Spain is a great place to visit, especially Madrid. While the tapas, sangria, paella, and night life are fantastic (restaurants don't serve dinner til 9!) the country is right up there with other European countries when it comes to art. However, anyone feeling a pinch in their pocket (Euro exchange rate=death to my savings account), is probably not making the trip across the pond anytime soon. So how is one to ever see some of the masterpiece works on display in European art museums; particularly The Museo Del Prado in Madrid? With the help of Google Earth, you can now view and study their 14 masterpieces in minute detail, without ever leaving your computer. Even better, a 3-d reproduction of the museum building creates a virtual experience of almost "real" visit to the Museum.
If you haven't heard of Google Earth, you are clearly not a seasoned googler'. Google Earth is a free program (download and install it through google onto your computer) that allows its users to see any place in the world from a real photographic aerial view. Want to check on your house while at the office? Type in your address and you'll see if it's gone down in blazes or not? Wondering if Disney has done anything seasonally special to decorate the Magic Kingdom? Google Earth your way to Orlando to see if Mickey has strung up some lights on Cinderella's castle.
Now you might be wondering, "I can see images of plenty of objects in art museums on their web-sites. What's so special about these images on Google Earth?" The images you'll see at the Museum del Prado from Google earth are 14,000 mega-pixels and offer a precision 1,400 times greater than that of a 10 mega-pixel digital camera. Over 8,200 photographs were taken over 3 months in order to create a zoom-in effect, making it possible for virtual visitors to see even the tiniest details of brushstrokes, some even a visitor behind a velvet rope may not see.
Although, nothing beats seeing the real thing in person. If air fare has got you down, go to Google Earth.