Ancient Rome in 3D for Google Earth

[UPDATE 11 PM: As mentioned in the post below, the layer for Rome is found under “Gallery->Ancient Rome 3D“. However, this just loads the placemarks describing the key buildings. First, uncheck the “3D Buildings” layer. In order to see the Ancient Rome 3D models: 1) you have to click on one of the placemarks where you will see three links. 2) Click on the first link – which is the terrain for ancient rome (that hides the modern Rome and raises it above the new city. 3) Then load the second link which loads the 250 most detailed models. CAUTION: these models have a lot of complexity and you may need a newer machine with a fast graphics card to get these to load and update well. I’m sure Google will be working to simplify these models to make them load faster in future updates. If you load the third link with 5000 buildings – don’t expect it to load all 5000 buildings at once. These buildings will only show when zoomed in close and only the nearby buildings will appear.]
Ancient Rome 3D in Google EarthFor the first time, Google has published a 3D model of an ancient city as a layer viewable in Google Earth. For decades archaeologists, students, scholars, and architects have studied the history and remains of Rome and worked to understand the city’s history. The new layer, found under Gallery->Ancient Rome 3D, depicts Rome in the year 320 AD – at the peak of its development with over a million inhabitants. At this time it was the largest metropolis in the world. The 3D models are actually based on a physical model of the city called the “Plastico di Roma Antica” – created by archaeologists and model-makers from 1933 to 1974 and housed in a special gallery in the Museum of Roman Civilization in Rome. 3D digital models were created based on scans of the physical model. Google joined forces with the Rome Reborn Project and Past Perfect Productions to create the Ancient Rome 3D layer. Google helped convert the models into a format suitable for viewing in Google Earth. According to an interview with Bruce Poulderman of Google, there are about 200 buildings which are classified as “Class I” models which scholars and historians know a lot about and have been rendered as faithfully as possible.
The layer contains more than 6700 3D building models. You can learn more about some of the buildings by clicking on more than 250 placemarks on many of the key sites and the placemark descriptions link to more advanced information including a topographical encyclopedia, ancient literary sources and bibliographical information about each building. The layer’s placemarks are available in: English, German, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, French, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and Dutch.
See Google’s video introducing the layer:

An extra feature in the 3D city is that 11 buildings have viewable interiors – these include: Basilica of Maxentius, Colosseum, Forum of Julius Caesar, Ludus Magnus, Temple of Venus and Rome, Temple of Vesta, Regia, Basilica Iulia, Basilica Aemelia, Curia Iulia, Tabularium.
In order to avoid conflicts with the different modern day terrain and 3D models, Google chose to “float” the Ancient Rome 3D layer above the modern day city by a few dozen meters. You can speed up your performance a bit by turning off the 3D Buildings layer in Google Earth while using the Gallery->Ancient Rome 3D.
To help stimulate educational applications related to the Rome layer, Google has also announced “The Ancient Rome Curriculum Contest“. The competition is open to all K-12 educators (US Only) that will challenge teachers to produce lesson plans for their classrooms using the Ancient Rome 3D layer in Google Earth. Lessons for all subjects – from Art History to Engineering to Philosophy – are encouraged, and projects can be submitted in any format (KML, doc, ppt, skp), though KML and Google Doc submissions are encouraged. The deadline for submission is February 9, 2009. Six teachers will win prize packages including a laptop, classroom projector, digital camera, 3D mouse, $500 gift card, and a plaque. Read the web site for more details.
[UPDATE: See also Google’s LatLong post, and Stefan has an informative write-up at OgleEarth.]

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.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.


  1. That’s just incredibly awesome. Can’t wait to start exploring! I was a big fan of ancient Rome/Greece when I was young, I can only imagine how interested kids today are going to be inspired by this. Fantastic work.

  2. Ick of the East says

    Oh man, this is so cool.
    Next time in Rome I’m going to to take a lot of 3D pictures/videos of the ruins, and then combine them with 3D GE images/video of the same views.
    Rome Now & Then.
    Watch for it on a YouTube near you!

