Turn back the clock with this historical 3D building

One of my favorite features in Google Earth is the historical imagery. Being able to select a location and then view it from various points in time is awesome.

We’ve heard suggestions over the years that Google should offer some kind of “historical 3D buildings”, where you could view 3D models of buildings from years past. While there are plenty of old buildings you can load from the 3D Warehouse, I’ve just stumbled across a 3D model that allows you to interact with it and view it in different states from across the centuries.

The model below is the Limburg monastery, created by SketchUp user Aerilius, who has created hundreds of amazing models (including one of the versions of Osama bin Laden’s compound that we highlighted a few years ago).


As you can see, the model itself is very well done and would stand on it’s own as a great example of SketchUp work. However, it gets amazing when you load the full KMZ file and view it in Google Earth. (note: disable the base 3D models in Google Earth while viewing this, as there is a different model found in this location)

When you load it, you’ll find a number of options appear in your [Places] on the left side of the screen, allowing you to see the building in different stages from 1300, to 1892, 1943 and the current state of it.


I tend to doubt we’ll ever see a feature like that built into Google Earth, as they have plenty of work to do to simply get us a fully-accurate 3D representation of the current state of the world. However, this is a very creative use of SketchUp modeling, and I hope we see more of them come out. If you know of any other models that have this feature, please leave a comment below and share them with us.
Great work Aerilius!

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.


  1. Amazing ! Thank you for the KMZ file.

  2. The ruin of Limburg Monastery stands on a hill above the city of Bad D├╝rkheim in Germany.
    Many mistakes this with the cathdral of Limburg an der Lahn. Even in the Wikipedia about the cathedral it was written it was a former monastery what it never was.
    That has been fixed.

  3. Hi Great way to look at a model.
    I have been working on a historical model of Sydney Cove for a while. Starting at settlement. 1788 and moving through time. You can time code elements of buildings so that you can scroll through time and have them load as a result of moving a time slider. Just need to create different kml/kmz object for each time frame. This can be for years or even hours of the day.

  4. John Millsap says:

    Why not any site of my choosing and multiple dates available. It would allow us to view history of places of meaning or inteest to the individual. Best of all 24/7/365 t solve crime, learn historical truth, or just be nosy. Big brother having to share with little brother & sister. Whats not to like

  5. John Millsap says:

    I didnt proof read, pardon misspelling etc…

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