A specialized Street View collaboration with UNESCO has a lot to offer fans of urban exploration.

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.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a map of future climate risks in the U.S.
    Maps

    America After Climate Change, Mapped

    With “The 2100 Project: An Atlas for A Green New Deal,” the McHarg Center tries to visualize how the warming world will reshape the United States.

  2. Life

    The Death and Life of the 13-Month Calendar

    Favored by leaders in transportation and logistics, the International Fixed Calendar was a favorite of Kodak founder George Eastman, whose company used it until 1989.

  3. photo: a Tower Records Japan Inc. store in Tokyo, Japan.
    Life

    The Bankrupt American Brands Still Thriving in Japan

    Cultural cachet, licensing deals, and density explain why Toys ‘R’ Us, Tower Records, Barneys, and other faded U.S. retailers remain big across the Pacific.

  4. photo: an Uber driver.
    Perspective

    Did Uber Just Enable Discrimination by Destination?

    In California, the ride-hailing company is changing a policy used as a safeguard against driver discrimination against low-income and minority riders.

  5. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

×