Even though sightseeing the most beautiful buildings in the world may not be the first reason why you travel to the other side of the globe, you must acknowledge that stunning architecture is for sure exciting.
Certain buildings carry a lot of cultural heritage, and paying attention to a destination’s architecture helps you learn more about the history of the place.
So if you’re an architecture enthusiast or just an innate curious traveller, this post is for you. We’ll take you to a tour around the most impressive buildings in the globe. From the ancient Great Pyramid of Giza, in Egypt, to the gorgeous Moorish-style Royal Alcazar in Seville, Spain, here are the top 25 most impressive buildings on earth.
Note: Make sure to double-check COVID 19 precautions, protocols, and operating hours before you visit any of these sites.
What makes a building beautiful?
Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, they’ve said. With beauty being such a subjective and broad subject, we created a diverse list, using a mix of sources. We relied on the experts (World Architecture Awards in 2019), the general public and, of course, the CuddlyNest’s team of travel enthusiasts.
The Most Beautiful Buildings Around the World
Palace of Versailles, France
The Palace of Versailles is a Baroque-style royal residence. Listed as a World Heritage Site for 30 years, the palace this opulent complex was inhabited by Louis XIV until the start of French Revolution in 1789. In the 19th century, by order of King Louis-Phillipe, Versailles became Museum of the History of France, with its rooms being devoted to housing new collections of paintings and sculptures.
With 2,300 rooms spread over 63,154 m2, the building is one of Frances’ architectural wonders. Versailles is within 20km from Paris, and during your tour, you can also take some time to see the Estate of Trianon, the gardens and the Royal Stables.
To get there, use can the RER train line or the city bus line No. 171. Admission to the palace starts from €13 ($15). Check the current admission and reservation procedures on the Palace of Versailles website.
Taj Mahal, India
Listed as a New 7 Wonder of the World, the Taj Mahal was built by the Emperor Shah Jahan from 1632 to 1648 for his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died on June 17, 1631. The monument, which is a mausoleum, was erected in the first half of the 17th century and finished over a 20-year period using more than 20,000 artisans’ labour. It is located the Northern Indian city of Agra, in the southern bank of Yamuna river in India, and its architecture is one of the most significant examples of Mughal architecture style. The complex also houses a mosque and guest house.
Made of white marble from Makrana, in Rajasthan, the Taj Mahal combines a range of architectural styles, such as Islamic, Persian and Indian styles. For the construction, other noble materials were used, such as turquoise from Tibet, jade and crystal from China, sapphire from Sri Lanka and Arabia and lapis lazuli from Afghanistan.
To get to Taj Mahal, you can take a train from Delhi (there are more than 20 trains a day), a bus, or a taxi. Admission to the Taj Mahal starts from Rs. 300 /- for foreigners. For more info, visit the Taj Mahal’s homepage
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
The castle is a 19th century Romanesque Revival palace that sits on a hill above the village of Hohenschwangau, in southern Bavaria, Germany. Neuschwanstein was commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and in honour of Richard Wagner, a famous German composer and theatre director. Interestingly enough, the place was built with the King’s personal funds, rather than the Bavarian public money.
Today, when entering Neuschwanstein, you’ll see that many rooms, such as the Singers Hall, were inspired by some of Wagner’s characters. The word “Neuschwanstein”, by the way, literally means “New Swan Castle,” which is a reference to “the Swan Knight,” one of the composer’s characters.
From Munich, you can take a train to Fussen, and, from there, take the bus 73 or 78 to get to the castle. Admission fee is €16.30 ($19), and there are guided tours available in different languages.
Semperoper Dresden, Germany
Located in Dresden, Germany, the Semperoper State Opera is a concert hall home to the Saxon State Orchestra and the Sempreoper Ballet. The opera was built in the middle of the 19th-century, and it’s a stunning architectural combination between Renaissance and Baroque styles, dotted with Corinthian pillars which are typical to the Greek Classical Revival movement.
The eclectic Semperoper is located near the Elbe River in the historic part of Dresden. Some of the closest stations are the Dresden-Neustadt (train) and the Theterplatz (tram). Admissions for groups in daytime start from €65 ($77). To learn more, go to their website.
Mont Saint-Michel Abbey, France
Did you know that Claude Debussy, the French composer, frequented the Le Mont-Saint-Michel island to gather inspiration for his piano prelude, La Cathédrale Engloutie? The island commune is home to the Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey, a famous cultural attraction in France. Built during the 10th-century, the abbey displays different architectural elements, from the West Roman empire to Roman and Gothic styles. The building is a megastructure divided into multiple parts: the Church-abbey and chapels, the “Merveille” and the monk buildings, and more.
To get to Mont Saint-Michel from Paris, take a train at Montparnasse train station and go to Rennes. From Rennes, you can take a coach to the village of Mont St. Michel. The admission to the abbey is free.
