Top 60 Famous Buildings and Iconic Architecture All Around The World
Famous Buildings – Looking at the World’s Most Iconic Buildings
When you travel through different countries one of the best ways to familiarize yourself with the history of a region is by examining the local architecture. There may be other ways to do it though – talking to people, tasting the cuisine, or simply reading about the most outstanding historical events connected with the area. This article, however, is focused on the world’s most famous buildings. Use it as a guide in your travels.
Our List of the Most Famous Buildings in the World
We’ve assembled the list of the most significant representatives of the world’s architecture, some of which have seen many generations. These structures hold the eternal wisdoms of humanity and provide the knowledge to all who know where to look. This article is going to direct your gaze the right way.
Washington Monument — Washington, D.C.
This magnificent white marble obelisk located in the heart of the United States was built in the mid XIX century in the memory of George Washington, the first American president. One of the most iconic buildings in the USA, it has a height of 169 meters. Its observatory is available for tourists, however the number of people allowed at one time is limited.
Space Needle — Seattle, Washington, USA
Space Needle is the most recognizable landmark on the USA pacific coast and a calling card of Seattle. The full height of this futuristic tower is 184 meters and has a 42-meter observation deck with a restaurant. The building was constructed in 1962 for the World’s Fair. Additionally, it is one of the most earthquake and hurricane resistant buildings in the world.
Empire State Building — New York, USA
There isn’t probably a soul who is unaware of this remarkable structure. We’ve seen it too many times in many American movies and documentaries. The Empire State Building is one of the oldest and highest skyscrapers in the world. This iconic architecture has a height of 443 meters and a couple of observation decks which are visited by almost 2 millions of tourists annually.
Chrysler Building — New York City, USA
Initially constructed as the high quarters for Chrysler corporation, Chrysler Building was one of the world’s highest towers until the construction of the Empire State Building in 1931. It is one of the New York City landmark buildings with a rich history and a magnificent view from the top. As well, the Chrysler building represents one of the best examples of art-deco design patterns in the world’s architecture.
Statue of Liberty — New York City, USA
The Statue of Liberty is one of the most recognizable and famous buildings in the world. It was officially presented to the United States by France and devoted to the centenary of the American independence in 1886. It is a national monument of the USA and an active lighthouse with an observatory located in Lady Liberty’s torch. Liberty Island represents a park zone with wide walking alleys and two piers.
Golden Gate Bridge — San Francisco, USA
Golden Gate is a suspension bridge over the Golden Gate channel which is the most recognizable structure of San-Francisco. During the period of almost 30 years from the date of construction it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. The bridge is available for both pedestrians and cars, which makes it a great place for sightseeing.
Buckingham Palace — London, UK
The official residence of British monarchs, Buckingham Palace, is one of the most famous buildings in the world. This magnificent construction has been remodeled on multiple occasions throughout its history and changed from a small house into great construction with entrances. The palace is most interesting for tourists due to a daily guard changing ceremony.
Westminster Abbey — London, UK
This iconic chapel in Gothic style is a true place of spiritual enlightenment. Apart from functioning as an ordinary Catholic church, Westminster Abbey is a place of coronation of British monarchs and also their tomb. In addition the Abbey performs weddings of the royal family members, which are being broadcasted all over the world.
Big Ben — London, United Kingdom
One of the most recognizable sights in the world, Big Ben, is a clocking tower with six bells located inside. The structure was named after the biggest of them and then formally renamed Elizabeth Tower in 2012, after Queen Elizabeth II. The place is an ultimate photo spot. Unfortunately, the inside tours are available only for the citizens of England.
Sydney Opera House — Sydney, Australia
Sydney Opera House is truly a world’s wonder. It was constructed in 1973 in the harbor of Port Jackson and quickly took its place among famous architectural buildings. The Opera House hosts regular events and accepts around 2 million visitors per year. It is difficult to picture Sydney city without this beautiful landmark.
Château Frontenac — Québec, Canada
This building, which at first sight may look like a medieval castle, is actually a hotel constructed in the late 19th century. The rooms of the hotel offer significant views and the territory has many peculiar places. Consider booking a room when you’re in Quebec, you will not regret it.
Dancing House — Prague, Czech Republic
This unique building, located in the heart of Czech Republic, will attract your eye. It is a business center which consists of two towers, one normal and one twisted to the side. The idea of a designer was to represent a dancing couple in architecture. The structure contrasts with the nearby buildings which makes it even more bewitching.
Great Pyramid of Giza — Egypt
Well, we all know about this one, don’t we? The Great Pyramid of Giza is one of the oldest buildings preserved to our day. It is almost 4,5 centuries old and represents a tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh – Cheops. The construction of the pyramid took about twenty years. It is surrounded by numerous legends and is not fully studied till now.
Eiffel Tower — France
Many people come to Paris to see the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and the Eiffel Tower, which is one of the most famous buildings around the world. It was built in 1889 by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, who at the time called it simply “300-meter tower”. Fun fact: it is said that Eiffel was irritated by his construction, however dined in the tower’s restaurant as it was the only place in Paris from which the tower was not visible.
