Virtual Tourism

Virtual tourism, google maps mashup, google video

Sundials Added to the Satellite View Map

Sundial Bridge, Redding
We have added one hundred satellite views of sundials to the Satellite View Map. There are now over 1250 satellite views on the map as we continue to add collections to it every week.

The data for the sundial collection like many of the other collections we have added to the map comes from a kml submitted to the Google Earth Community.

View the sundial collection on the Satellite View Map.

WorldWide Telescope

Below is a sneak preview of Microsoft's WorldWide Telescope that a lot of people have been raving about. The application is planned for release in the spring sometime.

On this evidence it seems to be similar to Google Sky with the ability to add tours. Anyone who knows kml can knock together a tour for Google Sky. However the video seems to suggest that a six year old could build tours for WorldWide Telescope.

If you can't wait for WorldWide Telescope then check out our Star Viewer

Google Maps API Demo Gallery

The Google Maps API blog has today unveiled a demo gallery of things you can do with Google Maps. What a great idea. Just yesterday, whilst I was trying to make a map of the UK earthquake, I wanted to find out how to draw circles on Google Maps. It took me a some time to find an example that I could use to see how it was done.

I should have waited until today - it is the third example in the gallery.

Via: Official Google Maps API Blog: Introducing the Maps API Demo Gallery

Vasco da Gama Tower, Lisbon

Vasco da Gama Tower
Yesterday's image update on Google Maps means that we can now see Lisbon's Vasco da Gama Tower in all its glory. The tower was built in 1998 for the Expo 98 World's Fair. At the 394 ft-level, there was an observation deck and, just below it, a luxury panoramic restaurant. At the base of the tower was a three-storey building that served as the European Union Pavilion during the expo.

Both the observation deck and the restaurant were closed in October 2004. While they were open, the tower was the tallest structure in Portugal open to the public (excluding bridges).

View a video of the Vasco da Gama Tower on Google Maps

Other Lisbon video maps:

25th of April Bridge, Lisbon
Praca do Comercio, Lisbon
Elevador de Santa Justa, Lisbon
Castelo de Sao Jorge, Lisbon

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Virtual Earth Update

This morning we posted on Google Maps' latest imagery update. This evening Virtual Earth have announced they have also undergone a huge update of imagery.

New/Updated Birds Eye Cities in the US

* Etowah Co, AL
* Mobile Co, AL
* Monterey Co, CA
* Boulder Co
* Broomfield Co
* WashingtonDC.
* Cobb Co, GA
* De Kalb Co, GA
* Muscogee Co, GA
* Macon Co, IL
* Will Co, IL
* Rowan Co, KY
* Fayette Co, KY
* Anne Arundel Co, MD
* Grand Rapids Metro, MI
* Detroit Metro North, MI
* Cottonwood Co, MN

* Buncombe Co, NC
* Greenville Metro, NC
* Wilson Co, NC
* Lancaster Co, NE
* Strafford Co, NH
* San Juan Co, NM
* Binghamton Metro, NY
* Butler Co, PA
* Westmoreland Co, PA
* Greenwood Co, SC
* Williamson Co, TX
* Fisher Co, TX
* Salt Lake City Metro, UT
* Hampton Metro, VA
* Alexandria, VA
* Arlington Co, VA
* Spokane, WA

New/Updated Birds Eye Cities in Europe

* London, UK
* Medway Towns Urban Area, UK
* Islwyn, UK
* Leighton-Buzzard, UK
* Londonderry, UK
* Galway, Ireland
* Reims, France
* Besancon, France
* Chalon, France
* Strasbourg, France
* Belfort, France
* Colmar, France
* Metz, France
* Mulhouse, France
* Nancy, France
* Troyes, France
* Parma (integration), France
* BustArsizio/Legnano, Italy
* Alghero, Italy
* Como, Italy
* Empoli, Italy
* Enna, Italy
* Frosinone, Italy
* Gorizia, Italy
* Isernia, Italy
* Mantova (integration), Italy
* Nuoro, Italy
* Oristano, Italy
* Foligno, Italy
* Marsala, Italy
* Modica, Italy
* Siracusa, Italy
* Varese, Italy
* Vittoria, Italy
* Rieti, Italy
* San Marino, Italy
* Urbino, Italy
* Verbania, Italy
* VibValentia, Italy

