This past week, Google released its newest feature: Google World Wonders Project.
Following the educational/world exploration vein they started with their Art Project, Google World Wonders allows users to explore some of the neatest architectural and historically significant sites in the world. Although the list is far from complete, what is on the site is interesting and many of the places I've never even heard of prior to visiting the site.
The splash screen to the website is pretty cool in and of itself. Wait patiently for a few seconds and it will give you a new location and the globe beneath will automatically rotate to show you where it is found.
The splash screen only shows a few locations, so if you really want to get around, you'll need to go to the navigation menu up top. There are two ways to search here: Find by Location and Browse by Themes.
As soon as you select a location, you will see a familiar Google Street View-esque view of the place. Like on Google Street View, you can use the arrows to navigate. You can also double-click to zoom in, and/or use the scroll ball on the mouse to zoom in and out. Some locations really allow you to explore, while others are pretty quick and you're done.
On the right side of each location, you will see a menu with more information. Each of the tabs gives you better insight into the location.
The Information tab is, of course, informative and thankfully brief so it doesn't take that long to read up on a new location. The Photography and Video tabs (where available) contain user-created content, some of which is good and some not so much. Finally, there is the 3D models tab. This is really cool. In order for this to work, you will need to install the Google Earth Plug-in, which is a free download.
Being a Google product, this site works best on the Google Chrome web browser. Click here to download it if you haven't already.
After a quick install, the 3D model will come up and you can explore in a little more detail and freedom than you can with the main view.
This site probably won't change your life, but it's a fun distraction. If you have children home for summer break, this is a good way to keep their minds engaged in a fun virtual learning environment. So expand your horizons and explore the world from the comforts of your own home.