Google’s Street View service, which lets you zoom into Google Maps and stroll through the city streets in a 3D environment, is amazing in its own right, but it just got twice as amazing with its latest addition.
As part of its effort to move beyond roads, and map, in 3D, amusement parks, college campuses, and hiking trails, Google Street View has just added incredible, interactive panoramas of the ancient ruins of Pompeii.
Pompeii — the ruined and partially buried Roman city near Naples, Italy — is one of the most amazing sights one can see in one’s lifetime. The city was destroyed during an eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D., but after it was rediscovered in 1738 and excavated in the late 19th century, it became one of the most important archaeological finds (and tourist attractions) of all time.
Thick layers of volcanic ash kept the town in a remarkable state of preservation. Visitors (and now web surfers) can admire buildings, statues, wall paintings, graffiti, even furniture. The eeriest bits are the plaster casts of the eruption's many victims. Their bodies rotted away and left holes in the hardened ash. Modern archaeologists filled these with plaster to create ghostly images of men, women, and children perishing from suffocation.
Thanks to the new images, now you can virtually explore the UNESCO world heritage site in Naples, Italy, with 360-degree horizontal views, and 290 vertical views. Meander through the ancient columns, inspect the worn rock, and clamber around the historic site on Google. Of course, the experience is not as good as actually visiting Pompeii in person, but it’s definitely the next best thing.
Pompeii and its neighboring town of Herculaneum give an unparalleled look into the daily life of the Roman Empire. The Italian government hopes that having Pompeii on the web it will encourage more visitors.
If that doesn't give you your fix of historic sightseeing, check out Google Street View's interactive view of Stonhenge, or for something totally different, see the Street View shots of Shamu, leaping dolphins, and more from SeaWorld.