Internet giant Google on Thursday launched an online interactive map of Cambodia’s Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap, allowing users to explore the park’s more than 100 temples, including Angkor Wat, through 360-degree digital imagery.
To use the map, users click arrows to move through the temples. Some temples are marked with dots that, when clicked, display descriptions of decorative features such as bas-reliefs. Other dots display historical facts.
On the map’s website, Google highlights the park’s best known temples: Banteay Srei, Boeng Mealea, Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm.
The map is also integrated into an online exhibit on the Google Cultural Institute’s World Wonders Project website. There, users can explore and learn more about Angkor’s history through photographs and videos.
The exhibit is offered in Khmer and both the exhibit and map are available on mobile devices.
The map is part of Google’s program known as Street View, which uses 360-degree panoramic photographs to create a virtual world. Google took more than 90,000 panoramas of Angkor, making it one of the largest digital renderings of a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The project took a year to complete.
“We hope people in Cambodia and around the world can experience these Cambodian cultural and archaeological treasures in an entirely new way. Whether it’s virtually revisiting iconic sites such as Bayon Temple in time for the Khmer New Year or studying the Ramayana’s Battle of Lanka bas- relief carvings within Angkor Wat, Street View can help you more easily explore Angkor’s rich heritage,” said Manik Gupta, group product manager for Google Maps.
Thong Khon, minister of tourism, said Google’s initiative would help attract tourists.
Mr. Khon said he expects the number of tourists to Cambodia to increase from 4.2 million last year to at least 4.5 million in 2014.
“This will be an easy way for foreigners to find Cambodia since some foreigners, such as those in Indonesia, do not know about Angkor Wat,” he said. “It is the same with people in the countries of Africa. They do not know what is in our country. Now they can use this tool of the Internet to search where to go in our country and then visit.”