Our Earth is beautiful! The Taj Mahal in India, the Sydney Opera House in Australia or Christ the Redeemer overlooking the bay of Rio: these monuments alone are a shortcut to the beauty of the world. These imposing works of architecture or sculpture have been considered “monuments” because they were erected in memory of an important fact or a great personage.
Most of these buildings are remarkable works of timeless beauty, but above all they constitute a collective memory of humanity spanning the centuries. Here is a little trip among the most prestigious buildings on the planet. Enjoy your visit to the 25 most beautiful monuments in the world…
25. NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE – Germany
Standing on a rocky outcrop 200 meters high in the town of Schwangau, Neuschwanstein (“New Swan Rock”) is a magical castle erected by King Ludwig II of Bavaria in 1869.
For the construction of this romantic castle, the architect Eduard Riebel combined the Romanesque and Gothic styles with the modern techniques of the 19th century. Yet the excessive ambition of this project engulfed the king’s fortune In 1884, Ludwig II moved into the castle but, accused of madness by the Bavarian ministers, he was found drowned two years later… Today, the Castle of Neuschwanstein welcomes more than one million visitors a year.
For the anecdote, Walt Disney would have been inspired by this building when he created the magical castle of Sleeping Beauty. We understand why Disney was inspired by it and why this castle is one of the 25 most beautiful monuments in the world.
24. THE STATUE OF LIBERTY – USA
Located on the island of Liberty Island, in New York, the Statue of Liberty (93 meters high and 10 meters around the waist) is considered a masterpiece combining art and technique.
The idea germinated in the head of Edouard de Laboulaye, professor at the College de France, in 1865. The project was immediately entrusted to the French sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi with the collaboration of Gustave Eiffel for the metal frame. In 1876, the statue was offered by France for the centenary of the Independence of the United States.
In 1903, a poem by Emma Lazarus, titled The New Colossus, hung from the base of the monument: “Give me your poor, your weary who in serried ranks yearn to live free, the scum of your crowded shores, send -the me, the disinherited, whom the storm brings me, with my light, I illuminate the golden door! »
Even today, the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of ideals such as human rights, peace, democracy and luck. Since 1984, this monument has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
23. SAINT MARK’S BASILICA – Italy
It all started in 828, when the mummified body of the Evangelist Saint Mark was stolen from Alexandria and brought back to Venice by two wealthy Italian merchants. Giustiniano Participazio, eleventh Doge of Venice, then decided to build a chapel to receive the relics of the evangelist.
But in 976, the church was destroyed by fire. It was the Doge Domenico Contarini who ordered a larger reconstruction of the building in 1063.
At the time, Constantinople set the tone. Its architects are in demand all over the world. It is also for this reason that the Basilica of Saint Mark is impregnated with techniques from the Orient.
Inside this church with domes, we discover the gold mosaics that cover the walls of the basilica, the hundreds of polychrome columns, the marble inlays on the floor… and the treasure of the building: the Pala d ‘Oro, a masterpiece of goldsmithing dating from the 14th century. This gold altarpiece is made up of 3,000 precious stones and 80 enamels.
22. The monuments of STONEHENGE – England
It is the most beautiful megalithic monument in Europe. Located on Salisbury Plain in the South West of England. Its construction began in 3050 BC. However, no reference work seems to be able to say with certainty who built Stonehenge and what its vocation was. Was it a funerary monument, a temple or an astronomical observatory.
For some experts it is a burial. Indeed, many human bones were found on the site. On the other hand, for astronomers, it is more of an astronomical observatory: the megaliths are arranged in lines of sight highlighting astronomical phenomena. These stones would materialize the solstices, the equinoxes, the eclipses, the sunrises and the sunsets of the sun and the moon.
The site attracts almost a million visitors every year. The beauty of the place lends itself to meditation, we understand its classification among the 25 most beautiful monuments in the world.
21. THE MOAIS OF EASTER ISLAND – Chile
Isolated in the southeast of the Pacific Ocean, Easter Island is particularly known for its gigantic statues: the Moais.
There are about 900 on the island. Some of them are finished, others are in draft form. Carved between the 9th and 17th centuries, these statues are sculpted in tuff mainly from the quarry of Rano Raraku. Their eyes are made of shark bones and their pupils are encrusted with coral. Their size varies from 3 to 20 meters for an average weight of 14 tons.