The Senedd building in Cardiff, Wales, houses the debating chamber and three committee rooms for the Welsh Parliament. Located 3km south of the Cardiff Castle, the building was designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, which created a dramatic light-weight, a gently undulating roof for the building. The main idea of the architects was planning a transparent building that looks towards Cardiff Bay, making visible the inner workings of the Assembly and inviting the public participation in the democratic process.
To get to Senedd from the centre of Cardiff, take the No. 6 Baycar bus that goes to Pierhead Street. The admission is free, and you can also book a public seat to Plenary. Audio tour is public and available on Soundcloud.
City of Petra, Jordan
Petra, in Jordan, dates back from the 1st-century B.C., and it used to be the centre of the Arab Kingdom during Hellenistic and Roman times. The city has been inhabited since early 7000 BC, and today is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. And even though Petra consists of ruins, it’s still an architectural marvel worth seeing. This ancient city is home the finest examples of the Nabatean architecture, such as a 2,000-year-old tomb.
To get there, use either tourist JETT buses and shuttles, or hire a private driver (we recommend private drivers to balance safety, price, and availabilities). The admission to Petra starts from 50 J.D for a one-day visit.
Macallan Distillery, Scotland
Macallan Distillery in Scotland is a piece of modern architecture that you must not miss. Located in Speyside, Macallan is a place where the process of whiskey production is shown to visitors. The building was designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, who made sure that the distillery blended perfectly with its surroundings. One of the highlights of the building is the rippling timber roof made of 380,000 individual components – almost none of which are the same.
The admission to distillery guided tour starts from £50.00, and you can get to the distillery from Edinburgh by train via Aberdeen taking a scenic bus ride through the Cairngorms National Park.
Hungarian Parliament, Hungary
Hungarian Parliament, located in the very heart of Pest side of the city, called The House of Nation (Országház), is one of the best examples of Gothic Revival style, having a similar façade and central dome. To decorate the building, 40 kg of gold, 500 000 ornamental stones and 242 statues are used, and in the night, the building is lit up in yellow, having a strong contrast with the azure blue Danube river.
The Parliament lies just in between the Margarethe Bridge and the famous Chain Bridge, in Budapest. So if you’re in the center, you can walk.
The admission fee is different for non-EU and EU citizens, starting from HUF 3500 (around $12). To learn more about the Parliament, click here.
Milan Cathedral, Italy
Milan Cathedral, also known as the Duomo di Milano, dates back to the 4th century when the construction began. The building, which took nearly six centuries to be completed, it’s the largest Gothic church in the world and it displays a roofline with a dense grid of pinnacles and spires supported by flying buttresses. The Duomo Di Milano has over 90 gargoyles and about 3,400 statues.
Make sure to visit the official page to book your time slot in advance.
Hagia Sophia, Turkey
One of the most beautiful architectural pieces in the world can be found in Turkey. The Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque is a place of worship in Constantinople, and it dates back to the 6th century when the city was the imperial capital of the Byzantine Empire. Up to date, it is the largest church in the historical empire territory, and after the fall of the empire was converted in a mosque by Mehmed the Conqueror, remaining as such until 1931, when it was closed to public and later re-opened as a museum. In 2020, the monument’s status for the building was revoked, and it is now a mosque again.
Foreign visitors are not allowed to enter the mosque during the worship hours, but prayer times are determined by the length of the day, which you can consult here.
Florence Cathedral, Italy
One of the most beautiful buildings in the world, and surely in Europe, lies in Florence, which used to be a major trade centre during the Renaissance period. The construction of the church started in the 13th century, and it was completed in the 15th century. The exterior and facade dates to 19th century and has a strong impact of Gothic Revival style.
The building is in the centre of Florence, and you can get tickets starting from EUR 18, or $21. The ticket lasts 48 hours.
Notre Dame de Paris, France
This is undoubtedly one of the most iconic architectural pieces in the world and one of the most famous landmarks in Paris, France. Built between 1163 and 1345, the Notre Dame finest examples of the Gothic style, with its pointed arches and external statues and gargoyles. Its famous twin towers go as high as 69 meters, and a significant number of its stained-glass windows dates back the 13th century.
Following the fire of April 15, 2019, the Cathedral is closed
Mactan-Cebu International Airport, Philippines
Amazing buildings are not always the oldest ones. In fact, one of the most impressive architectural marvels in the world was built in 2018, in the Philippines (read what to do in the Philippines). Designed by the firm Integrated Design Associate, the Terminal 2 of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport boasts an impressive alpine-wood roof, with arches that span every 30 meters, allowing the terminal to be as column-free as possible. The project has even won an award at the World Architecture Festival.
The Louvre Museum, France
It’s no surprise that the Louvre Museum of Paris is one of the most visited museums in the world. Aside from its rich collection of artworks, the museum has a fascinating architectural history. Many don’t know, but the Louvre was actually built in the 12th-century as a fortress and a royal residence. The glass pyramid is probably one of the statement structures on the Louvre. Commissioned by the former president François Mitterrand and designed by the architect I.M. Pei stands at 21 meters high and it’s fully made of glass and metal.
