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Date: Friday, 01 Aug 2014 13:00

Want to buy a bridge? On August 1, 1831, in London, the “new” London Bridge opened with a ceremony attended by the King and Queen. In the late 1960s it was sold to one Robert McCulloch who moved the entire 5-arch structure stone-by-stone to Arizona, where he was building a new resort. McCulloch had to regularly deny the rumour that he believed he was buying the more iconic Tower Bridge. Photosphere by Calvin Jones.

London Bridge

Locations: Arizona / Categories: Bridges, On this day

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Author: "Ian Brown" Tags: "Arizona, Bridges, On this day"
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Date: Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 13:00

Look up ‘boondoggle‘ in the dictionary and you may find a picture of Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. The final day of competition for the summer Olympics took place on this day in 1976… but the stadium’s nickname The Big O soon got changed into The Big Owe. Taxpayers in the city didn’t finish paying for it until 30 years later. Although it is the largest stadium in the country, these days it mostly sits empty apart from the occasional football game, trade show or concert.

Montreal Olympic Stadium

Locations: Quebec / Categories: On this day, Stadiums and Sport, Street Views

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Author: "Ian Brown" Tags: "Quebec, On this day, Stadiums and Sport,..."
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Date: Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 12:21

Europe plays host to some of the planet’s most breathtaking mountain vistas. Much of this wonderful scenery is accessible relatively easily by vehicle – and therefore by Street View! In this entry, we count down the five highest paved roads on the continent.

Before we get started, let’s look at a few other notable highest paved roads in Europe. The UK’s highest paved road is the A93 as it crosses the Cairnwell Pass in the Scottish Highlands. While low in elevation by this list’s standard at 670 m (2,199 ft) above sea level, the pass is nevertheless home to Scotland’s largest ski resort, Glenshee, and the road is often blocked by snow in winter.

cai

Northern Europe’s highest paved road is Norway’s Raubergstulsvegen (1,841 m/6,040 ft). The road leads to the Juvasshytta alpine resort, where summer visitors can see icebergs form in the small lake known as Juvvatnet.

rau

You probably wouldn’t expect the highest pass in the Pyrenees to be host to an auto racing circuit, but that’s exactly what you’ll find at Andorra’s Port d’Envalira, where the Grandvalira Circuit Andorra is just a few metres away from the 2,408 m (7,900 ft) summit.

env2

Straddling the border with Italy, the Umbrail Pass hosts the highest paved road in Switzerland (seventh overall) at 2,503 m (8,212 ft). The border is marked by these charming customs buildings.

umb

Now to our top five countdown, beginning (naturally) with number five. It’s the highest paved road in the Eastern Alps, the Stelvio Pass Road (2,757 m/9,045 ft) on the border between the Italian regions of South Tyrol and Lombardy (and less than five minutes by car from the Umbrail Pass). The pass is the highest point reached by the Giro d’Italia cycling tour (the Cima Coppi) each year (including 2014), and the road has 48 separate hairpin turns. Unlike other locations on this list, the pass is occupied by numerous tourist services, restaurants, stores, and hotels, although there’s still some open space where one can enjoy the scenery (and a bratwurst).

ste1 ste2

Coming in at number four is the highest paved mountain pass in France, the Col de l’Iseran just south of Val-d’Isère. Only a handful of kilometres from the Italian border, the Col de l’Iseran has hosted a Tour de France stage seven times, most recently in 2007. Although paved, the road is only available for traffic during the summer months due to the extreme alpine conditions.

ise

Number three may be also familiar to cycling fans as the highest point reached during the Tour de France, le Cime de la Bonette (2,802 m/9,383 ft), adjacent to the highest pass in the Maritime Alps. The summit of the mountain is a short hike from the roadway and is a spectacular vantage point during years when Le Tour passes by. While the race didn’t use this route this year, the road’s high point is still a popular destination each July, as seen by this photo sphere taken just a few weeks ago by Vincent Madelain.

cim1

cim2

Coming in second at 2,830 m (9,285 ft) above sea level is the top of the Ötztal Glacier Road in the Austrian Tyrol. The road ends at Sölden, one of Austria’s most popular resorts, and provides access for skiers to the surrounding glaciers.1

sol

The distinction of being the home to the highest paved road in Europe, however, goes not to a location in the Alps, but to Spain’s Pico del Veleta, the second highest mountain of the Sierra Nevada. The private access road to the Sierra Nevada Ski Station ends just 10 m (33 ft) below the summit at an altitude of 3,384 m (11,102 ft), and, yes, it’s paved – not that you’d know it from this snowy photo sphere taken by Francisco José, where we see skiers actually skiing over the top of the road as it passes by the highest chairlift.

