Portugal’s Marvão in 3D in Google Earth

Water bodies layer in Google EarthA couple of weeks ago, I mentioned how a town in Ireland was added to the 3D Buildings layer in Google Earth. Google is constantly adding models of buildings created by people all over the world into this layer. So, each time the layer gets updated there are lots of interesting things added. A GEB reader sent me a tip that the beautiful mountain-top town and forts of Marvão, Portugal (here’s an article about the town) has been rendered with an excellent collection of 3D models. To see it, follow this placemark (which will take you to the location of Marvão – which shows a cloudy satellite photo – don’t worry). Next turn on the 3D Buildings layer in the lower left of Google Earth. This will cause Google Earth to load the 3D buildings of the area you are looking at.
Whoever created these models (anyone know who did this?) did an excellent job by first creating a 3D terrain model which has a better aerial photo overlayed. The buildings are done with great care – obviously using photo textures, and there are also many little details such as pedestals, sign posts, and more. If you don’t have a SpaceNavigator (which makes it really easy to fly around 3D models), try watching this video tutorial on moving around in Google Earth. Don’t forget to try holding down the middle mouse button to move around.
Also, to see more of this town from a tourist perspective, just turn on the Geographic Web layer to see placemarks showing dozens of photos taken by people visiting the site. Both the 3D models and the photos make you want to visit this place.
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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. Oscar Sousa Marques says:

    The company that developed the model is 3D Cities (www.3dcities.com), a Lisbon-based IT developer. They are also developing a model for Macau, China.

  2. It looks great. Must be a lot of work.

  3. I made a short video showing off these cool buildings. Here it is:

  4. Hopefully, Google will find it interesting enough to update the sat pics.

  5. Rolf Steinar says:

    Where is the 3D model now? Can’t find it in Google Earth v. 4.3.

  6. “Where is the 3D model now? Can’t find it in Google Earth v. 4.3. ”
    the same here…. gone 🙁

  7. Fantastic these 3D service by Google.
    I went to Portugal last years and i’ve done an Algarve tours. I did’t go to Marvao…i will see it thanks to Google Earth and Street View ;)!

  8. There is the missing wall at stand alone house behind building with round roof (northwest from it). At least in Google Earth is not visible.

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