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Architecture is one of those art forms that you don’t have to study in school or have an advanced degree to truly appreciate. In fact, one of the best ways to learn about foreign lands and different cultures is to observe and learn about architecture when you travel. And cities have a clever way of telling their own stories through the buildings that line their streets.
Restoration procedures have preserved historic buildings and monuments from centuries ago, and modern advancements in the fields of engineering and construction are nothing short of jaw-dropping. Whether old, new, ornate, or minimalistic, stunning architecture is all around us wherever we go. These are some of our favorite travel destinations to visit to learn about architecture, design, and the people that built the world’s beautiful cities.
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One of the best things to do in Berlin is to admire the architecture. Berlin’s architecture has been heavily influenced by World War II and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. You can find examples of classical design here in buildings like the Bode Museum; however, modern buildings can be found all over town that were constructed to transform the city’s image. Don’t miss the Sony Center, Reichstag, and the Daimler Chrysler quarter.
The Great Pyramid of Giza is one of the oldest and largest wonders of the world – a mysterious feat of ancient architecture. The pyramids near Cairo are the stuff of legends and folklore, but the architectural interest doesn’t end here. Other architectural sites of interest include the Cairo Tower, the Cairo Opera House, and the International Stadium.
The architecture in Barcelona is marked by multi-colored tiles, bright colors, and elaborate religious structures. Here you’ll find an interesting mix of Roman, Baroque, Gothic, Victorian, Art Nouveau, and many other design styles that blend seamlessly together. One of the most famous architects of this city was Antoni Gaudi, who designed some of the most popular attractions in Barcelona, Park Guell and Casa Batllo. This is a great place to see ceramics, stained-glass mosaic work, stonework, and ironwork as well. A blend of Moorish Revival and contemporary styles can be compared in the city’s largest public square, Placa d’Espanya.
Tokyo is known for its technology, business, and pop culture, but it also has a uniquely modern architectural design that’s worth noting. Since prominent buildings here have been put through recent catastrophes, many of the buildings are new and innovative. Check out the Imperial Palace, the Yoyogi National Gymnasium, and the Fuji TV headquarters for examples of modern architecture and head to the nearby temple city of Kamakura for some older and more traditional Japanese designs.
Visiting Chicago without taking an architectural tour should really be a crime! There has been such a strong architectural drive in this city since it began, and it’s also home to the famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.
The Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, Freedom Tower, the Chrysler Building…the list of culturally significant architectural structures in New York City just goes on and on. Prominent architects to learn about here include Mies van der Rohe, Philip Johnson, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Gregory Johnson.
Nowhere in the world is the Renaissance style more celebrated than in Florence. The city is considered to be the birthplace of the Renaissance movement in the 14th century, which is visible in the art and architecture here. Domes, columns, and embellished symmetrical structures are representative of this time period, as well as an emphasis on realistic human form paintings.
While in Italy, a visit to Rome is essential to any architecture lover’s itinerary. You might recognize certain aspects of Greek architecture while in Rome, but with a twist that’s all it’s own. Some architecturally important highlights to see include the Colosseum, which was built in 72 AD, as well as the Temple of Vesta, the Pantheon, the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, and the Aqueducts.
Dubai is perhaps the best place in the world to view modern architecture at its best. Take for example, the 2,723-foot-tall Burj Khalifa, which is nothing short of impressive. Dubai’s architecture has rapidly transformed as the city has expanded at a rapid speed. Make sure to see the man-made archipelago that’s designed after a model of the seven continents – the only of its kind in the world. Dubai aims to be the “first” and “biggest” in everything it does, evident from structures like the world’s first underwater hotel, the world’s tallest building, and the world’s highest hotel.
Istanbul has some of the most beautiful mosques and columns in the world, and it’s a colorful city full of history and intrigue. It’s the ultimate “East meets West” destination that highlights the powerful empires that once ruled here. Must-see architectural sites include the Hagia Sophia mosque, the Byzantine dome, and the Ottoman minarets. Topkapi Palace was the head of the Ottoman Empire for hundreds of years and also worth a visit to learn about royal excess with jewel-encrusted thrones and intricately-designed fabrics.
Brasilia’s architectural scene was built very quickly, but not without careful planning and design. Lucio Costa, an urban planner, developed the city’s design with architect Oscar Niemeyer in the shape of a butterfly. Interesting buildings to check out include the Cultural Complex of the Republic, Palacio da Alvarado, and Cathedral Basilica.
Art deco is a design style marked by geometric and symmetrical patterns, pastel colors, and floral designs. The best place in the world to learn about this style is Miami, which began to transform into a top beach tourist destination in the 1920s and 1930s. There are museums to visit here to learn more about the style, and the Historic District exhibits the largest collection of the style in the world.
Beijing’s architecture was shaped by the construction of the Great Wall of China, for which architects began construction in the 7th century BC. One of the best ways to experience the Wall’s magnitude and cultural significance is to join a guided long-distance trek. Visiting the wall and the Forbidden City offers a unique glimpse into ancient life and traditions.
Another destination in China favored by architecture lovers is Shanghai, which is making construction developments at warp speed. The Pudong District is home to the city’s tallest building called the Jin Mao Tower and the Oriental Pearl Tower with its mall and hotel. The Bund area features more colonial designs for now, but older buildings are being steadily replaced with new and modern ones.