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UNESCO and Google Enable People to Explore World Heritage


By: Laura Berdejo, UNESCO World Heritage Center

Following the signature of an agreement between UNESCO and Google in December 2009, millions of people are now able to discover some of the most amazing places in the world. At present, internet users can visit 19 of the 911 World Heritage sites via the Google Street View interface and see all the World Heritage sites through Google Earth and Google Maps. Since the World Heritage theme was created on 30 March 2010, over 8,000 users have chosen ten different “wallpapers” of World Heritage sites to appear as the background of their computer screens…

Street View provides nearly spherical panoramic (360° horizontal and 290° vertical) views taken by car-mounted cameras. The 19 World Heritage sites already captured with Street View are located in Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom and are accessible through Google Earth and Google Maps as well as the joint website.

Google will soon be visiting and photographing other sites on the List, suggested by UNESCO. The focus is especially on sites which are harder to reach so that they can be appreciated by millions of people who otherwise might never have the opportunity to visit them. The next sites to be prospected and then photographed are in South Africa, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the Netherlands. The number of sites covered by the partnership will continue to increase and it is expected that natural sites will be included as well, even if geological, biodiversity or marine sites are not always easy to access.

The agreement with Google has also become one of the major tools to raise awareness about UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention, adopted in 1972, which ensures the protection of World Heritage sites and has been ratified by 187 States parties.

In the future, UNESCO and Google wish to work together to provide online access – via Google Maps, YouTube and Google Earth – to other UNESCO listings such as Biosphere Reserves, Atlas of Disappearing Languages or Intangible Heritage elements.

For more information, please contact Noha Bawazir, UNESCO