Big Ben, London, England
It took 16 years to build this massive clock tower! When it was completed in 1859, it was the world’s biggest clock. As it was known then, the Clock Tower stood tall and proud on the London skyline, reaching over 300 feet tall. It was constructed as part of the rebuilding of the Palace of Westminster after a fire destroyed the original building in 1834.
The colossal clock captivates with its distinctive chimes and has become an iconic sound in the city of London. The tower is often featured in movies and TV shows. Over the years, there’ve been several renovations to the clock. Electric lighting was added, and it was given a new name in 2012 to honor Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.
Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France
Napoleon Bonaparte had this triumphant arc built in commemoration of his victories. It has stood as a symbol of national pride since 1836. This wasn’t a quick build; the arc, with its intricate reliefs of military scenes, took almost 30 years to complete.
Fields once surrounded this grand gateway, but now it stands in the center of Place Charles de Gaulle, which is a major traffic hub in Paris. Tourists can climb to the top of the Arc for some beautiful views of the City of Love.
Hollywood Sign, Los Angeles, USA
In 1923, the Los Angeles Times owner, Harry Chandler, wanted to make an impact on real estate buyers in Los Angeles. His solution: The Hollywoodland sign. It advertised the housing development of the same name and had thousands of lights illuminating it at night.
Over the years, the sign was renovated several times, and in 1949 the “land” was removed. The Hollywood sign is now equated with the glitz and glamor of the movie star life. It looks out over the showbiz town and is now a tourist favorite.
Times Square, New York, USA
In the late 1800s, Longacre Square was transformed by the D. Burnham & Company architectural firm. The theater scene in New York was exploding, and it needed a new home. In 1904 the square was renamed “Times Square” after the world-famous New York Times moved in.
The New Year’s Eve ball drop is one of the most memorable moments of the holiday in New York, and though it started in 1907, it’s still visited by thousands of people each year. The vibrant billboards and neon signs attract people. It’s a bustling part of the city that never sleeps and is home to some well-known Broadway theaters.
Eiffel Tower, Paris France
This 330 feet structure of iron was finished in 1889 and was to serve as the entrance to the Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair) that was to be held in Paris that year. Though the tower was received with mixed reviews, its popularity won out, and the tower that was supposed to be only temporary has remained and still stands to this day.
Modern times have brought technology to the tower, and it now features elevators that lead to the observation decks where millions of people view the breathtaking city of Paris every year. The Tower has also been used in scientific experiments and radio transmissions. And there’s not a person who visits France that doesn’t have a picture of themselves holding a baguette in front of this iconic structure.
Taj Mahal, Agra, India
Emperor Shah Jahan wanted to honor his wife’s memory, so the Taj Mahal was built as a mausoleum for Mumtaz Mahal. It’s almost unbelievable to think that this symmetric structure of white marble and gemstones has stood as a symbol of eternal love since 1648.
Over the years, the Taj Mahal has been renovated several times to preserve its beauty and integrity and protect it from damage. The building is a UNESCO Heritage Site and one of the most famous tourist attractions in the world. Sunrise and sunset are magical times in this tomb, where the emperor and his wife will forever lie side by side.
The Colosseum, Rome, Italy
The Colosseum was once a stage built for the gladiators with seating for over 80 000 Roman citizens. This architectural marvel was designed by Vesoasian and Tutus in 72 AD. It took thousands of unpaid workers eight years to complete the massive amphitheater.
Over the years, the Colosseum was hit by natural disasters, vandalism, and plundering of its materials, and it’s only a shadow of its former self. The partially ruined structure is a UNESCO Heritage Site that millions of people visit annually.
The Sphinx, Giza, Egypt
With the body of a lion and the head of a human, this mysterious structure stands 66 feet high and 240 long. The original designer is unknown, but they must have been skilled artisans and craftsmen of Ancient Egypt. It’s believed that the magnificent structure was constructed during the reign of Pharaoh Khafre around 2500 BC.