The Moaïs have been erected with their backs to the ocean. They thus protected the people against the outside world. However, there is an exception: the “Ahu Akivi”, an alignment of 7 Moais looking towards the ocean.
Nearly 300 years after the discovery of Easter Island by the Dutchman Jakob Roggeven, the reasons that led the Rapa Nui people of the island to erect these statues remain unknown. Symbol of protection? The story does not say. In any case, certainly in the list of the 25 most beautiful monuments in the world.
20. SYDNEY OPERA – Australia
Designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon in 1959, the Sydney Opera House is today one of the major architectural works of the 20th century. Located in Sydney Harbour, this opera house is a major venue for performing the arts. In particular, it hosts many foreign artistic productions on tour.
The success of the Sydney Opera House is undoubtedly due to its original architecture: it is made up of 3 groups of vaulted and intertwined shells. It is also supported by 580 concrete pillars that sink 25 meters below the sea and its roof has more than a million white ceramic tiles.
Today, the Sydney Opera House consists of 5 theatres, 5 rehearsal studios, 4 restaurants and 6 bars. Its electrical needs are equivalent to those of a city of 25,000 inhabitants!
On June 28, 2007, this building was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is no doubt that it is one of the most beautiful monuments in the world.
19. THE ACROPOLIS OF ATHENS – Greece
This is the most remarkable collection of monuments from Ancient Greece. This rocky plateau about 148 meters high is located in the center of Athens and can only be reached by a steep slope from the west side.
In the 5th century BC, a group of artists implemented the development plans for the Acropolis drawn up by Pericles and, under the direction of the sculptor Pheidias, transformed the rocky hill into an extraordinary architectural ensemble. They are certainly among the most beautiful monuments in the world.
The main monuments erected at this time are the Erechtheion Temple; the Parthenon, sanctuary dedicated to Athena, goddess of war and wisdom; the Temple of Athena Nike, goddess of victory; and the Propylaea, vestibules leading to the sanctuaries.
During antiquity, the Acropolis served as a refuge for the worship of the gods of Greek mythology.
The Acropolis was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
18. BASIL-THE-BLESSED CATHEDRAL – Russia
Located on the famous Red Square in Moscow, next to the Kremlin, the Basil-the-Blessed Cathedral is the symbol of Russian architecture.
In 1554, Tsar Ivan IV, the famous Ivan the Terrible, ordered the construction of this monument to commemorate his victory over the Tatars. The architect of this building is unknown but according to legend, the Tsar ordered that his eyes be gouged out so that he could no longer reproduce such a beautiful work.
During the great communist period, the church was closed and no service was held for almost 70 years. Stalin, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Russia, had even asked that the monument be razed, because it hindered the passage of troops for military parades. Fortunately for this monument, one of the most beautiful monuments in the world, nothing happened!
The Cathedral was named Saint-Basile because it shelters in one of its chapels, the tomb of Basile-le-Bienheureux, a simpleton who had predicted the victory of Ivan the Terrible.
17. SAINT SOPHIA BASILICA – Turkey
The history of the Hagia Sophia, in Istanbul, has been turbulent… Burned down in 404 by the mob, it was rebuilt in 415 under the reign of Theodosius to be burned again during Nika’s revolt.
It was in 537 that Emperor Justinian decided to rebuild it. Its construction required no less than 10,000 workers and only 5 years of work.
It was the largest church in the Christian world until it was transformed into a mosque by the Ottomans in 1453. The minarets and mausoleums date from this period.
Its cupola 31 meters in diameter, its imperial door surmounted by a magnificent mosaic of a Christ in Majesty, its gold letters, its nave, its porphyry columns, its stained glass windows… this basilica is incontestably the first masterpiece of work of the Byzantine era.
In 1934, the Hagia Sophia became a museum.
16. CHRIST THE REDEEMER – Brazil
At the top of Mount Corcovado (710 meters), Christ the Redeemer dominates the city of Rio de Janeiro.
In the 1920s, the Catholic Church lost many faithful to Freemasonry and Positivism. Erecting a statue of Christ then became a way for the church to reassert its influence.