  3. hotelgreg11 says

    It can now be seen on Google Earth

  4. Amazing looks really good.
    Are they going to do any other cities like Dubh Linn(Dublin Ireland) Londinium(London, England), Corcáigh(Cork Ireland)?

  5. Katherine Sayre says

    I just downloaded the new googleearth with ancient rome program and I can’t open the gallery section of the layer. Can anyone help please?

  6. This would be incredibly cool, yeah, if only I could find it in the Gallery layer. Unfortunately, there is nothing like that there. Any ideas why, anybody? Is it possible that my country of residence (Poland) has something to do with that? Or what? Man, it’s so frustrating, reading about it and not being able to dig it myself…

  7. I would prefer the GE priority to be the completion of reasonably high resolution, up to date coverage for the European Union area = particularly for Ireland and Scotland – for the 21st century before starting with the 4th century.

  8. Hi, I own an apple macbook and have updated google earth but i do not have “Ancient Rome” anywhere under Gallery.

  9. Nicolae Nachi says

    Unfortunately,i do not have yet “Ancient Rome” anywhere under Gallery and today is 2008 11 18 .

  10. When I open Google Earth and go to Gallery, I see a check box for Rome, but there are no drop down options such as buildings and so on. What do I do?

  11. I’m still unsure about how to view Rome in 3D. I’m not sure what you mean by placemarks and the only thing I was able to view were a bunch of photos of the different sites. Can you please be more specific in explaining the directions?

  12. Anthony Zamarro says

    I don’t see the “Ancient Rome” layer under “Gallery”, either. Please provide updates to view this layer.

  13. I have the same problem as Ed. When I open Google Earth and go to Gallery, I see a check box for Ancient Rome 3D, but there are no drop down options such as buildings and so on. What do I do?

  14. I have heard of this terrific new resource, but like many of the other comments i cannot find a link in the gallery to Ancient Rome 3D. Any suggestions


  16. Colin Galloway says

    Frankly, the lack of instructions about how to access this model is just boneheaded and a tremendous waste of time for many people. Will someone at Google please get it together?

  17. I downloaded Google 4.3 but there is no Ancient Rome…………please advise.

  18. I am also having a problem accessing the ancient Rome 3-D. I click on Terrain and then 250 buildings however I still can’t see any of the 3-D buildings. Unlike other google products, I am finding this one extremely frustrating. I am glad I did not try this in front of teachers who are already nervous about technology. Any other suggetions?

  19. Just downloaded 4.3.7284.3916 (beta). No Gallery. No Rome. ????? Xp SP3

  20. I was moving around Rome looking at the buildings thinking: “Hmm….this is average”. Then I found some discussions boards talking about it, turns out all I was viewing was the normal 3D models others had made, which were ok but not very impressive. I thought that was Rome Reborn. Now I realise I still haven’t even downloaded it yet.
    So, how do I load the model in Rome Reborn? All I get is a bunch of yellow ‘flags’.
    I am stunned that there are no instructions, what a huge waste of money and time. I wonder how many just saw the general 3D buildings and thought, this is crap like I did and then left. I would guess there would be many as it is very unclear that you have to first turn of the normal 3D buildings.

  21. I too was looking much forward to see the “stunning” 3D model, but as the rest of you I searched clueless and without result for the layer. I’m from Denmark and because of that my GE is danish. I thought it might be some kind of localized restriction so I got to another computer with an english Vista, downloaded and installed GE in english – and look at behold – there was the layer… I’m very disappointed if there’s any restrictions on this ting – Rome is in Europe – I’m in Europe – so what’s the deal here? Google – stand up and give us a statement to why this isn’t working for most of us!
    O. McKensy

