The goal of the project was to promote the world’s cultures and provide tours for the disabled.
Since it was launched, in 2007, Google Street View has become a great tool for navigation and exploration. It can help plan parking for a road trip or simply let users wander around the world as though they are walking along the street. Now, users can walk right into an ancient Roman catacomb, as Google adds cultural locations to their catalogue.
CNA reports that Rome’s Catacombs of Priscilla have been digitized for a full 360-degree virtual tour. The tomb complex, which dates to the second century, is believed to have been named for the wife of a man who was killed for converting to Christianity. It was used as an early Christian burial site up until the 4th century.
The tour through the Catacombs of Priscilla takes users through narrow corridors with interment shelves on either side. The tomb shows its age, with time-worn stone walls that have been bolstered in some spots with more recent brickwork. The excellent lighting in the high-resolution images allows users to see even the most minute details of the ancient crypt.
Georgia Albetino, head of Google’s public policy team in Italy, compared the project to a virtual museum tour. Albetino told CNA:
“So our objective is actually to have more and more people knowing about world-wide culture, and for us Italian culture.”
She went on to explain the idea for the catacomb tour came while in a meeting with Cardinal Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture. The virtual tour was chosen as a way to promote Italy’s cultural heritage, while providing a “walking tour” for the disabled.
They have not announced any plans to add more virtual tours for other such locations, but neither have they said it’s out of the question. If more come, it will likely be after the completion of another massive project that will see the entire collections of three main libraries in Naples, Rome, and Florence digitized.