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The Palace of Fontainebleau, France

December 6th, 2008 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

The Palace of Fontainebleau, located 34.5 miles from the centre of Paris, is one of the largest French royal châteaux. The palace as it is today is the work of many French monarchs, building on a structure of Francis I. The building is arranged around a series of courtyards. The city of Fontainebleau has grown up around the remainder of the Forest of Fontainebleau, a former royal hunting park.

The palace introduced to France the Italian Mannerist style in interior decoration and in gardens, and transformed them in the translation. The French Mannerist style of interior decoration of the 16th century is known as the "Fontainebleau style": it combined sculpture, metalwork, painting, stucco and woodwork, and outdoors introduced the patterned garden parterre. The Fontainebleau style combined allegorical paintings in moulded plasterwork where the framing was treated as if it were leather or paper, slashed and rolled into scrolls and combined with arabesques and grotesques. Fontainbleau ideals of female beauty are Mannerist: a small neat head on a long neck, exaggeratedly long torso and limbs, small high breasts—almost a return to Late Gothic beauties. The new works at Fontainebleau were recorded in refined and detailed engravings that circulated among connoisseurs and artists. Through the engravings by the "School of Fontainebleau" this new style was transmitted to other northern European centres, Antwerp especially, and Germany, and eventually London.


The château de Rambouillet, Rambouillet, France

December 6th, 2008 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

The château de Rambouillet is a palace in the town of Rambouillet, Yvelines department, France, 50 km (30 miles) southwest of Paris. It is the summer residence of the Presidents of France.

The château was originally a fortified manor dating back to 1368 and, although amputated of one of its sides at the time of Napoleon I, it still retains its pentagonal bastioned footprint. King Francis I died there, on March 31, 1547, probably in the imposing medieval tower that bears his name. Like the Hôtel de Rambouillet in Paris, the château was owned by Charles d'Angennes, the marquis de Rambouillet during the reign of Louis XIII. Avenues led directly from the park of the castle into the adjacent game-rich forest. More than 200 square kilometres of forest remain, the remnant of the Forest of Rambouillet, also known as the Forest of Yvelines.


The Palais de Justice, Paris, France

December 6th, 2008 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

The Palais de Justice, located in the Île de la Cité in central Paris, France, is built on the site of the former royal palace of Saint Louis, of which the Sainte Chapelle remains. Thus the justice of the state has been dispensed at this site since medieval times. From the sixteenth century to the French Revolution this was the seat of the Parlement de Paris.

It houses various courts:

* the Paris court of large claims (tribunal de grande instance) and the associated Paris correctional court; as of 2007[update] there are discussions so as to their possible relocation in another location;

* the Paris Court of Appeal;

* the French Cour de cassation (highest jurisdiction in the French judicial order).

The Palais also contains the ancient structure of the Conciergerie, a former prison, now a museum, where Marie Antoinette was imprisoned before being executed on the guillotine. The exterior includes sculptural work by sculptor Jean-Marie Bonnassieux.


The Trocadéro, site of the Palais de Chaillot, Paris, France

December 6th, 2008 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

The Trocadéro, site of the Palais de Chaillot, is an area of Paris, in the 16th arrondissement, across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower. The hill of the Trocadéro is the hill of Chaillot, a former village.

In the Battle of Trocadero, the fortified position on the Bay of Cádiz in the south of Spain was captured on August 31, 1823, by French forces led by the Duc d'Angoulême, son of the future king Charles X. The goal was to intervene against the liberal Spanish who were rebelling against the autocracy of Ferdinand VII. Trocadero restored the autocratic Spanish Bourbon Ferdinand to the throne of Spain, in an action that defined the Restoration. The name trocadero comes from the term referring to an emporium or place of trade.

The event was considered worthy of commemoration in Paris: the name place du Trocadéro was given in 1877 (though the name had been associated with the area since 1823) to a square formerly known as the place du Roi de Rome (i.e., Place of the King of Rome), the renaming being an example of discarding a reference to a defeated regime. Today that square is officially named place du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre, though it is usually simply called the place du Trocadéro.


Loket Castle, Czech Republic

October 13th, 2008 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

Loket (English translation: Elbow) is a town with a population of around 3,000 inhabitants in the Sokolov District, within the Karlovy Vary Region, of the Czech Republic .