In 1931, the monument, designed by the French sculptor Paul Landowski, was inaugurated. The ceremony is grand. In the evening, tens of thousands of residents take part in a torchlight procession.
The goal is reached. 80 years later, the magic still works. Every year, no less than 600,000 visitors flock to board the electric train that crosses Tijuca National Park to reach the legendary summit.
15. EL CASTILLO DE CHICHEN ITZA – Mexico
Founded in the 10th century, Chichén Itzâ is an ancient Mayan city located in the Yucatàn Peninsula, Mexico. The most spectacular building of this archaeological site is a large terraced pyramid: El Castillo (the Castle, in Castilian).
It is not the highest pyramid in the region (it still measures 24 meters) but it is the one that is in the best state of conservation. Since 2007, it is also forbidden to climb the pyramid to avoid damage.
El Castillo has a calendar vocation. Indeed, the Mayan civilization developed astro-architecture consisting of combining astronomical knowledge with architectural know-how.
For example, during the spring and autumn equinoxes, the position of the sun creates a shadow giving the impression that the heads of reptiles carved at the foot of the stairs of the pyramid extend into the wavy body of a serpent! According to legend, this reptile would represent the “Feathered Serpent” Kukulkan, a deity in the Mayan religion.
14. BOROBUDUR TEMPLE – Indonesia
In the heart of Indonesia, on the island of Java, stands the Temple of Borobudur, a mountain of stones, over 1200 years old. This building is the largest Buddhist monument in the world.
Built by Hindu kings to celebrate the glory of the Buddha, Borobudur was occupied until the 12th century. It was then abandoned when Buddhism experienced decline. In 1948, UNESCO undertook to restore the temple, which thus became a place of worship and pilgrimage.
On a surface of 2,500m², the walls of Borobudur are decorated with bas-reliefs whose total length is 6 km! Carved in volcanic stone, these bas-reliefs relate the life of the spiritual leader Sakyamuni (“the Awakened”), founder of Buddhism. One of the most beautiful monuments in the world. To visit if you have the possibility.
13. THE SAGRADA FAMILIA – Spain
An emblematic monument of Barcelona, the Sagrada Familia is a cathedral which, after more than a century of work, is still not completed…
In 1882, the architect Francesco de Paula del Villar i Lozano decided to build a cathedral where believers could atone for their sins. But a year later, he abandoned the project and Antonio Gaudi was given carte blanche to complete the cathedral.
The work is exclusively financed by donations, which does not facilitate its task. When he died in 1926, Gaudi left the work unfinished.
The 18 towers of the Cathedral, covered with mosaics, evoke the 12 apostles, the 4 evangelists, the Virgin Mary and Christ.
The Sagrada Familia is the most visited monument in Spain. It attracts more than 2 million tourists every year. In 2005 it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
For those who wish to see the cathedral completed, it will be necessary to wait… 2040!
12. MONT SAINT-MICHEL ABBEY – France
Mont Saint-Michel… Who does not know the name of this small town located on the borders of Normandy? It is on this rocky islet that stands an Abbey considered a marvel of medieval architecture.
It all started in the year 709. Bishop Saint Aubert claimed to have been enjoined by the Archangel Michael to build a chapel on a deserted rock, the future Mont Saint-Michel. Nearly 300 years later, in 966, Benedictine monks settled there.
Very quickly, the chapel became too small and the Christian community decided to build a huge abbey which became a major place of pilgrimage in the Christian West. In the 13th century, new constructions were built in the North, six magnificent rooms which were immediately named: the Marvel. In 1793, the monks were driven out by the Revolution and the Abbey was transformed into a prison. It will remain so until 1864.
Listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1979, Mont Saint-Michel receives more than 3 million visitors a year. Daily worship is now provided by the Monastic Fraternities of Jerusalem.
11. THE CASTLE OF VERSAILLES – France
Listed as a World Heritage Site for 33 years, the Palace of Versailles is one of the finest achievements of French art in the 18th century. The modest hunting lodge of Louis XIII became, thanks to his son Louis XIV, the most prestigious castle in the world. He installed the Court and the French government there in 1682. Until the Revolution, the Bourbons succeeded each other embellishing the building, each in turn.
