For this list, I took the list of Best Architecture of All Time and organized it chronologically. At the same time, I added all architecture that was on three of the original 24 or so source lists, so this list is longer than the one organized by rank. (To see the other list, click here.) I’ve used the earliest date (usually start of construction) as the organizing principle. In many cases, buildings have been added to, restored and renovated over the years, so there are often multiple dates of construction, as well as multiple architects, designers and engineers.
2600-2400 BCE. Salisbury Plain, England, UK.
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument set on Salisbury Plain in the west of England that is composed of earthworks and numerous stones. The original circular earth bank and ditch, with an opening to the northeast, date to 3100 BCE, while erection of most of the stones probably occurred between 2600 BCE and 2400 BCE (see third image). Further rearrangements of the smaller bluestones continued until 1600 BCE. The purpose of Stonehenge is much debated among scholars. Some say it is an astronomical observatory due to its alignment with the summer solstice; others that it is a temple for sacred rites of healing or death. There is evidence of many prehistoric burials at or near the site and a long avenue that connects it with another prehistoric site. The standing stones at Stonehenge appear to be descended from an earlier tradition of standing timber structures, remnants of which have been found at Stonehenge and elsewhere. The builders switched from timber to stone in about 2600 BCE, beginning with bluestones measuring about 6.6 ft. tall, 3-5 ft. wide and 2.6 ft. thick. Later, the builders began using much larger sarsens, made of limestone, to create the famous sarsen circle. (See first and second images.) Given this history of working with wood, it is not surprising that the techniques used to link the stones come directly from carpentry. Mortise and tenon joints allow the horizontal lintel stones to fit snugly atop the standing stones. In addition, the lintels themselves were fitted to each other using tongue and groove joints. The stones were dressed to create either a smooth or dimpled surface. To maintain perspective, each standing stone widens toward the top and the lintels are shaped to curve slightly. The surfaces of the stones that face the inside of the circle are smoother than the outer surfaces. There are 30 standing stones and 30 lintels (many of them fallen) in the 108-ft diameter circle. Each standing stone is 13 ft. tall, almost 7 ft. wide, 3.5 ft. thick and weighs 25 tons. The lintels are 10 ft. long, 3.2 ft. wide and 2.6 ft. thick. Those who have studied the ruins do not believe that the circle of stones was ever completed, despite numerous imaginative paintings to that effect. Inside the stone circle were five trilithons (each consisting of two standing stones capped by a lintel) arranged in a horseshoe shape. (See second image.) These are larger than the stones in the circle, ranging from 20-24 ft. tall. At the very center lies a stone known as the Altar Stone, which dates to the time of the bluestones. At the northeastern entrance stood Portal Stones, only one of which remains, although it has fallen (see third image). Farther from the circle are four Station Stones and the Heelstone, which is located beyond the entrance. How the prehistoric people moved the heavy stones from locations that ranged from 10-125 miles away is the source of much speculation but no certainty. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986.
Great Pyramids at Giza
c. 3200??; 2551-2470;c. 2560-2540 BCE; 2558-2532 BCE; 2450 BCE. Giza, Egypt.
The three large pyramids at Giza are the burial monuments of three Old Kingdom pharaohs: Khufu (close up in second image), Khafre and Menkaure. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
Great Sphinx of Giza
2558-2532 BCE. Giza, Egypt.
The sphinx was a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head of a man. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, along with the Pyramids of Giza.
Precinct of Amun-Re (including Great Hypostyle Hall) (Temple of Amun)
c. 2000- 30 BCE. Karnak Temple Complex, near Luxor, Egypt.
Views of the Precinct of Amun-Re, in the Karnak Temple Complex: (1) Entrance with statues; (2) line of sphinxes leading to another entrance; (3) Great Hypostyle Hall.
Solomon’s Temple (First Temple)
c. 1000 BCE. Jerusalem, Israel.
Two artists’ imaginings of what Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem may have looked like. Unfortunately, archaeologists have not yet discovered any evidence of the building, which is known only through historical accounts.
Roman Forum (numerous temples and other buildings)
700 BCE – 312 CE. Rome, Italy.
Two panoramic views of the Roman Forum, which was the center of Roman life for many centuries. In 1980, UNESCO designated the historic center of Rome, including the Roman Forum, as a World Heritage Site.
Great Wall of China
7th Century – 3rd Century BCE; 14th Century-15th Century. Northern China.
Three views of the Great Wall, which was built in an East-West line to keep out invaders from the North. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
Temples of Paestum
550-500 BCE. West coast of Italy, south of Naples.
Paestum was the site of temples to Hera, Poseidon and Athena built by Greek colonists who had settled in Italy. The archaeological site of Paestum was included in a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998.
The Acropolis (includes numerous temples and other buildings)
5th Century BCE. Athens, Greece.
Two views of the Acropolis in Athens and a reconstruction of what it may have looked like in ancient times (aerial photo by Yann Arthus-Bertrand/CORBIS). In addition to containing temples and other public buildings, the strategic hilltop was heavily fortified in case of invasion. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
477-432 BCE. Acropolis, Athens, Greece.