The mysteries of the Sphinx will likely never be revealed, and it’ll always be a subject of fascination. Millions of people visit the site every year, and all are captivated by the allure of the statue. Though eroded and damaged, the Sphinx will always stand as a testament to the wonders of ancient Egypt.
Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany
King Frederick William II of Prussia commissioned the building of the gate in 1788 as a symbol of peace and prosperity. It’s adorned with various sculptures, the most famous of which is the Quadriga, a chariot drawn by four horses.
The gate still stands in the heart of Berlin and has witnessed the history of Germany, including the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany. It’s a symbol of unity and freedom to the German people.
Stonehenge, Salisbury Plain, England
Constructed at some point in the span of a thousand years between 3000 BC and 2000 BC by an ancient civilization, these massive upright stones are believed to have been for ceremonial purposes. They stand in circular patterns, and the stones used came from distant quarries.
These stones will probably always remain a mystery to us. Thankfully, they’re being preserved as a UNESCO Heritage Site for the next generations. Perhaps scholars of the future will uncover the secrets of this archeological site.
Chichén Itzá, Yucatán state in Mexico
This stunning archaeological site stands at the center of what was once a bustling Mayan settlement. It features the iconic El Castillo pyramid, the Temple of the Warriors, and the Great Ballcourt and is a testimony to the cultural legacy of the ancient Mayan people.
Modern times have brought countless visitors to the UNESCO Heritage Site, and it’s also been made a part of the New Seven Wonders of the World. It’s most popular at the equinox when the play of light creates the illusion of a snake crawling down the pyramid stairs.
Duomo, Florence, Italy
It’s officially known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, and its construction took around 140 years, finally ending in 1436. It was built as the main cathedral of Florence and showcased the city’s devotion and wealth.
The interior of the Duomo houses priceless artworks by noteworthy artists such as Donatello and Michelangelo. It’s been restored and added to over the years and still stands as a magnificent example of Gothic and Renaissance architecture.
Tower Bridge, London, England
The Tower Bridge was completed in 1894 and is a bascule bridge, which means it can be raised to allow ships to pass. It’s a marvel of engineering and features Gothic-style towers that overlook the city of London.
In the 1970s, the bridge was modernized, and it now operates using a computer-controlled hydraulic system for raising and lowering the bascules. Visitors to London can take a step into the past and explore the bridge’s history at the Tower Bridge Exhibition.
Acropolis, Athens, Greece
Ancient Grecians wanted a sanctuary dedicated to the Greek gods and goddesses, particularly Athena, the patron deity of Athens. Thus, this fortified citadel was built. Callicrates and Phidias, who started their work in the fifth century BC, are among the architects of the ancient structure.
Over the years, the Acropolis has been damaged by storms of natural and human nature, but it’s been restored, and visitors can view the artistic splendors of ancient Greece while recognizing the passing of time.
Statue of Liberty, New York, USA
Constructed between 1875 and 1884 in France, the Statue of Liberty was a work of art by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. He was assisted by Gustave Eiffel, the engineer responsible for the Eiffel Tower. The magnificent statue was a gift from France to the USA to symbolize the two countries’ friendship.
The statue represented Libertas, the Roman Goddess of freedom, and was once copper, but the passing of time has eroded her sheen. She’s been restored and no longer holds her original torch, but she still symbolizes values at the heart of the American dream.
Houses of Parliament, London, England
This meeting place of the British Government took 30 years to complete and housed the House of Commons and the House of Lords. With its intricate stone carvings and elaborate decorations, it’s an example of Victorian Gothic architecture like no other.
In 1834, the building was ravaged by a massive fire and had to undergo a massive reconstruction. It was, however, restored to its former glory, and as a UNESCO Heritage Site, it represents the rich history of the United Kingdom.
Tikal is known for its towering pyramids, temples, and palaces. It served as a cultural, political, and economic center for the Maya people, and the construction took hundreds and hundreds of years, starting in the year four BC and finishing in the 10th century AD.
