of Winchester Cathedral on Google Maps

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Streaming Animal Webcam Gadget

Our streaming webcam gadget proved so popular we thought we would produce another one.

So here is the cutest Google Gadget yet the Streaming Animal Webcams gadget.

Click on the iGoogle button to add to your iGoogle page or copy the code below to add the gadget to your web page, blog etc.

Embeddable MyMaps

TakItWithMe have created a nice tool that allows you to create and embed a MyMap or KML in your own website or blog. For the example below I used the KML for the Weird Place Names map. The ease of use of MyMaps and this service means anyone can create their own map mash-up in a matter of minutes.

Streaming Webcams

Today Virtual Tourism is launching its second gadget. The gadget is a collection of streaming webcams from around the world. There are already a number of webcam gadgets available for iGoogle but they all seem to be static image cams and quite boring. This gadget contains only live streaming webcams and we think is much more exciting.

Please be patient when changing the views because some of the streams take quite a while to load. Also it is worth remembering that at night it is usually dark.

To add the gadget to iGoogle click here.

Don't forget our Streetview Gadget - which is available from the column on the left.

Weird Place Names

I wonder if the inhabitants of Horneytown, North Carolina ever visit Hookersville, West Virginia. If they don't they should. However if I was them I would avoid Cockburn in Australia and Bald Knob Arkansas.

Who hasn't looked up rude words in the dictionary? Well, now that we have on-line maps with search facilities we can look up rude words on maps as well. And why wouldn't you?

Here's some that we've come across.

Warning - some of these may not be SFW. Some of these we found on The Worst Names in the World.

Floods in India & Bangladesh

A couple of weeks ago we linked to a number of Google Maps that were concerned with the floods here in the UK. Whilst the floods in the UK have been responsible now for a number of deaths and have literally ruined many people's lives they have not been on the scale of the floods that have hit India and Bangladesh.

In Northern India and Bangladesh almost 20 million people have been displaced as some of the worst floods for years have hit. Almost 200 people have died in the floods in the last few days and the situation is likely to get far worse as the rains head south.

We have quickly thrown together a Google Map of the affected areas, along with some photos and relevant videos.


Minnesota Bridge Collapse

A number of My Maps have been produced to try to help people affected by the collapse of the I-35W bridge yesterday.

Road closures and Detours provides traffic information such as lane closures and exits.

35W Bridge contains meeting point locations, contact information for nearby hospitals, and prayer service schedules. It also has photos and links to news articles.

These links were originally reported on:Google LatLong: Minnesota Bridge Collapse

Milau Viaduct

Some sights just make you say 'wow'. The Mialu Viaduct is one of those sights. Designed by English architect Norman Foster and French bridge engineer Michel Virlogeux, it is the tallest vehicular bridge in the world, with one pier's summit at 343 metres (1,125 ft), slightly taller than the Eiffel Tower and only 38 m (125 ft) shorter than the Empire State Building.

The bridge crosses the River Tarn in the Massif Central mountains and forms part of the A75-A71 autoroute axis from Paris to Béziers.

View the Milau Viaduct on Google Maps

As I was preparing this post I heard about the collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis. Our thoughts go out to those affected by this disaster.

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Cool Interactive World Table

On first sight my thoughts were 'I want one of them'. However when you see that you also need an overhead projector somehow it doesn't seem so cool. It still looks good though.

If you do have more money than sense the awfully named GeoConnecTable is available from Onomy Labs

Egeskov Castle, Denmark

Egeskov Castle (Danish: Egeskov Slot) is located in the south of the island of Funen, Denmark. The castle is Europe's best preserved Renaissance water castle. Egeskov's history dates to the 14th century. The castle structure was erected by Frands Brockenhuus in 1554.

The castle is constructed on oaken piles and located in a small lake with a maximum depth of five meters. Originally, the only access was by means of a drawbridge. According to legend, it took an entire forest of oak trees to build the foundation, hence the name Egeskov (“oak forest”).

View the Egeskov Castle on Google Maps

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