Architects: Ictinus & Callicrates
Located on the Acropolis, the Parthenon was a temple to Athena, the patron goddess of Athens, and is a prime example of the Doric architectural order. The third image is a full-scale reconstruction of the Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee. The ruins of the Parthenon were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, along with the rest of the Acropolis.
The Erechtheion (Temple of Erechtheum)
c. 421–405 BCE. Acropolis, Athens, Greece.
Architect: Mnesicles (?)
Two views of the Erechtheion, a temple located on the Acropolis that was dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon. Second photo by Giovanni Dall’Orto (11/11/09). The third image is an artist’s reconstruction of what the temple may have looked like in Ancient Greece. The entire Acropolis, including the Erechtheion, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
Tikal (numerous buildings)
400 BCE – 900 CE. Guatemala.
Three views of Tikal showing pyramid temples and other stone structures. Tikal was the capital of a powerful Mayan state that reached its peak between 200 and 900 CE. Tikal was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
Temple of Artemis
323-250 BCE. Destroyed in 401 CE. Ephesus, Turkey.
Architects: Paeonius and Demetrios (attrib.)
The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus (in what is now Turkey but was then a Greek colony) was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World before it was destroyed in 401 CE. The first image shows an artist’s imagining of the temple, while the second image shows a small-scale model of what the temple may have looked like, located at Miniatürk Park, Istanbul, Turkey.
Temple of Horus (Temple of Edfu)
237-57 BCE. Edfu, Egypt.
This temple to the Egyptian hawk-god Horus was built during the Ptolemaic Period, when Egypt was part of the Greek and Roman empires.
Petra (numerous buildings)
200 BCE – 300 CE. Ma’an Governorate, Jordan.
The Monastery and Treasury buildings in the ancient city of Petra were carved directly into the rock at the site. The ruins of Petra were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.
Teotihuacan (numerous buildings)
100 BCE – 250 CE. Near Mexico City, Mexico.
Three views of Teotihuacan – the third image shows the Pyramid of the Sun. At its peak in 450 CE, Teotihuacan covered 11.5 square miles and had a population of between 150,000 and 250,000. The absence of fortifications indicates a time of peace. Teotihuacan was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
Colosseum (Flavian Amphitheatre)
70-80 CE, 217-508 CE. Rome, Italy.
The Flavian Amphitheatre acquired the nickname Colosseum because of the colossal statue of the Roman Emperor (beginning with Nero, but updated over the years) located near the entrance. Three views of the Colosseum in Rome: (1) street-level view showing remains of the outer walls; (2) aerial view; (3) view of interior, with basement and partially-reconstructed performing floor. In 1980, UNESCO designated the historic center of Rome, including the Colosseum, as a World Heritage Site.
118-126 CE. Rome, Italy.
The roof of the Pantheon’s rotonda (which is behind the Corinthian portico) is the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. Images: (1) facade; (2) aerial view; (3) interior. In 1980, UNESCO designated the historic center of Rome, including the Pantheon, as a World Heritage Site.
San Vitale (Basilica of San Vitale)
526-547 CE. Ravenna, Italy.
Two exterior views and one interior view of the 6th Century CE Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy, an example of the Byzantine architectural style. The Christian church was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
532-537 CE, 989-994 CE. Istanbul, Turkey.
Architects: Isidore of Miletus & Anthemius of Tralles; Tirdat
Hagia Sophia dominates the Istanbul skyline. The interior of Hagia Sophia shows the influence of both Medieval Christian and Islamic art. Hagia Sophia is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site designated in 1985 that encompasses historic areas of Istanbul. Images: (1) exterior; (2) aerial view; (3) interior.
Horyu-ji Temple (Hōryū-ji; Temple of the Flourishing Law)
607 CE; 711 CE; early 12th Century; 1374; 1603. Ikaruga, Nara, Japan.
Three views of the Horyu-ji Buddhist temple in Nara, Japan. Images: (1) the Golden Hall and Five-Storied Pagoda (the pagoda may be the oldest wooden structure in the world); (2) aerial view of the temple complex; (3) interior temple corridor. The temple was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.
Dome of the Rock
685-691 CE. Jerusalem, Israel.
The Dome of the Rock was build at the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik and is the first great work of Islamic architecture. The Dome of the Rock is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site designated in 1981 encompassing the Old City of Jerusalem and its walls. Images: (1) exterior; (2) aerial view; (3) interior.
750-825 CE. Java, Indonesia.
Architect: Gunadharma (attrib.)
Borobudur is a Mahayana Buddhist temple built in the Gupta architectural style. The temple was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. Images: (1) aerial view; (2) ground level view; (3) exterior detail showing sculptures.
Great Mosque of Córdoba (Mezquita; Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption)
784-987 CE. Córdoba, Spain.
Two exterior views and one interior view of the Great Mosque of Córdoba. The original building was built by the Visigoths in the 7th Century CE as a Christian Church. After the Arab conquest of Spain, over the course of the 8th-10th Centuries CE, the church was converted to an Islamic mosque, rebuilt and greatly enlarged to its current dimensions. After the Christian reconquest in 1236, it once again became a Catholic church, with further changes and additions through the years. The mosque/cathedral was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.
