Secret corners of Cambridge University's famous colleges are to be opened to virtual visitors on Google Streetview.

While many parts of the historic colleges are open to visitors, others have remained largely closed to the outside world.

But now interiors of five colleges - St John's, Gonville and Caius, Newnham, Queens and Trinity Hall - are to feature on the online map.

The behind-the-scenes shots provide 360-degree views in buildings such as the spectacular Old Library at St John's College, dating back to the 1620s and regarded as one of the finest university libraries in the world, and the beautiful part-14th century chapel at Gonville and Caius, the oldest purpose-built college chapel still in use in Cambridge.

The new collection also features panoramic tours of Cambridge University Botanic Garden and Great St Mary's, the university church.

Professor Sir Alan Fersht, Master of Caius, said: "Gonville and Caius is one of the oldest colleges in Cambridge, and the exteriors of our beautiful Old Courts are not only open daily for visitors to admire but can already be seen on Google.

"However, as a working community of education and research, we cannot easily welcome visitors to our magnificent library and hall, which are used daily by those who live and work here.

"The new panoramic interior 'tours' allow anyone virtually to explore the previously hidden beauty of some of Caius's finest architectural gems, and perhaps be inspired to visit this historic college in person.

"From its earliest days, Caius has been a place of modern learning and forward-looking ideas, and opening the college up via technology absolutely fits that tradition."

Streetview's Special Collections team visited Cambridge last year, using special cameras to photograph key locations, inside and out.

The images join other historically and culturally important sites featured on Special Collections, including museums, art galleries, national parks, monuments and landmark buildings such as the Taj Mahal and the White House.

St John's College has created a special scavenger hunt as part of the project, inviting viewers to spot special sights including William Wordsworth's life mask and a specially placed towel in tribute to The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy author Douglas Adams.