TOP 15 architectural masterpieces

Tourists from all over the planet travel to admire them. These works of art are aesthetic, of course, but are first and foremost true masterpieces of intelligence!

1. Alhambra, Spain  

The Alhambra in Granada is one of the major monuments of Islamic architecture in Spain, dating from the 8th century. This majestic medieval acropolis contrasts the grandiose sobriety of early Islamic architecture with the exuberance of the Hispano-Moorish period.

2. Angkor Wat, Cambodia  

This monumental complex was built at the beginning of the 12th century as a “state temple” and capital. The best preserved temple in Angkor, one of the largest medieval cities in the world, it is the only one to have remained an important religious center since its foundation, initially Hindu then, Buddhist. The temple is the archetype of the classical style of Khmer architecture.

3. Taj Mahal, India  

Located in Agra, this white marble mausoleum built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife, combines elements of Islamic, Iranian, Ottoman and Indian architecture. Completed in 1643, the complex brings together several pavilions, gardens and terraces.

4. Sagrada Familia, Spain  

An emblematic monument of the city of Barcelona, ​​this basilica is the unfinished work of the architect Antoni Gaudi. This architect designed a meticulous symbology that makes this building a mystical poem. Work having begun in 1882, the Sagrada Familia is not yet finished today.

5. Millau Viaduct, France  

This astonishing cable-stayed bridge crosses the Tarn valley, in the Aveyron department, over a distance of 2,460 meters. 270 meters high, it offers a high quality panorama with winds likely to blow at more than 200 km/h. This project required thirteen years of technical and financial studies and cost more than 320 million euros.

6. Winter Palace, Russia  

This imperial palace, located in the heart of Saint Petersburg, was built from 1754 to 1762 at the request of Empress Elisabeth, daughter of Peter the Great. Today, the buildings host the Hermitage Museum, the largest museum in the world in terms of exhibits. The palace is considered a jewel of Russian Baroque art; each facade is decorated differently.

7. Blue Mosque, Turkey  

The Blue Mosque or Sultanahmet Camii is one of the historic mosques in Istanbul. Built between 1609 and 1616, it is a mixture of elements taken from Ottoman mosques and Byzantine churches. Its interior is just as lavishly decorated as its exterior.

8. Yaxchilan, Mexico  

Perched in a spectacular setting above the jungle, Yaxchilan is an ancient Mayan city located in the eastern state of Chiapas. The archaeological site is in a horseshoe loop of the Usumacinta River, which acts as a natural border between Mexico and Guatemala. A Mayan site that impresses with its ball courts, pyramids and sculpted frescoes, all dating from the 4th century.

9. Potala Palace, Tibet  

Located in Lhasa, on the hill of Marpari (called “the red hill”), this building embodies the union of spiritual power and temporal power and their respective roles in the administration of Tibet. Built by the fifth Dalai Lama in the 17th century, the palace was notably the main place of residence of successive Dalai Lamas. Built at 3,700 meters above sea level, on a hill 130 meters high, the palace is more like a fortress than a monastery.

10. Great Wall, China  

This set of military fortifications were built, destroyed and rebuilt several times and in several places between the 3rd century BC. AD and the 17th century to mark and defend the northern border of China. It is the largest architectural structure ever built by man in length, area and mass.

11. Guggenheim Museum, Spain  

The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is a museum of modern and contemporary art located in the Spanish Basque Country which opened to the public in 1997. Its silhouette is the result of a singular assembly of stone, glass and titanium. The museum has quickly become one of the most well-known and loved contemporary buildings in the world, doing a lot for the revival and notoriety of Bilbao.

12. Falkirk Wheel, Scotland  

The Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift, linking the Forth and Clyde Canal to the Union Canal, near the town of Falkirk in the center of the country. The lift system allows the boats to be raised 24 meters. This “wheel” is a unique model in the world and is a masterpiece of civil engineering that attracts many tourists.

13. Gur Emir, Uzbekistan  

The Gour Emir is an octahedral building covered with colored tiles crowned with an impressive 32 meter high dome. Built in 1401, this mausoleum located in Samarkand occupies an important place in the history of Persian architecture. It is indeed the precursor and the model of the great Mughal burials, such as the Taj Mahal.

14. Lalibela, Ethiopia  

The rock churches of Lalibela are eleven monolithic churches carved out of the rock. The layout of the site was designed so that its topography corresponds to a symbolic representation of the Holy Land, hence its name “Black Jerusalem”. Cut at the beginning of the 13th century, these churches remain a mystery for Man since no historical document gives information on the architects, the workers or their precise date of foundation. It is however obvious that enormous means had to be implemented to realize these astonishing structures.

15. Pyramid of Cheops, Egypt  

The Pyramid of Cheops, or Great Pyramid of Giza, is a monument built by the Egyptians over 4,500 years ago. Presumed tomb of the pharaoh Cheops, its many architectural particularities and the exploits achieved for its construction make it a pyramid that continues to raise questions among humans.