Try out sofa sightseeing! Culture is only one click away during the coronavirus lockdown with virtual tours of the Acropolis, the Pyramids and Machu Picchu
- Museums and monuments including the Great Pyramids can be explored online
- Travel has slumped amid the coronavirus pandemic which is sweeping the world
- Cultural sights including the Uffizi Gallery in Florence can be viewed from home
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
Uffizi Gallery, Florence
The building is stunning — it was constructed in the 1560s as offices for Florence’s magistrates (uffizi meaning offices)
One of the most famous art museums in the world. The building is stunning — it was constructed in the 1560s as offices for Florence’s magistrates (uffizi meaning offices).
When the Medici (Tuscany’s ruling) died out, their incredible Renaissance art collections were bequeathed to the city.
Look for: In Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci, the lilies held by the angel Gabriel are a symbol of Mary’s virginity.
Don’t miss: The Madonna with the Long Neck by Parmigianino. It’s officially Madonna and Child with Angels and St Jerome. But you can guess how the popular name came about.
Fascinating fact: One figure in Gentile da Fabriano’s Adoration of the Magi is Palla Strozzi, who paid for the piece. He’s near the front with a red hat.
Museum of Natural History, Washington D.C.
This wonderful museum has the world’s largest natural history collection with more than 145 million items.
You can view many of them on this excellent site.
Look for: The gneiss. This slab of beautiful patterned rock (in the Geology, Gems and Minerals: Hope Diamond 1 section) originally formed nine miles beneath what is now Sri Lanka.
Gneiss is used for counter tops and to face buildings.
Don’t miss: The Mammal Hall Africa 2 section — in one shot you can see a hyena’s terrifying teeth and a giraffe doing the splits to drink from a pool.
Fascinating fact: Lucy, a 3.2million-year-old human ancestor, got her name because on the day an archaeologist found parts of her fossilised skeleton (Ethiopia, 1974), he was listening to Lucy In The Sky with Diamonds by The Beatles.
This wonderful museum has the world’s largest natural history collection with more than 145 million items
The Acropolis, the collection of buildings on a hilltop overlooking Athens, has its roots in a defensive wall built by the ancient Mycenaeans in the 13th century BC.
This was so well built, parts of it still survive.
Look for: The Parthenon. This building once held a 38ft statue of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and warfare. Standing in her right hand was Nike, the winged goddess of victory.
Don’t miss: The other buildings, which (like the Parthenon) were originally multicoloured.
It was only because these got bleached by centuries of sunlight that 18th and 19th century architects, who copied the style in other countries, made their structures white.
Fascinating fact: When Nazi Germany invaded in April 1941 they replaced the Greek flag atop the Acropolis with a swastika.
On the night of May 30, two young Athenians (Manolis Glezos and Apostolos Santas), climbed the hill, cut down the flag and slashed it to pieces.
It was only because these got bleached by centuries of sunlight that 18th and 19th century architects, who copied the style in other countries, made their structures white
Machu Picchu, Peru
The amazingly intact remains of the 15th-century Inca citadel stand atop an 8,000ft mountain in southern Peru.
Machu Picchu (meaning ‘old peak’ in Quechua) was a royal estate for the emperor Pachacuti.
The stunning website allows you to ‘stand’ in various locations and rotate your view in any direction, from the stonework to the greenery of the slopes.
Look for: The Overlook 2 page, which relates that Machu Picchu was so well constructed, it has survived earthquakes which destroyed buildings in the nearby city of Cusco.
Don’t miss: ‘Looking out over the edge’. We learn the site was in part chosen because it put residents closer to the gods. Fascinating fact: Its lawns are kept neatly trimmed by llamas and alpacas.
The Pyramids, Egypt
Most of us will get a modest headstone or plaque after we die. Egyptian pharaohs preferred pyramids several hundred feet tall.
The famous ones at Giza contain tunnels which housed their tombs and treasures to take to the afterlife.
Look for: The Great Pyramid of Keops. At 481ft it was the tallest building in the world for over 3,800 years, until Lincoln Cathedral overtook it in 1311.
Don’t miss: The smaller Khafre Pyramid.
Like the others it was once covered in white limestone, which has since eroded.
Fascinating fact: It’s thought the pyramid shape was chosen because it mimics the angle of the sun’s rays through clouds. (The pharaohs wanted to join the sun god after death.)
Most of us will get a modest headstone or plaque after we die. Egyptian pharaohs preferred pyramids several hundred feet tall
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