vel1

Further down the road, the wintry mountain conditions of the ski resort contrast heavily with the arid Mediterranean climes below.

vel2


  1. Interestingly, you must first drive under the ski area via a 1.7 km (1 mile)-long tunnel before emerging at the top. 

Locations: Andorra, France, Italy, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland / Categories: Natural Landmarks, Stadiums and Sport, Street Views

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Author: "Kyle Kusch" Tags: "Andorra, France, Italy, Norway, Scotland..."
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Date: Wednesday, 30 Jul 2014 13:00

Goooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaalllllllll!!!!! On July 30, 1930, Uruguay beat Argentina 4-2 to win the first World Cup Final at the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo. 93,000 spectators crammed the stadium, but thousands of Argentinian fans who were attempting to reach the city by boat were stranded due to the volume of craft attempting to enter the port.

Estadio Centenario

Locations: Uruguay / Categories: On this day, Stadiums and Sport

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Author: "Ian Brown" Tags: "Uruguay, On this day, Stadiums and Sport"
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Date: Tuesday, 29 Jul 2014 13:00

On July 29, 1836, the Arc de Triomphe was inaugurated after a lengthy construction process. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and an eternal flame are found beneath the arch. With twelve roads radiating from the monument, the traffic around it is dizzying.

Arc de Triomphe

Locations: France / Categories: Monuments, On this day, Street Views, Structures

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Author: "Ian Brown" Tags: "France, Monuments, On this day, Street V..."
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Date: Monday, 28 Jul 2014 13:00

On July 28, 2008, the Grand Pier at Weston-Super-Mare burned down. This classic seaside icon dates from 1904 but had first burned and was rebuilt in the 1930s. When the newly reconstructed pier opened in October 2010, more than 100,000 people visited on the first weekend.

Grand Pier

Locations: England / Categories: Buildings, On this day, Street Views, Structures

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Author: "Ian Brown" Tags: "England, Buildings, On this day, Street ..."
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Date: Friday, 25 Jul 2014 13:00

On July 25, 1893, the Corinth Canal in Greece opened. Envisioned for millennia, the waterway was cut through rock to sea level so no locks were needed. However, the narrow width means that it is now largely irrelevant to modern commercial shipping, so tourist boats make up most of the boat traffic.

Corinth Canal

Locations: Greece / Categories: On this day, Street Views, Watercraft

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Author: "Ian Brown" Tags: "Greece, On this day, Street Views, Water..."
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Date: Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 13:43

The roster of the world’s tallest statues is dominated by Buddhist figures, with most of the top ten (actually 11 because of a tie) being representations of the Buddha or Guanyin. While we’ve looked at Very Large Buddhas twice before 1, updated imagery means it’s time for an expanded look at the world of colossal statuary of all kinds. Unfortunately, if anything the current satellite view of the largest – the Spring Temple Buddha in China – is less clear than it was when we first looked at it, though it does have an impressive shadow.

This statue was named for a nearby natural spring where the hot water supposedly has healing properties. The main figure is 108m (354′) tall, though once the lotus throne and pedestal building are included, the total height is 153m (502′).

The second tallest statue was under construction when we last visited it, but this Photosphere by Win Thu Aung shows the Laykyun Setkar in all its gold-plated magnificence. This statue in Myanmar stands 116m (381′) with a 13m (44′) pedestal.

Very Large Buddhist Statues

Just a few metres shorter is the Ushiku Daibatsu statue in Japan, which is covered by a series of connected Photospheres by Masato OTA.

Very Large Buddhist Statues

The 4th, 6th and 7th largest statues in the world are figure of Guanyin, a bodhisattva usually depicted as a female and revered for compassion or mercy. In China, the 106m (348′) Guanyin of the South Sea of Sanya is just about visible on satellite view. One face of the 3-sided statue looks inland, while the other two gaze out over the South China Sea.

Very Large Buddhist Statues

The fifth tallest statue is also in China and is one of the two from our list not related to Buddhism. The 106m (348′) dual figures of Emperors Yan and Huang can just about be seen, possibly still under construction, on satellite view.

World's Tallest Statues

Guanyin is known as Kannon in Japan, where the Sendai Daikannon is exactly 100m (330′) tall, and has a lift to carry visitors to the top for a view of the surrounding area. We get an excellent view in both 45° imagery

Very Large Buddhist Statues

… and on Street View.

Very Large Buddhist Statues

Back in China, the gilded bronze Qianshou Qianyan Guanyin of Weishan (Guishan Guanyin of the Thousand Hands and Eyes) is just 1m (3′) shorter, but sadly isn’t visible on satellite view.

In Russia, the other non-Buddhist statue on our list is the grand monument to Peter the Great in Russia, which stands 96m tall (315′).