Musée du Louvre – Paris, France
The Louvre Museum is very popular among tourists traveling through France. Its collections possess numerous paintings and other objects of art, the representatives of which cover almost the whole history of humanity. The museum was formed in the building of the old castle fortress in the late 18th century.
Notre Dame Cathedral — Paris, France
Notre Dame Cathedral is the most popular representative of Gothic architecture and is one of the most valued Catholic churches. A well-known novel of the same name by Victor Hugo played a great part in popularization of the building. In the result of the fire in 2019 some parts of the original structure of the cathedral (dated XII century) were damaged.
Château de Chenonceau — Chenonceaux, France
The Château de Chenonceau is the architecturally significant building and historical monument of the XV century, located in a small village of the same name in the center of France. It is one of the most favorite and visited castles in the country. Its territory is covered in the most beautiful gardens and the castle itself is positioned on a hand-made island with a drawbridge over the Cher river. Even though it is private property the Château de Chenonceau is open for excursions.
Cologne Cathedral — Germany
Once the tallest structure in the world, the Cologne Cathedral is one of the most recognizable churches. It was being built during several centuries from 1248 till 1880. If looking at the cathedral from above it visibly represents a cross, while the construction itself represents Gothic style of architecture. Many important people of the past ages are buried inside. The church can be freely visited by tourists.
Neuschwanstein Castle — Germany
Neuschwanstein Castle is probably the very iconic structure all of us are too familiar with. It served as a residence for the Bavarian king, Ludwig II. The construction is a clear representative of romanticism and was built in the late 19th century. The castle inspired Walt Disney to create a Sleeping Beauty castle in Disneyland. This is also the one we see in all Disney movies opening scenes.
Brandenburg Gate — Germany
The Brandenburg Gate is a historical monument located in the center of Berlin. This is the only one of the eighteen city gates preserved till our time. The structure bears the symbolic meaning and is the most recognizable and photographed site in Germany. The building has another name – “Gates of Peace”, which symbolizes the victory of Prussian forces over the Netherlands.
Parthenon — Greece
Presenting the echo of ancient Greece, the Parthenon is a monument of antique architecture and a place of spiritual worship of ancient Greeks. Built in the 5th century BC, the temple is well preserved and is continuously maintained and reconstructed. Near the monument there is a museum of archeological findings acquired during the excavation works. The Parthenon is truly one of the popular buildings worth visiting.
Acropolis of Athens — Athens, Greece
Continuing the theme of ancient Greece, on a wider scale, Acropolis is an area which used to be a city with many religious and political structures. The most important buildings in Acropolis include Parthenon, Propylaea, Erechtheion and Temple of Athena Nike. The biggest part of Acropolis is located on a hill from which one can observe the entire area of the citadel.
Dome of the Rock — Jerusalem, Israel
The Dome of the Rock is a Muslim sanctuary in Jerusalem. The structure itself is an octagon with the golden dome on top, which initially was built as a shelter for stranding pilgrims. There are four doors which lead into a hall with mosaic decorated walls. The structure is considered to be a source of inner peace and spiritual harmony and is highly recommended for all looking for enlightenment.
Leaning Tower of Pisa — Italy
This bell tower is part of the Pisa Cathedral and probably the most recognizable landmark of all. Its iconic architecture is also interesting due to a slight incline which happened because of miscalculations during the first stages of construction. The incline however helped the Italian physicist Galileo Galilei in his experiments to prove gravity.
Colosseum — Italy
Ancient Romans liked spectacles. More than that they fancied watching Gladiator fights. For that reason, emperor Vespasian ordered the construction of an amphitheater in the heart of Rome. This decision was generally aimed at the strengthening of his position as a leader. Little did he know that this structure would be preserved for hundreds of generations ahead. Now the Colosseum is one of the most visited antique constructions.
The Pantheon — Rome, Italy
The Pantheon was the temple of all gods, constructed in the 2nd century. It has been preserved to our days almost unchanged, and that’s why it attracts so much attention. It is being used even now, for some festivities or memorial days. The temple was built at the cost of Marcus Agrippa, a brother-in-law of Julius Caesar, to perpetuate the emperor’s victory over Antony and Cleopatra.
Sagrada Família – Barcelona, Spain
Next in our line of the most famous structures around the world is the church in Barcelona which bewitches anyone who takes a good look at it. This magnificent cathedral, completed in the neo gothic design, was established in 1882. The construction works have not stopped yet, and new details are being added all the time.
Guggenheim Museum — Bilbao, Spain
Back to modern architecture. This museum of modern arts really looks like an alien spaceship, or at least as if it was built by extraterrestrials. However it was designed by the American-Canadian architect, Frank Gary, and financed by the Basque government. The structure is considered to be one of the most spectacular ones and attracts almost half-a-million per year.
Hagia Sophia — Istanbul, Turkey
This impressive construction marks the Golden Age of the Byzantine Empire. It was first built as an orthodox cathedral and later changed into a mosque. Hagia Sophia was the biggest Christian temple during almost a century while now it one of the most important buildings in Muslim religion. The interior is filled with rich ornaments and mosaics.
