Those who appreciate art, history, and architecture have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to visiting some breathtaking buildings around the world. From Greek and Roman ruins to modern design breakthroughs, there is a plethora of landmarks that are sure to astonish and amaze. From a lotus-shaped temple to an inside-out building to a cathedral that’s been under construction for centuries, these buildings illustrate the limitless opportunities within the field of architecture. Read on for some of the most magnificent structures humankind has achieved.
The Acropolis In Athens Is More Than 2,000 Years Old!
The Acropolis in Athens consists of famous Greek ruins stretched over four hills that overlook the Attica peninsula. One of its remarkable features is the Parthenon, pictured here. The ancient buildings are made of enduring limestone rock and are a marvel to explore.
This Acropolis is one of the most famous archeological sites in the world, attracting tourists from far and wide. Once home to kings and a religious center, the spot is well worth visiting to get in touch with ancient history.
Hagia Sophia Has Served Many Purposes Over The Years
Hagia Sophia is a stunning building in Istanbul, Turkey that has had various purposes over the years. When it was built in the year 537, it was a patriarchal cathedral. Seven hundred years later, it became a Roman Catholic cathedral.
After the fall of Constantinople, it was converted into a Muslim mosque. In 1935, the Turkish Republic established it as a museum, but in 2020 it was re-established as a mosque. One thing that has remained consistent throughout its history is the building’s incredible architecture and breathtaking interior.
Niterói Contemporary Art Museum Overlooks The Atlantic
The Niterói Contemporary Art Museum is a remarkable landmark situated on the coast of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Completed in 1996, the building has a flying saucer shape that is a whopping 50 meters in diameter.
The museum features three floors full of more than 1,200 works brought in by art collector João Sattamini, making it the second-largest contemporary collection in Brazil. The beautiful works inside are embellished by the gorgeous view of islands in the near distance.
The Forbidden City Was Home To Chinese Emperors
For half a millennium, the Forbidden City served as the political center of the Chinese government and the home of Chinese emperors. Almost a thousand buildings make up the massive complex, which stretches over 180 acres! Construction required over a million workers and 14 years to accomplish.
Today, it is the most extensive collection of ancient wooden structures in the world, showcasing traditional Chinese architecture. The palace now serves as a jaw-dropping museum with an average of 14 million visitors per year.
The Giza Pyramid Complex Has Egypt’s Largest Pyramids
The Giza Pyramid Complex in Greater Cairo features the largest ancient pyramids in Egypt: the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Pyramid of Khafre. The complex also includes the Pyramid of Menkaure and the Great Sphinx of Giza.
The Great Sphinx, pictured above, is a statue of the mythical creature, which has the body of a lion and the head of a human. Situated five miles west of the Nile River at the edge of the Western Desert, the magnificent buildings are worth a visit.
The Lotus Temple Features 27 Marble-Covered Petals
The Lotus Temple is a gorgeous building in Delhi, India that, true to its name, looks like a lotus flower. The house of worship attracts people of all backgrounds and religions and consists of 27 marble-covered petals.
The petals form nine sides, each with its own door that leads to a central hall. The building has a 230-foot diameter, stands at just over 112 feet, and has a capacity of 2,500 people. Built in 1986, the beautiful structure has won several awards and has become a major city attraction.
Sagrada Família Has Been Under Construction Since 1882!
Given the gorgeous appearance of the Sagrada Família, it feels discrediting to call it incomplete. Indeed, the Barcelona masterpiece has remained under construction since 1882 due to numerous historical setbacks, including the Spanish Civil War.
Through it all, the Gothic and Art Nouveau style of the remarkable building has attracted tourists from around the world. As a Roman Catholic minor basilica, the property is recognized not only for its beauty but also for its cultural significance. Though the building is already open to the public, its completion date is set for 2026.
Sydney Opera House Has Over 1,500 Annual Performances
The Sydney Opera House is one of the most famous achievements in 20th-century architecture. Construction began in 1959, and the extraordinary building opened in 1973. Over a million people attend more than 1,500 performances at the opera house each year.
