BYO pajamas for Google's Heritage on the Edge experience.

By Travel + Leisure
March 20, 2020

You're definitely not alone if you want to be traveling the world right now, discovering far-flung destinations and creating new experiences.

However, as the novel coronavirus continues to spread, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is encouraging everyone to put away their passports, practice social distancing, and hunker down at home. Travel restrictions have been implemented, and various hotels, monuments, and cultural institutions have closed as a response. In other words, the best you can do is explore the great indoors. (And get your heart rate up with these free online classes from popular trainers and studios.)

But what if there’s still a way to be whisked away to popular bucket-list attractions like Machu Picchu and the Great Pyramid of Giza—and all it requires is a Wi-Fi connection? Thanks to Google’s street-view capability, you can tour famous monuments and sites while stuck at home. Virtually venture off to Rome’s Colosseum, stroll through the opulent interiors at the Palace of Versailles in France, or marvel at the gleaming marble that makes up the Taj Mahal in India.

If you're seeking a bit more adventure, check out Google Maps' virtual treks. You can hop from climbing El Capitan in Yosemite to journeying around Petra in Jordan to braving the icy terrain and looking for polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba in just a matter of minutes. (BTW, famous museums are offering virtual tours amid the COVID-19 outbreak, too.)

But wait, there’s more. Earlier this year, the search engine launched Heritage on the Edge, an online experience that uses 3D maps to showcase a handful of UNESCO World Heritage sites facing the looming threat of climate change. The goal was to digitally preserve the legacy of the landmarks, according to Google. For now, you can enjoy a zoomed-in view of the stone statues on Rapa Nui (Easter Island); the mosques of Bagerhat, Bangladesh; the ancient city of Chan Chan in Peru; the Edinburgh Castle in Scotland; and the coastal city of Kilwa Kisiwani in Tanzania.

Not only will you be able to interact with 3D models and 50 exhibits, but you’ll also have access to expert interviews and information on how to conserve these historical sites–an important lens, self-isolating or not.

“Heritage on the Edge collects stories of loss, but also of hope and resilience,” Toshiyuki Kono, president of the International Council on Monuments and Sites, wrote on a Google blog post. “They remind us that all our cultural heritage, including these iconic World Heritage sites, are more than just tourist destinations. They are places of great national, spiritual, and cultural significance.”

So, whether you want to counteract your cabin fever or indulge in a little armchair wanderlust, you deserve a virtual vacation.

The only remaining question: Will you watch from your bed or your couch?

This story originally appeared on by Alisha Prakash.



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