Although the Tikal site saw devastation and neglect, it has been partially restored and receives many visitors each year. The site lies within a rich rainforest and has been extensively studied by scholars over the years.
Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, USA
Over 14 years, stone carvers worked diligently to carve the faces of four of the most prominent presidents in United States history into the side of a mountain in The Black Hills region of South Dakota. They’ll be memorialized in the stone forever.
The memorial symbolizes national pride, and the US has continually maintained the site’s glory. Each face stands 60 feet tall, and the site is often visited by people interested in the history of the country.
Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia
The Opera House was built to enrich the cultural landscape of Sydney, Australia, and was to be the home of various forms of performance arts. Sitting on Bennelong Point, it’s overlooked the Sydney Harbour since 1973.
Today it’s one of the most recognizable architectural feats of the modern world and is renowned for its sail-like roof, composed of precast concrete panels. It’s the home of world-famous plays, ballets and has been renovated over the years to feature some of the most advanced technologies.
La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain
Construction of the Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family began in 1882 and continues to this day. After the passing of the architect Antoni Gaudi, various artisans have continued his work to bring his vision to life. The church combines Gothic and Art Nouveau elements and is a spiritual masterpiece.
Relying on private donations, the completion of the Sagrada Familia has been a long and complex process that is estimated to be completed in the 2030s. It’s one of Spain’s most visited tourist attractions and proves the devotion of the Spanish people to finishing the project.
The Great Wall, Beijing, China
The Great Wall was constructed over many centuries, with the most significant part of it happening during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD). It was built as a defensive fortification to protect the Chinese territories.
Stretching over thousands of miles, sections of the Great Wall are open to the public. The stone and brick wall has undergone extensive restoration, repairs, and expansion over the years. It’s a symbol of national pride for the Chinese people to this day.
The Pyramids of Giza, Giza, Egypt
These massive tombs were constructed to serve as the final resting place for several pharaohs and are situated on the outskirts of Cairo. There’s a lot of controversy regarding their origin and construction, but it’s believed by many that they were completed around 2500 BC.
Modern times have brought much debate with regard to the Pyramids, and countless scholars and architects have studied them. As a popular tourist attraction, they have been viewed by millions of people over the years.
Parthenon, Athens, Greece
This temple was built atop the Acropolis and dedicated to the goddess Athena. It was meant as a symbol of Athenian power, wealth, and cultural achievements. It’s made of marble, and at one time, the statue of Athena by Parthenos stood inside.
As a symbol of classical Greek civilization, this temple still stands today, and after being ravaged by earthquakes, conflicts, and lootings, it’s been restored to preserve its historical significance. Visitors can visit the ruins to be amazed by the architectural details.
The Treasury, Petra, Lebanon
The Nabateans, an ancient Arab civilization, constructed the Treasury, also known as Al-Khazneh, in the first century AD. The exact purpose of the Treasury is still a subject of speculation and intrigue, although many believe that it was built as a mausoleum for a Nabatean king.
Although the Treasury has faced natural erosion, it’s still one of the most iconic landmarks and is on the New Seven Wonders of the World list. Visitors can walk through the labyrinths and admire the Nabatean mastery of rock-cut architecture.
Easter Island, Chile
On Easter Sunday in 1722, Europeans discovered the island of Rapa Nui, hence the name. The island was originally settled by the Polynesians, who are said to have arrived there around the 13th century AD. The island is known for its stone statues, called moai, that were carved from volcanic rock.
Unfortunately, the island’s resources were overexploited, sadly leading to deforestation and the demise of the inhabitants. Today efforts are being made to restore the island’s fragile ecosystem. Visitors are welcome to visit the landmark and take a step back into an ancient civilization.
The Arch of Constantine, Rome, Italy
To commemorate the victory in the Battle of Milvian Bridge, Roman Emperor Constantine I commissioned the arch building in 315 AD. Many of the decorative elements of the arch were repurposed from earlier monuments and structures.