Additionally, millions more visit the magnificent attraction just to see it each year. One of the most impressive features of the building is the shell-like construction that makes up the roof. The “shells” also act as projectors.
Angkor Wat Is The World’s Largest Religious Monument
Angkor Wat is a temple in Cambodia that stretches over 402 acres of land, making it the largest religious monument in the world. It was built in the first half of the 12th century as a Hindu temple but evolved into a Buddhist temple over the following decades.
A quincunx of towers stands at the center of the temple, which is surrounded by a 2.2-mile long wall and a three-mile-long moat. Tourists travel to the remarkable site to view its extraordinary design.
The Musée du Louvre Features An Underground Entrance
One of the signature aspects of the famous Musée du Louvre in Paris is its unique entrance, marked by the Pyramide du Louvre. Visitors enter through the glass pyramid and proceed to an underground lobby.
From there, they reascend into the largest art museum in the world. Architects added the modern entrance in 1989 due to the enormous number of visitors that the original entrance could no longer support. Today, the glass feature is a hallmark of the marvelous museum.
Le Mont-Saint-Michel Is A Tidal Island
Le Mont-Saint-Michel is a beautiful tidal island, meaning it’s exposed at low tide and emerges at high tide. Though the plot of land looks tiny from far away, it spans almost 1,000 acres and features more than 60 historic monuments.
Located off Normandy, France, the island has a population of only 50 residents. However, more than 3 million tourists visit the commune each year. The piece of land is full of charm, especially if you know its history.
Taj Mahal Was Commissioned By A Mughal Emperor
Located on the bank of the Yamuna river in Agra, India, the Taj Mahal is mausoleum famously built by emperor Shah Jahan. Its construction was in honor of the emperor’s third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who is buried in the ivory-white building, as is Shah.
UNESCO deemed the iconic building “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.” Millions visit the landmark each year as it is considered the best example of Mughal architecture.
Potala Palace Was The Winter Palace Of The Dalai Lamas
Potala Palace is a jaw-dropping building in Tibet, recognized for its Dzong architecture and for being the Dalai Lamas’ winter palace for more than 300 years. Set against a snow-covered mountain range, the palace sits atop a hill and features stone walls and copper, earthquake-proof foundations.
The landmark’s name is derived from a mythical Buddhist dwelling, Mount Potalaka. Established in 1649, the building has been a museum since 1959 and became a World Heritage Site in 1994.
St. Basil’s Cathedral Originally Contained Nine Churches
St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, Russia is easy to identify due to its vibrant colors and unique shape. It was built from 1555 to 1561 in honor of the capture of Kazan and Astrakhan. Originally, the building housed nine churches and was known as Trinity Church.
The building symbolized the rise of Russian architecture that came to prominence the century after it was built. In 1928, it became a museum and was later secularized, making it a popular destination for people of all religious affiliations.
Le Centre Pompidou Is An “Inside-Out” Building
At first glance, Le Centre Pompidou may look like it’s still under construction. This is due to its unique inside-out construction, which was the first in architectural history. Designers decided to keep the buildings’ systems exposed, which was not immediately well-received upon completion in 1977.
Critics warmed up to the unorthodox design, deeming it “revolutionary” in the coming decades. But tourists don’t just come to look at the exterior. Inside are a variety of multicultural exhibits that people travel from all over the world to see.
The Dome Of The Rock Has Religious Significance
The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is an Islamic shrine that dates back to the 7th century, though the gold-plated roof wasn’t added until 1959. Byzantine churches influenced the mosaic design spread across the walls of the beautiful building.
At the landmark’s center is the Foundation Rock, where followers of Abrahamic religions believe God created the first human. The building’s interior also contains some of the earliest inscriptions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, making it a significant historic monument.
