Tour the UK Parliament from your armchair

    Enjoy a 360-degree look around the historic Palace of Westminster from anywhere in the world

    Filming the 360-degree tour of the Houses of Parliament. Photo: Aardvark 360
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    If you’ve ever wanted to take a tour of the Houses of Parliament but have been unable to make the trip to London, we’ve got just the thing for you. Launching today on 15 March, the UK Parliament now offers virtual tourists the chance to take a 360° spin around the historic interiors of the Palace of Westminster online.

    Discover Britain received an exclusive preview of the new technology and the results are very impressive. For the first time, you can see inside the medieval Westminster Hall and explore the iconic Houses of Commons and Lords from the comfort of your armchair anywhere in the world. (Click and hold the screen while watching the video below to look around each room in turn!)

    The virtual tour was developed by Aardvark 360, specialists in creating interactive and immersive imagery. Each individual 360° photo sphere is made up of 13 high-resolution images, taken at a variety of exposures and directions, using a specialist wide-angle lens and panoramic tripod.

    The tour will also be available on the Parliament website, accessible either via a computer or smartphone. Switching to the “virtual reality” mode splits the screen of your mobile in two and, if you then place your phone in a cheap Google Cardboard headset, you can enjoy a proper, three-dimensional tour.

    The central lobby of the Houses of Parliament. Photo: Catherine Bebbington
    The central lobby of the Houses of Parliament. Photo: Catherine Bebbington

    The Houses of Parliament have been open to the public for a number of years, with guided tours available throughout the week. The hope is that this virtual tour will allow visitors less able to travel to experience what life is like inside the seat of government and learn about its thousand-year history.

    “This isn’t a museum, it is a working parliament,” said the Clerk of the House of Commons, David Natzler, at the launch event. “We’re already a very open institution but this brings us to a new level of openness.”

    “Parliament belongs to the people, so it is only right that everybody should get the chance to experience it,” adds John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons. “The virtual tour means that people from all over Britain and, indeed, all over the world can visit Parliament and learn about our democratic institutions.”

    This tour will become part of the Google Maps world, alongside similar experiences for other well-known landmarks, including Buckingham Palace which can be seen below.

    If the 3D online tour has tempted you into paying a visit in person, you can find details of how to book a tour or join a debate on the Houses of Parliament website.

    Do you love Britain? Let others know!