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An armchair traveler’s top eight picks for the holiday season
Friday, November 21, 2014
The end of the year is just around the corner. Whether you’re planning to pack your bags and board a plane, or spend the holiday season closer to home, we’ve pulled together some of the most popular sites on the
Google Cultural Institute
to inspire your travel planning or help you explore the world from the comfort of your couch. From World Wonders to artifacts and artworks, get ready to go on an armchair adventure beginning in the heart of Europe, crossing over to the U.S. and ending up in a historical center of Southeast Asia.
1. Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris
Vincent Van Gogh
is one of the most viewed artists on the Cultural Institute, and this rendition of “
” housed at the
in Paris attracts some of the greatest attention. In September 1888, Van Gogh wrote: "Often it seems to me night is even more richly coloured than day", and within the month, he realized this masterpiece.
2. 1900-2013: From station to the renovated Musée d’Orsay
Staying in Paris, Musée d’Orsay is home to the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces. If Monet, Manet, and Rembrandt weren’t enough to draw a crowd, the history of the building attracts attention on its own. This beautifully curated exhibit entitled “
1900-2013: From station to the renovated Musée d’Orsay
”, takes you behind the scenes from its construction as a railway station at the end of the 19th century, to its days as a mailing center, before being converted into a museum in the 1980s.
3. Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence
Heading south to Italy, the crowds take us to the
in Florence. Gradually make your way through the first floor galleries, before heading to the exhibit’s prized
Birth of Venus
on the second level. You won’t need to worry about the queue of people that’s typically waiting to stand before this landmark of 15th century Italian painting. The Cultural Institute allows you to zoom in and examine every crack and detail without getting elbowed aside.
4. Grand Canyon in Arizona
Jumping across the Atlantic Ocean takes us to the spectacular Grand Canyon in the U.S. state of Arizona. There are
over 2,200 items
in the Cultural Institute featuring one of the world’s most dramatic geological formations.
Explore the trails on Street View
the vast national park in a helicopter with a famous nature photographer.
5. Nanyue King Mausoleum Museum in Guangzhou
Returning to Asia now, our first stop is the
Nanyue King Mausoleum Museum
in Guangzhou in Southern China. The museum was built at the site of the 2,000 year-old tomb of the Nanyue King Zhao Mo, the excavation of which uncovered thousands of relics in a 17,000 square meter area. Among the most prized artifacts are hundreds of delicate porcelain pillows from the Tang, Yuan and Ming Dynasties (618–1644 AD).
6. Claude Monet at The National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo
Next to Vincent van Gogh,
is one of the Cultural Institute’s most viewed artists. You don’t have to go all the way to Paris to see his works; the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo houses a number of his paintings,
twelve of which are on the Cultural Institute
including one of his famous
. The museum is Japan's only national institution devoted to western art, with pieces dating from the Renaissance to the early 20th century.
7. The Taj Mahal in Agra
There are few armchair travelers who aren’t already familiar with the Taj Mahal. But did you know that the Taj Mahal complex consists of more than just the white marble mausoleum? Explore the rest of the grounds on
within the Cultural Institute, including Darwaza-i rauza, or the Great Gate, and dive into the history and architecture of the complex in "
The Wonder that is Taj
8. Angkor Wat in Siem Reap
Our last stop on this round-the-world trip takes us to the temple of
in Cambodia. It’s not easy to visualize what this 400 square kilometer archeological site looks like. So what better way to get a feel for it than through 3D images and animations from Monash University’s "
" project? Circle around a model of the temple grounds and its environs in the 13th century before diving into the history of the civilization of Angkor, which dominated mainland Southeast Asia for over 500 years.
Posted by Amit Sood, Director, Google Cultural Institute
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