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Around the World: Virtual Tours of Monumental Historic Buildings

Jennifer Merin on

Even if the corona virus has turned you into a temporary couch potato, there’s no need to completely forego travel. You have some entertaining options. It quite easy to take a virtual tour of a place you’ve always dreamed of visiting – perhaps in preparation for a real visit when the pandemic has passed.

Thanks to ease of access via the internet and to enterprising travel marketers, there are hundreds of enticing destinations that present entertaining virtual tours. You can tour at any time of day without waiting on line and risking infection – except catching the a fever that makes you want to actually go, and that’s almost guaranteed. So view for now and make travel plans for the future.

Thinking about your favorite travel themes will help you negotiate the wide variety of places that offer tours. Pick a theme or category and search the internet for related virtual tours. Choices range from art and culture, to natural wonders and wildlife, to cuisine and cooking, to shopping, to historic places and landmarks.

Let’s start with virtual tours for history buffs:

Buckingham Palace was built in 1703 as Buckingham House, the London home for the 3rd Earl of Mulgrave, John Sheffield. When it was purchased in 1761 by King George III, it became a royal residence to be occupied as a comfortable family home for Queen Charlotte. It is currently the comfortable family home of Queen Elizabeth II. Much of the palace isn’t open for public viewing, either in person or virtually. But you can browse public areas via the internet to experience the grandeur of the palace’s splendid architecture, galleries of fine art and exquisite furniture, and take you time to ponder the ongoing impact the Royals and the British concept of empire have had on world history. The virtual tour invites you to the palace’s grand staircase, featuring a magnificent gilded bronze balustrade, as well as the white drawing room, featuring Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s famous grand piano, and on to the Throne Room and the Blue Drawing Room. Highlights of each room are accented with click-on information tabs for in depth information. Here it is: https://www.royal.uk/virtual-tours-buckingham-palace

 

The Palace of Verasilles rivals Buckingham in grandeur and offers another great inside glimpse of history from the French perspective. It was constructed in 1624, before Buckingham Palace, but it is no longer occupied. It is, however, a national treasure that features countless rooms filled with priceless treasures. You could wander through the palace for hours and it’s so vast that you might get lost. No worries. Taking a virtual tour keeps you on track. The Versailles web site at https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/palace-of-versailles provides a an illustrative art-based tour focusing on the grand collection of paintings and palace décor and what they indicate about the various historical periods they represent. But, another virtual tour of Versailles offers a reveal of the palace’s dirty little secrets – and you can interpret that to mean lack of hygiene. This tour presents a very different perspective on the lives of royals of yore, and it’s fascinating. You’ll find it on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWYIgqMEE2o.

Taking a leap from royal abodes and lifestyle to a royal mausoleum, surf the web from France to India for a virtual visit to the Taj Mahal, a magnificent structure made of white marble, built in Agra between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as the final resting place of his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal. Shah Jahan joined her there when he died in 1666. Actually, the Taj Mahal is a beautifully landscaped historic compound with the main mausoleum franked by two smaller buildings, all set within an expanse of open plazas, lawns, tree-lined pathways, fountains and a reflecting pool. Begin your virtual tour with a marvelous overview provided by Air Pano.com. The site takes you on a bird’s eye viewing of the buildings and grounds, allowing you to zoom in or out at will, and to enjoy different perspectives and details by clicking on various tabs. The tour is enhanced by soothing Indian music, but there is no narration. For detailed information on what you’re seeing in the Air Pano tour, hop over to the Taj Mahal website, where you will find an interactive map of the compound and buildings with click-on tabs for information about significant points of interest. It’s best to take both of these Taj Mahal virtual tours simultaneously if you have two screens or a split screen function on your viewing device.

Bon Voyage! Enjoy these virtual tours while sitting tight. I’ll recommend more of my favorite virtual destinations to satisfy your travel habit while you’re actively and safely waiting for the pandemic to pass.

Copyright 2020 Jennifer Merin
 

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