World's Tallest Statues

Moving to Thailand, the Great Buddha of Thailand took 18 years to complete and is 92m (300′) tall – the 9th tallest statue in the world.

Very Large Buddhist Statues

Finally, there is a tie for the 10th tallest statue in the world, both of which are 88m (289′) tall. The Dai Kannon of Kita no Miyako park in Japan …

Very Large Buddhist Statues

… and the Grand Buddha at Ling Shan in China. Photosphere by Patrick Jégu.

Very Large Buddhist Statues


  1. See Very Large Buddhas from 2006, and Very Large Buddhas (Redux) from 2009. 

Locations: Burma, China, Japan, Russia, Thailand / Categories: Monuments, Street Views, Structures

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Author: "Ian Brown" Tags: "Burma, China, Japan, Russia, Thailand, M..."
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Date: Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 13:00

On July 24, 1927, the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing was unveiled in Ypres, Belgium. The Gate commemorates soldiers from Britain and the Commonwealth who were killed in the region during WWI, but whose graves are unknown.

Menin Gate

Locations: Belgium / Categories: Monuments, On this day, Street Views, Structures

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Author: "Ian Brown" Tags: "Belgium, Monuments, On this day, Street ..."
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Date: Wednesday, 23 Jul 2014 13:00

On July 23, 1933, architect Richard Rogers was born in Florence. His family moved to England during WWII. He has designed many notable buildings including the Senedd in Cardiff, the Pompidou Centre in Paris, and London’s Millennium Dome.

Richard Rogers

Locations: England / Categories: Buildings, On this day, Street Views

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Author: "Ian Brown" Tags: "England, Buildings, On this day, Street ..."
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Date: Tuesday, 22 Jul 2014 13:00

On July 22, 1713, French architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot was born. He is best known for designing a Church originally dedicated to St Genevieve, but which later became the Panthéon, a secular temple where distinguished French citizens are interred. Residents include Victor Hugo and Louis Braille, though equality campaigners regularly point out that only 2 women are interred, amongst dozens of men.

Pantheon

Locations: France / Categories: Buildings, On this day, Street Views, Structures

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Author: "Ian Brown" Tags: "France, Buildings, On this day, Street V..."
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Date: Monday, 21 Jul 2014 13:00

One small step for (a) man… On July 21, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to walk on the Moon. The Apollo 11 mission took off from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center. Once on the moon’s surface, the astronauts planted a US flag, collected soil and rock samples and deployed scientific instruments during their time on the surface. Unless you’re an internet conspiracy theorist, in which case on this date Hollywood staged an elaborate plot to deceive the public.

Moon

Locations: The Moon / Categories: On this day

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Date: Friday, 18 Jul 2014 13:00

On July 18, 1995, the Soufrière Hills volcano on Montserrat started erupting, and has been active ever since. It has devastated the island, leaving more than half of it – including the capital Plymouth – uninhabitable.

Montserrat

Locations: Montserrat / Categories: Islands, On this day, Volcanoes

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Date: Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 13:00

On July 17, 1955, Walt Disney opened the first of his corporation’s theme parks – Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. Although 14,000 guests and media were invited, just as many people with fake tickets showed up. Traffic chaos and plumbing problems led to negative press early on, but the park quickly became hugely popular. With more than 16 million visitors a year, it is the 3rd-most visited theme park in the world.

Disneyland

Locations: California / Categories: 45˚ Imagery, On this day, Theme Parks

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Date: Wednesday, 16 Jul 2014 19:53

Natural arches – also known as natural bridges – are formed when relatively soft rock is worn away by the action of tides, rivers or weather erosion, leaving behind a bridge-like structure of harder rock. Although there are thousands around the world, most are in remote areas unlikely ever to be visible by ground-level Google imagery (and overhead satellite views usually don’t reveal the arch). We can, however, take a look at the few that are visible on Street View, beginning with Durdle Door on the south coast of England.

This limestone arch was formed when a softer chalk layer was eroded by the sea, variations of its name (from an Old English word meaning hole) has been recorded for over a thousand years. Although it is on private land, the beach here is open to the public, and the South West Coast Path passes nearby.

Over in the south of France, the Pont d’Arc was originally part of a larger cave system created by the Ardèche River. Over time virtually the entire system collapsed, leaving just the 54m (177′) high arch.

Natural Arch

Moving to the Spanish island of Mallorca, Es Pontàs is a popular (and difficult) rock-climbing spot, as shown in this YouTube video.

Natural Arch

All natural arches are inherently fragile, and with enough time and continued erosion1, many will collapse, leaving stacks of rock behind. In Australia, London Arch on the coast south-west of Melbourne used to be a rare double arch. In the summer of 1990 the arch nearest the shore collapsed. Two lucky tourists witnessed the collapse and the conversion of the rock they were standing on into an island, though unluckily they were therefore stranded until a helicopter could rescue them.

