1. Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey
This grand structure has seen the rise and fall of many powerful empires. It is a perfect example of the transfusion of many religious symbols, designs and architecture to form a transcending work of art that sits in the heart of Istanbul. In 537 AD, it was first built as a Church by the Emperor of Constantinople and after the commencement of the Ottoman Empire, it was converted to a mosque. The minarets, minbar and mihrab were later added and now can be seen as a symbol of tolerance, peace and humanity.
2. Casa Mila, Barcelona, Spain
This masterpiece by renowned architect Antoni Gaudi is so distinctive that it was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Resembling a ‘stone quarry’ shaped like the waves of the ocean was inspired by Gaudi’s love for nature. The building boasted many innovations that were unheard of in the early 1900s like underground parking, a self-supporting stone façade and a free plan floor. Even the interior walls are curved and of rough appearance but the most spectacular is the terrace roof with different forms of gargoyles. The twisted wrought iron balconies also enhance the overall appearance of the building.
3. Petra, Jordan
The ancient city of Petra was heavily featured in the movie ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ where each structure is intricately carved out of red sandstone and has withstood the perils of time. Included in the seven wonders of the world, this city was inhabited in 7000 BC and was the capital city of the Nabataean kingdom. These nomadic Arabs settled here and the city flourished, the most famous is the Al-Khazneh or the Treasury, a temple that has become a tourist hub due to its otherworldly charm that transports the visitors to an era gone by.
4. Colosseum, Rome, Italy
The pride of the Roman Empire and the marvel of Rome, The Colosseum is an oval amphitheatre that has been the setting of important and historic events all through history. Commenced under Emperor Vespasian it was completed in 80 AD and could have accommodated 65,000 visitors. This structure was used famously for gladiatorial contests, public speeches, entertainment games and performances based on Roman plays. Some parts of the Colosseum were demolished by earthquakes and robbers who looted its stones but still it is listed as one of the seven new wonders of the world.
5. Sydney Opera House, Australia
When one thinks of Australia, it is not possible that the image of the glorious Sydney Opera House doesn’t come to mind. Inaugurated almost 43 years ago, this building has become a hub for art and culture since it hosts more than 1,500 performances annually and is visited by around 8 million people. Strategically located on the Sydney Harbour resembling white shells clustered together exquisitely creating a unique formation. Many ferries and boats ride along the banks of the harbours to capture the proper glimpse of the building and there are many night tours too.
6. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
It is believed that this opulent castle was the inspiration behind the many Disney castles that we see in movies. It could be due to its fairy tale setting atop a rugged hill overlooking the village of Hohenschwangau and the backdrop of snow-capped mountains. Surrounded by dark green trees this castle was commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria where the construction began in 1869 using his own personal wealth. Romanticising the Middle Ages it used the Romanesque style for its dreamy effect and has many beautiful windows, arches, columns and towers.
7. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
The crowning jewel of Cambodia is so much so that it is on the country’s flag and is the largest religious complex in the world spanning 420 acres. It was constructed by the Khmer King Suryavarman II during the 12th century as a Hindu temple devoted to Lord Vishnu and is built in a way to resemble the sacred Mount Meru. Using the Angokorian architecture techniques of temple-mountain and the later galleried temple, the subsequent temples were converted into Buddhist temples. Gracefully residing in the middle
of the jungle, visiting this site is an out of the world experience.
8. Ajanta and Ellora Caves, India
The vast complex where these caves are located can be considered some of the finest craftsmanship of ancient rock-cut caves. Located near Aurangabad, Maharashtra, this elusive site is embellished with intricate paintings, sculptures and frescoes that are in devotion to Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. The Ajanta Caves were built between the 2nd century BC and the 6th century BC, whereas the Ellora Caves were built after that. In total there are 63 caves that are included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The
most famous cave is the Kailash Temple which is the largest monolithic structure in the world.
