12 Iconic Buildings From Around the WorldObelisk Home
We all lead busy lives, whether you’re a teacher, art director, doctor, or business manager, every person needs some downtime. There’s no better way to be relaxed and inspired than flying off to somewhere you’ve never been before.
When we find ourselves in far away places, we’re attracted to famous buildings. When you start to think about it, architectural design records specific moments in time, just as a photograph. These iconic structures have lives of their own and shape the environment around them. Whether we realize it or not, architecture influences our lives and has been doing it for hundreds, and sometimes thousands of years after it was designed and built – that’s the definition of an iconic structure.
We’ve picked out 12 iconic buildings that have inspired us, and will certainly do so for you. Check it out.
1. Colosseum, Rome
This elliptical amphitheatre in the centre of Rome is considered as one of the greatest architectural feats achieved by the Ancient Romans. The stadium was capable of seating 50,000 spectators and used mainly for gladiatorial games.
Built from concrete and stone, construction began on the Colosseum began around 72AD and finished in 80AD. The design and shape of the Colosseum has been the inspiration for many modern day stadiums.
2. Chrysler Building, New York City
In the early part of the 20th Century, people everywhere were in a race to build the tallest building. At the time, this gorgeous Art Deco skyscraper was almost outdone by the Bank of Manhattan but its spire (which was constructed in secret) enabled it to take the title of ‘tallest building in the world’ in 1930.
It didn’t last long though. Just a year later the Empire State Building was erected. Designed by architect William Van Alen, the skyscraper was commissioned by car manufacturer Walter P Chrysler, hence its name.
3. Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
The building was built for the first time by the emperor Constantine the Great (306-337). However, due to many factors, including being burned down in riots and earthquakes, the ancient cathedral has been rebuilt many times since. Despite this, Hagia Sophia is widely recognized as one of the great buildings of the world.
4. Fallingwater, Pennsylvania
Designed by famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1934, Fallingwater is quite possibly the most famous private residence in the world. But why? Well, the unique design makes it look like the house stretches out over a 30ft waterfall, with no solid ground beneath it.
This isn’t the case, obviously, but the innovative design captured everyone’s attention when it was finalised in 1939. It became famous instantly and is now a natural historic landmark.
5. Pantheon, Rome
Rome is home to many amazing buildings, and the Pantheon is no exception. And, like the city itself, it was not built in a day. Destroyed twice and rebuilt each time, the building started as a rectangular structure, which, over time, evolved into the gorgeous dome building seen today.
An inspiration to architects all over the world over the last 2,000 years, the Pantheon roof remains the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. There is much debate between historians over which emperor and architects were responsible for the Pantheon’s design although it is known that this ‘Temple of the Gods’ was built around 126AD.
6. Lotus Temple, New Delhi
The Lotus Temple is a Bahá’í House of Worship in New Delhi consisting of 27 structures resembling petals of the lotus flower that open onto a central hall around 40m high. It has nine sides, nine doors, and can accommodate 2,500 people. It’s surface is made of white marble from Mount Pentelicus in Greece, the same marble used to build the Parthenon.
Since its completion in 1986 it has become one of the most visited buildings in the world, attracting over 100 million people.
7. La Pedrera, Barcelona
Nested among the urban streets of Barcelona are some unusual and beautiful buildings by infamous architect Antoni Gaudi. His unique approach to the Art Nouveau movement generated some of the most creative buildings the world have ever seen. And La Pedrera is no exception.
One of the most imaginative houses in the history of architecture, this is more sculpture than building. The façade is a varied and harmonious mass of undulating stone that, along with its forged iron balconies, explores the irregularities of the natural world. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognised this building as World Heritage in 1984.
8. Empire State Building, New York City
We couldn’t put together a list of world-famous buildings without including this grand Art Deco skyscraper. Once the tallest building in the world, construction began on the Empire State building on St Patrick’s Day 1930 and was completed just 410 days later.
The building was designed by William F Lamb of architectural firm Shreve, Lamb and Harmon. It was declared by the American Society of Civil Engineers to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World and is known around the world as an icon of New York City.
9. Taj Mahal, India
Recognized as ‘the jewel of Muslim art in India’, the Taj Mahal was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Often mistaken as a palace, this famous landmark was actually built as a tomb for the Emperor’s wife after she died giving birth to their 14th child.
The Taj Mahal is regarded as one of the finest examples of Mughal architecture – an amalgamation of Persian, Turkish and Indian styles. Construction on the mausoleum began in 1632 and was completed in 1648. The surrounding buildings and gardens took a further five years to finish.
10. Giza Pyramids, Egypt
The oldest buildings on this list, the pyramids on the Giza plateau have intrigued mankind for centuries. Not only have they stood the test of time, but the accuracy with which they were built is impressive even by today’s standards. They were built as tombs for three separate pharaohs during the Third and Fourth Dynasty. It is also the only surviving wonder of the ancient world and was the tallest building in the world until 1300 when it was surpassed by the Lincoln Cathedral. Despite their long history, or perhaps because of it, mysteries have swirled around the pyramids since they were found by the Ancient Greeks thousands of years ago
11. Sydney Opera House, Australia
Rising out of the Sydney Harbour, the Sydney Opera House is not only the center of the arts scene in Australia but also stands out as a must see to anyone visiting the area. In the late 1940’s Eugene Goossens, the Director of the NSW State Conservatorium of Music lobbied for a new venue for large productions. In 1955 a design competition was held by NSW Premier Joseph Cahill, and by 1958 construction had begun. The winning design features several concrete shells and houses performance spaces like the concert hall, the opera theater, the drama theater, the studio, the Utzon room, the forecourt as well as a recording studio, five restaurants, four souvenir shops and a guided tour operation.
12. Eiffel Tower, Paris
Towering high above Paris, the Eiffel Tower was built between 1887 and 1889 and acted as the entrance arch for the Exposition Universelle, which marked the centennial of the French Revolution. The tower was only supposed to stand for 20 years but it was a valuable communication tool and remained as an unmistakable element of the Paris skyline (especially as buildings in the city cannot surpass seven stories). During the German occupation of Paris during World War II, the lift cables were cut forcing German soldiers to climb the stairs to the top to hoist the swastika. Within hours of the Liberation of Paris, the lifts were back in working order.