Aachen Cathedral, including Palatine Chapel (Imperial Cathedral)
792-814 CE; 983 CE; 14th – 15th centuries; 1881. Aachen, Germany.
Between 936 and 1531, Aachen Cathedral was the site of coronation ceremonies for 30 German kings and 12 German queens. UNESCO designated the cathedral as a World Heritage Site in 1978. Images: (1) exterior; (2) cloister; (3) interior, showing Palatine Chapel.
Great Mosque of Samarra (Mosque of al-Mutawakkil)
847-851 CE. Mosque destroyed 1278. Samarra, Iraq.
This incredible ziggurat-like minaret (Malwiya Tower) and some remnants of the walls, are all that remain from the Great Mosque of Samarra. The ruins of the mosque were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.
Le Mont Saint-Michel
10th Century CE – 12th Century CE; 15th Century. Mont St. Michel, Brittany, France.
Mont St. Michel is a site of a monastery, which slowly built up the island from top to bottom until the buildings reached the shoreline. The third image shows the interior of the abbey church. UNESCO designated Mont St. Michel as a World Heritage Site in 1979.
Khajuraho Temples, including Kandariya Temple
950-1150 CE. Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, India.
Kandariya Mahadeva Temple (second image) is the largest and most ornate of the Hindu temples at Khajuraho. The temple complex was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986.
St. Mark’s Basilica (Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of St. Mark)
978-1094 CE, early 18th Century. Venice, Italy.
Architect: Domenico I. Contarini
St. Mark’s is an example of Byzantine architecture. Its elaborate and ornate gilded decorations have earned it the nickname “Chiesa d’Oro”, or Church of Gold. In 1987, UNESCO designated the entire city of Venice and its lagoon, including St. Mark’s Cathedral, as a World Heritage Site. Images: (1) facade; (2) aerial view; (3) interior.
1000-1450. Near Taos, NM, US.
Two exterior views and one aerial view of the Taos Pueblo, which is one of the oldest continuously-inhabited communities in the U.S. The residential buildings in the Taos Pueblo are made of adobe, a natural building material made of sand, clay and water mixed with organic materials such as sticks, straw or manure, shaped into bricks (using frames) and dried in the sun. UNESCO designated the Taos Pueblo as a World Heritage Site in 1992.
1000-1500. Easter Island (Rapa Nui), Chile.
The hundreds of carved moai on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) may represent dead ancestors or dead or living chieftains. Although their heads are larger than expected, they are full-body sculptures, and were designed to face inland. Rapa Nui National Park, where the moai are located, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.
Westminster Abbey (Collegiate Church of St. Peter at Westminster)
1042-1090; 1245-1517; 1722-1745. London, UK.
Architects: Henry Yevele; Nicholas Hawksmoor
Two exterior views and one interior view of Westminster Abbey, where English and British kings and queens have been crowned (and, for many centuries, also buried) since 1066. UNESCO designated Westminster Abbey as a World Heritage Site in 1987.
Tower of London (Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress)
1078; 1190s; 1285; 1377-1399: London, UK.
The Tower of London is not one building but is actually a walled complex of buildings including the White Tower (see first image), the Wakefield Tower, Lanthorn Tower, Beauchamp Tower, Bloody Tower, Traitors’ Gate, Legge’s Mount, Brass Mount and others (see aerial view in second image). The third image shows the Chapel of St. John, inside the White Tower. UNESCO designated the Tower of London as a World Heritage Site in 1988.
Durham Cathedral (Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin; St. Cuthbert of Durham)
1093-1280; 15th Century; 18th Century; 19th Century. Durham, UK.
Architects: George Nicholson & James Wyatt; George Scott
Two exterior views and one interior view of the Romanesque Durham Cathedral. Because of the Cathedral’s strategic location, high above the River Wear, the bishop of Durham had military powers from 1080 until the 19th Century. UNESCO designated Durham Cathedral as a World Heritage Site in 1986.
1113-1150. Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.
Two exterior views and one interior view of the Angkor Wat temple complex. Khmer King Suryavarman II built Angkor Wat in the 12th Century as a state temple and his eventual burial monument. It is represented on the Cambodian flag. Angkor Wat was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.
Krak des Chevaliers (Crac des Chevaliers)
1140-1170; early 13th Century. Near Homs, Syria.
The Kurds built the original castle in the 11th Century. In 1142, the Crusading Knights Hospitaller obtained the site and rebuilt and enlarged the castle. A second phase of building occurred in the 13th Century, at which point about 2,000 soldiers were stationed there. In 1271, the Mamluk Sultan Baibars captured the castle after a 36-day siege. UNESCO designated Krac des Chevaliers as a World Heritage Site in 2006. Images: (1) exterior; (2) aerial view; (3) interior, showing the Hall of the Knights.
The Louvre (Musée de Louvre)
Late 12th Century; 1546; 1876; 1988. Paris, France.
