From ancient pyramids to the tallest skyscrapers, there is no shortage of architectural marvels around the globe. Centuries-old structures sometimes remain a mystery as historians seek to understand how construction took place without current technologies, while modern architecture seemingly defies physics. If you’re looking to travel to some of the most fascinating sites, we’ve assembled our picks for seven of the best architectural wonders to see before you die.
Previously listed as the tallest building in the world, Taipei 101 was designed to resemble a bamboo stalk. Every element of its design is purposeful, taking into account feng shui principles and auspicious elements throughout. The reason for 101 floors? One hundred is perfect, and by adding one, it’s more than perfect. The tower has eight sections, another auspicious number in Chinese culture.
Where the real magic lies in Taipei 101 is the observatory where you can see the world’s largest tuned mass damper. This is like a giant pendulum that keeps Taipei 101 from being destroyed during earthquakes or typhoons.
Great Pyramids of Giza
The iconic pyramids of Egypt are believed to date back to around 2550 to 2490 B.C. It’s hard to fathom that workers physically moved over two million blocks that each weighed an average of 2.5 to 15 tons. And that’s just for Pharaoh Khufu’s pyramid, which is the largest at just over 480 feet tall. Scientists today are still baffled by their construction, unsure exactly how the pyramids were built. Excavations have revealed that it was a well-organized community, and it’s quite likely that other communities across the country contributed both supplies and workers to complete the pyramids.
La Sagrada Familia
This Catholic church is an iconic part of the Catalonia landscape in Barcelona. Construction started in 1882 and is still going today. It was designed by Antoni Gaudi, a famous architect from the region who devoted the remainder of his life to the project. When he died in 1926, not even 25% of the building was completed. Today, construction continues, and there is hope that it might be completed by 2026, on the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death.
The Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is the longest man-made structure ever constructed. It is over 13,000 miles long when you factor in the various dynasties that added to the walls over time. The Great Wall spans across more than 10 Chinese regions, and it is not one complete wall as you might imagine. It’s more like a collection of walls and, in some places, there are multiple walls running alongside each other.
At a height of over 2,700 feet, Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world. It also holds other world records, like the highest observation deck, highest occupied floor and more. Inside, you’ll find a mix of housing, office space, restaurants, the Armani Hotel and the observation deck.
The Forbidden City served as China’s main imperial palace for two dynasties, home to 24 emperors. It consists of nearly 1,000 buildings with around 9,000 rooms. Everything about it is symbolic, from the design along the central north-south axis to the choice in building colors.
Designed by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Fallingwater was a private residence built in the mountains of Pennsylvania. It’s considered one of Wright’s best works and best examples of his organic architecture philosophy that blends art and nature. Fallingwater was the weekend home for Edgar J. Kaufmann, Sr., a department store owner from Pittsburgh. Today, the house is open as a museum and is a designated National Historic Landmark.