The Colosseum Held Up To 80,000 Visitors
Built between the years 70 and 80 AD, the Colosseum was the largest ampitheatre of its time. Experts estimate it held between 50,000 and 80,000 visitors at certain points in history.
Located in Rome, the building was used for various public spectacles, such as gladiator contests and battle re-enactments. Its purpose changed in the medieval era, when it became a fortress and a Christian shrine. Despite extensive damage due to earthquakes and stone robbers, the Colosseum is still a popular site for history and architecture lovers alike.
The Sistine Chapel Is Covered In Remarkable Art
The Sistine Chapel in Rome’s Vatican City is widely regarded for its incredible artwork, which covers the walls and the ceiling. Today, it is the location where the new pope is selected.
One of the most famous works of art featured in the Sistine Chapel is Michelangelo’s The Last Judgement. The building was officially consecrated in 1483, and it has drawn millions of visitors in the hundreds of years since, for religious, historical, and artistic purposes.
The Eiffel Tower Is More Than 1,000 Feet Tall!
The Eiffel Tower originally stood at 984 feet and was the tallest building in the world until the Chrysler Building in New York beat it out at 1,046 feet. In 1957, the addition of an antenna brought the landmark’s height to a staggering 1,063 feet, which is the equivalent of an 81-story skyscraper.
Tourists can head into the tower to visit the restaurants at the first and second levels. The third and more exclusive level is typically only accessed through a lift and sits more than 900 feet above the ground.
The Gateway Arch Is A Monument To Western U.S. Expansion
The Gateway Arch in St. Louis is so much more than just the world’s largest arch. As the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere, it represents westward expansion in the United States.
Covered in stainless steel, the monument took two and a half years to build and was completed in 1965. The jaw-dropping arch is seen as a symbol of Missouri, though it was officially dedicated to the American people. It has won numerous awards.
The Dancing House Was Once Considered Controversial
The Nationale-Nederlanden building in Prague, Czech Republic is famously known as The Dancing House due to its unique design. The curved, concave part of the building gives the illusion that the building is either moving or collapsing in.
Believe it or not, this architectural gem was once considered controversial. The Baroque, Gothic and Art Nouveau designs that the city is recognized for is a far-cry from the unorthodox look of this 1992 building. Though it was met with some resistance, The Dancing House has become one of the more recognized spots in Prague.
Château de Chenonceau Is A Gothic And Renaissance Mix
The Château de Chenonceau is an architectural crossbreed of late Gothic and early Renaissance, making it a marvel to history buffs. Though the estate was mentioned in writing as early as the 11th century, the version we see today dates back to the 1500s.
The bridge over the river was added in 1559 and a gallery was built into the bridge in the 1570s. The original chateau was torched in 1412 as punishment to the owner, Jean Marques, for resisting authority.
Musée d’Orsay Is A Former Railway Station
The interior of the famous Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France has a unique look for a museum. That’s because the building used to be a railway station. the station had been built at the turn of the 20th century, and by 1939 it was no longer suitable for longer trains.
In 1970, the Minister of Cultural Affairs ruled against transforming the retired station into a hotel. After being listed as a Historical Monument in 1978, the Directorate of the Museum of France suggested making the station into a museum. Thus, the Musée d’Orsay was born in 1986.
Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasília Consist Of 90 Ton Columns
As stunning as the Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasília looks from the outside, it is all the more breathtaking inside. Imagine looking up and being surrounded by pyramid-like, glass walls that form an exquisite work of art. There’s nothing like it.
The columns that form the building’s unique design weigh a whopping 90 tons each! The hyperboloid structure was completed in 1970 and is capable of holding up to 4,000 people. Visitors enter through an underground tunnel and emerge into the illuminated space.
The Guggenheim Has Expanded Its Collection Over 8 Centuries
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, better known as The Guggenheim, was built in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York, back in 1937. While the museum hosts a variety of exhibits throughout the year, it is the permanent home to a wide selection of Modern, Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and contemporary artwork.
