Sleek, sexy and sophisticated
A bold 21st century statement surrounded by gothic masterpieces, Valencia’s City of Arts & Sciences is futuristic complex designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrva, as a present to his home city. It may seem a bit out of place in its surrounds, but it’s a much needed breath of fresh air. Buildings include an opera house, aquarium and interactive science museum.
Walt Disney Concert Hall – Los Angeles, USA
A bold design in downtown Los Angeles
Since its completion in 2003, the Frank Gehry designed Walt Disney Concert Hall has become one of the most visited attractions in downtown Los Angeles. From its innovative 21st century design and crisp stainless steel curves to the exquisite internal acoustics; Walt Disney Concert Hall embodies the unique energy and creative spirit of Los Angeles. It’s also been featured in numerous Hollywood movies.
Marina Bay Sands – Singapore
The world’s largest public cantilevered platform
Billed as the world’s most expensive standalone casino, Marina Bay Sands in Singapore is the very essence of style and extravagance. Impressive in both size and design, the crowning glory on this Singaporean masterpiece is a giant cruise ship-like structure, of course. The resort features a hotel, exhibition centre, Art & Science museum, seven “celebrity chef” restaurants, and much more.
Like a fire surging towards the sky
Think eye-catching design is a modern invention? Think again. St Basils Cathedral, located at Red Square in Moscow, is a vibrant symphony of colour, creativity and extravagance built between 1555 and 1561. Like a flame rising to the sky, St Basils is unlike any other Russian building before or since.
One of Barcelona’s greatest attractions
La Sagrada Familia is a large Roman Catholic Church in Barcelona, Spain. Commenced in 1882, with the legendary architect Gaudí becoming involved a year later, the building is still only half complete. Even in its unfinished state though, Sagrada Familia is a magnificent sight; intricately detailed facades, forest-like internal columns, inspiring natural light, and colossal spires stretching towards the sky. Current estimates put the completion in 2026.
One of the most photographed buildings in Birmingham
Selfridges, a chain of high end department stores in the UK, are known for their architectural excellence. Regarded as tourist destinations in their own right, Selfridges well and truly outdid themselves with the design of their Birmingham store – designed by architects Future Systems. Covered in 15,000 spun aluminium discs against a blue background, and looking more than a little like a fly’s eye, it’s definitely a must see.
The white-domed symbol of eternal love
One of the most recognisable landmarks in the world, the Taj Mahal in is a UNESCO World Heritage Site built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Built between 1632 and 1653, it’s the finest example of Mughal architecture; combining elements from Persian, Islamic and Indian architectural styles. Impressive in size yet delicately beautiful, the Taj Mahal is renowned as a symbol of eternal love.
The tallest twin buildings in the world
Petronas Towers, the largest twin buildings on earth, are a defining landmark on the Kuala Lumpur skyline. Designed by Argentine architects and completed in 1998, the 88 floor towers are built of reinforced concrete with a glass and steel facade, and designed to resemble motifs found in Islamic art – a nod to Malaysia’s national religion.
Proof that you don’t need to be an aristocrat to own a palace.
Le Palais Idéal (Ideal Palace) was the creation of French postman Ferdinand Cheval, who spent thirty-three years of his life crafting his dream stone by stone. The work of one man, built mainly at night by the light of an oil lamp, it’s an extraordinary example of naïve art architecture. A triumph of will power, it’s an amazing sight that images simply cannot do justice.
The world’s tallest man made structure
Burj Khalifa, a magnificent skyscraper rising above the desert city of Dubai, is a record breaking achievement in engineering. From the base to the tip of the spire, its 825m high. To put that into perspective, that’s more than twice the Eiffel Tower. Not content with simply being the world’s tallest building though, it’s also home to the world’s highest swimming pool, highest nightclub, highest mosque, highest outdoor observation deck, highest restaurant… you get the idea. Put simply, Burj Khalifa is the jewel of Downtown Dubai.
One of the most visited buildings in the world
The Bahá’í House of Worship, most commonly known as the Lotus Temple, is one of the most well known attractions in Delhi. Completed in 1986, the Lotus Temple has won numerous architectural awards and been featured in hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. Looking like an inwards facing Sydney Opera House, the flower-like design is remarkable. Since completion, it has attracted more than 50 million visitors.
An historic mosque in Istanbul
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, more commonly known as the Blue Mosque, was built between 1609 and 1616, during the rule of Ahmed I. The design incorporates elements of Ottoman and Byzantine architecture, and is considered the last great mosque of the classical period. While still used as a mosque today, it’s also a hugely a popular tourist attraction.
Impressive by day, dazzling by night
Beijing’s National Aquatic Centre, known to many as the Water Cube, was built for the 2008 Summer Games. Looking a bit like a giant box covered in soap bubbles, it’s impressive in the day and striking at night. Designed by Australian firm PTW Architects, and clad in over 100,000m² of ETFE pillows (a kind of plastic), it’s the largest ETFE clad structure in the world.
The crowning glory of Rome’s skyline
St Peter’s Basilica, known as the Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Italian, is a Late Renaissance church located within the Vatican City. A site of pilgrimage for millions, it’s regarded as one of the world’s holiest Catholic sites. The exterior is impressive; an icon on the Roman skyline, but it’s inside that the majesty becomes apparent. Enormous columns, intricately painted ceilings and detailed marble sculptures.
An interesting side note, St Peters isn’t the world’s largest church… that honour falls to the lesser known ‘Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro’ in Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). Modelled after St Peters, the church was constructed from 1985-1989 at a cost of $300 million, doubling the countries national debt.
The most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Burma
Shwedagon Pagoda, commonly known as the Golden Pagoda, is gilded stupa located in Yangon, Burma. Reaching a height of 98m, it’s the most sacred Buddhist pagoda for the Burmese. Built in the 6th century, and added to over the centuries, the pagoda lies to the west of Kandawgyi Lake, on Singuttara Hill – dominating the skyline of the city.
A nod to the island’s cultural heritage
Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, is an ultra modern take on the island’s Melanesian culture. The series of 10 shell-like pods; each with different sizes and functions, resemble traditional huts and have a deliberately unfinished look as a reminder that the culture is continually evolving.
The jewel of the oasis
Dar Al-Hajar, a captivating five storey palace built for Imam Yahya in the 1930’s, stands proufly atop a protruding rock formation in Wadi Dhahr, Yemen. Designed as a summer residence; it was actually built atop existing prehistoric ruins. Ornately decorated and affording stunning views, Dar Al-Hajar has been featured in numerous books about Yemen.
Automotive museum in the Zuffenhausen district of Stuttgart
The Porsche Museum in Stuttgart is an eye-catcher. Designed by Delugan Meissl Associated Architects, it was created to be bold and dynamic, a reflection of the Porsche philosophy. Featuring more than 300 cars, as well as the Porsche archives and a special workshop for historic vehicles, The Porsche Museum is one of the city’s most popular attractions.
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