  22. I updated google earth but “ancient rome” does not appear on the gallery.
    I tryed 3 pcs.

  23. (sigh) yes the directions to access this content are poor. It takes some hunting and pecking to figure out how to get it to work. But it does work! Here’s how:
    Navigate to Rome in Google Earth. Zoom in close enough that you can see the city. Uncheck 3D Buildings in Gallery.
    1) Click on the “Ancient Rome 3D” checkbox in “Gallery”
    2) When the yellow icons appear, click on one of them. A Red Window appears with text and graphics describing the location. Scroll down to the bottom of the window, and you will see 3 underlined “URL-type” lines.
    3) Click first on Ancient Terrain. It will begin downloading into your Temporary Places and will begin appearing on the map.
    4) When done, click on Ancient Roman Landmarks. Be patient at this point; it will begin downloading Ancient Rome 3D Buildings (250 key monuments) into your temporary places. You will, over a period of many minutes, start seeing the 3D buildings appearing on the terrain.
    5) When this is done, click on Ancient Roman Buildings. This will download a root.kmz to your Temporary Places. These buildings will not appear all at once; they will begin appearing in “neighborhoods” as you zoom in and look.
    It’s all worth waiting for. It could have been a lot clearer, but stop whining and go dig into it.

  24. The problem is that in many installations of GE there’s NO “ancient rome” option available at all under gallery, for what ever reasons only Google know.
    BUT – I just today found out that if I change the language of my GE installation (im in Denmark so my GE installs in danish) to English (UK), suddenly I get the “ancient rome” option under gallery.

  25. This is totally ridiculous i also had to switch from danish to english language in order to acces “ancient rome” another google crapup.

  26. Looks very nice but I can not get it to work. What a pity.

  27. This is classic google:- they design a programme they boast about and which sounds amazing but which is impossible to run, due to their inability to provide clear instructions on how to run the programme.
    NJ’s instructions dated May 6 2009 are more helpful than the useless instructions at the top of the page, however NJ, people are not “whining” as you put it; people are frustrated when they see the video Google have made of Ancient Rome, but cannot get it to work.
    In fact, I have followed all of NJ’s advice, and I still can’t get it to do what is shown on the video.

  28. I thought my slow-ish connection speed was the problem, but I still can’t get it to work now that I’m on a fast connection. Does anyone know how I might resolve it? Scot

  29. I thought my slow-ish connection speed was the problem, but I still can’t get it to work now that I’m on a fast connection. Does anyone know how I might resolve it? Scot

  30. I thought my slow-ish connection speed was the problem, but I still can’t get it to work now that I’m on a fast connection. Does anyone know how I might resolve it? Scot

  31. This is great! I love Rome, expecially ancient rome. I just finished the last book of Colleen McCullough Masters of Rome Series. Following her descriptions of caio mario, silla, caesar and ottaviano walking in the eternal city now is much more fun (and easy!)

  32. Ellen & Sheyanne says

    Recently, we took a trip to Rome. It was really cool. We visited the Pantheon, the Coliseum, the Baths of Caracalla, and the Arch of Constantine. We took a day on each one, and it was so much fun! The Pantheon was very amazing to look at, and the Coliseum was very fun to explore. The Arch of Constantine made us feel like ants! The Baths of Caracalla were interesting to see as well.

  33. Jenna And Lauren says

    Wow, Rome was great! Jenna and I (Lauren) saw the coliseum first. It was massive with its oval shape. It held Gladiator fights, mock sea battles, animal hunts, and slave executions. While there, we learned that about 500,000 lives were taken in the arena, and a million animals died. Next we saw the Circus Maximus, which is basically a huge race track. Chariot races were one of the most common forms of entertainments back in ancient Rome. It was also opened up to everyone, and even women could sit by men. The next day we saw the Spanish Steps. They are the longest and widest steps in Europe, and has a great view of Rome. Also the area surrounding the steps is magnificent. Last we saw the Baths of Caracalla. It was really interesting to see how they spent their leisure time. We were told that it had gyms, library, restaurants, art galleries and much more. Our four day trip through Rome was wonderful. The buildings were picture perfect, and their was beauty everywhere. Going to Rome and seeing the Coliseum, Circus Maximus, Baths of Caracalla, and Spanish Steps was a dream come true.