The unique building was designed by Frank lLoyd Wright, an architect who had mor than 1,000 buildings designed over his 70 year career. If you’re a fan of art, you’re not going to want to miss out in seeing the vast collection found in the Guggenheim.
The Gherkin Was Actually A “Plan B” Building
30 St Mary Axe, or The Gherkin, is a skyscraper located in London’s financial district. And while that might not sound overly interesting, the design of the building is something to behold, especially when it lights up at night. Completed in 2003 with its grand opening a year later, the structure is now a landmark of the city and one of the most wildly recognized examples of contemporary architecture.
Designed by Norman Foster and Arup Group, The Gherkin was actually a Plan B, if you will. After designs for a 92-story Millenium Tower were dropped, the structure that now graces London’s skyline came to be.
Westminster Abbey Was First Founded In 906
Westminster Abbey is a Gothic church that can be found in London. It is one of the most notable religious buildings in the entire United Kingdom, being the place where many of the Royal Family have been wed. Founded in 906, the church has gone under many renovations and status’. Today, Westminster holds the status of a Church of England “Royal Peculiar.”
This title means the church is under the jurisdiction of the monarchy. Even if you don’t get a chance to step foot inside the centuries-old building, we recommend taking some time to appreciate the gorgeous architecture that is laid out in the 225-foot tall towers.
One World Trade Center Is A Symbol Of Hope And Freedom
After the destruction of September 11, 2001, in New York, David Child’s designed a new building to symbolize freedom and bring hope to the American people, the One World Trade Center, or, The Freedom Tower. Standing 104-floors high, The Freedom Tower holds the title of the tallest building of the New York skyline, surpassing that of the Empire State Building in 2012.
Holding the name of the original North Tower, the building stands on the northwest corner of the World Trade Center site, close to the 9/11 memorials. Although this building is technically full of offices, it is a wonder to behold, with a lot of history attached.
Bran Castle Is Also Known As Dracula’s Castle
Commonly known as “Dracula’s Castle,” Bran Castle is a must-see if you ever find yourself wandering through the rural parts of Romania. Located in the tiny town of Bran, the castle is a landmark, sitting on top of a hill overlooking the quaint homes and shops below.
And while there is no evidence that author Bram Stoker knew anything of the structure, it has a few rooms dedicated to his story. Today, the castle is open to the public. Various rooms hold artwork and furniture collected by Queen Marie, while there is a separate room dedicated to torture instruments used in medieval times.
Fallingwater Is A National Historic Landmark
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright back in 1935, the rural Pennsylvania home of Fallingwater is a must-see for anyone traveling through the state. Built partially over a waterfall in the Mill Run section of Stewart Township, Pennsylvania, the home has made more than a few prestigious lists.
In 1966, Fallingwater was designated as a National Historic Landmark, while Smithsonian’s listed it as “One of the 28 Places Places to See Before You Die.” Times even recognized the structure as Wright’s most beautiful jobs, which is saying something considering he has over 1,000 designs under his belt!
Mosque of Córdoba Is A Moorish Architecture Beauty
Also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, and Mezquita, this staggering building is regarded as one of the most excellent examples of Moorish architecture.
The site was originally a Catholic Christian Basilica, but was converted to a mosque in 784 and expanded upon my Muslim rulers. During the Reconquista, the building was reconverted into a Catholic Church in 1236. The result is a stunning cultural masterpiece well worth a visit.
Dresden Frauenkirche Features One Of Europe’s Largest Domes
The Dresden Frauenkirche is a standout building that features one of the largest domes in Europe. The original church was replaced in the 18th century by a larger Lutheran church, but was destroyed during World War II.
After 50 years of the ruins being preserved as a war memorial, the church was rebuilt from 1994 to 2004, after the reunification of Germany. The interior was finished in 2005 and the same year the church was reconsecrated.
Big Buddha Is Considered The “Buddhist Treasure Of Phuket”
Completed in 2014, the Big Buddha statue in Phuket, Thailand, is awe-inspiring. Standing at 148-feet tall, 83.5-feet wide, and made completely out of concrete covered in white marble, the structure is something everyone should marvel at if they happen to find themselves on the tiny tropical island.
