Atlantic Cities

Get Lost in Google's World Wonders Project

You'll have to excuse me. I meant to have this post finished yesterday, but I just got back from exploring some of the world's most historic cities on three different continents.

Using its familiar Street View technology, Google has developed the World Wonders Project to make 132 UNESCO World Heritage sites in 18 countries more accessible for people like me who don't have the time or money to make a trip around the world. Places like Stonehenge, numerous castles, and various parks are on display, but there are also more than 50 cities with historic districts to explore. Can you guess where the majority of my time-suck happened?

Just like in real life, the best cities to explore were the ones with fresh sights at every turn. Sites that I'll likely never see in person, like the 18th century churches in Ouro Preto, Brazil:

(Click on the images below to explore the site.)

or Cuenca, Spain:

But for me, exploring the places surrounding these historic areas is the best part. Ducking into an alley or randomly picking a street to go down just to find out what I'll find around the next corner. Discovering the idiosyncrasies of a place is what makes traveling such a joy.

I wandered into an art museum in Florence:

Then I meandered through the back alleys of Prague's historic center:

In Quebec City, I found out that you can't have a historic district without a pair of golden arches. 

Street View has of course already covered a sizable portion of the globe. But what makes this project unique is that they've collaborated with UNESCO to provide context for what I'm seeing.

In Le Havre, France, for example, I learned about architect Auguste Perret's use of modern urban planning methods to rebuild the city after World War II and his focus on concrete reinforcement techniques.

And did you know that the Roman aqueduct in Segovia, Spain, which have survived nearly 2000 years, have seen some of the worst physical damage in the last decade thanks to poor urban planning?

I've had enough fun. Explore the cities for yourself.

All images are courtesy of Google Street View via the World Wonders Project.

Tyler Falk is a fellow at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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