There’s something cool about seeing a place you’ve visited show up in someone else’s photograph.
If you’ve ever been traveling to famous sites, then you know what I mean.
It’s equally as cool to visit a heavily photographed place for the first time. Do you remember the first time you saw the Coliseum in Rome? The Statue of Liberty? The Eiffel Tower? The Sydney Opera House? They tend to be unforgettable experiences.
A few weeks ago, a picture circulated around the internet showing the most photographed places in the world. That picture basically looked like a heat map of the world’s population, although there were a few random hotspots in places where there aren’t a lot of population – like Easter Island or basically all of New Zealand.
But you couldn’t zoom in on that map and check out places that were specifically popular. You just got a general idea of which countries and regions had a lot of cool sights to see.
That’s why I like this new thing called SightsMap.com. SightsMap.com combines the data from the previous image – showing the world’s most photographed locations – and places that information in a layer over Google Maps.
Now, with the click of a mouse button, you can zoom into any location on the planet to see where, exactly, the most photographed places may be.
Each location has also been assigned a world rank and a geographic rank. These rankings show you how popular a place is in comparison with the world and its local area.
All of this information comes from Google’s Panoramio service, which you probably know best as “those pictures that pop up on Google Maps when you’re zoomed in.”
Amazingly, this map lets you go down as far as street level, which makes this the most hyper-sensitive photography location map ever made.
How to use this map to plan your next trip
Let’s say you’re going to Europe this summer. You don’t know much about Europe except that there are lots of things to photograph there. You can use this heat map to pick the places where everybody else visits.
Even better, this heat map system shows you the reason why people are taking photographs in these places. A little marker pops up explaining the significance of a particular heat spot. Sometimes, it’s a statue, while in other cases, it’s something like Mount Everest.
If you’re a map geek like me, you could spend hours exploring this map. Personally, this map just makes me want to book my next flight as soon as possible.
Top 20 most photographed cities and spots in the world
Anyways, here’s the list of the world’s most photographed cities along with the most famous photography spot in each city:
1) New York City (Guggenheim Museum)
2) Rome (Trinita dei Monti / Spanish Steps)
3) Barcelona (Park Guell)
4) Paris (Moulin Rouge)
5) Istanbul (Maiden’s Tower in the Strait of Bosporus)
6) Venice (Ponte dell’Accademia)
7) Monaco (Hotel de Paris-Monte Carlo)
8) Florence (Michelangelo Square)
9) Buenos Aires (The Caminito, La Boca)
10) Budapest (St Stephen’s Basilica)
11) Prague (Prague Astronomical Clock)
12) Madrid (Plaza Mayor)
13) Niagara Falls (uhh, the waterfall)
14) Sydney (Westfield Shopping Center)
15) London (Piccadilly Circus)
16) Giza (The Great Pyramid)
17) Chicago (The Art Institute of Chicago)
18) Shanghai (Yu Garden)
19) Beijing (Temple of Heaven)
20) San Francisco (City skyline)
What do you think of the list? Obviously, many of the cities give a surprising result for the most photographed spot. New York’s most photographed site is the Guggenheim Museum – not the Statue of Liberty – and Sydney’s isn’t the Opera House, it’s some high-scale mall – what?!
I have a theory on this: it’s because Panoramio looks at location data to determine popular sights. You can see the Statue of Liberty from more than just Liberty Island, but you can’t really see the Spanish Steps from anywhere in Rome. When you have a sight with a small concentrated area to take photos, you get a high ranking on Panoramio.