  34. Michael and Logan says

    Rome was amazing! We learned a lot of things that we didn’t know before. One of the amazing places we visited was the famous Colosseum, where many gladiator fights took place. I wasn’t expecting to see any fights on the trip, but it blows my mind to know that they happened. Another place, St Peter’s Basilica, had the most amazing architecture we’ve ever seen. Did you know it was the burial site of Saint Peter himself? Next on our list was the Pantheon. We weren’t sure what to expect, since before this trip, the closest we could get to experiencing it was seeing pictures and hearing word accounts. I was amazed by the oculus. It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen! The final destination that we visited was the Baths of Caracalla. We were surprised that so many activities happened here. There was a gymnasium, library, and beautiful gardens. We hope to go back to Rome one day!

  35. Greg and Jeb says

    During the vacation to Rome we visited the Coliseum, the pantheon, the Roman Forum, and the Vatican City. The Coliseum was by far the best thing to see with its masculine size. It was home to some of the best acts of its time. After the Coliseum we visited the Vatican City, often referred to the Hoy City. While there we visited the St. Peters Basilica. Its huge hallways and rooms were unbelievable huge. The pantheon was our next destination. The largest concrete building until recent history, with its huge opening on top to let in light. The Roman Forum was our last stop. It was very huge, with many buildings and monuments. It had a marketplace, senate houses, court houses, and basically everything you could think of. Altogether we learned a lot and would love to go back.

  36. Zach and Trevor says

    Me and my friend Trevor visited ancient Rome recently and I must say, the experience was unforgettable. Our first visit was to the majestic Pantheon. It’s rich history and amazing architecture made it a very special experience. Our second stop was to the Coliseum. The Coliseum was the most beautiful location we visited. It’s jaw-dropping size and tremendous history are a testament to the superiority of the Roman empire at that time. Our third stop was to the Roman Forum. The Roman Forum has magnificent views and gives great perspective on the lives of the ancient Romans. The final stop on our trip to Rome was to the mystical lost city of Pompeii. It is amazing to look at the artifact uncovered from the buried city. We encountered remains of victims from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvious almost 2000 years ago. Pompeii was an eerie and mystical experience that left us awe-stricken. Overall, our trip to Rome was unbelievable. The things we learned about the Romans by visiting their land was by far superior to what we would have learned by reading about it. We recommend that everyone visit ancient Rome at least once in their lives.

  37. Kelly and Kylee says

    Going to Rome was definitely one of the best experiences that we have ever had. There were so many great things to see! In all, we spent four days there, and spent one day each on 4 different architectural structures in Ancient Rome. On our first day there, we visited the Vatican City. Vatican City is the smallest independent state in the world both by area, and population. It is also a place where popes have resided since 1929. Next we saw the Arch of Constantine. The arch was made to commemorate Constantine I’s victory over Maxentius at the battle of Milvian Bridge. The next day we visited the Flavian Amphitheater or, Coliseum. The Coliseum was a Roman Gladiatorial battle ground, that pitted fighters against fighters and/or bizarre animals, and it even held mock naval battles.
    On our last day we visited The Pantheon, which is a memorial to the gods built in around the early second century. It has a front entrance, made of pillers, similar to greek architecture, and a dome on the back with a diameter of 44 meters.
    All in all, our trip to Rome was a great experience that everyone should do.

  38. Madelin and ELizabeth says

    Recently, we visited Rome. We had an INCREDABLE time. We learned so much about the history of Rome and the people who made it into what it was and what it has become. We loved all the wonderful sites and getting to see where the ancient rulers we have learned so much about lived and what they did. It was great going to the baths, we could just imagine how similar to what we know as our public pools they were. The Arch of Constantine, where we completely consumed b the ancient legends and tales from the pasts of Rome. Next, we visited the Roman Coliseum which was well known as the death place of thousands, men and beasts. Last but definitely not least, we went to Villa Borghese. We both enjoyed this. The beauty of nature and a creative mans eye put together and shaped in perfect harmony, one word for our trip, fantastic! We will definitely be traveling there again!