* Lisbon, Portugal
* Faro, Portugal
* Aveiro, Portugal
* Braga, Portugal
* Coimbra, Portugal
* Guimaraes, Portugal
* Leiria, Portugal
* Porto, Portugal
* Setubal, Portugal
* Austria
* Innsbruck, Austria
* Klagenfurt, Austria
* Linz, Austria
* Salzburg, Austria
* St. Polten (Sankt Pelten), Austria
* Villach, Austria
* Wels, Austria
* Germany
* Lüdenschied, Germany
* Norway
* Bergen, Norway
* Stavanger, Norway
* Denmark
* Herning, Denmark
* Horsens, Denmark
* Silkeborg, Denmark
* Vejle, Denmark
* Spain
* Arrecife, Spain
* Santa Lucia de Tiranjana, Spain
* Finland
* Hamnlinna, Finland
* Belgium
* Mouscron (Mouskroen), Belgium

New/Enhanced 3D cities


* Vannes

Great Britain

* Southampton


* Pueblo


* Bridgeport
* Stamford


* Portland


* Battle Creek
* Grand Rapids
* Warren


* Springfield


* Billings

New Jersey

* Trenton


* Henderson
* Sunrise Manor

New York

* Rochester
* Syracuse


* Allentown


* Olympia
* Yakima


* La Crosse
* Madison

Via: Virtual Earth blog

New Satellite Imagery

The Google Earth image update has now been rolled out to Google Maps. I've posted a full list of the update at Google Maps Mania.

Our video map of Burgos Cathedral now has high resolution imagery.

One of my favourite places in the world, San Sebastian can also now be seen in all its glory. You can also now see Avila Bullring.

I'm sure that there are many many more interesting views to be found in the new imagery...

UK Earthquake

At 1pm last night the UK suffered its biggest earthquake for nearly 25 years. I felt the tremors in London, which you can see from the map is well over 100 miles away.

The inner circle on the map shows a ten mile radius from the epicentre of the earthquake and the outer circle shows a 100 mile radius.

The epicentre of the 5.3 magnitude quake was near Market Rasen in Lincolnshire. Nobody was seriously hurt by the earthquake.

The Mapperz blog has quickly produced a better map than mine in Google Maps which shows the seismic magnitude throughout the UK.

The earthquake is also plotted on this excellent earthquake map.

Burgos Cathedral, Spain

Burgos Cathedral
Burgos in Spain is another area that is soon to receive better quality satellite imagery in Google Maps (hopefully this week). In celebration of this latest update from Google Maps we bring you this video map of Burgos Cathedral.

The cathedral is a stage on El Camino de Santiago. The Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage that is undertaken across northern Spain every year. We have of course produced a video map of the route. So if you can't undergo the pilgrimage for real you can at least follow the route via some videos on a map.

View a video of Burgos Cathedral on Google Maps
Follow El Camino de Santiago on Google Maps

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Satellite Viewer Update

Just a small update to the Satellite Viewer today.

We have added over 600 Mediterranean Islands to the map and over 60 Spanish Bullrings.

The map now has well over 12,500 satellite views in a number of different categories. Popular categories include Roman Amphitheatres, Castles, Greek & Roman Theatres and the world's tallest Skyscrapers

User Contributed Map Update

The Virtual Tourism Readers map suddenly has hundreds of more entries.

Sadly most of the entries have come from readers of the Official Google Maps API Blog since they posted my tutorial a couple of days ago.

What has surprised me is how well the map is standing up to well over 300 placemarks. It used to be that Google Maps couldn't handle more than 100 placemarks very well. This map seems to be coping very well so far.

You can add yourself to this map by clicking on the map here.

Google Static Maps API

map of Westminster
Today Google announced a Static Maps API that allows anyone to create a Google Map.

Google have of course had a Google Maps API for a couple of years - but the new API means anyone can create a static map with no programming involved. The wizard just asks you to enter an address, pick the size of map you require and you are then given the address of a static image that you can post to your site.

This is a great idea with just one serious drawback - the generated image is restricted to 1000 unique request a day. Which means you can only use it on a site with very little traffic. Rereading the TOS I think I may have misunderstood the 1000 requests limit. I think that if you place an image on your site that only counts as one request, no matter how many times your page is viewed.