Architects: Pierre Lescot & J.A. du Cerceau, Visconti & Jector Lefuel; I.M. Pei
The long history of the Louvre begins in the 12th Century CE, when it began life as a fortress (remains of which are visible in the crypt). Charles V made it his royal palace in the 14th Century; Francis I ordered major renovations in 1546. After Louis XIV moved the royal family to Versailles in 1682, the Louvre became a residence for artists. The space was used as a public gallery on and off in the last half of the 18th Century, but only in 1791, during the Revolution, did it become a public museum. Images: (1) the courtyard, featuring I.M. Pei’s pyramid (photo by S.A. Alvesgaspar); (2) the easternmost façade features Claude Perrault’s Colonnade; (3) the Pavillon de l’Horloge (or Pavillon Sully), located in the center of the west wing of the Cour Carrée (Square Court), was designed by Jacques Lemercier; (4) interior view of the galleries. The Louvre is included in a UNESCO World Historical Site entitled, Paris, Banks of the Seine, which was designated in 1991.
Notre Dame Cathedral (Notre Dame de Paris)
1163-1345. Paris, France.
Architect: Bishop Maurice de Sully (attrib.)
Notre Dame Cathedral in Parisreportedly houses in its reliquary the Crown of Thorns, a sliver of the True Cross, and one of the Holy Nails. The Cathedral of Notre Dame of Paris is included in a UNESCO World Historical Site entitled, Paris, Banks of the Seine, which was designated in 1991. Images: (1) exterior side view; (2) west facade; (3) rear, showing flying butresses; (4) interior.
Leaning Tower of Pisa (Campanile, Pisa Duomo)
1173-1372. Pisa, Italy.
Architects: Bonnano Pisano (?); Diotisalvi (?)
After recent stabilization efforts, the Tower now leans at a respectable 3.99 degree angle, less than its former 5.5 degree lurch. Of course, the original designers, not anticipating the softness of the ground on one side, intended for the tower to stand up straight. The entire Pisa Cathedral complex, including the Leaning Tower, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Images: (1) exterior; (2) detail of exterior, showing base; (3) interior.
Chartres Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres)
1194-1260, 15th Century, 16th Century, 18th Century, 19th Century. Chartres, France.
Two exterior views and one interior view of Chartres Cathedral. The two spires of are mismatched: the one on the right was completed in 1160 in a plain Gothic style, while the other one was constructed in the early 16th Century using the then-prevalent Flamboyant style. Yet somehow it works. Chartres Cathedral was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
1238-1248; 1855. Paris, France.
Architects: Pierre de Montreuil; Viollet-le-Duc
Two exterior and two interior views of Sainte-Chapelle, a Gothic church in Paris. Sainte-Chapelle is included in a UNESCO World Historical Site entitled, Paris, Banks of the Seine, which was designated in 1991.
Castel del Monte
1240-1250. Apulia, Italy.
The 13th Century Castel del Monte is famous for its unusual octagonal design. The castle was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
1248-1473; 1842-1880, 1945-1956. Cologne, Germany.
Two exterior views and one interior view of Cologne Cathedral. Extensive repairs were required after the cathedral suffered 14 hits by Allied bombers during World War II. UNESCO designated Cologne Cathedral as a World Heritage Site in 1996.
Florence Cathedral “The Duomo” (Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore)
1296-1436; 1876-1887. Florence, Italy.
Architects: Arnolfo di Cambio; Giotto; Andrea Pisano; Filippo Brunelleschi; Emilio de Fabris
The Cathedral complex includes the Cathedral, the Baptistery and the Campanile (Giotto’s Tower), all of which are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site entitled Historic Center of Florence, which was designated in 1982.
1309-1442; Venice, Italy.
The Doge’s Palace served as the residence for the Doge, the supreme authority of the Republic of Venice, from the 1440s until 1797. In 1923, it became a museum. Images: (1) exterior, facade; (2) aerial view of Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Square; (3) interior, showing the Sala del Maggior Consiglio. The Doge’s Palace is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was designated in 1987.
The Kremlin (Moscow Kremlin) (includes five palaces, four cathedrals, walls & towers)
1329-1333; 1366-1368; 1462; 1476; 1485-1495; 1505-1508; 1596-1676; 1776; 1816-1819; 1839-1849. Moscow, Russia.
Architects: Aristotle Fioravanti; Antonio Solario; Marco Ruffo; Matvey Kazakov; Osip Bove; Konstantin Thon
Two exterior views and one interior view of the Moscow Kremlin, which serves as the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation. UNESCO designated the Moscow Kremlin and Red Square as a World Heritage Site in 1990.
1333; 1346; 1581; 1601-1609; 1617-1618. Himeji, Japan.
Two exterior views and one interior view of Himeji Castle, which is also known as White Egret Castle for its resemblance to a large bird taking flight. UNESCO designated Himeji Castle as a World Heritage Site in 1993.
The Alhambra (including Palace of Charles V)
1338-1391, 1527. Granada, Spain.
Three views of the Alhambra: (1) overview of the Alhambra complex, showing the Palace of Charles V on the right (2) the Palacio del Pórtico; (3) the Court of the Lions. UNESCO designated the Alhambra and the Generalife as a World Heritage Site in 1984.
