The best images to have appeared on Wikipedia and been awarded the “featured picture” status. There are some incredible photos in this collection.
Featured pictures are photos that have been chosen as some of the best quality on Wikipedia. This list includes over 12,000 photos out of a total of well over 54 million used on the site.
We’ve collected some of the best from the last few years for you to enjoy.
Evolution of a Tornado
This photo by Jason Weingart was selected as the Picture of the Year 2018. It was created from eight images taken as a tornado began to form over Kansas in 2016. This massive weather front led to around 12 tornadoes whipping up a storm in the area.
An empty bucket train
The second place winner from 2018’s competition came from Bolivia and shows an empty “bucket train” on the tracks between San Pedro and Ascotan, Chile. An incredible backdrop includes the San Pedro volcano dwarfing the long line of train carriages.
A classically beautiful frozen bubble caught in the middle of freezing over. This image won third place in 2018 and it’s easy to see why.
Two male Phyllomedusa rohdei frogs
Some of the best photos are those close up images of nature, our world and the creatures in it. This image from Brazil shows one frog casually leaping over one of his buddies – how doesn’t seem best pleased about it. The image won the Picture of the Year award in 2017 and came with this caption:
“Phyllomedusa rohdei is a species of frog in the family Hylidae with a purple and orange colouration in the inguinal region. In the picture, two males vie for a branch, one passing over the other. Photographed in the Atlantic Forest, Michelin Reserve, Igrapiúna, Bahia, Brazil.”
Royal Pavilion in Phraya Nakhon Cave
A breathtaking view of the Royal Pavilion in Phraya Nakhon Cave in Thailand. It was originally snapped in 2015, but went on to be used in multiple places on Wikipedia in the time that followed before snatching second place in the 2017 competition.
Two Tower of London ravens
These might look like two normal ravens, but they’re actually special:
“Jubilee and Munin, Ravens of the Tower of London. Jubilee was hatched in Somerset in 2012 and wears a gold band. He was given to the Queen on her Diamond Jubilee. Munin was hatched in North Uist in 1995 and wears a light green band. She is the oldest raven at the tower. Identification confirmed with Chris Skaife, Ravenmaster at the Tower. “
Another brilliant image of nature at its finest and another award-winning photo – this time the first place winner from the 2016 competition.
Wild elephants in the road
This award-winning photo comes from Khao Yai National Park in Thailand and shows some magnificent wild elephants casually wandering down a long manmade road.
Polar bear in flight
From the northern region of Svalbard, Norway comes this snap of a polar bear leaping from one ice floe to another in a desperate bid to find something to eat. The photographer of this award-winning image explained how the bear had been chasing a bearded seal moments before but the seal had escaped. The result is a brilliant view of nature in action.
A high-resolution view of Pluto
We’ve featured this image before and are impressed every time we see it. The image shows a high-resolution enhanced colour view of Pluto that was taken in 2015 by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. A fairly amazing shot considering Pluto is 4.67 billion miles away from Earth.
The image was the winner of the Picture of the Year competition in 2015.
A colourful mosque view
This photo came second in the 2015 Picture of the Year competition. It shows a colourful view of the inside of Nasir ol Molk Mosque located in Shiraz. The sunlight casts incredible colours on the interior carpets and creates a beautiful view for visitors to the Mosque.
Heavens above her
An amazing award-winning photo of the Milky Way captured stretching out above the skies of a lady standing below. It was snapped at Trona Pinnacles National Landmark, California in 2014 and won third place in the 2015 Picture of the Year competition.
A butterfly feeding on the tears of a turtle
This beautiful scene was captured in 2012 in Ecuador. It shows the unusual behaviour of Julia Butterflies from the region. They’re engaging in an activity known as “lachryphagy” – feeding on the tears of the nearby turtles. They get their nutrients in that way and thrive together.
This incredible photo was the first place winner of the competition in 2014.
Emperor penguins in Antarctica
In 2013, Christopher Michelm, an American entrepreneur and photographer captured this incredible photograph of an Emperor penguin jumping out of the waters of Antartica. A majestic creature brilliantly snapped and well deserving of the second place award in 2014.
Boxcabs in Chile
Not for vertigo sufferers, this photo shows a view of one of SQMs Boxcabs riding the tracks way above Tocopilla, Chile. Another brilliant award-winning photo from 2014.
A burning bulb
2013’s competition-winning photo was this amazing image of a cracked bulb by Stefan Krause:
“The glass envelope of this light bulb has been opened, allowing oxygenated air to replace the inert gas normally inside. When turned on, the tungsten filament burns with a flame. At the time of exposure, the bulb was screwed into a socket, which was replaced with the lamp screw base using image editing.”
The national park
The second place winner of the 2013 competition was this image of the National park “Sviati Hory” (Holy Mountains), Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine. A breathtaking view of the park with a brilliant mist across the waters.