9. Hallgrimur Church, Iceland
This fascinating church resembles the basalt lava flows that are a natural phenomenon prevalent in Iceland. Being the tallest church structure in Iceland standing at a height of 244 ft and is named after the famous Icelandic poet Hallgrímur Pétursson. This church is the centrepiece and one of the most important tourist attractions in the capital Reykjavik and is visible from almost all parts of the city. Completed in 1940, the church has become symbolic of the country’s national identity and its raw beauty derived from nature is outstandingly built. Using the expressionist architectural design this church displays the quality of elegance in simplicity.
10. Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE
The tallest building in the world with a staggering height of 829.8 m which is just a few metres shy of a kilometre tall building touching the sky. Having held its reigning crown since 2009, no other structure has been able to match its height which demonstrates the skilled engineering that was undertaken. Amalgamating the Islamic architecture of the Great Mosque of Samarra into this modern marvel, the project took a swift 5 years to complete. It has 163 floors that are used for various purposes including corporate suites, Armani residences, Armani Hotel, restaurants and Skydeck to view the city’s marvellous
11. The Masjid I-Imam, Iran
The Masjid I-Imam, Iran This majestic blue-hued mosque is located in Isfahan and was built during the Safavid dynasty in 1629. A gem in the Persian architecture canon, as it uses technicoloured mosaic tiles and convoluted calligraphy. It is also featured on the banknote of Iran due to its historic value and unattainable splendour. The entrance forms the shape of a semicircle that resembles a recessed half-moon and is decorated heavily with turquoise arches, the most memorable is the lavish stalactite-like tilework called muqarnas.
12. Chichen Itza, Mexico
This city was built by the Maya people of the Terminal Classic period and is considered one of the great mythical cities. It is believed that it was the focal point of the Maya Civilization and was a bustling city having one of the most diverse populations which influenced its architectural style. Among the many structures, the most famous is the Temple of Kukulcán which is a Mesoamerican step-pyramid where a serpent deity sits at its entrance and during the summer and autumn equinox, the shadows make it appear to be moving.
13. Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
Words fall short to describe the most coveted structure on the planet that has fascinated everyone with the Egyptian empire and its mythical stories. The Tomb of the Fourth Dynasty pharaoh Khufu was built in 2570 BC. Its most fascinating aspect is the extent of construction using stone blocks and the engineering it took to execute the tallest man-made structure during that era. Inside is the mummified tomb of the Pharoah along with the many riches that were believed to be carried to the afterlife and are decorated with
14. Taj Mahal, India
A grand symbol of love, Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan got this mausoleum built in remembrance of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. This majestic ivory white structure glistens in the sunlight and the rich colourful detailing enhances its overall appeal. There are man architectural amazements in this with pillars placed in such a way that if an earthquake occurs then they will not fall on the monument but sideways. The actual tomb of the husband and wife is not opened for the visitors and a false sarcophagus is created above.
Ancient Persian verses are adorned on its wall written craftily in elaborate calligraphy.
15. Acropolis of Athens
Home to the Greek gods and goddesses, Greece is a mythical land where the ancient world is well preserved which leaves a lingering legacy of a mighty empire. The Acropolis of Athens is one such citadel that is majestically above Athens and is situated atop a rocky outcrop. The most prominent structure here is the Parthenon, a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena who is considered the city’s patroness. Completed in 438 BC, this temple demonstrates the important architectural styles during that period and was later converted into a treasury of the Delian League.
16. The Gherkin – London, U.K.
The original name of this building is actually 30 St Mary Axe but is popularly known as The Gherkin which sits in an area that is London’s financial district. It rises towards the sky in an oval shape and since being built in 2003 has become a favourite juncture in the city’s skyline. Accommodating many offices, a restaurant and a cocktail bar, this building has 41 floors and is a prominent example of contemporary architecture. This spiral glass structure was built by renowned architect Sir Norman Foster and even won
the Emporis Skyscraper Award in 2003.
17. Château Frontenac, Québec, Canada
This historic hotel is one of the principal places in Quebec and is situated on the edge of Place d’Armes in the historical Upper Town. Under the Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, it first commenced business in 1893 and has 18 floors. Built-in the Châteauesque style, this hotel is one of the earliest grand railway hotels. Bestowed by being declared a National Historic Site of Canada due to its significance with its superb grandeur and is more than just a hotel but a place to revisit the olden days.
