Discover The 20 Most Famous and Iconic Buildings You Have to See Before you Die and why by Best Design Events Blog!
1. St. Paul Cathedral, London
London’s most iconic building St Paul’s Cathedral was designed by English architect Sir Christopher Wren. Sitting at the top of Ludgate Hill, the highest point in the City of London, its famous dome is one of the world’s largest, measuring nearly 112 metres high.
The original church on the site was founded in the year 604AD. Work on the present English Baroque church began in the 17th Century by Christopher Wren as part of a major rebuilding program after the Great Fire of London.
When started working on St Paul’s in 1668, his designs for the cathedral taking a decade to complete and the actual construction taking a further 40 years. St Paul’s has played an integral part of London life ever since – as a domineering element in the city’s skyline, as a centre for tourism and religious worship, and most recently as a focal point for anticapitalist protests.
2. Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur
Standing at 170 metres above ground, the Petronas Towers are twin skyscrapers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The buildings, which held the titled of tallest in the world between 1998-2004, are an iconic landmark of the capital city.
The distinctive postmodern style was created by architects Cesar Pelli and Achmad Murdijat, engineer Deejay Cerico and designer Dominic Saibo under the consultancy of JC Guinto.
3. The White House, Washington
Irish architect James Hoban was the man behind the design of the White House. In 1972, Hoban submitted a plan for the presidential mansion and subsequently got the commission to build the White House. Constructed began in 1793 through to completion in 1801. The mansion, which has been home to every US leader since the country’s second president John Adams, is made of white-painted Aquia sandstone.
4. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the most remarkable architectural structures in Europe. Most famous for its tilt, the tower began to lean during construction after soft ground on one side was unable to properly support the structure’s weight.
Due to restoration work carried out in 2001, the tower currently leans at just under 4 degrees. It is estimated that it will collapse in the next 75-100 years.
Building work on the tower began in 1173 and went on for over a whopping 300 years. There has been much controversy surrounding the true identity of the architect behind the tower – the design originally attributed to artist Bonnano Pisano but studies have also implicated architect Diotisalvi.
5. St. Basils Cathedral, Moscow
This garish, candy coloured cathedral is, in fact, Moscow’s most visited tourist attraction. The famous landmark, shaped to resemble the flame of a bonfire rising into the sky, is located just outside the Kremlin gates and marks the geometric centre of the city.
Built between 1554 and 1560, the cathedral was erected during the reign of Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible). Little is known about the building’s architect Postnik Yakovlev, but he was clearly a fan of onion domes, sharp spikes and polygonal towers.
6. Empire State Building, New York
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.
Construction of the world-famous Empire State building was completed in just one year and 45 days.
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.
7. Lloyds Building, London
This futuristic building looks like it belongs in a sci-fi movie rather than Lime Street in London. The award-winning Lloyds building (also known as the Inside-Out building) is an iconic architectural landmark and one of the most recognisable constructions on the London skyline.
Architect Richard Rogers was the brains behind the innovative design, which has its services – including water pipes and staircases – on the outside. Built between 1978 and 1986, the building also features 12 outside lifts, which were the first of their kind in the UK.
8. 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. Today it is one of Rome’s most popular tourist attractions, attracting thousands of visitors each year.
9. Taj Mahal, India
Recognised 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. Gaudi House, Barcelona
Barcelona is a well-known destination among travelers who wish to have a good mixture of fun and culture in a modern setting.
Knitted in this unmistakable urban fabric you will some unusual and well-known buildings of a single architect named Antoni Gaudí. His unique approach to the Art Nouveau movement generated some of the most creative buildings you will see in this Spanish region known as Cataluña.
Even if you don’t know anything about architecture or Gaudí, when you walk the streets of Barcelona you will intuitively be able to identify a Gaudí building –they are unmistakable.
Above you can see Batlló House that in 1906 was awarded by the Barcelona City Council as one of the three best buildings of the year.
11. Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House is widely regarded as one of the greatest architectural works of the 20th century. The innovative design came from architect Jørn Utzon, who was relatively unknown until January 29, 1957, when his entry to the ‘International competition for a national opera house at Bennelong Point, Sydney’ was announced the winner.
The beautiful building comprises of three groups of interlocking shells, which roof two main performance halls and a restaurant. A masterpiece of modern architecture, the opera house has become an iconic symbol of both Sydney and the Australian nation.
12. Space Needle, Seattle
The futuristic Space Needle in Seattle, Washington was built for the 1962 World’s fair. The famous landmark stands at 184m high and 42m wide at its widest point.
The design was a collaborative effort between architects Edward E Carlson and John Graham. Not only is the architecture a marvel to look at but the building’s impressive design can survive wind velocities of 200mph and can escape serious structural damage during earthquakes of up to 9.1 magnitudes.
13. Hagia Sophia, Istambul
Once a church, later a mosque, and now a museum, Hagia Sophia is an architectural masterpiece. A perfect example of Byzantine architecture, Hagia Sophia is located in Istanbul, Turkey.
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. And if that wasn’t cool enough, the building also features in the opening scenes of the latest Bond film, Skyfall.
14. Buckingham Palace, United Kingdom
Originally known as Buckingham House, George III bought the property in 1735 when the mansion was little more than a red brick house. Since then, various architects have worked on the building to make it what it is today, including John Nash, Edmund Blore and Sir Aston Webb.
The palace also had to undergo extensive work after being bombed no less than nine times during World War II. However, still very much in operation, it’s one of the few working royal palaces remaining in the world today.
15. Falling Water
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 finalized in 1939. It became famous instantly and is now a natural historic landmark. It’s so cool you can even get a Lego version of the architectural masterpiece!
16. Pantheon, Italy
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.
17. Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao
The Guggenheim museum Bilbao is one of the most admired works of contemporary architecture. California-based Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry created the unique concept after winning an architectural competition to design the building.
Since the museum doors opened in 1997, it has been hailed one of the most important buildings of the 20th century. Now with over a decade of success, the museum has homed over a hundred exhibitions and has welcomed more than 10 million visitors.
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18. Flatiron Building
The eye-catching Flatiron building in Manhattan was designed by Chicago architect Daniel Burnham and built in 1902. The distinctive triangular shape allowed the building to fill the space located at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway.
Another of New York’s skyscrapers, it was never the tallest but remains one of the most memorable and has been a source of inspiration for artists and architects for over a century now.
19. Villa Savoye
Designed by Swiss architects Le Corbusier and his cousin, Pierre Jeanneret, Villa Savoye is an early and classic example of the International style – a major architectural style that emerged in the 1920s and 30s.
The property was built in 1928 and, after surviving several demolition plans, was designated as an official French historical monument in 1965.
20. Burj Khalifa
Last on our list but very means the least is the world’s tallest building Burj Khalifa. The mammoth skyscraper and magnificent centerpiece of Downtown Dubai stand at a whopping 828.9 metres high.
Construction began on the 160-floor building in 2004 with its doors opening six years later in 2010. The task of creating the world’s tallest manmade structure was awarded to the Chicago office of American architectural and engineering firm Skidmore, Owings and Merril LLP.