  39. We recently went to the beautiful ancient Rome on a four day trip and visited four places. The first thing we visted was the Catacombs, which was a Christian hiding place and became a burial site for the Christians when famous popes were buried. We toured the underground tunnel to look at the Christian artifacts that were saved from thousands of years ago. The next day, we went to go look at the one thing we knew most about Rome, the Coliseum. This is where they had sporting events lasting from one to several days. We wanted to explore the neat architecture of it now. After that day we went to Piazza Navona, which is also called Navona Square now and has wonderful fountains representing the four major rivers. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking. On the last day of our trip we went to the temple for the gods, the Pantheon. It was said to be the largest unsupported dome and we wanted to check it out ourselves.Turns out, the rumors were true! The inside looked like it was made for a palace. We got to experience the way Roman’s belief system works compared to here. These places were incredible, hands down. It definately was a great oppurtunity going there and seeing those things. We will be going back next time to explore more!

  40. Nice picture!
    Nobody from today sees ancient Roman buildings from the past. So, how did you know about every building?

  41. hi,
    I recently installed GE 6.2 and I no more see ancient rome layer in Gallery: have you got any suggestion?
    thanks in advance

  42. I want to echo Massimo’s question. I recently installed Google Earth to specifically view the Ancient Rome module. The GE version I downloaded is 6.2. But there is no Ancient Rome layer to be found. I’ve been scouring the Internet for the last two weeks trying to find out what happened, but there’s no mention of it. Does this blog have any connection with the GoogleEarth team at Google? If so, can this question be forwarded to them?

  43. What part of “it’s not in the gallery” do you not understand ??

  44. Rome really is like no other city on the planet and the tourist attractions here certainly do come thick and fast. History is everywhere and amongst the commercialism of Rome city centre are some true Italian gems, such as the magnificent Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi) and the equally impressive Spanish Steps (Scalinata di Spagna).

  45. For those asking what happened to the Ancient Rome 3D module for Google Earth, it was apparently removed “due to contractual agreements”. I’ve been trying to find out exactly what happened but for right now, the only information available on it comes from this thread:!topic/gec-data-discussions/StZSuNemIVQ , and while it contains posts from one of those most closely involved with the Ancient Rome 3D project and on the GE team, he’s very ambiguous about the reason the data was removed (i.e. the nature of these “contractual agreements” that in effect denied the world from accessing this body of data and knowledge).

    • thank you so much for letting me know this I have been searching, also. No I know there is nothing more to be found. 🙁

  46. I have figure out how to obtain Ancient Rome 3D even though it is no longer offered in the gallery. Do a Google search for ancient_rome_regions.kmz whose URL should be If you open the file with Google Earth after having zoomed in to Rome yellow icons will appear. Click on one of them. A Red Window appears with text and graphics describing the location. Scroll down to the bottom of the window, and you will see 2 underlined “URL-type” lines. Click first on Ancient Terrain. It will begin downloading into your Temporary Places and will begin appearing on the map. When done, click on Ancient Roman Buildings and it will begin downloading Ancient Rome 3D Buildings (5000 key monuments) into your temporary places. You will, over a period of many minutes, start seeing the 3D buildings appearing on the terrain. It appears to display version 1.0 of Ancient Rome 3D because the graphics are crude and simplified compared to version 2.2.

    I achieved this with a standalone installer for Google Earth which I hoped would already have Ancient Rome 3D included in the gallery. If you wish to search for earlier standalone installers consult FileHippo who have a list every Google Earth version with it’s date and file size, but they no longer link to the original installer files.

    Other KML files you might like to search for are Ancient_Rome_3D.kml, Rome 3D.kmz, and Ancient Rome.kmz

    • I’m a Latin teacher that has been dying for this to come back for years, and, Xtremetic, you are a godssend! Thank you so much!

    • Mattingly436 says

      You, sir, have become the new favorite person of every social studies and Latin teacher on the planet.

  47. Hello, I am Italian, I am interested in seeing the ‘ancient rome, but by downloading Google Earth are not able to find the label, in fact, under the gallery is only the label “global awareness”

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.