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You don't have to visit the Colosseum in Rome to get a breathtaking view of its gladiatorial arena, underground complex and partially broken facades. A panorama from inside can give you a virtual tour of the architectural marvel while you sit at home. It's a new kind of virtual tourism: Websites that let you armchair travel to the most exotic destinations in the world through the eyes of some of the best panorama photographers.
>> 360cities. net
This resource hosts a massive collection of spherical panoramas organised into various categories on the home page. Every picture can be viewed by using the mouse to pan - and you can even zoom in and out of the photos.
An extremely popular image on the site is a panorama of the 18th-century Strahov Library in Prague that is also the world's largest indoor photo of 2011. Made up of 3, 000 individual photos stitched together, the 40-gigapixel image captures intricate details of the library's bookshelves, ceiling fresco and floor design.
Other beautiful images on the site include an 80-gigapixel image of London, a 26-gigapixel image of Paris, a 70-gigapixel image of Budapest, a 26-gigapixel image of Dresden, and an 18-gigapixel spherical image of Prague. A good place to start your journey on this site is at the World Map that lets you search by location.
>> Panoramas. dk
In existence since 2002, Panoramas. dk lets you visit all the new seven wonders of the world right from the comfort of your home. It's also a wonderful place to view news-related images such as captures from the "Occupy Wall Street" movement from around the globe, and even the British Royal Wedding.
The site's homepage directs you to a neatlyorganised archives page that has over 700 panoramas organised in categories like space, architecture, cities, events, castles, museums, restaurants, nature and funny. It also provides budding photographers with a list of software and tutorials they can use to stitch photographs together, and hardware advice to capture spherical and cylindrical images. The Mars and Moon landing site panoramas are a must-see for space enthusiasts.
>> GigaPan. org
This portal - a collaborative project between Carnegie Mellon University and NASA Ames Intelligent System Division's Robotic Group - facilitates the creation of very large composite pictures. It allows photographers to network, store, share, geo-tag, comment, and even categorize their photos under mosaic, architecture, famous landmarks, animal habitats, nature, etc.
As a result, you can view over 50, 000 images including a very large, detailed photo of US President Barack Obama's inaugural address, which allows you to zoom into various subjects like Michelle Obama sitting in the audience, or the Statue of Freedom on the top of the Capitol Dome of the White House.
>> Teliportme. com
This is not about famous sites and locations. In a marked difference from the rest of the resources on this list, this one gives you a voyeuristic view of personal surroundings. Created using the Teliport Me app for Android, users post images of their homes, offices, social gatherings, malls, and anything from their daily lives that might catch their fancy. And one can even vote for their favourite images and share them with friends on Facebook or Twitter.
>> Photosynth. net
The pictures on this site are generated using Photosynth, a software application from Microsoft Live Labs and the University of Washington. Users can filter images by date or search for them using keywords.
Clicking the Explore tab lets users browse through the Most Recent and Most Viewed images. Popular among them are the Mauna Kea Observatories in Hawaii and a view of The Giants Causeway in Ireland.
There is also a section dedicated to panoramas taken using the mobile phone app. Each photo comes with details such as number of views, size, date, geo-tag and likes and comments. Check it out!
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