Ten Easy Steps to Learn About a Place with Google Earth

When I show people how to use Google Earth effectively to learn about places they see, they are usually amazed how quick and easy it is to do it. So, I thought I would share 10 easy steps used to learn about a place I read about today at GoogleSightseeing.com. They were writing about the extensive canal system across Germany – something I was not really familiar with. I was fascinated by their fourth entry which described the Magdeburg Water Bridge, which they said is the longest aqueduct in Europe. Here’s the placemark they provided to a view of the bridge in Google Earth. Watch the slideshow to see 10 steps I took to learn more about this place in GE:

You can watch the steps I took in the slideshow above. Here’s a written summary:

  1. First I found something interesting through a blog post at GoogleSightseeing.com. Alex posted some details in his post, but I find it more interesting to discover with Google Earth.
  2. So, I followed the link to view the location in Google Earth.
  3. The first thing I do in Google Earth is turn on the Geographic Web layer in Google Earth.
  4. The blue icons represent photos taken by many people around the world found at Panoramio (over 2 million photos are mapped into Google Earth).
  5. I quickly found a ground level photo which showed the bridge (there were even aerial photos in this case).
  6. Found a nice photo from the bridge itself as well.
  7. The purple icon from Geographic Web represents a Wikipedia story. Here you get a good description of the Magdeburg Water Bridge and a link to the full article with even more details.
  8. You can use the Google Earth navigation gadget in the upper right to turn and tilt your view to get other perspectives of any site.
  9. Zoom out a bit and turn on the Roads layer and the Populated Places layer to get a handy map of the area.
  10. Zoom out even more and turn on the Borders layer (you might want to turn off the other layers at this point). This gives you a broader perspective. (Tip: you can also turn on the “View->Overview Map” – or hit “CTRL-M” to get a fast broad perspective map).

These are just some really basic steps I often take when trying to learn about a place. Another useful layer is the Google Earth Community layer. Although, for some popular places you may find dozens of placemarks by people who have posted about their favorite places – almost too much information. There are many other collections and tools (written about on this blog) for learning all kinds of things like weather, conditions of the environment, real estate prices, history, etc.
The world is a big place, and these techniques won’t work for every single place on the planet. But, if you try them out, you will probably be surprised just how much you can learn (and how many hours you can spend learning about places you’ve always wanted to visit).

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. Hello Frank,
    Great post. I reffered to it on my blog and used (translated) it as a description for making a helping card for students to find information in Google Earth. I hope teachers here in the Netherlands will try to do that in their classes.

  2. Bibek Dahal says:

    Request for more clear image for Arun Valley (Tumlingtar, Khandbari, Chandanpur, Dingla, Num Etc.)in eastern Region in Nepal

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