Milan Cathedral (Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica of the Nativity of St. Mary)
1386-1965. Milan, Italy.
Architects: Simone da Orsenigo; Nicolas de Bonaventure; Jean Mignot; Giuseppe Meda; Federico Borromeo; Pellegrino Pellegrini; Francesco Brambilla; Francesco Maria Richini; Fabio Mangone; Carlo Pellicani; Giuseppe Perego; Carlo Pellicani Jr.
Two exterior views and one interior view of Milan Cathedral, which took six centuries to complete.
The Forbidden City
1406-1420. Beijing, China.
Three views of the Forbidden City: (1) aerial overview; (2) one of the corner towers; (3) the Palace of Heavenly Purity. UNESCO designated the Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties in Beijing (which includes the Forbidden City) as a World Heritage Site in 1987.
Machu Picchu (numerous buildings)
c. 1450. Cusco Region, Peru.
Two views of Machu Picchu, which was abandoned by the Incas when the Spanish arrived in the late 16th Century. It was “rediscovered” by American historian Hiram Bingham in 1911. Since then, many of the buildings have been restored to their former appearance. UNESCO designated the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu as a World Heritage Site in 1983.
St. Peter’s Basilica
1506-1626. Vatican City, Italy.
Architects: Donato Bramante, Antonio da Sangallo, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Giacomo della Porta, Carlo Maderno, Gianlorenzo Bernini
Two exterior and two interior views of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. UNESCO designated all of Vatican City, including St. Peter’s Basilica, as a World Heritage Site in 1984.
Château de Chambord
1519-1547. Chambord, France.
Architects: Domenico da Cortona (?); Philibert Delorme (?)
Château de Chambord, which served as French King Francis I’s hunting lodge, is a fine example of French Renaissance architecture. Images: (1) exterior; (2) aerial view; (3) interior, showing Grand Staircase. The castle is included in a UNESCO World Heritage Site encompassing the Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes, which was designated in 2000.
Itsukushima Shrine (Torii of Itsukushima; Gateway of Itsukushima)
Mid-16th Century; 1875. Miyajima, Japan.
Although parts of the shrine date to 16th Century, the current gateway was built in 1875. Images: (1) the gateway; (2) the shrine; (3) aerial view of shrine and gateway.
Château de Fontainebleau (Palace of Fontainebleau)
16th Century. Fontainebleau, France.
Architects: Gilles le Breton; Sebastiano Serlio; Leonardo da Vinci; Rosso Fiorentino; Philibert Delorme; Jean Bullant
The Château de Fontainebleau served as a palace for French kings and queens until the early 19th Century. UNESCO designated the Palace and Park of Fontainebleau as a World Heritage Site in 1981. Images: (1) exterior; (2) aerial view; (3) interior, showing, the Chapel of the Trinity at Fontainebleau, which was designed by Gilles le Breton (photo by Vivienne Gucwa).
Red Square (plaza and buildings)
1553 (creation of square), 14th-18th Centuries (Kremlin); 1561 (St. Basil’s Cathedral); 1612-1625 (Kazan Cathedral); c. 1700 (Zemsky prikaz); 1881 (State Historical Museum) 893 (GUM Department Store); 1924 (Lenin’s Mausoleum). Moscow, Russia.
Two views of Red Square in Moscow. Buildings bordering the square include: Kremlin); 1561 (St. Basil’s Cathedral); 1612-1625 (Kazan Cathedral); c. 1700 (Zemsky prikaz); 1881 (State Historical Museum) 893 (GUM Department Store); 1924 (Lenin’s Mausoleum). UNESCO designated Red Square and the Moscow Kremlin as a World Heritage Site in 1990.
St. Basil’s Cathedral (Cathedral of the Protection of Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat; Pokrovsky Cathedral)
1554-1561. Moscow, Russia.
Architects: Barma & Postnik Yakolev (attrib.)
Ivan the Terrible ordered the building of St. Basil’s to commemorate his military victories over Kazan and Astrakan. Images: (1) exterior; (2) detail of exterior, showing onion domes; (3) interior. St. Basil’s is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that encompasses the Moscow Kremlin and Red Square.
El Escorial (El Escurial; Royal Seat of San Lorenzo de El Escorial)
1562-1584. San Lorenzo de El Escorial, near Madrid, Spain.
Architects: Juan Bautista de Toledo, Juan de Herrera
For centuries, El Escorial was the residence and burial site for Spanish royals. Images: (1) aerial view; (2) the facade of the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, which is located within the palace grounds; (3) the library of the San Lorenzo Monastery. UNESCO designated the Monastery and Site of the Escurial, Madrid as a World Heritage Site in 1984.
Villa Capra “La Rotonda” (Villa Almerico; Villa Almerico Capra)
1567-1571. Near Vicenza, Italy.
Architect: Andrea Palladio
In order to ensure that every room had sun, Palladio rotated the building 45 degrees from each point on the compass. Images: (1) exterior; (2) aerial view; (3) interior view. The City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto, including La Rotunda, were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.
