Traveling around the world, you will come across several ancient and modern architectural marvels such as the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. These buildings are endlessly intriguing and are regarded as emblems of human endeavor. Here are some of the must-see classics to contemporary architectural marvels that will make your heart skip a beat.
Monastery of Geghard, Goght, Armenia (Built between 4th and 13th centuries)
Located in Armenia’s Upper Azat Valley, this church is cut into the rock, forming an eternal sight. What started as a small cave chapel, eventually became the cultural and ecclesiastical center of medieval Armenia. According to historians, it was in the 4th century that the foundations of this monastery were laid down by Gregory the Illuminator at the sight of a sacred spring inside the cave. Furthermore, the name ‘Geghard’ refers to the spear that was used to wound Christ (the spear still remains here.) Today, this expansive monastery, with the Azat river gorge and looming cliffs, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Petra, Jordan (Built Between 400 BC and 106AD)
You may recognize this structure from the immensely popular Hollywood classic – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. However, Petra is much more historically relevant and magnificent than what was depicted in the movie. This ancient city, carved into the pink-red rock, features the fabled 1000 meter-long sandstone Siq (a narrow canyon that leads to Al Khazneh, or the Treasury). And as you scramble from the tomb to the temple, you will surely be engulfed with antiquity.
Lincoln Cathedral, Lincoln, England (Built in 1073 AD)
It may only be the third largest cathedral in England, but many notable scholars and students, believe that it is the most precious architectural work in the British Isles’. In 1311, the Lincoln Cathedral replaced the Great Pyramid of Giza as the tallest structure in the world. That said, this magnificent cathedral features a vivid collection of Anglo-Medieval art, including a copy of Magna Carta (there are only four such copies in the world).
Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey (Built in 537 AD)
This splendid scarab that rises from the illustrious skyline of Istanbul, is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world. Furthermore, Hagia Sophia also served as the center of the mighty Byzantine Empire, then an Ottoman mosque, before becoming a museum. The structure’s dome deserves a special mention because of its technically superior design that also helps connect the Roman to the monotheistic era. Surely, the ancient Turkish civilization knew how to outdo itself and the competition, when it came to designing structures to withstand time.
Pelourinho, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil (Built between c 1550 and 1600)
The historic district of Pelourinho in the city of Salvador had a tumultuous past. Regardless, the cobbled streets here are surrounded by numerous colorful Portuguese colonial buildings. Top attractions here include the light blue baroque – Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos, which hosts drum orchestras on Sundays.
(All photographs are courtesy of the original owners unless otherwise indicated)