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Google's surprising list of most photographed cities and sights

Using data from Google's map-based photo-sharing site Panoramio, a developer created a heat map of the most photogenic places on Earth, or at least the ones that draw the most shutterbugs. Tour our curated gallery.

Rome ranks as the most photographed city in Europe. fotocommunity/Dominik Parr

Panoramio is a Google-owned photo-sharing site powered by Google Earth and Google Maps, sort of like a crowdsourced and much more beautiful take on Google Street View for places you actually want to see. Estonian software engineer Tanel Tammet took Panoramio data to create his own Google Maps layer called Sightsmap -- a heat map showing the most photographed places in the world. The most-photographed cities and places are also ranked worldwide and by visible sections of the map.

So it's possible to see what the most photographed place in your city or state is by simply zooming in on it. For example, here in Taos, N.M., it's the historic Taos Inn, a popular hotel, bar, restaurant, and music venue right in the center of town. What's interesting is that the far more famous Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO world heritage site and the longest continuously inhabited structure on the continent, is actually the second most-photographed spot. This is perhaps because it is not near the center of town, is not always open to the public, and the Pueblo typically charges a fee to be able to take photos.

I looked at the 20 most photographed locales according to Sightsmap and then drilled down to see which place in each city drew the most shutterbugs. Just as in Taos, it's often not the most renowned or famous attraction.

Think you know the most popular subject of photos taken in Paris? I bet you'll be surprised when you browse through the gallery below. How about Sydney, Australia? I'll be shocked if you guess what people are posting pictures of from down under. It's definitely not the opera. (That's for you, CBC fans.)