1568-1574. Edirne, Turkey.
Architect: Minar Sinan
Two exterior views and two interior views of the Selimiye Mosque in Istanbul, a masterpiece of Islamic architecture. In 2011, UNESCO designated Selimiye Mosque and its Social Complex as a World Heritage Site.
Fatehpur Sikri (multiple buildings)
1571-1585. Fatehpur Sikri, India.
Architect: Tuhir Das
The planned city of Fatehpur Sikri served as the capital of the Mughal empire from 1571 to 1585. Images: (1) panoramic view of the city; (2) the Panch Mahal palace; (3) the Buland Darwaza gate. UNESCO designated Fatehpur Sikri as a World Heritage Site in 1986.
Sultan Ahmed Mosque “Blue Mosque”
1609-1616. Istanbul, Turkey.
Architect: Sedefkâr Mehmed Ağa
Two exterior views and one interior view of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, nicknamed the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles inside. The mosque’s incorporates some Byzantine elements with traditional Islamic architecture. The mosque is part of the Historic Areas of Istanbul World Heritage Site, which was designated by UNESCO in 1985.
Imam Mosque (Masjed-e Imam; formerly Shah Mosque)
1611-1629. Isfahan, Iran.
Architect: Shaykh Bahai
Three exterior views and one interior view of the Imam Mosque, in Isfahan, Iran, was built during the Safavid Period and incorporates both Persian and Islamic elements. (1) exterior; (2) aerial view (photo by Roger Wood/CORBIS); (3) detail of the entrance gate; (4) the inside of the dome.
The Queen’s House
1616-1619; 1635; 1807. Greenwich, UK.
Architect: Inigo Jones
The Queen’s House in Greenwich, by architect Inigo Jones, may be the first Neoclassical building in England. It was originally built for Queen Anne of Denmark, wife of King James I. Images: (1) front facade; (2) rear facade; (3) The Great Hall. The Queen’s House is part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site, which was designated by UNESCO in 1997.
1630-1653. Agra, India.
Architect: Ustad Ahmad Lahauri (?)
The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum for Mumtaz Mahal, the third wife of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Images: (1) front view; (2) aerial view showing grounds and gate; (3) interior view. UNESCO designated the Taj Mahal as a World Heritage Site in 1983.
1642-1650. Lhasa, Tibet, China.
Two exterior views and one interior view of Potala Palace, which served as the chief residence for the Dalai Lama until 1959, when China took over Tibet and the Dalai Lama went into exile. Potala Palace was designated a World Heritage Site in 1994.
Palace of Versailles (Château de Versailles)
1664-1668; 1669-1672; 1678-1684; 1699-1710; 1722; 1738-1741. Versailles, France.
Architects: Louis Le Vau; Jules Hardouin-Mansart; Robert de Cotte
Four views of the Palace of Versailles: (1) exterior; (2) aerial view; (3) the Hall of Mirrors; (4) the Orangerie. UNESCO designated the Palace and Park of Versailles as a World Heritage Site in 1979.
St. Paul’s Cathedral (Cathedral Church of St. Paul the Apostle)
1675-1720. London, UK.
Architect: Sir Christopher Wren
St. Paul’s Cathedral was the target of Nazi bombers during World War II. Images: (1) facade; (2) aerial view; (3) interior.
1705; 1762-1837; 1847-1850; 1913. London, UK.
Architects: John Nash; Edmund Blore; Sir Aston Webb
Although there has been a royal residence there since the early 1700s, it was only after numerous expansions and renovations that Buckingham Palace became the official royal palace of the British monarch in 1837. Images: (1) exterior facade; (2) aerial view; (3) the Queen’s Room (photo by Derry Moore).
1726-1735. Jaipur, India.
Architect: Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II
The Jantar Mantar at Jaipur is an astronomical observatory and sundial, one of five built in India by Maharaja Jai Singh II in the 18th Century. Images: (1) overview of site; (2) the Samrat Yantra,a 90-ft tall sundial. Jaipur’s Jantar Mantar was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.
1768-1782. Near Charlottesville, VA, US.
Architect: Thomas Jefferson
Monticello is a Neoclassical residence designed and built by Thomas Jefferson. Images: (1) facade; (2) aerial view; (3) foyer with double staircase. In 1987, UNESCO designated two Jefferson-designed properties – Monticello and the University of Virginia at Charlottesville – as a World Heritage Site.
The White House
1792-1801; 1814-1817; 1824-1829; 1901. Washington, D.C., US.
Architects: James Hoban; Benjamin Latrobe
British troops torched the Neoclassical White House, home of American presidents, during the War of 1812. It was later restored. Images: (1) north portico; (2) south portico; (3) interior, showing Oval Office.
United States Capitol
1793-1811; 1814-1826; 1851-1865. Washington, D.C., US.
Architects: William Thornton; Benjamin Latrobe; Charles Bulfinch; Thomas Walter & August Schoenborn
The Capitol is the home of the United States Senate and House of Representatives. Images: (1) exterior view; (2) detail of exterior, showing dome; (3) interior, showing dome.