Stata Center, Boston

Google Earth has had a recent image update that should be ported over to Google Maps in the next few days. At the moment you can see the Stata Center in Boston during its construction. Check back in a few days, after the image update, and you will be able to see the completed building.

In celebration of this week's image update we have posted a nice time-lapse video of this Frank Gehry building, which is part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Alternatively you can walk by the building yourself in this Google Streetview,

View a video of the Stata Center on Google Maps

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Creating a User-Contributed Map

I've written a guide to creating a user contributed Google Map using Google Spreadsheets and the new Google Forms service. The article is posted on the official Google Maps API blog today:

Official Google Maps API Blog: Creating a User-Contributed Map: Look, Ma - No server side scripts!

The guide is a more detailed walk-through of the guide I published on this blog a couple of weeks ago.

Using forms for Google Spreadsheets with a Google Map to get contributors to enter geographical information into a database is a really good idea (if I do say so myself) and does demonstrate what is possible with forms. However I don't think that the web community has yet woken up to the power of forms for Google Spreadsheets.

Here are a Couple of More Ways that Forms Could be Used

One problem that bloggers and website owners have is giving out their e-mail. If you publish an e-mail address on a webpage it is quickly picked up by spammer bots and you are just as quickly inundated with spam. On this blog people often want to tell me about other Google Maps mashups but they can't work out my e-mail from the big clue at the bottom of the left hand column.

One thing I could do is create a form for a Google Spreadsheet and then cut and paste part of the code into this page - kind of like this (but don't try it yet).

Name of Google Map

Web Address

Enter information in those text boxes and the information will be sent to my spreadsheet. However there is one problem with this solution. If you press the submit button you are sent to Google's 'Thank You' page (go ahead and try it - just use your browser's back button to return to this post). The problem is I'm not sure I really want my readers redirected away from my site.

Instead I could create a link to open a new window - like this:
Submit a Map

There are of course many other ways that forms for Google Spreadsheets could be used. One that immediately springs to mind is creating a form that would collect reader's e-mails, but really the possibilities are endless.

Pražský Hrad, Prague

Pražský Hrad at dawn
Pražský Hrad in Prague is one of the biggest castles in the world. It is where the Czech kings, Holy Roman Emperors and presidents of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic have had their offices and the crown jewels of the Bohemian Kingdom are kept here.

The castle buildings represent virtually every architectural style of the last millennium. The Prague Castle includes the Gothic St Vitus Cathedral, the Romanesque Basilica of St. George, a monastery and several palaces, gardens and defence towers.

View a video of Pražský Hrad on a Google Map

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Satellite View Map

We have today added 100 cruise ships and 500 prisons to the Satellite View Map. There are now over 11,000 satellite views on the map.

The categories that are proving the most popular include Animals, Amphitheatres, Aqueducts, Castles and Greek & Roman Theatres.

Polar Disk Galaxy Video

NGC 4650
We have added another amazing video to the Star Viewer map. This new video shows the formation of a polar disk galaxy like NGC 4650A.

NGC 4650A is one of only 100 known polar-ring galaxies. Their unusual disk-ring structure is not yet understood fully. One possibility is that polar rings are the remnants of colossal collisions between two galaxies sometime in the distant past, probably at least 1 billion years ago. What is left of one galaxy has become the rotating inner disk of old red stars in the centre. Meanwhile, another smaller galaxy which ventured too close was probably severely damaged or destroyed.

During the collision the gas from the smaller galaxy would have been stripped off and captured by the larger galaxy, forming a new ring of dust, gas, and stars, which orbit around the inner galaxy almost at right angles to the old disk.

Live Maps

Microsoft aren't normally credited with having much of a sense of humour but their Virtual Earth blog today posted this video claiming that it demonstrates the next-gen of the Live Maps geocoder.

The Microsoft post ends by claiming that "most of the kinks are worked out but we need to figure out how to provide a steady supply of sugared cereal to boost throughput."

Streetview Valentine

Today the little man on Google Maps' Streetview is trampling over sombeody's heart. What a cad!

And why we're on the subject of love we have added a few Valentine related places to our Satellite View Map. This little collection includes some giant marriage proposals and a couple of heart shaped water features.

Just click on the 'Love Related' link when you are in the Satellite View Map.