Petra — Jordan
Just imagine, when standing at these gates you basically look at least 25 centuries back in time. This ancient city was built as a staging post for traders crossing the Arabian desert. In time the growth of trading made it one of the richest cities in the world. As Romans started opening sea routes to the East, Petra slowly fell into decay. Nowadays it is one of the most cherished Arabian monuments.
Petronas Towers — Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Petronas Towers are a true masterpiece of modern architecture. The construction represents a composition of two towers of more than 450 meters in height, connected by a covered passage in the form of a bridge. This is a business center with many offices, conference halls and exhibitions. Additionally the structure has the biggest concrete foundation in the world due to the nature of soil it is built upon.
Potala Palace — Lhasa, Tibet, China
Potala Palace is a place of wisdom and spiritual enlightenment of Tibetan monks. This temple was the main residence of Dalai-Lama till 1959 and is one of the most famous architecture buildings in China. Now the palace is a museum opened for visitors, while still acting as a place of pilgrimage and rituals for Buddhists. The inside of the temple, as well as its territory, is filled with monuments, statues and praying spots, which adds to it a great architectural value.
Shanghai Tower — Shanghai, China
Shanghai Tower is the third highest skyscraper in the world, being 632 meters in height. There are over 100 fast-moving elevators inside and the total area of all premises equals 380 000 square meters. The building has several observation decks on different floors – all of them are open for visiting. The highest deck offers a magnificent view of Shanghai.
Forbidden City — Beijing, China
The name of this vast palatial area comes from the fact that almost for the whole period of its existence no ordinary person was able to enter the territory. The reason for such a prohibition is that it used to serve as a residence of Chinese monarchs, who were considered almost god-like. Today the complex is free to visit, so the tourists can take a glimpse at the imperial grounds of Chinese dynasties.
The Great Wall of China
The construction of the wall was initiated in the III century BC in order to defend the country against the nomad raids. With time the wall got longer and by 1644 its total length with all branches made 21 thousand kilometers. During the last couple of centuries, many parts of the wall collapsed, so the Chinese government decided to perform the grand reconstruction which lasts till now. Anyway, the tourist routes lie through the well-preserved sections, so anyone can witness the magnificence of the past.
Lotus Temple — New Delhi, India
Among the famous buildings in history of India, Lotus Temple worthily holds the deserved position. This is the main temple of Baha’i religion and the most loved tourist attraction of Delhi. The structure represents the shape of a blooming lotus flower made of white marble. The interesting fact is that the temple is open for the representatives of all religions. Baha’i believe that God is where people can pray without any limitations.
Taj Mahal — Agra, India
This beautiful temple made of white marble was a token of gratitude from Shah Jahan the Architect to his deceased wife who died in childbirth. The temple bears her name till this time. The Shah himself is buried beside his wife, which also makes this piece of architecture a royal tomb. People from all over the world come to India to witness the aftermath of this beautiful love story.
Niterói Contemporary Art Museum — Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This is another museum of modern arts which is located in Rio de Janeiro. From the looks of it one could guess the purpose of the structure. Niterói is a concrete cylindrical construction with a glass belt around it standing on a thin 9-meter leg. From the outside the building looks like a UFO with a spiral passageway leading to it. The museum’s collection now lists more than 1200 paintings by modern artists. In addition, multiple exhibitions are being held there.
Angkor Wat Temple — Cambodia
The list of great buildings of the world could not have omitted this outstanding piece of ancient architecture. Angkor Wat is a temple built in the XII century by the emperor of the Khmer Empire in the honor of Vishnu, the God of Preservation. The total area of the grounds is 1.6 square kilometers filled with many additional structures, ponds and alleys.
Burj Khalifa — Dubai, UAE
If you got this far into the article you are probably a real architecture lover and must already know about Burj Khalifa. This is the highest skyscraper in the world which is just a little over 800 meters tall. This is a huge business center with observation decks and many technical floors. Additionally, the structure has a one-of-a-kind system for gathering condensate to maintain the water supply. The humid climate and the proximity to the ocean contribute to its functionality.
Burj Al Arab – Dubai, UAE
The last in our list of the great buildings of the world is the Burj Al Arab hotel. It is one of the five tallest hotels in the world and one of the most expensive ones. Its positioning offers a magnificent view of the ocean and coastal line. The construction is made in the form of a ship sail, which gives it an additional aesthetical significance.
Of course it is impossible to visit all of the world famous buildings in one run. However, if you are determined and want to get the best out of your life, use this article as a starting point. Architecture is one of the best ways to find something new about the history of humanity. So, don’t save on guides and excursions when visiting the relics of civilization.
What Makes a Building Famous?
The construction can be built by a famous architect, or possess some valuable archeological findings. In addition, the history of a structure might be of importance. In any case, you don’t get it to the list of the “world’s best” without any added value.
What Is Regarded as the Most Famous Building?
There is no straight answer to this question. It all depends on the area, period in history, purpose etc. One can always narrow it to a country. For example, USA citizens will tell you about the Empire State Building right away, while residents of Turkey will shoot out the name of еhe Topkapı Palace.