New Improved Ancient Rome 3D

Ancient Rome 3D in Google EarthWhen Google introduced the new Ancient Rome 3D layer last month there was a problem. The problem was the building models were derived from very complex data and the resulting 3D models in Google Earth were still too complicated for most computers to handle. I did some testing and it was clear in some cases a single building in Ancient Rome had tens to hundreds of thousands of polygons (a typical 3D building model in Google Earth may only have a few dozen or a couple of hundred polygons). It was little wonder there were many complaints that the new layer was too slow for most people to really use.
Well this past week, Google pushed out new improved Ancient Rome 3D models where the models have been simplified a great deal. I haven’t seen an announcement yet, but I found out last week the models were much better. It still can take a few minutes to load the terrain and buildings (depending on your Internet connection and computer). But, I’m able to run the new layer on my Mac Book Pro laptop and fly around and look at the buildings much more fluidly than before. Building polygon counts are much better now.
How to view the Ancient Rome 3D Layer in Google Earth

  1. Turn off the “3D Buildings” layer and other layers which might interfere with your view

  2. Turn on the Ancient Rome 3D layer found under the Gallery layer folder

  3. Enter “Rome” in the “Fly to” window and zoom in until you see the yellow placemark icons

  4. Open one of the yellow placemark icons where you will see information about that building(s).

  5. Look at the bottom of the description in the placemark bubble for “Download Terrain and 3D Building models of Ancient Rome“. Below that, click on “Ancient Terrain (Load First)“. This loads the terrain from ancient rome and hides the underlying current view of the city. It may take a few minutes (depending on your Internet connection)

  6. Open another yellow placemark and look for the next link (after the terrain one) which says “Ancient Rome Landmarks (250 buildings)“. After waiting another couple of minutes (again depending on your connection), you should be able to start moving around and looking at the buildings.

  7. If you’re really ambitious, and have a powerful computer, open the third link “Ancient Rome Buildings” to load another several thousand more simplified buildings to load all the models from the Ancient Rome collection. I was able to do it on a gaming machine I have at home.

To really view the city, you need to know how to navigate in Google Earth. Here are some tips on navigating in Google Earth from the user guide. If you happen to have a SpaceNavigator, you have the ultimate ability to fly around to see the city with Google Earth.
If you were frustrated with how hard it was to load Ancient Rome when it came out last month, give it a try again. It’s still not as simple as the built-in 3D Buildings layer. But, the experience of learning, and seeing, ancient Rome come to life is worth it. The placemark descriptions and links to further information are very educational. And the 3D buildings really help you visualize what it might have been like.

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. William.Perry says:

    Please can you tell me how to veiw Ancient Rome 3D as I have down loaded the latest version of Google Earth and I cannot see were yoI canget into the Gallery. My brother has the same problem.

  2. @William maybe you are using a non-english-US Google Earth version?
    I can tell if I use danish version af GE the Rome 3D is not showing up. But if I go to Tools>Options>General and change the language settings to English(US) and then restart GE the Rome 3D is showing up in Layers>Gallery>
    I can also tell that New York Times not show up when the language settings is danish in GE, but if I change settings again to english (us) I can see New York Times

  3. I dont have this too. 🙁

  4. Now it works! Thanks Soren!

  5. John Barnes says:

    Thanks for your notes about Ancient Rome in GE. I can view the “Ancient Rome Landmarks” OK. When I click on the download for “Ancient Rome Buildings”, however, all I get is a minimal file “root.kmz”. Nothing substantial gets downloaded. Can you give me any clues how I can fix this? Thanks, John

  6. I was really excited to find this tool. I have played with ArcGis and had a clue how cool it could be. Unfortunately I ran into problems, especially when I went to download the second file “ancient landmarks”. I upgraded, uninstalled, reinstalled and restarted (several times) and tweaked (out the wazoo), it just kept freezing on the download of this file. I also downloaded a free program to track ul/dl transactions (Netmeter). The first file was fine, ok try the third file “ancient buildings”, also fine but the second file “ancient landmarks” kept freezing my system no matter what, also the dl speed was negligible. Apparently persistence pays. After isolating the problem file as the cause I persisted in reattempting to dl untill I got a got speed, problem solved (I think).

  7. Blaine Dixon says:

    Where is Ancient Rome 3-D The only thing they have is modern Rome showing the ruins

  8. Change the general language of your Google Earth into English (settings). After closing and reopening Google Earth you will get Ancient Rome visible in the Gallery.

  9. The Ancient Rome checkbox does come up with the language set to German, but to actually “fly into Ancient Rome” takes so long as to be unusable. I’m trying again using English, hope it works…

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.