Natural Arch

In Japan, the public is warned to stay away from the sandstone arch on Engetsu Island because of fears that its collapse is imminent.

Natural Arch

Percé Rock on Canada’s east coast is believed to have originally had three limestone arches, one of which has long since been lost to the sea. The second collapsed in 1845, leaving a stack standing next to the large island which has just one arch remaining, but which is still grand enough to be a popular tourist attraction in this region of Quebec.

Natural Arch

Two of California’s natural arches are visible on Street View: the sole remaining (of three) at Natural Bridges State Beach

Natural Arch

… and the one at Goat Rock Beach.

Natural Arch

A few years ago we had a short post about Arches National Park in Utah. Street View captured a number of spectacular arches in the park from hiking trails, including Landscape Arch.

Natural Arch

A single Street View image on the nearby road allows us a glimpse of Skyline Arch.

Natural Arch

To the south-east is Double Arch which has two bridges originating in a single segment of rock.

Natural Arch

And nearby are three further arches:

North Window

Natural Arch

South Window

Natural Arch

Turret Arch

Natural Arch

To make this post more complete, we’ll use some Photospheres to visit other natural arches elsewhere, beginning with the Natural Bridge on Cedar Creek in Virginia; Photosphere by Hao Shen.

Natural Arch

In Wyoming, John Roberts took this Photosphere of Ayers Natural Bridge.

Natural Arch

Mexico’s El Arco de Cabo San Lucas was imaged by Jesús Emmanuel González Pio.

Natural Arch

Back to Europe, where a pair of arches in close proximity on the island of Gozo in Malta can be seen in Photospheres by Uwe Bücher:

The Azure Window

Natural Arch

… and the Inland Sea.

Natural Arch

In the Czech Republic, Akram Bary photographed the Pravčická brána.

Natural Arch

Finally, in Jordan, the Jabal Umm Fruth Bridge Photosphere was created by Chuck Sirron.

Natural Arch

This post was based on Wikipedia‘s list of prominent natural arches, and that page also has more information about how natural arches are formed. However, there are many more around the world so if you know of any others which are visible on Street View or in Photospheres, please post them in the comments.


  1. Or in some suspected cases, vandalism… 

Locations: California, Czech Republic, England, France, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, Quebec, Spain, Utah, Virginia, Wyoming / Categories: Natural Landmarks, Street Views

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Date: Wednesday, 16 Jul 2014 13:00

On July 16, 1965, the Mont Blanc tunnel between France and Italy opened. Following 8 years of construction, the 11.6km (7.2mile) tunnel significantly reduced driving times between France and northern Italian cities. A deadly 1999 fire closed the tunnel for three years while repairs were made and new safety measures were installed.

Mont Blanc Tunnel

Locations: France, Italy / Categories: On this day, Street Views

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Author: "Ian Brown" Tags: "France, Italy, On this day, Street Views"
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Date: Wednesday, 16 Jul 2014 10:56

You're reading an entry from Google Sightseeing, which is copyright © 2014 Alex Turnbull & James Turnbull and must not be reproduced without permission.
Author: "Alex Turnbull"
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Date: Tuesday, 15 Jul 2014 13:00

On July 15, 1573, British architect Inigo Jones was born. He had parallel careers in theatrical staging and architecture, with the latter producing many notable buildings around London. One fine example is the Banqueting House in Whitehall, the first neo-classical style building which set a trend across the country.

Inigo Jones

Locations: England / Categories: Buildings, On this day, Street Views

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Date: Monday, 14 Jul 2014 13:00

On July 14, 1902, after a couple of weeks of ominous cracking, St Mark’s Campanile in Venice collapsed. Apparently the caretaker’s cat was the only victim of the building’s failure. Council swiftly approved funds to rebuild the tower, which opened – with additional fortifications to prevent a repeat collapse – ten years later.

Campanile

Locations: Italy / Categories: On this day, Street Views, Towers

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Author: "Ian Brown" Tags: "Italy, On this day, Street Views, Towers"
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Date: Friday, 11 Jul 2014 13:00

On July 11, 1922, the Hollywood Bowl opened. Although less formal performances had been held in this natural amphitheatre for a few years (Wikipedia has a photo of a female duo playing on a stage consisting of a barn door), the LA Philharmonic officially opened the venue on this date. The original concrete ‘shell’ stage was built in 1929, but in 2003 the larger one shown here was constructed.

Hollywood Bowl

Locations: California / Categories: On this day, Street Views, Structures

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Author: "Ian Brown" Tags: "California, On this day, Street Views, S..."
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