To get to the museum, take the metro and stop at either Palais-Royal Musee du Louvre or Pyramids station.
Before you go, make sure you know what you want to see and check the Louvre museum page to plan your visit. The ticket costs from 17,00 € or adults.
Schwerin Palace, Germany
Built in the middle of the 19th century in the city of Schwerin in Germany, the castle is a great example of the romantic Historian, which was a movement that tried to evoke the “good old times” when the noble life and society were still in order. Designed by Georg Adolf Demmler, the building reflects the admiration of the architect for the elegance and the simplicity of Prussian Neoclassicism and of Tudor Gothic.
Trains from Berlin and Hannover take around 3 hours, while trains from Hamburg take 2. The entrance fee including photography permission starts at € 8,50.
Parthenon, the former temple on the Athenian Acropolis, in Greece, was built in the 5th century BC, when the Athenian Empire was in its peak of power. It’s the most important surviving building of Classical Greece. Interestingly enough, Parthenon was turned into a mosque in the early 15th century, but since 1975 it has undergone numerous large-scale restoration projects.
Parthenon is in the very center of Athens, near the Acropolis; to get there, take the metro to the Akropoli. The entrance fee is included in the ticket for Acropolis which costs around 20 €.
The modernist Freebooter, in Amsterdam, is an apartment complex build in 2019 by the Amsterdam-based studio-loop. The most interesting feature about the building is the fact that it’s made of timbers displayed in a parametric shape, which allows sunlight to flood the apartments while at the same time maintaining the privacy of the inhabitants.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Many of the amazing buildings around the world, including Angkor Wat, are temples. Located in Cambodia and surrounded by the country’s natural beauty, this is the largest religious monument on earth by land area, and it was originally constructed as a Hindu temple. According to myth, the construction of Angkor Wat was ordered by Indra, and according to the 13th-century Chinese traveler notes, some even believed that the Angkor Wat was built in a single night!
Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Russia
Commissioned in the 16th century by the first Tsar of Russia, Saint Basil’s is an Orthodox church located in the Red Square of Moscow and one of the most popular landmarks of Russia. This extraordinary structure has eight tiny chapels dotted around a tall central nave, aside from ornate onion domes colored with strong pigments.
Saint Basil is open to visitors every day, and you can also take a virtual tour of the building.
Tower of Pisa, Italy
The Leaning Tower of Pisa, or the Tower of Pisa, is a freestanding bell tower that began to lean during its construction in the 12th century. The cause of the leaning was the soft ground, which could not support the weight of the structure and worsened during completion in the 14th century. The structure was stabilized in the 1990s and reversed the tilt from 5.5 to 3.97 degrees.
For information on tickets for the Leaning Tower of Pisa, visit the official website.
Lotus Temple, India
The Lotus Temple in Delhi, India, is notable for its flowerlike shape. It was open-ended for worship in 1986 and by 2001 it attracted already 70 million visitors, making it one of the most visited buildings in the globe. There is no pons surrounding the Lotus Temple, and the special exterior lighting of the building makes a must-go in Delhi. The building is a famous example of expressionist architecture.
To get to there from the Akshardham station, you can take a bus to Kalkaji Mandir, or take a taxi. The entrance fee is INR 150 for foreign tourists.
Cologne Cathedral, Germany
The Cologne Cathedral was built at the beginning of the 13th century and is still in construction. The medieval builders planned the structure to house the reliquary of the Three Kings. Today, it is enlisted as a World Heritage Site, and it’s open to visitors.
You’ll have no trouble spotting the cathedral, as it’s the second-highest building in Cologne. Find the ticket prices at their official website.
Vessel, New York City
New York is home to a multitude of architectural wonders. The city’s skyline is dotted with high-rise skyscrapers and iconic constructions, such as the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. These are definitely the most well-known structures in New York, but if you’re visiting Manhattan, make sure you also sightsee The Vessel.
The Vessel is a dramatic spiral staircase structure in New York City. Designed by the architect Thomas Heatherwick, the building became open to visitors in 2016 as part of the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project in Manhattan, New York.
This modern New York building looks like a honeycomb and it consists of 154 flights of stairs, 2500 steps and 80 landings for you to climb. Although many architects see it as beautiful, critics hold that it is too extravagant.
To get to the Vessel, in New York, take the subway to Hudson Yards. You can get free same-day tickets or schedule your visit by contacting the Hudson yards.
Winter Palace, Russia
Owner of great beauty, the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia, now holds a museum for the city’s visitors. The palace was a winter residence for Russian Emperors from 1732 to 1917 and now houses the Hermitage Museum. The building as you see it today was erected and altered between the 1730s and 1837, and is, therefore, a magnificent example of various styles and tastes, but most significantly, the Rococo style.
The tickets to one of the Hermitage branches (Menshov Palace, the Museum of the Imperial Porcelain Factory) cost you 300 ($4) rubles.
Do you think there are even more beautiful buildings in the world? Leave your comment below.
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