Architectural Wonders of the World: Exploring 12 of the Most Spectacular Buildings Ever Built

Even if you don’t consider yourself an architecture buff, chances are you can recognize some of the most iconic buildings in the world. From the ancient Pyramids of Giza to the modern Burj Khalifa, these structures tell something about the culture, values, and history of their respective cities. Below are 12 of the most iconic buildings in the world that have left a lasting impression on millions of tourists worldwide.

1. Colosseum–Rome, Italy

The Colosseum, Rome, Italy
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The Flavian Amphitheatre, often known as the Colosseum, was constructed around 72–80 AD in ancient Rome. The stadium can hold up to 50,000 people and was primarily utilized for gladiatorial contests. It is now one of the most visited places in Rome, receiving millions of tourists each year.

2. Eiffel Tower–Paris

Paris, France
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The 324-meter-tall soaring iron lattice structure (1,063 feet) is a famous landmark in Paris and a technological marvel in the annals of building construction. Its original purpose was as an archway leading visitors into the 1889 World’s Fair. Among 700 submissions, this tower was selected to be the centerpiece of the World’s Fair.

3. The Great Wall of China—China

The Great Wall of China
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China’s emperors constructed it over many decades to serve as a barrier along China’s original northern boundary. Watchtowers, beacon towers, and other defensive features were built using methods that demonstrated ancient China’s superior engineering prowess and military acumen. The Great Wall symbolizes Chinese unity and is a testament to the country’s long and prosperous history and military might.

4. Taj Mahal—Agra, India

Taj Mahal, Agra, India
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The Taj Mahal, commissioned by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, is often considered “the jewel of Muslim art in India.” The tomb of the Emperor’s wife, who died while giving birth to their 14th child, is a popular tourist attraction sometimes mistaken for a palace. Its famed white marble front displays exquisite inlay work, and calligraphy attests to the building’s superior design.

5. The Burj Khalifa—Dubai, the United Arab Emirates

The Burj Khalifa
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At an astounding 828 meters (2,740 feet) tall, the Burj Khalifa is the world’s highest structure. It has also shattered the records for the tallest and free-standing structures. The tower’s distinctive appearance is derived from Islamic architecture. Its tapering form and setbacks enhance its visual effect.

6. The Shard—London, United Kingdom

Aerial view of the City of London Shard
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The Shard is a mixed-use building including places of business, apartments for rent, a hotel, and restaurants and shops. Having many uses makes it an exciting place for business, pleasure, and hospitality. It is currently the highest skyscraper in the United Kingdom. The Shard’s façade is made up of angled glass panes that reflect sunlight and the sky above, making the tower appear to float in the sky and alter its appearance according to the time of day and the weather.

7. The Pyramids of Giza—Cairo, Egypt

The Pyramids of Giza
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When you consider the primitive tools and materials that were at the designers’ disposal, the pyramids become even more impressive. Massive stone blocks were skillfully carved and assembled into a pyramidal shape to create these magnificent monuments. Three different pharaohs had tombs constructed here in the Third and Fourth Dynasties.

8. The Acropolis—Athens, Greece

The Acropolis
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The Acropolis is an ancient hilltop citadel with significant cultural and historical significance. It was pivotal in developing democracy, philosophy, and the arts in ancient Greece and was the center of Athenian civilization. The views of Athens from the top of the Acropolis are breathtaking. People can look down on the sprawling city, the mountains, and the Aegean Sea from its high spot.

9. Sagrada Familia—Barcelona, Spain

Sagrada Familia
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The fact that it is still being built is one of the building’s defining features. Construction began in 1882 but is yet to be finished. Despite this, the structure is easily identifiable due to its unique features, like its towering spires and ornate front. Five generations have now seen the Temple of the People of Barcelona rise from the ground. The Guinness Book of Records acknowledges it as the tallest modernist church in the world designed in the art-nouveau style.

10. St. Basil’s Cathedral—Moscow, Russia

St. Basil’s Cathedral
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Basil’s Cathedral has a unique and eye-catching design that has made it famous. The Cathedral’s design takes inspiration from Jerusalem’s architecture. It also incorporates Byzantine, Gothic, and Russian Orthodox styles. It contains nine domes, each representing one of the saints canonized by Ivan the Terrible, on whose orders the Cathedral was built.

11. Statue of Liberty—New York City, United States

Statue of Liberty
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The 151-foot-tall statue is made of copper sheets affixed to an iron structure. The crown, flame, and billowing cloak all display the skilled craftsmanship of the sculptors who made it. The statue’s copper skin was hammered into shape by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, while Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel devised the steel structure. First presented as a gift from France, it has come to symbolize freedom in the United States.

12. Sydney Opera House—Sydney, Australia

Sydney Opera House
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The Sydney Opera House is a stunningly beautiful white building and a prominent feature of the Sydney skyline due to its position on Bennelong Point. Its modern expressionist design has a number of enormous precast concrete “shells” that serve as the building’s roofing. The Opera House paved the way for some of the extremely intricate geometries of modern architecture.

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