University of Virginia
1817-1826. Charlottesville, VA, US.
Architect: Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson designed the original University of Virginia, although only portions of his original plans remain. Images: (1) the Rotunda; (2) Pavilions III and V on the Lawn; (3) an 1826 view of the campus, showing the Rotunda, the Lawn and two rows of Pavilions. In 1987, UNESCO designated Monticello and the University of Virginia at Charlottesville as a World Heritage Site.
1823-1857, 2000 (Great Court). London, UK.
Architects: Sir Robert Smirke; Norman Foster (2000, Great Court)
Despite subsequent renovations and additions, Sir Robert Smirke’s 19th Century Neoclassical building remains the heart of the British Museum. Images: (1) Smirke’s facade; (2) aerial view; (3) interior view showing galleries; (4) Norman Foster’s recent renovation of the Great Court.
Houses of Parliament, including “Big Ben” (Palace of Westminster)
1836-1870. London, UK.
Architects: Charles Barry & Augustus Pugin
Three views of the 19th Century Neo-Gothic Palace of Westminster, which houses the British Parliament: (1) exterior; (2) aerial view; (3) interior view, showing the House of Lords chamber. UNESCO designated the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey including Saint Margaret’s Church as a World Heritage Site in 1987.
1848-1854; 1877-1884. Washington, D.C.
Architect: Robert Mills
The Washington Monument is an Egyptian-style stone obelisk standing nearly 555 feet tall. Architect Robert Mills’s original design for the Washington Monument (see second image) included a circular base for the obelisk and a statue of George Washington in a chariot, but these elements were eliminated from the final plans.
Paris Opera House (Palais Garnier)
1861-1875. Paris, France.
Architect: Charles Garnier
The Palais Garnier was home to the Paris Opera from 1875 to 1989. Images: (1) facade; (2) aerial view; (3) interior view, showing the Grand Staircase.
St. Pancras Railway Station
1866-1868. Restoration: 2004-2007. London, England, UK.
Architect: William Henry Barlow (station); George Gilbert Scott (hotel)
St. Pancras Railway station was facing possible demolition in the 1960s when a group led by then-Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman fought successfully to save the historic building. Images: (1) exterior, showing Scott’s hotel; (2) interior, showing train yard and roof; (3) a statue of Sir John Betjeman by Martin Jennings on the upper level, staring up in wonder at Barlow’s remarkable roof.
1869-1882. Schwangau, Germany.
Architect: Eduard Reidel
Neuschwanstein Castle was designed as a retreat for Bavarian King Ludwig II. Images: (1) exterior, front view; (2) exterior, side view; (3) Throne Hall; (4) Singers’ Hall.
1869-1883. New York, NY, US.
Architect: John Augustus Roebling
The Brooklyn Bridge was the first steel-wire suspension bridge.
Natural History Museum
1873-1880. London, England, UK.
Architect: Alfred Waterhouse.
Exterior and interior views of the Neo-Romanesque Natural History Museum in London. The exterior stone and terracotta tile work contains numerous relief and free-standing sculptures of animals and plants. Then-Museum director Sir Richard Owen – an opponent of Darwin – ordered depictions of living creatures to be kept distinct from those of extinct ones. In 2009, Darwin got his revenge when the museum replaced the statue of Owen in the main hall with one of his rival (see third image).
Sagrada Familia (Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família)
1882 and continuing. Barcelona, Spain.
Architect: Antoni Gaudí
Still incomplete, Sagrada Familia is due to be finished in 2026. Images: (1) exterior view; (2) exterior, showing Passion Façade; (3) interior view. In 2005, UNESCO added Sagrada Familia to a World Heritage Site consisting of a number of works of Antoni Gaudí.
Statue of Liberty
1884-1886. Liberty Island, NY, US.
Architect: Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi (statue); Richard Morris Hunt (pedestal); Gustave Eiffel (jnterior)
The Statue of Liberty was a gift to the United States from France. Written in the book in Lady Liberty’s hands is July 4, 1776, the date of the Declaration of Independence. (1) full view, with Hunt’s pedestal; (2) Bartholdi’s statue; (3) detail of statue; (4) Eiffel’s interior. The Statue of Liberty was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.
Marshall Field’s Wholesale Store
1885-1887. Demolished in 1930. Chicago, Illinois, US.
Architect: Henry Hobson Richardson
Two views of the Marshall Field Warehouse Store in Chicago, which was demolished in 1930. Architect Henry Hobson Richardson designed the building in the Romanesque Revival style.
1886-1894. London, UK.
Architect: Horace Jones
The Tower Bridge is a combined drawbridge and suspension bridge over the River Thames in London.
1887-1889. Paris, France.
Architects: Gustave Eiffel; Maurice Koechlin, Émile Nouguier; Stephen Sauvestre
Two views of Paris’ iconic Eiffel Tower, a wrought iron lattice structure that was built for the 1889 World’s Fair. The tower is 1,063 ft. tall. The Eiffel Tower is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site entitled, Paris, Banks of the Seine, which was designated in 1991.
