Architecture is a true form of art, while iconic architectural designs symbolise a certain destination or a certain era.
Truly recognisable structures become a central part of people’s lives for hundreds, if not thousands of years, after they were built.
From the great pyramid of Giza to the Taj Mahal, to more modern structures like Burj Khalifa, we list some the world’s most iconic structures.
1. Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt
The oldest of the seven wonders of the Ancient World, a truly marvellous structure.
Built in 2560 BC as a tomb for the Egyptian pharaoh Khufu, more than two million stone blocks, each weighing 2 tonnes, were brought together to build one of Egypt’s most iconic tourist attractions.
The great pyramid, which is 146.5 metres high, was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years.
What’s truly iconic about the great pyramid of Giza is that even after 4,000 years, it still retains much of its glorious majesty and symbolises Egypt’s pride in its heritage.
2. Taj Mahal, India
A stunning structure symbolising the eternal love of emperor Shah Jahan to his wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
The Taj Mahal,commissioned in 1632 by the emperor to house the remains of his wife, is considered an iconic example of Mughal architecture, a style combining elements from Islamic, Persian and Indian architectural styles.
The Taj, considered a stunning symbol of India’s rich history, has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1983.
3. Mount Rushmore, USA
A massive monument in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Mount Rushmore marks the first 150 years of American history.
Mount Rushmore features sculptures of the heads of four United States presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.
The idea of carving likenesses of famous people in the Black Hills region of South Dakota was conceived by Doane Robinson in order to promote tourism in the region.
Mount Rushmore has become an iconic symbol of presidential greatness and attracts more than two million people yearly.
4. Great Wall of China
The most recongisable symbol of China’s long history, the great wall of China, consists of numerous walls and fortifications that were joined together to form a defence system against invasions.
The wall was built between 220–206 BC by the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, stretches over an impressive distance of 6,350 kilometres and is considered the world’s largest military structure.
5. Eiffel Tower, France
The most iconic monument in Paris, the Eiffel tower was built in 1889 and is considered a global cultural symbol of France.
Named after Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower, the Eiffel tower is the tallest structure in Paris and attracts more visitors than any other paid tourist attraction in the world.
More than 10,000 light bulbs are required to illuminate the 324 metres tower.
6. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
The world’s largest religious monument ever constructed, Angkor Wat which means ‘City of Temples’, was built in the 12th century by Khmer king Suryavarman II and is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia.
Angkor Wat which stretches over an area of 400 square kilometres was first built as a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu, but it was converted into a Buddhist temple in the 14th century.
The temple is Cambodia’s prime tourist attraction.
7. Machu Picchu, Peru
The most iconic structure of the Inca empire, Machu Picchu is located 2,430 metres above sea-level in the middle of a tropical mountain forest.
Machu Picchi was built in 1450 and is believed to have been built as a retreat for royal Inca.
The Inca structure was discovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham and since then it has became an important tourist attraction in Peru.
8. Big Ben, England
(photo : prweb.com)
One of England’s most famous landmarks, the Big Ben is the world’s third-tallest clock tower.
The tower, which was built in 1858, was designed by architect Charles Barry based on a request from the British parliament during the reconstruction of the Palace of Westminster.
‘Big Ben’ is the tower’s common name but it is technically the name of the massive bell inside the clock tower.
The tower is officially known as the Elizabeth Tower.
9. The Colosseum, Italy
A true icon of the Imperial Rome, the Colosseum is the world’s largest amphitheatre and is evidence of the greatness of Roman architecture.
It’s construction started in 72 AD in the reign of the emperor Vespasian, and was completed in 80 AD.
The Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles, and had a seating capacity of 50,000 spectators.
Today the Colosseum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Rome.
10. The Louvre, France
(photo : alphacoder.com)
The world’s most visited museum and a truly remarkable icon of Paris, the Louvre is one of the world’s largest museums.
It was originally built as a fortress in the 12th century for King Philip II, but it later became a museum in 1682 after King Louis XIV chose the Palace of Versailles as his home.
The Louvre has nearly 35,000 objects on display, including famous works like the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.
11. Hagia Sophia, Turkey
An epitome of Byzantine architecture and a prime tourist attraction in Istanbul, Hagia Sophia was originally built as a cathedral in Constantinople.