A swallow drinking
This epic image of a swallow in flight shows a bird magnificently framed in the picture about to take a drink from the surface of a swimming pool. We wonder how long it took to capture such an awesome moment. The image won third place in the Picture of the Year competition in 2013.
This award-winning photograph from 2012 shows two European Bee-eaters resting on a lone branch. The male can be seen reach to grab some lunch for his mate.
A coronal mass ejection
This snap from 2012 was taken by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and shows a large coronal mass ejection from the sun. This beautiful, yet deadly plasma burst is thought to have resulted in an aurora appearing in the night’s sky around the start of September that year.
An exploding bulb
This image was carefully crafted using high-speed photography techniques. It shows a light bulb seemingly exploding after being shot with a low-powered airsoft pistol round.
A lakeside view
This award-winning photograph from 2011 shows a staggeringly beautiful view of lake Bondhus in Norway. The Bondhus Glacier can be seen in the background, along with wonderfully calm waters, a lone boat and brilliant clouds rolling in down the mountains.
A space-based selfie
You’re unlikely to snap a better selfie than this. This photo from 2010 was chosen as the second-place winner for the 2011 Picture of the Year competition. It shows astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson aboard the International Space Station.
This is one incredible woman, with nearly 189 days of space under her belt that include three successful space walks and the honour of being the first astronaut to be born after Apollo 11 mission.
A waterway in the lava tunnel
This brilliant photo by Luc Viatour shows a breathtaking view of a cave created by a lava tunnel in Spain. The still waters inside the cave appear to show an optical illusion with awesome reflections of the cave walls.
A laser to the heavens
The winner of 2010’s Picture of the Year competition was taken by Yuri Beletsky and appears to show a laser firing off into space.
“In mid-August 2010 ESO Photo Ambassador Yuri Beletsky snapped this photo at ESO’s Paranal Observatory, Chile. A group of astronomers were observing the centre of the Milky Way using the laser guide star facility at Yepun, one of the four Unit Telescopes of the Very Large Telescope (VLT).”
“Yepun’s laser beam crosses the southern sky and creates an artificial star at an altitude of 90 km high in the Earth’s mesosphere. The Laser Guide Star (LGS) is part of the VLT’s adaptive optics system and is used as a reference to correct the blurring effect of the atmosphere on images. The colour of the laser is precisely tuned to energise a layer of sodium atoms found in one of the upper layers of the atmosphere — one can recognise the familiar colour of sodium street lamps in the colour of the laser. This layer of sodium atoms is thought to be a leftover from meteorites entering the Earth’s atmosphere. When excited by the light from the laser, the atoms start glowing, forming a small bright spot that can be used as an artificial reference star for the adaptive optics. Using this technique, astronomers can obtain sharper observations. For example, when looking towards the centre of our Milky Way, researchers can better monitor the galactic core, where a central supermassive black hole, surrounded by closely orbiting stars, is swallowing gas and dust.”
An old town panorama
This award-winning panorama was captured by Ramirez and shows Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, an ancient city that dates back to 1452.
A volcanic eruption
An incredible view from high above the Earth was taken by NASA and shows the awesome power of nature. This mushroom cloud almost looks like a nuclear explosion, but shows the aftermath of a volcano eruption and the magnificence of nature.
A pilgrim at the Golden Temple
The first place winner of 2009’s competition was this image taken at the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) in Amritsar, India. It shows a lone pilgrim in a state of undress after recently emerging from a ritual bath with the amazing Golden Temple in the background.
Waterfalls and swirling pools
Another incredible and award-winning view of nature. This one shows the beautiful Elakala Waterfalls in the Blackwater Falls State park, West Virginia. In the foreground, an amazing swirling pool of water draws the eye as numerous waterfalls cast water down in the background.
The Russian Honor Guard
The third place winner from 2009 comes from a military parade:
“A Russian military honor guard drawn from the 154th Commandant’s Regiment welcomes U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow, Russia, June 26, 2009. Mullen is on a three-day trip to the country, meeting with counterparts and touring the Russian military academy.”
This image was the first place winner of the 2008 Picture of the Year competition. It shows two horses relaxing in the mountain regions in Navarre, Spain.
A fire breathing performer
A fire breathing performer wows onlookers during a rendition by the Jaipur Maharaja Brass Band. This image was the second place winner in 2008 and shows some real fire.
This image might well be one of the most interesting on our list. Simply because it wasn’t taken in the year it one. Although the photo came third in 2008, it was actually taken by Jack Delano in 1942. It wouldn’t win until a decade after he passed away.
A tower on the hill
This image looks like a Photoshopping of the famous wallpaper from Microsoft’s Windows XP but actually shows Broadway Tower in Cotswolds, England.
New York at night
From the beautiful countryside, the middle of the urban sprawl. This award-winning image shows NYC at night with HDR mode engaged.
A rare red squirrel
This last snap shows a rare red squirrel photographed in Germany. These squirrels are a rare sight in Europe where the dominant grey squirrel has mostly taken over. That makes this winning photo even more special.