18. St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow, Russia
Located in the historic Red Square of Moscow it is considered a national symbol for the country. This Orthodox Church was completed in 1561 on the orders of Ivan the Terrible and has a total of nine domes each being a different church. This vivid multicoloured gem is shaped like a blazing flame soaring into the sky making it unlike other structures built during that time. The complex details in this distinctive structure are complimentable and certainly eye-catching and since 1990 have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
19. Forbidden City, Beijing, China
One of the world’s largest and best-preserved historic wooden constructions, this massively built complex was constructed in 1420 and was the imperial palace and winter residence of the Ming dynasty’s Emperor of China. It is beautifully surrounded by imperial gardens and temples and was a political centre of ceremonious value for 500 years. In 1925 it was
converted into a Palace Museum where artefacts and artwork of the various dynasties are exquisitely displayed. It has 980 buildings, and 8,886 rooms and is built in the traditional Chinese palatial architecture with millions of visitors viewing its opulent beauty each year.
20. Le Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Situated on a tidal island having medieval origins is quietly secluded from the fast-paced world that triggers a sense of nostalgia for the world gone by. Fairytale surroundings make this place magical as it is surrounded by shallow water all around. This mainland commune has a population of just 29 and is at the mouth of the Couesnon River, it was also notoriously unconquered during the Hundred Years War. Many pilgrimages visit the abbey which is an important Christian site with 60 structures in the commune
designated as historical landmarks.
21. Hungarian Parliament, Budapest, Hungary
Often considered among the most beautiful parliament buildings in the world, the Hungarian Parliament sits beside the eastern bank of the Danube river. The seat of the National Assembly of Hungary, this building is built in neo-Gothic, baroque and renaissance styles and the distinctive red colour on the upper half of the structure gives it a striking flair. Situated on the Pest side of the city, Gillert Hill gives you a spectacular look at the Parliament along with other structures. Opened in 1902 it was influenced by various buildings presenting different styles like the gothic Vienna City Hall.
22. The Flatiron Building, New York City, USA
Earlier known as the Fuller Building, this building is located in Manhattan in the namesake Flatiron district since it resembles a ‘flat iron’. In 1902 it was one of the tallest buildings in the city with 20 floors but now it is famous for being truly slender in its design. Built by an American architect Daniel Burnham in the Beaux-Arts Classicist movement and kept in mind that it would be unmoveable from any strong winds. Earlier used as an office complex, it now stands empty due to renovation in its interiors but will soon be
23. Petronas Tower, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
This 88 storey skyscraper, popularly known as the Twin Towers is the world’s tallest twin tower. It held the prestigious title of being the tallest skyscraper in the world for 6 years from 1998 to 2004. The towers are a major attraction in the capital Kuala Lumpur as travellers come to witness the breathtaking views of the city from its massive height. Along with Merdeka 118, they both accentuate the city’s skyline. Visitors can enjoy a special construction video of the tower before taking a walk on the connecting sky bridge
between the 41st and 42nd stories.
24. The Leaning Tower Of Pisa, Italy
A part of the Pisa Cathedral complex in the namesake city located in Italy, this freestanding bell tower gained worldwide attention for being tilted to a four-degree angle and seems that it might fall at any time. Due to its poor foundation since it was built on soft ground and not appropriate to bear the weight of the building, it has now been stabilised so it doesn’t lean any further. This 14th-century structure with many Roman carvings attracts many visitors due to its lopsidedness where visitors click artistic photos holding it.
25. Dancing Building, Prague, Czech Republic
Nicknamed Fred and Ginger after the dancers of the same name, this idiosyncratic building resembles to be dancing. Designed by Vlado Milunić in 1992 which took four years to complete, he wanted to transcend from traditional architectural style into a storytelling format which depicted two people dancing. Gaining controversy since it is surrounded by other classic buildings of Prague and did not correspond well with the atmosphere. But its allure lies in the fact that it is gracefully projecting the future while appreciating the
old and has become a major tourist attraction.