Google Maps Explores Monticello, Ancient Ruins, Great Architecture

Google Maps APIs now let virtual visitors explore Thomas Jefferson's Monticello home, old ruins and much more, from the comfort of their homes.


Software developers are regularly finding new, interesting ways of using Google Maps APIs to highlight and document intriguing places around the globe, and we here at eWEEK are always looking for new maps gems to deliver to our readers.

With that in mind, here's our latest mini-collection of creative online content that's being highlighted using Google Maps APIs.

Virtually Visit Jefferson's Monticello for America's Birthday

Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, built his lovely, ornate Monticello home outside Charlottesville, Va., with a flair for architecture and innovative features for its time, including a personal library that he used to conduct technological experiments. But if you haven't been there, you'd never know just how special a place Monticello can be.

That's no longer an issue for visitors, however, since Google's Street View imaging service has documented Monticello for Google Maps, providing unique glimpses of the home where Jefferson lived during his life.

The grounds around Monticello and the interiors of many of the rooms in the home are now featured on Google Maps, which is something that Jefferson himself would likely be impressed with, wrote Leslie Greene Bowman, president and CEO of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, in a July 2 guest post on the Google Lat Long Blog.

"Thomas Jefferson would have loved knowing that in 200 years, his architectural masterpiece would be explored by a cutting-edge technology and seen by people all over the world on Google Maps," wrote Bowman. "His legacy as a founding father is well-celebrated in the course of American history, of course—but Jefferson was also an innovator, always trying new things and exploring new possibilities to make a better world."

Visit Prehistoric and Ancient Sites

The Megalithic Portal, which uses Google Maps, allows online visitors to explore some of the oldest and most historic spots on Earth, using a database that catalogs the locations, fascinating details about their history and unique photographs of the sites. The site recently released a compilation of more than 25,000 prehistoric and ancient sites in Google Earth where virtual visitors can explore and marvel at the sites, according to a June 26 post from The Unofficial Google Earth Blog.

The Megalithic Portal centers mostly on sites in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France and Germany so far, but accepts contributions from visitors to help continue to build it out, according to its founder Andy Burnham.

"We exist to raise awareness of megalithic, prehistoric and other ancient sites everywhere," the site states. "They really are everywhere you look, yet few people have heard of most of them." The group began by compiling lists of Stone Circles and Rows and has grown organically over the years, according to Burnham.

Architecture From Your Armchair

Several cool Google Maps-enabled sites have been built to highlight interesting and beautiful architecture around the world, according to the folks at GoogleMapsMania.

Archilovers describes itself as a social network for architects, designers and lovers of architecture where they can collaborate, share and pick each other's brains. For architecture fans, it is a portal to a wide variety of lovely designs and projects.

Arti-Fact is another cool site, where users can view gorgeous buildings or sculptures around the world from the site's impressive online image collection.

The image collection includes street and satellite views of architecture as well as street and museum views of sculpture, according to the site. Virtual visitors can find information on buildings, architects, sculptors and more from around the world, from 16th through the 21st centuries, according to the site.