It remained a cathedral until 1453, when it was turned into a mosque after Sultan Mehmet II conquered Constantinople.
The 1,400 year old monument remained a mosque until 1931, when it was converted into a museum by the order of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and has been functioning as one since 1935.
12. Sydney Opera House, Australia
One of the most iconic buildings in Sydney and one of the most famous performing arts centres in the world.
The Sydney opera house was built in 1973 to serve as a suitable venue for large theatrical productions.
The opera house, designed by architect Jørn Utzon, is one the busiest arts centres in the world, hosting over 1,500 performances each year.
It is one of the most popular visitor attractions in Australia, drawing more than seven million people every year.
13. Burj Khalifa, United Arab Emirates
The tallest structure ever built and a prime tourist attraction in Dubai.
The skyscraper, which is 829.8 metres high, was built in 2010 and took six years to build at a cost of $1.5 billion.
Burj Khalfia consists of 30,000 homes, nine hotels, 19 residential towers, the Dubai Mall, and a 30 acre lake.
It was originally built to garner more international recognition for Dubai.
Besides the record for the tallest man-made structure, Burj Khalifa holds multiple other records like the building with the most floors at 163, the building with the highest nightclub and the highest New Year display of fireworks.
14. The Piano house, China
Among the most beautiful and unusual buildings in China, the piano house was built in 2007 and was designed by architectural students at Hefei University of Technology to tempt tourists to Huainan City.
The violin, which is made completely out of glass, is also the main house entrance as it contains escalators that allows you to access the piano, which is the building itself.
At night the piano and violin light up with fluorescent lighting outlining the structures.
15. The Crooked House, Poland
The Crooked house, also known as Krzywy Domek, is one of the strangest buildings in Sopat, Poland if not the whole world.
This irregularly shaped building was built in 2004 and is part of the Rezydent shopping centre.
Krzywy Domek, which spreads over an area of 4000 square metres, was designed by architects Szotyńscy & Zaleski, who were inspired by the fairytale drawings of Jan Marcin Szancer and Per Dahlberg.
16. The Dancing House, Czech Republic
Among one of the most controversial building designs in Prague, Czech Republic.
The Dancing house, which is also known as Fred and Ginger, is the nickname given to the Nationale-Nederlanden building.
The building , which was designed by architects Vlado Milunić and Frank Gehry, is an example of deconstructivist architecture. The dancing house reflects a woman (Ginger Rogers) and a man (Fred Astair) dancing together.
Construction of the building started in 1994 was completed in 1996.
17. Palais Ideal du Facteur Cheval, France
An extraordinary example of naïve art architecture, le Palais Ideal is one of most popular attractions in Hauterives, France.
The palace, which is also known as Ferdinand Cheval Palace, is proof that you can achieve anything with time, effort and passion.
Built in 1912 and designed by postman Ferdinand Cheval who was inspired by a stone of unusual shape.
Using this stone and many others, Cheval managed to build this astounding structure over a period of 33 years.
18. Guggenheim Museum, Spain
Considered to be one of the most admired works of contemporary architecture, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is one of the most significant architectural icons of the 20th century.
The museum was designed by architect Frank Gehry, and inaugurated in 1997 by King Juan Carlos I.
The Guggenheim Museum houses a large collection of modern and contemporary art and is one of several museums belonging to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.
19. Bahá’í House of Worship (Lotus Temple), India
One of eight continental houses of Worship of the Bahá’í Faith around the world, the Lotus temple is a prominent tourist attraction in New Delhi, India.
The temple, designed by architect Fariborz Sahba, was inaugurated in 1986.
Since its inauguration, the Lotus temple has attracted more than 70 million visitors, making it one of the most visited buildings in the world.
20. Petronas Towers, Malaysia
An iconic landmark in Kuala Lumpor, Petronas towers were the tallest buildings in the world until 2004, surpassed by Taipei 101, and remain the tallest twin towers in the world.
The towers, which are 451.9 metres high, were completed in 1996 after three years of construction and a total cost of $1.6 billion.
The towers were designed by architect Cesar Pelli and inspired by Mahathir Mohamed’s, Malaysia’s prime minister at the time, vision for Malaysia to be a global player.