Stunning top-down views of incredible structures

Incredible buildings as you’ve never seen them before: Digital wizards use Google Earth Pro to create stunning top-down views of iconic structures, from the Eiffel Tower to the Gherkin

  • Satellite views of the locations on Google Earth Pro were mixed with supporting photos to create the views
  • Then, as a bonus, the team ‘brought the photos to life’, Harry Potter-style, using Adobe After Effects
  • Here we present both versions – for an amazing armchair trip to some of the world’s most iconic buildings

The world’s greatest architects spend hundreds of hours perfecting the visual impact of their buildings from every angle – inside, outside, from street level, and from the air.

But it’s not often anyone gets to truly appreciate their work from directly above.

With this in mind, Budget Direct Travel Insurance commissioned a team of digital wizards to render six landmark buildings from top-down – the Sydney Opera House, London’s 30 St Mary Axe (aka ‘The Gherkin’), the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, Rome’s Colosseum and the Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar.

To begin, the team captured satellite views of each location on Google Earth Pro. These, together with supporting imagery, were used as references in creating realistic views of the structures from above.

Then, as a bonus, the team ‘brought the photos to life’, Harry Potter-style, using Adobe After Effects, combining different video footage to create animated images.

Scroll down to see the team’s amazing handiwork.

The stunning 180m (590ft) ‘Gherkin’ – formally known as 30 St Mary Axe – in London’s financial district. It opened in 2004 and has been a staple skyline must for visiting Instagrammers and filmmakers ever since







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An aerial view of the Statue of Liberty offers a clear look at the 11-pronged star on which it sits. The Statue is 305 feet tall (plus one inch) from the ground to the tip of the flame, the equivalent height of a 22-storey building. The Statue, a gift to Americans from the people of France, was completed in France in July 1884 and arrived in New York Harbor in June 1885 aboard the French frigate ‘Isere’. In transit, the Statue was reduced to 350 individual pieces and packed in 214 crates. In 1886, it was the tallest structure in New York


It’s clear from this amazing image that the Sydney Opera House architect, Jorn Utzon, wanted his creation to look just as good from top-down as it does from the sides. American architect Louis Kahn spoke for everyone when he remarked: ‘The sun did not know how beautiful its light was, until it was reflected off this building’


Rome’s Colosseum, built between 72AD and 80AD, is the largest amphitheatre in the world. It used to host animal hunts and gladiator battles. Now, in normal times, it hosts tourists battling for Instagram likes with snaps of it


It took just two years, two months and five days to build the Eiffel Tower, with hundreds of workers putting it together using 2.5million rivets, 7,300 tonnes of iron and 60 tonnes of paint. And it looks just as breathtaking now as it did on the day it was finished 


The pavilions, shrines and bells of the stunning 2,600-year-old Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar are arranged in a ‘constellation’ according to Hindu cosmology. We’re star-struck


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