Visit Versailles, Yosemite, and the Ancient Temples of Japan With Google's World Wonders Project

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A new site from Google puts its Street View tools to work to showcase some of the most storied and beautiful places on Earth.

Google unveiled this morning a new undertaking from its Cultural Institute called the World Wonders Project. On the site, viewers can explore a map with pins marking famed places around the world and then, aided by visuals from Google's Street View technology, they can go in and explore "in 360° just as if you were there." The project currently includes 132 destinations from 18 countries in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. No sites from Africa have yet been included, and the offerings from South America and Asia are noticeably sparse. Google did not say how it had made decisions about what to highlight, but that the selection would expand over time. Partners including UNESCO and World Monuments Fund provided information that runs alongside the virtual destinations.

The project is reminiscent of Google's Art Project, which allows people to go online and take close looks at "over 30 000 works of art from sculpture to architecture and drawings and explore over 150 collections from 40 countries, all in one place." Both projects are representative of a belief that though few people will have the chance to physically travel to see these pieces of art or these storied historical sites, the tools of our time can be put to use bringing these places to them.

In the video below, staff from Google explain how they got the Street View pictures of these far-flung places, and how they pulled it all together into the new project.

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Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

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