Page last updated at 00:01 GMT, Friday, 4 December 2009

Ancient city of Pompeii added to Google Street View

Google Street View image of Pompeii (Ansa)

Google has added Pompeii to its Street View application, allowing internet users to take a 360-degree virtual tour of the ancient Roman city.

Italy's culture ministry says it hopes the move will boost tourism to the site, state news agency Ansa reports.

Among the ruins visible on the search engine's free mapping service are the town's statues, temples and theatres.

The city was buried in ash after Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD79 and was not discovered until the 18th Century.

The volcanic debris preserved many of the city's buildings, frescos, silverware, mosaics and other artefacts.

"Giving people a chance to take a virtual stroll through Pompeii will give an extraordinary boost to Italian tourism," Ansa quoted Mario Resca of the culture ministry's heritage promotion department as saying.

The Google Maps service, launched in 2007, provides panoramic street-level views of more than 100 cities around the world.

It also includes the ancient heritage site of Stonehenge.

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