With its 63,000 m2 of surface area and its 2,300 rooms (including 1,000 museum pieces), it is the largest castle on the planet! In terms of figures that bear witness to its excess, we should also mention its 2,513 windows, 352 chimneys, 67 staircases, 483 mirrors and 13 hectares of roofs.
Every year, 6 million tourists visit the Hall of Mirrors designed by Mansart, the Museum of the History of France or the King’s apartments.
10. THE TEMPLE OF ANGHOR – Cambodia
Angkor Wat is the largest temple in the city of Angkor, the former capital of the Khmer kings in Cambodia. Built by King Sûryavarman H at the beginning of the 3rd century, Angkor Wat represented Mount Meru, the home of the gods in Hindu mythology.
The role of a temple-mountain? To provide the gods with a place of residence on earth so that they can come to the aid of men and ensure their prosperity. The Temple of Angkor Wat was dedicated to Vishnu, god of protection of the Hindu trinity. It has since been converted into a Buddhist monastery.
On the walls of the temple, visitors can read the story of the gods. Eight large panels whose themes are drawn from Indian epics and sacred texts, stretch over 520 meters long and 2 meters high. Today, the Temple of Angkor Wat is the symbol of Cambodia and even appears on the national flag. It is one of the most beautiful monuments in the world
Since 1992, it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
9. BIG BEN – England
Big Ben is the nickname given to the 13.5 tonne bell installed in the Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the British parliament, in London. But where does this nickname come from? In memory of Benjamin Hall, portly master builder in charge of installing the clock.
It was in 1856 that a first bell was hung but in a few months, it cracked. In 1858, we decided to design a new bell which also cracked! Damaged but still operational, it has been giving Londoners the time for 154 years.
Every December 31, it is also Big Ben that announces the start of the new year in all English homes. The sound is broadcast on all radios and television channels in the country.
8. MOUNT RUSHMORE – United States
Located in the state of South Dakota, in the heart of the Black Hills, the Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a gigantic granite sculpture. It represents the portraits of four American presidents.
From left to right: George Washington (1789-1799), advocate of independence; Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809), writer of the Declaration of Independence; Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909), Nobel Peace Prize and Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865), who abolished slavery.
Thus, Mount Rushmore is sometimes called the Sanctuary of Democracy. Among the most beautiful monuments in the world to discover.
This sculpture is an idea of the historian Doane Robinson. Its goal: to develop tourism in the region to revive the economy. The 18-meter tall sculpture was made by sculptor Gutzon Borglum between 1927 and 1941.
The Mount Rushmore Memorial attracts 2 million visitors each year.
7. KIYOMIZU-DERA TEMPLE – Japan
Founded in 798, Kiyomizu-dera is a temple famous for its platform, supported by hundreds of wooden pillars, on the hillside and which offers an incredible view of Kyoto.
Below the temple terraces is the Otowa-no-taki waterfall. According to legend, this water promises health, longevity and success in studies to anyone who drinks it.
In addition, the temple is at the origin of the Japanese expression to throw Kiyomizu-dera”, the equivalent of “to jump into the water”. Indeed, during the Edo period (1600-1868), it was customary to believe that if a person survived a jump from the platform of the temple, his wish would come true. In total, 234 jumps from 13 meters were counted with a survival rate of 85.4%… Of course, this practice is now prohibited!
6. THE COLOSSEUM – Italy
Located in the center of Rome, the Colosseum is the largest amphitheater ever built in the Roman Empire. Its construction began in 72 AD, at the request of Emperor Vespasian.
With its 187 meters long, 50 meters high and 155 meters wide, the Colosseum could accommodate up to 65,000 spectators.
This amphitheater was used for gladiator fights, wild animal fights and even public executions. It remained in use for almost 500 years. The Colosseum is made up of 4 floors. Inside, the stands were organized in such a way as to distinguish social classes: the first level was reserved for the Emperor and the Senate, the second for the aristocrats and the other two floors were used to accommodate the population.
Today, the Colosseum is in a state of ruin. The reasons ? Earthquakes, urban pollution and the recovery of stones for other monuments. However, it remains among the most beautiful monuments in the world.
5. The Indian monument the TAJ MAHAL – India
The Taj Mahal is located on the south bank of the Yamuna River near Agra, India. This monument tells, without a doubt, the most beautiful architectural love story…
In 1631, Mumtaz Mahal, wife of Emperor Shah Jahan, died giving birth to their fourteenth child. The Emperor is overwhelmed with grief. He then had him build this mausoleum of white marble, the color of mourning in India.
Surrounded by four minarets, this funerary monument is 56 meters high. The materials needed for its construction were transported from all over India and Central Asia. In 1666, Emperor Shah Jahan was buried next to his wife.
Today, the Taj Mahal is the most visited monument in India. Each year, nearly 3 million tourists come to admire this mausoleum. But to limit pollution of the site, only cycle rickshaws and pedestrians are authorized within a perimeter of 10,000 m² around Agra.
Since 1983, the Taj Mahal complex has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
4. The monumental PYRAMID OF KHEOPS – Egypt
Located in Giza, the Pyramid of Cheops is the oldest and the only survivor of the 7 wonders of the ancient world.
Built more than 4,500 years ago, this 137 meter high pyramid was ordered by the Pharaoh Cheops who wanted, for himself, a tomb capable of defying time.
Imothep, an Egyptian architect of the Third Dynasty of Ancient Egypt, is said to have designed this pyramid with an equivalent height of 42 stories, an area of 10 football fields and composed of 2,500,000 limestone blocks weighing between 3 and 10 tons each! According to theories, the Pyramid would have been built in about twenty years.
The Pyramid of Cheops is the largest burial in the world and for millennia, it was the human construction of all records: the most voluminous (53,000 m²), the most massive (5,000,000 tons) and the highest ( 137 meters).
3. THE GREAT WALL – China
It is the most gigantic military structure ever built by man. From the Korean border to the Gobi Desert, the Great Wall covers approximately 6,400 kilometers. Its width varies between 5 and 7 meters and its height, between 5 and 17 meters.
It was around 220 BC, to defend the northern border of China from invasions, that Emperor Qin Shi Huang undertook to bring together the existing sections of fortifications. Built of stone, earth or brick, depending on the resources of the regions crossed, it is punctuated with bastions and watchtowers along its entire length.
The Great Wall is said to be the largest cemetery in the world.
Indeed, nearly 10 million workers would have been buried in its surroundings.
The Great Wall of China is a masterpiece listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.
2. MACHU PICCHU – Peru
Forgotten for centuries, the sacred city Machu Picchu is considered the masterpiece of Inca architecture. It was in 1911 that this city was unveiled to the world by the American archaeologist Hiram Bingham.
It is a town located at the top of a narrow ridge. It is estimated that 1200 people could live in Machu Picchu.
The archaeological complex is divided into three areas: a military complex, another religious and a residential sector. In the religious area, there are the residences of the priests, the Intihuatana (the place where the Incas observed the stars) and several temples.
From a certain angle of view, you can see that Machu Picchu has the shape of a majestic condor. This bird, the largest in the world, is an important symbol of the inhabitants of the Andes. Machu Picchu was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983.
1. THE EIFFEL TOWER – France
But what would Paris be without its Eiffel Tower? The same as New York without the Statue of Liberty. Paris would not be Paris.
Located at the end of the Champ de Mars. on the banks of the Seine, the iron tower was erected by the workshops of Gustave Eiffel for the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1889.
250 workers and just over 2 years were needed to build this monument, a symbol of French technical know-how. With a height of: 327 meters, the Eiffel Tower remained for 41 years, the tallest structure in the world.
In 1930, the construction of the Chrysler Building in New York made him lose this title.
The Eiffel Tower has been on the list of historic monuments since 1964 and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. It welcomes nearly 7 million visitors a year who, at nightfall, can see it sparkle with all its lights to mark the passage of the hours. Gustave Eiffel was right to say: “I should be jealous of the Tower, it is more famous than me. »
The Eiffel Tower therefore finds itself in first position because Gustave Eiffel’s work paved the way for modern architecture, that of large complexes on a small surface, I mean skyscrapers. Not only is the Eiffel monument one of the most beautiful monuments in the world, but it has served as the basis for all construction on metal structures. This is why the building is 1st in the ranking.