The town is surrounded on three sides by the River Eger and the centre of the town, which features a 12th Century castle and walled defences, is preserved as a national monument.

Loket Castle (Czech: Hrad Loket) is built in the Gothic style.

Every year the town plays host to an Opera festival, with performances by the Czech National Opera, in an outdoor amphitheatre with the Castle as a backdrop and is also host for the Czech motocross Grand Prix. The town centre and castle were both used as locations in the 2006 version of Casino Royale as the town in Montenegro at which Bond meets Mathis, his contact in Motenrgro.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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Spis Castle, Slovakia

September 11th, 2008 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

The ruins of Spiš Castle (Slovak: Spišský hrad (help·info), Hungarian:Szepesi vár, German: Zipser Burg) in eastern Slovakia form one of the largest castle sites in Central Europe. The castle is situated above the town of Spišské Podhradie and the village of Žehra, in the region known as Spiš (Szepes). It was included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1993 (together with the adjacent locations of Spišská Kapitula, Spišské Podhradie and Žehra).

Spiš Castle was built in the 12th century on the site of an earlier castle. It was the political, administrative, economic and cultural centre of Szepes county. Before 1464, it was owned by Hungarian kings, afterwards (until 1528) by the Szapolyai family, the Thurzo family (1531-1635), the Csáky family (1638-1945), аnd (since 1945) by the State.


Orava Castle, Slovakia

September 3rd, 2008 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

Orava Castle (Slovak: Oravský hrad, German: Arwaburg, Hungarian: Árva vára ) is the name of a castle situated on a high rock (520 meters/1,760 feet), which was constructed in the 13th century, considered to be one of the most interesting castles in Slovakia. Many scenes of the 1922 film Nosferatu were filmed here, although until recently it was thought to have been shot in Transylvania.

The natural formation "castle cliff" - a limy spur 112 meters (367 ft) high, modeled by the Orava River and its right tributary brook Racova - has been inhabited since the primeval ages. The wooden rampart became during its history a strong walled castle of which the first written documents dates back to 1267. At that time only the ground floor was built of stone, the stories were made of wood.

In 1370 the castle became the center of the Orava County. A tetrahedral multi-story towerntury was built here in the 14th century, probably on older foundations, as a donjon - the place of "last shelter" by defensive the castle. After 1474, King Matthew gave order to build a square and a residence-wing at the Middle Castle. The buildings were situated in front of the castle. In 1534 John of Dubovec obtained the castle and became county head. He started to rebuild the castle and to make new fortifications. He ordered to build a half-round tower at the Upper Castle that in 1539 was followed by two large round fortifications to inside stories for cannons at the Middle Castle. Also the Middle platform was made for cannon firing. In the years 1539 - 1543 John of Dubovec built a five-story palace on the free place between the tower and the stone wall of the Upper Castle. The Turkish peril was the reason for building new fortifications. The new gate with a ditch and drawbridge in the Lower Castle was completed in 1543. The Tower of the Archives was built against the castle walls.


The Château de Villandry, France

August 22nd, 2008 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

The Château de Villandry is located in Villandry, in the département of Indre-et-Loire, France.

The lands where an ancient fortress once stood were known as Colombier until the 17th century. Acquired in the early 1500’s by Jean Le Breton, France’s Controller-General for War under King Francois I, a new château was constructed around the original 14th-century keep where King Philip II of France once met Richard I of England (“the Lionhearted”) to discuss peace.

The château remained in the Le Breton family for more than two centuries until it was acquired by the Marquis de Castellane. During the French Revolution the property was confiscated and in the early 1800’s Emperor Napoleon acquired it for his brother Joseph Bonaparte.

In 1906, Dr. Joachim Carvallo purchased the property and poured an enormous amount of time, money and devotion into repairing it and creating what many consider to be the most beautiful gardens anywhere. Its famous Renaissance gardens include a water garden, ornamental flower gardens, and vegetable gardens. The gardens are laid out in formal patterns created with low box hedges. In 1934, Château de Villandry was designated a Monument historique. Like all the other châteaux of the Loire Valley, it is a World Heritage Site.