A tour of some of the world’s most amazing architecture

By | Category: Travel destinations

When we travel it’s often to see a building – the Taj Mahal, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Eiffel Tower. They’re things of beauty, symbols of their age and emblems of human endeavour.
Sometimes, buildings are the reason we decide to go somewhere; think of an icon such as Bilbao’s Guggenheim and Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple complex. Other times, buildings help make a visit more enriching and rewarding, like discovering the old district of Pelourinho in Salvador, Brazil and the majestic Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey.
Here’s a few of our favourite brilliant buildings from around the world…


Sydney Opera House
Jørn Utzon (later Peter Hall)
Sydney, Australia

Arial view of Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Image credit: Lonely Planet

So often have its interlocking shells been photographed that Sydney Opera House is both emblem of and gateway to Australia. In pole position on Bennelong Point, the arts institution’s concrete carapaces were an engineering masterstroke, but the building was hardwon. Danish architect Utzon designed it in 1957, but epic costs, delays and Utzon’s 1966 resignation took their toll. Nevertheless, it worked: a national symbol that eight million people visit each year, and UNESCO status to boot. Perhaps it was worth going 1,357% over budget…

Palácio Nacional da Pena
Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege and Nicolau Pires
Sintra, Portugal

Pena Palace in Sintra – Portugal – architecture background. Image credit: Lonely Planet

This castle is one of Europe’s high romantic moments: all painted terraces, gargoyles, battlements and statues taking full advantage of a great setting. The zigzag walk up the hill – particularly when misty –is hugely atmospheric. Atop, the Palácio is a flamboyant confection commissioned by Ferdinand August Franz Anton from Austria, who married into the Portuguese royal family. The Royals have long gone, but the sense of extravagance lingers on.


Ayutthaya temple complex
Architect N/A
Ayutthaya, Thailand

Wat Chaiwatthanaram temple, Ayutthaya, Thailand (Ayutthaya historical park )

There’s something thrilling about a lost historic city, and Ayutthaya has that excitement in spades. A world city in the 14th-18th centuries, its position on an island near the Gulf of Siam gave it real trading power. But they couldn’t let it lie. Sacked by Burma, it was abandoned… and the rest is archaeology. But what’s left is stunning: elegant ‘prang’ (reliquary towers) that tease the eye, sturdy monasteries, plentiful preserved murals: all on a grid that speaks of past greatness. Sorry Bangkok… you just don’t compete.


Reproduced with permission from Amazing Architecture: A Spotter’s Guide, © 2018 Lonely Planet

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