1890-1891. St. Louis, MO, US.
Architect: Louis H. Sullivan & Dankmar Adler
The National Register of Historic Places called the Wainwright Building “a highly influential prototype of the modern office building.” Images: (1) exterior; (2) detail of exterior; (3) interior courtyard.
Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. Building (now Sullivan Center)
1899-1904. Chicago, IL, US.
Architect: Louis H. Sullivan
The 1904 Sullivan skyscraper today. Images: (1) exterior, street level; (2) detail of wrought iron entrance; (3) interior, showing 12th floor lounge and columns.
1902-1903. New York, NY, US.
Architect: Daniel Burnham
Two views of the Flatiron Building in Manhattan.
Grand Central Station (Grand Central Terminal)
1903-1913. New York, NY, US.
Architects: Reed & Stem, Warren & Wetmore
Two exterior views and one interior view of Grand Central Terminal.
Larkin Building (Larkin Administration Building)
1904-1906. Demolished in 1950. Buffalo, NY, US.
Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright
Three views of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Larkin Building: (1) façade; (2) exterior; (3) interior, showing central light court. Inside the 76-foot-high central court, Wright inscribed inspirational words, including: Sacrifice, Integrity, Imagination, Loyalty, Enthusiasm and Control.
Palais Stoclet (Stoclet House; Stoclet Palace)
1905-1911. Brussels, Belgium.
Architect: Josef Hoffmann
Three interior views and one exterior view of the Palais Stoclet in Brussels. Josef Hoffmann designed the Stoclet House in the Viennese Secession style; it is still a private residence.
Casa Milà (La Pedrera)
1905-1912. Barcelona, Spain.
Architect: Antoni Gaudì
Antoni Gaudì’s Casa Milà residence in Barcelona has acquired the nickname, “La Pedrera” or “The Quarry” due to its rocky appearance. Images: (1) exterior; (2) detail of exterior; (3) interior. Casa Milà was one of three works by Gaudì designated as a World Heritage Site in 1984; in 2005, UNESCO added another four properties.
Washington National Cathedral (Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul)
1907-1990. Washington, D.C.
Architects: George Frederick Bodley, Henry Vaughan, Philip Hubert Frohman
Two exterior views and one interior view of the Neo Gothic-style Washington National Cathedral.
AEG Turbine Factory
1908-1910. Berlin, Germany.
Architect: Peter Behrens
Exterior and interior views of the Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft (AEG) turbine factory in Berlin. Architect Peter Behrens was influenced by both Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts styles in designing a turbine factory for in Berlin.
1911-1913, 1925. Alfeld an der Leine, Germany.
Architects: Walter Gropius & Adolf Meyer
Two exterior views and one interior view of the Fagus Factory. In designing the factory, Gropius and Meyer were strongly influenced by Behrens’ AEG Turbine Factory. Fagus Factory was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011.
1915-1923. (Destroyed in 1968). Tokyo, Japan.
Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright.
One of six completed projects in Japan by Frank Lloyd Wright, the luxurious Imperial Hotel, designed in the Maya Revival Style, was designed for Western visitors. It became famous after it survived a devastating earthquake in 1923 shortly after opening with much less damage than expected. Deterioration and lack of modern amenities and the sinking of the structure into the alluvial mud beneath it made the hotel obsolete by the 1960s, when it was demolished in favor of a contemporary high-rise. The front entrance and reflecting pool were saved, however, and reconstructed at the Meiji Mura Museum in Inuyama (see first image).
1919-1924. Potsdam, Germany.
Architect: Erich Mendelsohn
Two exterior views and one interior view of the Einstein Tower, an astrophysical observatory, with a solar telescope designed by astronomer Erwin Finlay-Freundlich. Einstein himself called it “Organic.”
1919-1926. Dessau, Germany.
Architect: Walter Gropius
Two exterior views and one interior view of Bauhaus Dessau, a complex of buildings that became the second home for the Bauhaus art school, which began in Weimar, Germany. Gropius both founded the school and designed the school buildings. In 1996, UNESCO designated the Bauhaus and its Sites in Weimar and Dessau as a World Heritage Site.
Schröder House (Rietveld Schröder House)
1924. Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Architect: Gerrit Rietveld
Exterior and interior views of the Schröder House in Utrecht designed by Gerrit Rietveld. Some experts believe this may be the only true example of a building designed according to the principles of De Stijl, also known as neoplasticism. The Rietveld Schröder House was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
Viipuri Municipal Library (Vyborg Library; Central City Alvar Aalto Library)
1927-1935. Vyborg, Russia (formerly Viipuri, Finland).
Architect: Alvar Aalto
Two exterior views and one interior view (showing the lecture hall with its wave ceiling) of what is now called the Central City Alvar Aalto Library in Vyborg, Russia. Originally completed in 1935, when the area was under Finnish sovereignty, it fell into disrepair in the 1960s-1980s. A major restoration project began in 1994 and was completed in 2013.
Barcelona Pavilion (German Pavilion, 1929 International Exposition)
1928-1929, 1986. Barcelona, Spain.
Architect: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe