Ever since man has learnt the art of architecture, many masterpieces have been made. From the Pyramids of Giza to the Taj Mahal in India, every building is a wonder. They were the best in their times, and still are. Although the form of architecture has changed today, turning towards more modern designs, the old architecture still continues to amaze people. Buildings mark an era and record the events that took place then. They tell the tales of the people that lived in them or created them. Visiting these buildings gives us an experience equivalent to a time travel. We are transported back in time.
These buildings and sites are not only popular for their amazing designs, but they also act as landmarks. We see a building in a movie and we know exactly the place where the movie was shot. The beauty of each building is incomparable, each holding its own meaning and story. However, in our search to chalk out the best 13, we have chosen the ones following.
Different from most medieval architecture, this tower, originally designed to be a bell tower, started to lean itself, possibly because of less base support. It has a very interesting story related to it, which says that the building started to lean after the third floor was added to it. Due to this irregularity, the construction was halted for a hundred years and many more after it.
However, this irregularity made this building popular. Its unintended lean is its best feature and so, it attracts many tourists to climb up and experience it.
There is none other like this glistening mausoleum in India. Situated on the banks of Yamuna River in Agra, it was made by Emperor Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is said that the hands of the labourers were cut off so that they couldn’t build another one like this monument. Made of ivory-white marble, Taj Mahal is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The beautiful carvings inside this masterpiece of Mughal architecture will leave you speechless. About 28 rare and precious stones were inlaid with the white marble, which shone no less than the stars when the first ray of Sun fell on them. Legend says that many of the precious gemstones were stolen during the British rule, although it is hard to prove if it is true or just a myth.
There is no decline of the admirers of this beautiful building as the place is always filled with people who come to visit it. The tomb of the emperor is laid beside that of his wife. The historic significance and unmistakable beauty of this monument makes it matchless.
The home of insurance institution Lloyd’s of London, the Lloyd’s Building is also called the ‘inside-out building” due to its structure. The building has all its ducts, staircases, electrical power conduits, water pipelines and elevator space in the exterior to maximize the space in the interior. It is an amazing depiction of modern architecture.
It is a 95 meters high building with 14 floors. There is a room called The Underwriting Room which is overlooked by galleries, forming a 60 meters high atrium lit naturally through a huge barrel-vaulted glass roof. Another special feature in the building is the “Loss Book” which has entries of all the significant losses that have taken place for 300 years. All the entries are written by quill. The 18th-century dining room is also an attraction. The building has a modular plan which allows each floor to be altered just by addition or removal of the walls and partitions.
This award-winning sci-fi appearing building marks a new style of architecture in the 20th century.
One of the most recognized buildings is the Eiffel Tower. Situated in the capital of France, this tower made of wrought iron is one of the greatest architectures ever made. It was made to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. The height of the tower is 324 meters and it is the tallest structure in Paris. The four points of the base of the tower are oriented with the four points of the compass.
The tower is now the most visited paid monument with 7 million people every year. All the three levels are open for visitors, two of which are acquired by restaurants. There are eight functional elevators which allow the visitors to enjoy the mesmerizing view of the city. In the late evening hours, the tower glitters with all the lights that ornate it.
The 7th wonder of the world and a UNESCO world heritage site, Angkor Wat is a temple complex situated in Cambodia. The whole complex stretches up to 162.6 hectares of land, making it the largest religious site in the world. It was originally constructed to be a Hindu temple but gradually transformed into a Buddhist temple. It has become a major attraction of the country and is a masterpiece of Khmer architecture.
The temple is designed to depict the home of Hindu Devas, Mount Meru. It was built unlike all the Hindu temples, which are constructed facing the East. This temple faces the West, making it look even more beautiful when exposed to the evening sun. The walls of the temple have stories engraved in form of characters which tell fables and myths related to the original of the temple.
The country is so proud of this temple that it even appears on their national flag. This intriguing temple has over 2 million visitors annually and delivers a holy aura, making the era eternal.
One of the greatest attractions of London is this huge Ferris wheel called “The London Eye”. This observation wheel is located on the South Bank of the River Thames in London. It was inaugurated by then Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1999. By 2008, 30 million people had already ridden it.
It is a 135 meters tall structure with a diameter of 120 meters. It took a year and half to complete with a consumption of 1700 tons of steel and 3000 tons of concrete. The capsules are made of glass to give a 360 degrees view of the city to the passengers. The speed of the wheel is slow enough to ensure a beautiful and detailed view of London. It takes around 30 minutes for one round to complete. The Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and many other landmarks are visible from the top. The view in the day is beautiful but at night, there’s a whole new look of the city in the night.
One of the most distinctive buildings of the 20th century, the Opera House in Sydney is a multi-venue performing arts center. More than 1,500 performances are held here, attended by over 1.2 million people annually. Although the name includes only one venue, there are multiple venues for different performances making it the busiest performing arts center.