Standing near the Colosseum, it’s a prime example of the grandeur of the Roman Empire. Just look at the intricate architecture that the ancient civilization was famous for. This ancient structure has undergone severe restoration and conservation efforts to keep the history of ancient Rome alive for modern visitors.
The Roman Baths, Bath, England
During the Roman occupation of Britain, the ancient civilization left its mark, and a part of this was the construction of the Roman Baths around 70 AD. Roman engineers built the baths by utilizing the natural hot springs of the area.
The ancient bathing complex fell into disuse and was buried beneath the city. In the 19th century, the baths were rediscovered and excavated. Modern-day visitors can visit the UNESCO Heritage Site and can even sample the mineral-rich waters of the area, though the actual baths are off-limits for swimming.
Pula Arena, Pula, Croatia
Using the local limestone, the Pula Arena was designed and built by the Roman Empire in the first century AD. It was built as an amphitheater for the gladiators and was meant as a venue for entertainment for the Roman citizens.
This landmark is one of the most well-preserved Roman amphitheaters, and in its heyday, it could seat up to 23,000 spectators. This arena has witnessed many different uses over the years and is still home to the Pula Film Festival.
The Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
This is another temple that was dedicated to a Roman god, this time Bacchus or Dionysus. He was the deity associated with drinking, fertility, and ecstasy. The temple depicts scenes from the mythology surrounding Bacchus.
Though the temple has seen the effects of the passing of time, it still remains an awe-inspiring structure, and visitors can step back into time and truly appreciate the artistry of the ancient Roman architects and engineers.
Pyramid of the Sun, Teotihuacán, Mexico
The ancient Meso-American people constructed this religious site, and it’s believed that it was meant for the worship of gods associated with the sun and the cycles of life and death. The Pyramid has stood since the second century AD.
While some parts of the pyramid have collapsed, it’s still one of the largest ancient pyramids and stands at an impressive height of over 200 feet. It has multiple layers and a grand staircase that leads to the summit.
The Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, Luxor, Egypt
In the 15th century, this temple was built as a funerary temple for the female pharaoh Hatshepsut to commemorate her reign and accomplishments. The beautiful temple is set against the cliffs of Deir el-Bahari and has stunning carved reliefs that depict the scenes of the pharaoh’s life.
Over the years, the temple was destroyed by pharaohs who ruled after Hatshepsut, as well as by natural disasters and tribulations of time. Ongoing restorations have been made, and today visitors are given a glimpse into the lives of the ancient Egyptians.
The Terracotta Army, Shaanxi, China
It was a tradition in the Chinese Empire to have an emperor’s soldiers buried with him at the time of the emperor’s passing. Emperor Qin Shi Huang didn’t want to have his soldiers to have to go through this, so a massive Terracotta Army of over 8,000 life-sized terracotta soldiers was created.
The army was accidentally discovered in 1974 after being buried for over 2000 years. The excavation gives visitors a glimpse into the ancient military organization of the Chinese. Parts of the statue army have been sent all over the world for a global audience to enjoy.
Ephesus, Izmir Province, Turkey
Ephesus is an ancient Greek city that was established in the 10th century BC and later became a prominent Roman city in the first century BC. The city was home to the Library of Celsus, a famous structure that housed 12,000 scrolls.
Changes in the political landscape resulted in the decline and abandonment of the city. Since then, extensive archeological excavations have revealed some remarkable ruins, and visitors are now allowed to wander through the ruins and get an insight into the daily lives of the ancient Romans.
Pompeii, Naples, Italy
Pompeii was founded in the sixth century BC but was tragically buried under volcanic ash during the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, ironically preserving the city. At its prime, the city was home to over 20,000 people.
The city was forgotten for centuries and was rediscovered in the 18th century, and today feels the feet of millions of visitors walking in the footsteps of the ancient civilization that once called it home. It’s an extraordinary archaeological site.
Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park, USA
The Ancestral Puebloans constructed the Cliff Palace using sandstone blocks, wooden beams, and mortar. It served as a thriving Native American community and provided shelter and communal spaces.
It was rediscovered in the 19th century, and the well-preserved structures show the largest cliff dwelling in North America, with over 150 rooms and numerous chambers tucked into the canyon walls.
Penn Station, New York, USA
Pennsylvania Station, as it was originally called, was constructed between 1904 and 1910 in the bustling city of New York. It was a magnificent masterpiece of urban design and a sign of the city’s progress at the time.
The original Penn Station was demolished in 1963, but it sparked a public outcry and raised awareness of the necessity to preserve historic architecture. The modern-day station is an underground structure that still serves the people’s needs but lacks the original station’s grandeur.
The Statue of Martin Luther, Wittenberg, Germany
Martin Luther was a German theologian and professor who famously nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Germany on October 31st, 1517.
The statue is in memory of the ancient scholar who greatly impacted history. Over the years, the church suffered damage, including a fire in the 18th century. Modern-day visitors can still see the tomb of Martin Luther and the Castle Church.
Barmaley Fountain, Volgograd, Russia
The fountain was inspired by characters from the popular children’s book Barmaley. It was built in 1940 in the city then known as Stalingrad. It depicted the main character of the book Barmaley, a pirate, and a group of brave children.
The fountain has been well-maintained over the years. It’s still a favorite attraction for families with children who come to look at the whimsical scene that it depicts.
The Capitol Building, Washington, USA
Between 1793 and 1800, the Capitol Building was constructed for the purpose of debate and to pass laws. It serves as the meeting place for the government.
The building has also undergone several restorations and expansions. In the mid-19th century, the iconic dome was added. While the exterior remains mostly untouched, the interior has changed dramatically. It’s been adapted to include technology and the changing needs of Congress.
Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, Hiroshima, Japan
This site is also known as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. It stood from 1915 until 1945, when it was destroyed during the world conflict.
It stands today as a powerful monument to the devastating consequences of worldwide conflicts and is a symbol of peace. Millions of visitors come to pay their respects each year.
New York City Skyline (World Trade Center), New York, USA
Officially known as the World Trade Center buildings, the towers stood tall at 1,368 feet. They were once the tallest buildings in the world. In 2001, the towers were targeted, which resulted in their complete destruction.
The destruction led to the construction of the One World Trade Center, which is home to the Memorial and Museum. It’s also known as Freedom Tower and stands as a symbol of resilience.
The Strip, Las Vegas, USA
The Vegas Strip began developing in the 1940s and has transformed into a world-famous entertainment destination. The famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign has been welcoming visitors since 1959.
From a dusty desert road to a sprawling neon-lit boulevard, the strip has developed over the years. Today, it’s the mecca for people who want to take on Lady Luck.
The Louvre Museum, Paris, France
The original Louvre fortress was built as a defensive structure under the reign of Philip II. It has since been expanded, renovated, and transformed into a grand museum complex.
The glass pyramid was added in 1989 and is an iconic landmark in the art world. The museum is home to some of history’s most famous works of art, including the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.
Machu Picchu, Peru
The ancient Incan citadel is believed to have been constructed around the 15th century. It’s thought to have served as a royal estate to the Inca emperor Pachacuti. It’s located high in the Andes Mountains, which kept it hidden from the outside world until it was discovered in 1911.
The site has undergone extensive restoration and preservation efforts to maintain its structural integrity. It has undergone many changes to protect it from the effects of tourism, of which there is a lot. The Inca Trail is especially popular with hikers and sees millions of people each year.
Statue of Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
It took Brazilian engineer Albert Caquot nine years to construct the statue. The statue has been standing on the top of Corcovado Mountain since 1931 and reaches 98 feet high. It was built as a symbol of peace and faith.
The statute is an iconic landmark in Brazil, and it’s been seen in many local and international movies. It’s been restored over the years, and the reinforced concrete and soapstone will most likely stretch its arms for years to come.