New Streetviews

Below is an amazing street view of the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska

View Larger Map

If you want to see some more amazing street views you can try our Streetviewer Gallery. Alternatively you could have a look at some other collections of interesting street views.

LaudonTech's Street View Gallery

Street View Fun

Seven New Streetview Cities Unveiled

Google had added seven new cities with streetview imagery. The new cities are: Kansas City,;Juneau, Alaska; Boise, Idaho; Salt Lake City, Utah; San Antonio, Texas; Raleigh/Durham/Cary, North Carolina; Manchester, New Hampshire.

Interesting streetviews from these cities will be added to our Streetview Gallery shortly.

Alien Visitors Map

We have had a number of complaints from what I can only describe as illegal aliens. They say they have not been able to add their locations to the Virtual Tourism Readers Map because it only shows the Earth.

We have therefore created a map for readers from elsewhere in the galaxy called The Alien Visitors Map. A number of aliens have already added themselves to the map. If you are an off planet reader of this blog you can also add your location to the map here.

Put Yourself on the Map

Virtual tourism readers can now put themselves on the map. To add yourself to the Virtual Tourism Readers Map enter your location on this map.

Once you have submitted your location you should appear on the Virtual Tourism Readers Map.

For those of you interested in how I created this map read the post below.

Creating a User-Contributed Map Without PHP

Pamela Fox of the Google Maps API Team wrote a wonderful tutorial in November called Creating a User-Contributed Map with PHP and Google Spreadsheets. With the release last week of forms for Google Speadsheets it is actual possible to now create a user contributed map without PHP.

form1. The first step is to create a form for your spreadsheet here. The basic information you need is a latitude and a longitude. I want users to be able to add their names to a map so I will also ask for a name. When you have entered your questions save the form.

2. Now it would be much easier if users could just click on a map to show where they live so we need to hack the created form. This is the most difficult stage in the creation of our map. You can have a look at the completed map form here( and enter your location on the map).

If you cut and paste the html of this page all you need to do is change the map key

to your own map key (available from the Google Maps API)

The only other thing you need to do is change the form key. If you look at the html of this map you will find a line that reads

What you need to do is change the key number to the one that was generated by the form you created in step 1. If you look through the html code of the form you created you should be able to find the key easily enough.

3. Once you have created your spreadsheet all you need to do is use Google's Spreadsheet Map wizard to create your User Contributed Map.

The wizard will do all the work and create your map for you.

Here is the map that the wizard created for my spreadsheet.

You should now have a User Contributed Map without any PHP and with Google hosting your data for you.

Google Maps Satellite Views

We have spent the last couple of days adding collection after collection to our directory of Google Maps Satellite Views. In the first week of this new directory we have amassed a collection of over 10,000 views.

The latest collections to be added are crop circles, soccer stadiums, ice hockey stadiums and mazes.

As a directory it is still fairly small but we will continue to add collections by the day.

Satellite View Directory

Our latest project is a 'proof of concept' that it is possible to place 1000's of locations on one Google Map. So we thought it would be interesting to try and start a directory of geo-tagged locations under different categories and sub-categories, e.g Buildings - skyscrapers, castles, churches etc.

The idea is to build a directory of locations that can be easily navigated. The map is at an early stage of development. There are currently just over 1000 locations mapped in a few categories. The plan is to build a directory of tens of thousands of locations under hundreds of categories.

The map at the moment is called the Satellite View Directory - please remember it is at an early stage of testing.

Burj Al Arab, UAE

Burj Al Arab
We don't normally feature hotels on this site but the Burj Al Arab is another in the seemingly endless series of amazing buildings being erected in Dubai. The building has been designed to resemble a ship's sail and sits on a purpose built artificial island attached to the mainland by its own road bridge.

It is currently the tallest hotel in the world but will lose this honour when the Rose Tower, also in Dubai, opens in April 2008. The Burj Al Arab also boasts that it is the only seven star hotel in the world. Which presumably means I have no hope of ever spending a night there.

View a video of the Burj Al Arab on Google Maps

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The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

The latest addition to our Street View Gallery is this model of a dinosaur escaping from The Children's Museum of Indianapolis.

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis claims to be the world's largest children's museum. It was founded in 1925 and the museum also claims to be the fourth oldest such institution in the world.

View this streetview in the Street View Gallery