Our last post was on art and museum pieces, and we wanted to include architecture as well, but it completely dominated the list. So instead it gets its own post!
Architecture really has become our modern world’s most dominant art form. When a city or country wants to show off, it uses architecture to do it. When massive infrastructure works are built, they must be beautiful in addition to functional and strong. Architecture has become the signature of development, with the most prosperous nations continually competing to show architecturally that they are the best one.
Interestingly, another art form with this dynamic is movies, but we’ll get to that in another post.
For now, here are the most spectacular architectural achievements we saw on our trip:
The Golden Gate Bridge, USA
We saw so many amazing bridges on our trip, but none were as grand as the one we saw on day three. The Golden Gate bridge is so beautiful, especially when viewed from Fort Point, a site neither of us had been to before.
We’ve always wanted to visit Fallingwater, arguably the greatest example of US architecture ever built. We found the whole thing to be beautiful and so boldly styled; we really enjoyed our visit.
The Eiffel Tower, France
We visited several World’s Fair sites on our trip, each one leaving a mark on the city that hosted it. But none like Paris, whose fair produced the Eiffel Tower, one of the world’s greatest icons. This tower is so romantic and beautiful, we love it.
The Duomo of Florence, Italy
The Duomo of Florence is gorgeous, and that is fitting since it is the centerpiece of the world’s most beautiful city. As far as I’m concerned there is only one drawback to this building: there’s no good place to take a picture of it!
Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy
It’s hard to really appreciate this building without visiting in person. It isn’t the only leaning building in the world, but it is the famous and iconic and beautiful one; it is such a crazy site and now that it has finally been stabilized, we can say that it is an architectural achievement, not just a mistake.
Dohany Street Synagogue, Hungary
The world is filled with grand churches, and we saw so many we could dedicate an entire list to it. But grand synagogues? There aren’t too many of those but even so, we saw several on our trip. Most notable was the Dohany Street Synagogue, which completely blew us away. And it wasn’t just its grandness or beauty; this synagogue combines Catholic, Islamic, and Jewish architecture, making it really unique.
Castles throughout Central Europe
How many castles did we see on our trip? Let’s see, we saw six ruins in the Carpathians, several smaller ruins in Ireland, and also ruins in Croatia, Ukraine, and Slovenia. We also saw Buda and Vajdahunyad Castles in Budapest, Wawel Castle in Krakow, Sforza Castle in Milan, Bratislava Castle, Bled Castle, Ljubljana Castle, Prague Castle, and Cesky Krumlov Castle (pictured above). Each one was gorgeous, especially the non-ruinous ones, and especially especially the ones we toured the insides of.
Burj Khalifa, UAE
Can it be that the world’s greatest building was completed as recently as 2009? It could, because Burj Khalifa is unbelievable. And it’s not just how tall it is, it’s the architecture of the piece. This building isn’t just tall, it’s inspiring and beautiful. Seeing it in person felt like witnessing a pinnacle of human achievement, that’s how amazing it was.
Mehrangarh Fort, India
Like churches and castles, India could easily fill out this entire list. Our favorite aspects of Indian architecture were their jalis (latticed screens) and the exquisite interiors of some of their room. The best for both of these we found at Mehrangarh Fort; the rooms were gorgeous and the jalis were amazing. This place was incredible!
Taj Mahal, India
The Taj Mahal didn’t have jalis or exquisite interiors, but even so, this building was beyond incredible. The symmetry, the marble, the Persian and Mughal design, the off-white color, it all comes together to create one of the most breathtaking creations we’ve ever seen, one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.
Wat Phra Kaew, Thailand
We were completely unprepared for Thailand’s architecture, and it blew us away. We’d never seen anything like it before, architecture that I like to say is the building version of jewelry. Nowhere was this more true than Wat Phra Kaew. This place was so incredible, we spent hours taking pictures here; even Inna got in on the action, taking the artsiest pictures I’ve ever seen from her.
Petronas Towers, Malaysia
These towers, the symbols of Malaysia, are stunning. Especially when viewed from the city’s observation tower, on a foggy night and then the fog clears and these buildings magically appear from nothing. Incredible.
The Sydney Opera House, Australia
Like castles, we saw tons of opera houses on our trip, especially in Central and Eastern Europe. But none were like Sydney’s. The design here is amazing, so visionary and bold, all while fitting in with its surroundings, the water and Harbour Bridge in particular. This building put Sydney on the map, and it does not disappoint.
Honorable Mentions: So many skyscrapers (everything in Chicago, New York, Dubai, and Hong Kong, Bangkok’s Pixel Skyscraper, Melbourne’s Eureka Tower), churches (Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, Milan Cathedral, Basilica de San Vitale, St Stephen’s Cathedral, St Mary’s Cathedral, Pechersk Lavra), bridges (Brooklyn Bridge, Bandra-Worli Sea Link, Tsing-Ma Bridge, Harbour Bridge), and opera houses (Odessa, Lviv, Vienna, Paris); the under construction Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (probably will be the most amazing architectural achievement in the world when completed); and the Space Needle, the US Capitol Building, Versailles, Newgrange, French architecture in Vietnam, British architecture in India, Islamic/British architecture in Kuala Lumpur, Agra Fort, the White Temple, Borobudur, and so much more.