5 Architectural Landmarks of the World for your next trip

Great Hall in the Mezquita Cathedral in Cordoba

There are heaps of incredible landmarks across the world to discover on your travels, from Machu Picchu in Peru to the temple of Borobudur in Indonesia. Yet when it comes to architecture, there are some structures that stand head and shoulders above the rest.

If you’re wondering where to go on your next trip and fancy taking in one of these marvels, this list will help you get started.

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona
The imposing Sagrada Familia

The crowning glory of Barcelona’s architectural scene is undoubtedly the Sagrada Familia. Famously still under construction since 1882, this towering Catholic basilica is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Spain’s most famous architect, Antoni Gaudi, was the mastermind behind the unique design – his ethos was all about celebrating nature because it was God’s work.

The Sagrada Familia entrance fee includes an audio guide to help you understand what you’re seeing inside. You can pay a bit extra and go up the towers for stunning views out over Barcelona and the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a long way up but don’t worry, there’s a lift to take you to the top.  

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sofia in gold and black, Istanbul
Hagia Sofia in gold and black, Istanbul

Standing proudly at the heart of Istanbul, the Hagia Sophia is one of the most famous architectural landmarks in the world. Built as a Christian cathedral in the 6th century by Emperor Justinian, the structure was turned into a mosque in the 15th century.

It’s a curious mix of Byzantine and Ottoman design, and through the centuries the Hagia Sophia held onto its religious significance. After being a museum for years, the Hagia Sophia has been turned back into a mosque, but you can still visit outside of prayer times. Look out for the opulent gold mosaics above the doorway and admire the splendid chandeliers which might just be the biggest you’ve ever seen.

Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Ta Phrom at Angkor Wat in Cambodia
The eerie roots at Ta Phrom

Angkor Wat is another UNESCO World Heritage site, this time over in Cambodia’s Siem Reap province. It’s one of Southeast Asia’s most important archaeological sites and attracts millions of visitors each year. Construction of this vast temple complex was started back in the 12th century by King Suryavarman, and it soon became the hub of the Khmer kingdom.

The temples are covered with intricate carvings, each one telling a story about the old empire. Watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat, which is known for its moat reflections, and head to Ta Prohm to see the famous tree root covered temple that featured in the Tomb Raider film.

Colosseum in Rome, Italy

Colosseum, Rome
Inside the Colosseum

The Colosseum in Rome needs no introduction, as it’s one of the world’s most iconic architectural landmarks on the planet. It’s the biggest Roman amphitheatre ever constructed, with the building being completed by Emperor Titus in 80 CE.

Gladiator games and other festivals were held in the stadium for 500 years, and many a film and documentary has been made about the gruesome spectacles that became such crowd-pleasers. Eventually, the Colosseum was abandoned, but it remains in good shape and even today you can see everything from the arena floor to the multi-tiered stands.

Mezquita Cathedral in Cordoba, Spain

Mezquita in Cordoba, Spain
Cordoba’s imposing Mezquita Cathedral

This unusual mosque-cathedral in Cordoba is one of the most splendid examples of Islamic architecture in the world. Built in the 8th century when the Muslims ruled Al-Andalus, the Mezquita later became a Catholic cathedral in the 13th century after the Christian reconquest. Inside, you’ll see an intriguing blend of Moorish, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles.

This enormous UNESCO World Heritage site is full of arches, columns and chapels, making for fantastic holiday photos. Don’t miss the Mihrab, a colourful horseshoe-shaped prayer niche at the edge of the great hall, or the lavish decorations in the central cathedral area. Orange trees fill the courtyard outside, and you can climb the bell tower for views over the city.

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