The huge project cost around nine billion Baht ($950,000), all of which were primarily sourced from generous donations. Sitting on the very top of Nakkerd Hill, the depiction of religious leader Guatama facing towards Ao Chalong Bay is considered to be the “Buddhist Treasure of Phuket” by the Supreme Patriarch of Phuket, Somdet Phra Yanasangwon.
Space Needle Is A Pacific Northwest Landmark
One of Seattle, Washington’s most distinguishable landmarks is the Space Needle, rising high in the skyline at 605 feet tall. Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the observation deck is now considered an icon of the city as well as the Pacific Northwest. The event saw more than two million people roaming up and down the structures elevators.
While the observation deck doesn’t go all the way to the top, visitors are still brought 520 feet for a 360-degree view of the greater Seattle area. It includes mystical views of the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, Elliott Bay, and even the downtown area, to name a few.
Sultan Ahmed Mosque Is A Dream Colored In Blue
Located in Istanbul, Turkey, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque, was completed back in 1616, during the rule of Ahmed I. The Ottoman-era structure is actually still fully-functioning and allows tourists the pleasure of wandering around its great halls to admire its beauty.
And when we say beauty, we mean it! The interior walls are adorned with hand-painted bull tiles, and, at night, the building lights up blue, thanks to the spotlights catching the color of the five domes of the mosque. Aside from the five large structures, the mosque also has eight smaller domes as well as six minarets, or towers.
The Shard Looks Like Glass Coming Out Of The Earth
The Shard, or the Shard of Glass, is a 95-story building designed by Renzo Piano back in 2009. It took a few years to complete, but the 1,016-foot skyscraper was open to the public in 2013, allowing people to see the vastness of London from its 72nd-floor observation deck.
With its height, The Shard is able to call itself the sixth-tallest building in Europe, and the tallest building in the United Kingdom. If you have the pleasure of seeing this marvel in person, we recommend going up to the observation deck.
Park Güell Looks Like You Stepped Into Wonderland
Designed by Spanish genius Antonio Gaudi, Park Güell is located in Barcelona, Spain, and is one of the sites anyone visiting the city must go see. The park illustrates Gaudi’s artistic form, showcasing how he preferred to use organic shapes as instrumental tools instead of sharp edges and modern techniques.
It took 14 years for the park to be finalized, from 1900 until 1914. Even so, it didn’t open to the public until years later, in 1926. It has since been added to as a World Heritage Site under the name “Works of Antonio Gaudi.”
Château Frontenac Is A Historic Hotel
Towering over the city of Quebec, Canada is the historic hotel Château Frontenac. It’s name was actually changed to The Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, but it is still commonly referred to by its shorter original name.
The building opened just before the started of the 20th century and features 18 floors that are emphasized by the its foundation, which sits on a 177-foot elevation above the rest of the town. The property was expanded on three times, most recently in 1993.
Casa Milà Caused Residents To Worry About Their Home Value
Casa Milà is also known as La Pedrera, “the stone quarry,” for its nontraditional appearance. The modernist building in Barcelona, Spain was completed in 1912 and was considered controversial for having a stone exterior and wrought iron balconies.
As a result, it has appeared in many satirical magazines and lead nearby homeowners to worry that the building would depreciate the value of the city. As they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. The building is now one of the most popular in the world, and has appeared in film and been mentioned in literature.
Lincoln Center Hosts 5 Million Visitors Annually
The Lincoln Center of Performing Arts in Manhattan, New York, sits on more than 16 acres of land and consists of more than 30 facilities. A gathering place of some of the most prestigious performers in the world, the Lincoln Center attracts 5 million visitors each year.
Some of its noteworthy organizations include the Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, and the Juilliard School of Music. John D. Rockefeller III built the property in the ’50s and ’60s as part of an urban renewal project.