The building was designed by Jorn Utzon and was opened in 1973. It is a depiction of modern architecture constituting of “shells” which are composed of sections of spheres of 75.2 meters in radius. The whole facility occupies 4.4 acres of land and is supported by 588 concrete piers sunk 25 meters below sea level.
The building is illuminated in the night with beautiful shades of light. The lights are changed according to the fest. The interiors are very colourful to put on something different than the daily lives of people. This building is said to have changed the entire image of the county.
Petra is an archeological site in Jordan which is as old as 312BC. It is a city occupying 264 square km of area which is a marvel of rock-cut architecture. Also knows as the “rose city” due to its colour, it was a trading hub which controlled the commercial routes to Gaza, Bosra and Damascus. It was built by the Arab Nabataeans and was unknown to the world till 1812.
It has been UNESCO’s world heritage site since 1985 and is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Its carvings and water conduit system are very popular which led to the rise of this city in middle of the desert. The city is riddled with passages and gorges. In today’s times, Petra is the most visited archeological site. It is definitely one of the places you should visit before you die.
Potala house is the winter house of Dalai Lama since 7th century. It is built in the center of Lhasa valley on the Red Mountain at an altitude of 3,700 meters. It symbolizes the role of Buddhism in traditional administration of Tibet. It is now a museum and a world heritage site.
The complex comprises of Red Palace and White Palace. The inward sloping walls and the flat roofs at various levels are a distinction to other architecture. The staircases connect the palace which has several chapels and halls. There are galleries which now serve as places to buy souvenirs and refreshments for visitors. The place also includes tomb of the 13th Dalai Lama. The view of this palace is gorgeous, surrounded by snowy mountains and valleys.
Taipei World Financial Center, also known as TAIPEI 101 is one of the tallest buildings in the world with an altitude of 508m. It has 101 floors above the ground level, hence the name. With a number of 61 functional elevators which move with a speed of 16.83 m/s, this building is an icon of modern Taiwan ever since its opening.
Taipei is designed to stand firm against earthquakes and typhoons which are common in Taiwan. Although, what’s special about this building is the fact that it is the tallest and largest green building in the world. It has been awarded the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) platinum certification, which is the highest according to the LEED rating system. Standing in the shape of a Chinese pagoda, it has 8 modules flaring outwards. The top of each module consists of mechanical floors that accommodate garbage systems, ventilation equipment, water storage, and MEP services.
Each year on the New Year’s Eve, the building is decorated with multiple coloured lights accompanied by fireworks. This building is the best example of complexity and advanced technology.
Standing in the capital of Malaysia, Petronas Towers are the tallest twin towers in the world. The two towers are connected by a bridge called the Skybridge. It is an irrefutable feature of the twin towers and is open for visitors. From the 41st and 42nd floors of this sky-touching building, one can observe the skyline of Kuala Lumpur. The firm structure of the bridge is such that it remains in place and is independent of the movement of the two buildings however might they move or twist.
It was definitely a challenge to construct these buildings. They are built on the world’s deepest foundation of 21 m and required massive amount of concrete. These act as a model of impressive engineering in the 21st century.
192 meters in height and width, the Gateway arch is the tallest man-made monument in the western hemisphere and the tallest stainless steel structure in the world. It was completed in 1965 and cost $13 million, equivalent to around $190 million in today’s times. The arch is a landmark of the city of St. Louis has welcomed visitors since 1967. The arch is hollow to accommodate a tram system to take the visitors to the top to an observation deck which offers a view up to 48 km.
The arch also includes an underground visitor center as a part of its complex. The center is located exactly beneath the arch between its legs. The evening view of the arch is enlightened with beautiful colours.
The tallest building in the world standing 829.8 meters high is a mega-tall skyscraper located in Dubai. It broke many records including the tallest freestanding structure, building with most floors (163), world’s longest travel distance elevators and many more. It is a multi-purpose building and is named after the ruler of Abu Dhabi who is also the president of UAE and helped Dubai pay its debts.
The design of Burj Khalifa is adopted from the patterning systems in Islamic architecture. Its unique structure is such that it prevents itself from twisting, while the Y-shape allows maximum outward views and inward natural light. The observation deck, called “At The Top” is located on the 124th floor of the building. However, after being surpassed by Canton Towers for being the highest observation deck, Burj Khalifa opened another one named SKY on its 148th floor at a height of 555 meters. It now surpasses the observation deck at Canton Tower which is at a height of 488 meters.
Another one of the most beautiful features of the building complex is the Dubai Fountain. It is the world’s best fountain show which cost $217 million for construction. Till date, Burj Khalifa holds the record of the highest building in the world and is a marvel of man-made buildings.
The beauty of nature is flawless and appreciable, but these man-made structures are a proof of unmistakable beauty and creativity of the human mind. These buildings are also inspirations to keep risings and changing with the times. They motivate us to be flexible and stand tall in all situations. There are no boundaries to what man can achieve if he is willing to do something.