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If you’ve visited many of the world’s greatest cities, you probably have your own opinion as to which has the most beautiful buildings. But using the golden ratio, a famous mathematical concept, UK-based Online Mortgage Advisor analyzed thousands of them across the globe to reveal the most spectacular according to science. You can find out more about how the “beauty scores” were calculated by visiting the research page here.
For any architectural enthusiast planning a trip, this might be the perfect way to determine your next destination. All of these spots not only offer magnificent buildings but plenty of other attractions too.
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Venice came out on top, home to the world’s most beautiful buildings like the Old Red Brick House, Doge’s Palace, the famous clock tower Torre dell’Orologio, and St. Mark’s Basilica with its stunning columns and mosaics. Of course, who hasn’t envisioned themselves being serenaded by a gondolier on the Grand Canal? While it may be touristy, it’s something that should be done at least once. Plus, you’ll be able to take in views of the buildings from the perspective of the water. You might want to catch a performance at Teatro La Fenice too as it’s one of the most historic landmarks of Italian theater.
Rome came in second thanks to its many iconic buildings, including the Roman Colosseum and the Pantheon. While those are must-visit landmarks, there are many other ways to experience the timeless grandeur of the Eternal City. Visit the Roman Forum where it’s easy to envision ancient Romans like Julius Caesar walking the cobblestoned streets, toss a coin into the Baroque masterpiece known as Trevi Fountain, and check out the impressive collection of Baroque art at Galleria Borghese, housed in a magnificent 17th-century villa.
Barcelona is renowned for its architecture, falling in at No. 3. The city is home to many magnificent wonders by Antonio Gaudi, like the Sagrada Familia, which fuses Gothic and Art Noveau styles in unprecedented ways. The elaborate structure features hyperboloids, brilliant colors, and unconventional animal representations such as chameleons, turtles, and pelicans, epitomizing Gaudí’s belief that nature and the divine were inextricably linked. Don’t miss Palau de la Musica, Palau Guell, Casa Amatller, Casa Batlló, or Torre Bellesguard either.
Ranked at No. 4, Prague’s impressive buildings include its national museum. The main building at the upper end of Wenceslas Square was built by prominent Czech neo-renaissance architect Josef Schulz in the late 1800s. Kinsky Palace also helped to raise the beauty score of this capital city, constructed over a decade between 1755 and 1765 on the site of three houses with early medieval foundations. Powder Tower is a dramatic 213-foot-tall Gothic-style tower, built as one of 13 gates to the city while imposing St. Nicholas Church has a remarkable baroque interior with a ceiling fresco by Johann Kracker and a 4,000-pipe organ once played by Mozart.
New York City rounds off the top 5, with its most magnificent building Grand Central Terminal. Located in Midtown Manhattan it was built in 1871, and today it’s one of the busiest train stations in the world and one of the most impressive landmarks, from the inside out. The cavernous main concourse boasts dazzling architectural details, most notably its domed gold and cerulean blue ceiling that’s painted with astronomical signs studded with fiber-optic stars. There are arched passageways, palatial mezzanines, grand staircases, and the information booth with a four-faced clock.
The Greek capital of Athens is an architectural paradise with its unique architectural mix. While it has a modern side, the historic center is filled with gems that blend styles from the Classical, Hellenistic, and Roman periods. The Acropolis is globally known, sitting on a rocky hill looming over the city. It’s topped by the iconic Parthenon that was dedicated to goddess Athena, and also hosts the Temple of Athena, Nike, the Erechtheion, and the Propylaea.
Nicknamed the “Paris of the East,” Budapest is well-known for its thermal baths and it also boasts multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites like 18th-century Buda Castle, a massive 200-room palace that towers over the Danube River. It’s now home to the Hungarian National Gallery and Budapest History Museum. The Parliament Building is one of its most famous with beautiful Gothic Revival architecture, statues, and paintings. It serves as the country’s symbol of independence and includes nearly 700 rooms and 11 miles of corridors and stairs.
Vienna’s architecture includes Baroque and Gothic designs, Art Nouveau homes, Modernist masterpieces, and contemporary buildings. Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens is one of its most iconic attractions with more than 1,440 rooms. The Rococo palace is one of the country’s most important historical, cultural, and architectural monuments in the country. Its history and vast gardens span more than 300 years and reflect the changing tastes of the various periods. The huge complex known as the Hofburg has been the seat of Austrian rulers since the 13th-century, made up of multiple buildings and courtyards, with Renaissance, Baroque, and Gothic styles all represented.
While Bordeaux may be best known for its wine, this French city is also home to some remarkable contemporary and historic architecture. UNESCO-listed Bordeaux Cathedral is an imposing Gothic edifice in the heart of the capital of Aquitaine and the largest religious building of Bordeaux. Palais Rohan, the City Hall, was completed in 1784, known for its austere Louis XVI-style façade and staircase that’s considered a masterpiece of stone masonry.
Italy has three cities in the top 10 with Milan at No. 10. The fashion capital of the world hosts many architectural wonders, with its cathedral the most famous. A fine example of Gothic architecture, its construction spanned six centuries, from the 1380s to the 1960s. The detailed façade includes 135 spires and 3,400 statues, many of which can be viewed up close by ascending to the cathedral’s roof. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is the world’s oldest example of a shopping mall, constructed in 1877. Today, it houses all the luxury brands spread across marble floors.