Architectural wonders from around the world – 30 masterpieces
These unique structures prompt a rethinking of the boundaries of engineering.
The buildings rank among the most impressive works of art. After spending untold sums on construction, you can walk through the completed projects and even live inside. Insider has compiled 30 structures that are breathtaking.
The oldest preserved building on Earth is Göbekli Tepe in Turkey. Its age is estimated to be at least ninth millennium B.C. Archaeologists are not sure about the purpose of Göbekli Tepe. Most likely, the building had a religious significance.
Since then, mankind has managed to build many cool structures. For example, in the last year alone, the futuristic Fulton Center in New York City opened .
. and the Penley and Essendon Grammar School in Melbourne, Australia.
The amazing Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, seems to have grown right out of the waters of the Amritsar River.
At night, the Sikh religious center looks stunning.
The Church of Las Lajas in Nariño, Colombia is puzzling at first, as the structure seems to defy gravity.
Modernist architect Antonio Gaudi didn’t live to see the completion of the Temple of the Holy Family – in fact, its construction is still underway today. From the outside, the temple resembles the houses from The Chronicles of Narnia .
. and its interior decoration is even more surreal.
The Flatiron Building was one of New York City’s first skyscrapers .
. as was the Woolworth Building, the tallest building in the world between 1913 and 1930.
In Onomichi, Japan, young couples often hold marriage ceremonies in the Ribbon Chapel.
In Seoul, the Light of Life Church stands surrounded by greenery.
It looks completely different inside.
The design of the Marina City skyscrapers in Chicago is unique, to say the least. Built in 1964, they were among the first mixed-use buildings. For the first time in the U.S., a high-rise crane was used in construction.
But not all buildings aspire to the sky. Temppeliaukio Church, Helsinki, Finland, is carved into the rock underground while getting plenty of sunlight.
St. George’s Church in Lalibela, Ethiopia, was carved out of a solid boulder in the 12th century.
Some of the most beautiful buildings are part of the landscape. Turninn in Reykjavik reflects the wild beauty of Iceland.
The modernist Ludwig Mies van der Rohe used borders and open space to create masterpieces that seem to float in the air – like the New National Gallery in Berlin, built in the 1960s.
Berlin is also home to the mecca of electronic music, the brutal nightclub Berghain.
Unity with the environment is one of the oldest concepts in architecture. The ancient Japanese capital of Kyoto is home to the spectacular Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji) .
. and the equally stunning Silver.
The Great Mosque of Djenne in Mali is the largest mud structure in the world. It can accommodate 3,000 worshippers.
The bizarre Centre Pompidou in Paris is a masterpiece of postmodernism.
Built around 1200, Chartres Cathedral in northern France is an excellent example of Gothic architecture. Note the ornate “portals” leading into the building .
. and the stunning organ inside.
Perhaps the only religious building that can compare to it in grandeur is the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Its construction was completed in the early 17th century and coincided with the heyday of the Ottoman Empire.
The interior decoration used more than 20 thousand handmade tiles.
It is believed that Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria inspired Walt Disney to create Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Trinity College is the crown jewel of Dublin University.
It is famous for its library, whose most stunning room has the distinctive name of “The Long Room.”
The Imperial Palace – aka the Forbidden City – is the highest form of Chinese architecture.
Between 1420 and 1912, the palace served as the seat of government.
Its interior is truly impressive .
. as is the attention to detail.
Today, the most exotic examples of modern architecture can be seen in Beijing. For example, the CCTV Tower, also known as “The Pants.
With the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong, the late Zaha Hadid did what only she could do – turn the hard, clean lines of modernism into something organic.
High in the Peruvian Andes is Machu Picchu, the finest example of Inca architecture.
Archaeologists believe the city was built around 1450.
A more detailed photo of the residential quarter.
In 2007, the Parque Biblioteca España opened in Medellín, Colombia. It was designed by the Colombian architect Giancarlo Mazzanti. The three buildings are supposed to look like stones.
The library, located in the Santo Domingo Savio neighborhood, overlooks Medellín itself, lying in a valley surrounded by the Andes.
The Sydney Opera House is rightly considered an iconic representative of Australian architecture.
Designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon and opened in 1973, the theater has become a literal canvas of public expression.
7 wonders of the world – why they are remembered thousands of years later
Today’s technology makes it possible to design and create unimaginable structures. For this we have scientific knowledge, powerful computers with special software, advanced machines and 3D printing. But our distant ancestors, not having all this, managed to erect amazing architectural works. Among them are the 7 Wonders of the World, whose names are famous in the ancient world and brought to our contemporaries.
What are called the wonders of the world
Most often this concept combines the greatest man-made creations of man . Such lists have been popular since the days of ancient Greece and became a kind of genre of poetry. The authors practiced rhetoric and description of the grandiose constructions of those times.
The most famous such list was the 7 Wonders of the World:
- The Pyramid of Cheops.
- The Hanging Gardens of Semiramis.
- Temple of Artemis at Ephesus.
- The statue of Zeus in Olympia.
- Mausoleum in Halicarnassus.
- Colossus of Rhodes.
- The lighthouse of Alexandria.
Although at the time of formation of the list there were other architectural masterpieces, but by the criterion of grandiosity they do not pass. Included here are the majestic creations of the ancient period, looking at which it was difficult to imagine that this could have been built by man. This is why the word “miracle” is used.
The number 7 is the sacred number of Apollo, considered the patron of the arts.
Above is what we call “the classic list of wonders of the ancient world”. but it included and alternated with buildings that are not mentioned now, such as the Babylonian Walls of Alexandria: The walls of Babylon, the Library of Alexandria, the Altar of Zeus in Pergamon, the Temple of Solomon, etc.
Where were the 7 Wonders located
Of the entire list today, only the Pyramid of Cheops has survived, the other ancient wonders were for one reason or another destroyed. The existence of some masterpieces is even questioned.
All the wonders were located in the Mediterranean area and Asia Minor (the middle part of modern Turkey). Five of them were located in the zone of influence of Ancient Greece, two – in the zone of influence of Ancient Egypt, one – in the ancient city of Babylon (about 50 km south of Baghdad).
List of ancient wonders of the world
Within the description of each object we will attach an illustration of how it might have looked at the time of its existence, and a photo of its location at the moment.
1. The Pyramid of Cheops.
The fact that this site is the oldest on the list and the only one left is already a miracle. The Cheops Pyramid is about 4500 years old and during this time of course it has lost its original appearance but it still excites the imagination of everyone who comes across it.
It took about 20 years to build, the construction was headed by the nephew of the Pharaoh Cheops, who ruled at that time. Granite blocks weighing from 2.5 to 15 tons were simply stacked on top of each other without the use of connecting materials. Scientists are still arguing about what methods were used by the ancient Egyptians in the construction of the Cheops Pyramid.
White limestone was used as cladding, and at the top was a pyramidion – a triangular gilded stone. All construction literally shone under sunbeams. But over time, the cladding went to build the houses of local residents.
Until about XIV century the pyramid of Cheops was the highest structure in the world.
The exact purpose of the pyramid is unknown. There are three chambers inside that could have been used as burial vaults. Two of them are unfinished. However, the funerary temple of Cheops himself is located next to the pyramid, not in it.
Now it is the most popular tourist attraction in Egypt, as well as the entire Giza pyramid complex. Tourists can not only admire the majestic creation of the ancient people, but also visit the corridors of the Pyramid of Cheops as part of the tour.
2. Hanging Gardens of Semiramis
Not only is there nothing left of this marvel, but its very existence is debatable. Information about the Gardens of Semiramis came down to us only in the form of descriptions of ancient authors, who lived long after the existence of the gardens. There is no archaeological evidence either.
The pyramidal building consisted of four platforms cascading one above the other. Trees, bushes and climbing plants were planted on each of them. To protect the plantings from the hot climate, the building was equipped with an irrigation system: water was raised by slaves to the upper level and flowed in waterfalls to the lower terrace, passing through all the platforms.
The four platforms were each perched on huge 25-meter columns so that sufficient light was available for the vegetation on each floor.
The Gardens of Semiramis looked like a green mountain in the middle of the desert.
If legends are to be believed, the gardens were built by King Nebuchadnezzar for his wife named Amitis. She was from Midia, where she was surrounded by green mountains. Another version says that this miracle came about thanks to Queen Semiramis.
The reason for the disappearance of the gardens also varies in the sources. It could have been a flood, or destruction due to an invasion of the enemy. The exact time of the existence of this miracle is also unknown.
The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
Artemis was especially revered in the ancient Greek pantheon, and not surprisingly one of the most magnificent temples of antiquity was built in her honor.
The first sanctuaries on this site existed from about the eighth century B.C. The great temple began to be built in the 500s B.C. and finished by about 380 B.C. The temple was set on fire by a resident of Ephesus in 356 B.C., so that his name would remain in history. It was later rebuilt with the financial support of Alexander the Great, and it was this version of the Temple of Artemis that became the most famous.
The Temple of Artemis was located in a seismically active area, and to protect it from earthquakes, the first architect, Hersiphon, chose a marshy area to build it. This was to soften the vibrations of the soil.
The building, made of marble, was enormous:
- Length: 137 meters.
- Width: 69 meters.
- Height: 18 meters (approximately a six-story house).
The roof of the temple was supported by 127 columns in two rows, some of which were decorated with carvings of the famous sculptor.
Inside the temple were decorated with statues made by famous architects, as well as the works of famous artists. The jewel in the crown was the 15-meter statue of Artemis, made from a rare species of wood, ivory, and gold.
This place fulfilled not only a religious function. Because of the works of art collected here, the temple was considered one of the most famous ancient museums. It was also used as a treasury: both private individuals and states deposited their money.
Finally, this wonder of the world ceased to exist in the 4th century AD, when Christianity began to be practiced in the Roman Empire and all pagan monuments had to be destroyed. The swampy terrain made it impossible to preserve the ruins in proper condition, and the most interesting thing that remains here is the lone Ionic column.
