The ancient city of Petra has been standing for over 2000 years. Known as the ‘Rose City’ thanks to its blush-coloured stone, this extraordinary world wonder is a window into a lost civilisation.
Set in the desert, and carved directly into the sandstone rockfaces, the temples and buildings of Petra housed some 30,000 people. You’ll recognise the façade of the Treasury, Al Khazna, which has appeared in more Instagram photos than you can count, and was famously where Indy ended up looking for the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
However, you can leave your passport, sunscreen and camera behind for this phenomenal virtual tour run by Google. This is no dinky tour either – the trek takes you across the whole of Petra, which is three times larger than Manhattan! You can see the most celebrated locations in the city, and learn all about them with the accompanying audio guide.
Ever wanted to visit the great stepped-pyramids of Chichen Itza? These sacred ruins were once the centre of operations for the Mayan civilisation over 1000 years ago.
Step back into pre-Hispanic history and investigate how the Mayans and Toltecs understood the world around them through their intricately decorated stone monuments.
Perhaps the most famous site is the Temple of Kukulkan, also called El Castillo. This great pyramid stands as a testament to Mayan ingenuity and their intimate relationship with astronomy. Famously, this temple has 365 steps, 91 on each side, with the 365th made up from the top platform.
Get an up-close look at Chichen Itza with this 360° virtual tour.
You cannot picture Rome without picturing its icon – the Flavian Amphitheatre, known simply as the Colosseum. Its history stretches back some 2000 years, when the Roman Empire was at its peak.
When it was built, it was the largest of its kind, seating up to 50,000 people, and functioned as a working amphitheatre for 500 years. At its inauguration, Emperor Titus decreed there be 100 days of games, and over 2000 gladiators lost their lives during this period.
Today, it sees over six million visitors a year, keen to learn about the site’s fascinating and grisly past. You too can tour the Colosseum on an hour-long virtual walking tour that takes you through the ins and outs of this world wonder.
The most legendary monument to love lies in India. The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum built by Shah Jahan for his favourite wife after she died during childbirth.
This fantastical tomb is a symbol of the Mughal Empire’s wealth, power and ingenuity. The tales say that 20,000 stone masons worked for 17 years to bring the Shah’s vision to life. And the image of this building has become inseparable from India’s identity.
On one of Google’s Street Treks, you can get an inside look at the Taj’s incredible optical illusions, as well as its inlaid semi-precious gemstone mosaics.
The newest addition to the world wonders list is the Christ the Redeemer statue. This art deco statue is set atop the summit of Corcovado Mountain within the confines of the Tijuca National Park.
Designed by Heitor de Silva Costa and sculpted by Paul Landowski, it took almost 10 years to construct. On the day of its inauguration, it became world famous, and the emblem of Brazil.
Skip the 200 steps to the statue (for now) and go on this comprehensive virtual tour, which is guided, and shows you 360° views of this new world wonder.
Constructed in the 1400s, Machu Picchu was the great citadel for the Incan Emperor Pachacuti. It lay hidden for hundreds of years after it fell to ruin.
Then, in 1911, an explorer called Hiram Bingham (thanks to his indigenous tour guides) stumbled upon one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century: Machu Picchu.
If you hike from Cusco to the heights of this ancient city, it takes around two days to get there. Or you can speed there now, faster than light, with a virtual tour.
Undulating across the mountains of northern China is the Great Wall. Constructed over 2000 years by multiple dynasties and emperors, this vast barricade once stretched up to 13,000 miles. To give you some perspective, our equator measures 24,000 miles. Today, there’s roughly a couple hundred miles of original wall left for visitors to see. However, around 3000 miles have been partly reconstructed.
The wall was designed to protect China from invaders, chiefly the Mongols. Built with thousands of watchtowers, they were able to keep a close eye on their northern border. Trek across the ancient tracts of this wall on a virtual tour to see this remarkable man-made feat.
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- We’re here for you: our regularly updated article on Coronavirus and travel.
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