4. Statue of Zeus at Olympia
This work of art was created by the architect Phidias for the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. The statue reaching the canvas was made of ebonite wood, ivory, and gold.
Zeus is the central deity in ancient Greek mythology, but until 470 B.C. there was no main sanctuary of this god in Greece. The new temple was a grandiose structure made almost entirely of marble. The 27×64 meter roof was supported by 10 meter columns. On completion of the temple, the famous Athenian architect Phidias was invited to create the main statue.
According to the descriptions of ancient authors, the statue depicted the Thunderer seated on a throne. In one hand he held a scepter topped with an eagle, in the other – a small statue of the Goddess of Victory Nike. On his head was a gilded crown, and his feet were placed on a bench supported by lions. Part of her body was covered by a gilded cloak.
Together with the pedestal, the statue was 12 to 17 meters high. One had the feeling that if Zeus rose, it would destroy the marble roof of the temple.
The statue was damaged and restored in the II century B.C., when there was a strong earthquake. And already closer to the IV century A.D. could be destroyed, because the Roman Empire adopted the Christian faith.
5. Mausoleum in Halicarnassus
Queen Artemisia of Caria decided to follow the example of the Egyptian pharaohs and build a monument that would immortalize the name of her late husband King Mausolus.
The building consisted of three tiers. The first was a large plinth, the perimeter of which was decorated with statues of heroes of the ancient Greek epic. The tombs of the spouses were to be placed here. The second tier was used for religious ceremonies, it was decorated with snow-white columns which held the third tier. It had a pyramidal shape with stepped slopes. A statue of a chariot with the king and queen adorned the top of this marvel.
The word “mausoleum” came from the name of King Mausolus.
The building stood until the end of the 15th century, when it was destroyed by a series of strong earthquakes.
6. Colossus of Rhodes
When you think of the 7 Wonders of the World, you will definitely mention the huge Colossus, which glorified the city of Rhodes.
- Creation: 292-280 BC.
- Height: about 36 meters.
- Location: Rhodes, the island of the same name in the Aegean Sea.
- Period of existence: About 50 years.
The giant bronze covered statue of Helios, the god of the sun, symbolized the greatness of Rhodes and was intended to impress the crews of all the ships entering the port. The people of Rhodes decided to erect this marvel after they had withstood a year-long siege by the troops of Demetrius of Macedonia.
The famous sculptor Hares worked on the statue. He was originally commissioned for an 18-meter statue, but later the people of Rhodes demanded that the height be doubled, doubling the payment. However, there wasn’t enough money for a more grandiose project, so Hares went into debt to finish the work. It took him 12 years.
Supposedly the giant was placed at the entrance of the harbor, but some scholars suggest that it could have been placed further away.
According to ancient authors, the statue depicted a tall young man whose head was decorated with a crown of rays. He stood on a marble pedestal, gazing into the distance.
In 227 or 226 B.C. the statue fell into the sea because of a strong earthquake and fractured its legs. In this form it remained until 653, when the Arabs conquered Rhodes and dismantled one of the wonders of the world…
7. The Lighthouse of Alexandria
Unlike all the other great creations, the lighthouse had a strategic function: it helped ships navigate the Egyptian coast and find the entrance to Alexandria harbor.
Besides its navigational function, it is believed that its main purpose was the early detection of the enemy fleet. Egypt was already in great danger from unexpected attacks from the sea, so the construction of the Alexandria Lighthouse was a great necessity. It also acted as a defensive structure with fortress walls, a garrison and a supply of provisions in case of siege.
Travelers of that time were amazed by the size of this skyscraper that supposedly could be higher than even the pyramid of Cheops. The top of the lighthouse was accessed by a spiral staircase and fuel for the signal fire was delivered by donkeys via a ramp. Oil and wood were burned to keep the fire burning, and a system of mirrors was used to amplify the light, allowing the lighthouse to be seen at a distance of tens of kilometers.
In bad weather, a trumpet signal was sounded from the lighthouse.
There were statues on the facade, which indicated the direction of the wind. An eight-metre high statue of Poseidon or, according to other sources, Alexander the Great, crowned the building.
A strong earthquake in 365 is assumed to have destroyed part of the lighthouse, but it could still be reconstructed for future use. In the 14th century the lighthouse no longer existed: it was either dismantled or went under water. In its place was built fortress Kite Bay, which survived to this day.
7 Wonders of the World of our Time
Finally, let us mention the list compiled by the New Open World Corporation in 2007. The purpose of the initiative was to identify the greatest architectural structures that can still be seen today. To do this, a large-scale voting was conducted.
The final list looks like this:
- Great Wall of China.
- Machu Picchu.
- Taj Mahal.
- Statue of Christ the Redeemer.
- Chichen Itza.
The pyramids of Giza, including the pyramid of Cheops, refused to participate, because they are already included in the list of 7 Wonders of the Ancient World.