Nature’s work is impressive. When you see a vista that has been molded by time, like a mountainous landscape, you get the feeling of inexorable power and patience. Or when you see the sea in a storm, that same power becomes manifest, no longer subtle as before.
In all cases of such nature scapes that power seems scattered and wild. As if nature was an artist experimenting on a whim. So what could be equally as interesting as this display of careless beauty? Well, the opposite, very thought-through, rigorously planned and executed beauty of man-made works.
Those creations in which the engineer and his geometrically ordered mind is just as important as the wild artist, without one necessarily censuring the other. I am talking about those buildings made by the hands of men which truly deserve an appreciative nod from nature (and us as well), considering that the time frame in which they were built was much smaller than the eons she works in and that the makers themselves are mere, limited mortals.
To achieve beauty with said limitations is no small feat and should be honored and promoted. So, if you ever get the chance, here’s 10 architectural wonders to visit and to keep in your mind when thinking of our species’ resourcefulness.
1. Great Mosque Of Djenne
Situated in Mali, Africa, it is the world’s largest structure made of clay. It’s exact construction date is not known. It is considered to be of the the Sudano-Sahelian architectural style.
2. Neuschwanstein Castle
Its creators certainly chose the most interesting, difficult place to build this awesome, fairy-tale like castle. Smack on top of an abrupt, imposing hill. But, it appears they knew what they were doing, as this noble structure has been standing without any sign of wear or tear since the 19th century when it was built.
3. Machu Picchu
And speaking of hills an breath-taking views. Give Machu Picchu, the well-known representative city of the Incas a go if you’re ever in Peru and take in the heights of both the landscape and that “lost” civilization.
4. Chichen Itza
If you liked what the Incas did and want to see some more of the pre-Columbian populations of America, Chichen Itza in the Mexican state of Yucatan is a good choice with its astronomically related pyramid.
5. The Great Wall of China
One of the great wonders of the world, this is an old structure, built between 220-206 BC, which makes its size even more awe-inspiring, even despite the fact that not all of it has survived the passages of time. But the 3000 km it does stretch on speak volumes to the efforts involved.
6. The Forbidden City
Also in China, The Forbidden City is a was the Chinese Emperors’ palace for almost 500 years. It has 980 buildings in total, which took 14 years to finish.
Back to Antiquity and he largest amphitheater ever built. Add to that that it is made of concrete and stone and you get a pretty good testament of the craftiness and mastery that the Romans possessed when it came to construction and engineering. Add to that the many gladiators that gave their lives there on the sand (be they originally free men or slaves), and you get a place charged with an intense history and dramatic tales.
8. Taj Mahal
Probably the Indian structure most famous around the world, it was built out of white marble (which is a pretentious material), between 1630 and 1652 AD. But there’s even more to it than its majesty, and the effort of 22000 workers that went into it. The whole reason for its construction points to a great love fit for a romantic tale. Namely, Emperor Shah Jahan, was grief-stricken after the death of his wife after she gave birth to his 14th child. So, to honour her memory, he built the Taj Mahal. Legend says that he wanted to build a black mirror structure for himself for after he dies, so their spirits can be together again, but he never got the chance.
9. Sagrada Familia
The work of architectural genius Gaudi, this gem sits in Barcelona, Spain, where it commands tourists’ and natives’ attention alike due to its extremely innovative and original style combining Gothic and Art Nouveau, which prompted one critic to say that Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia is “The most extraordinary personal interpretation of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages.” It is still not completed, but estimated to be so before 2026 to mark the centenary of Gaudi’s death.
10. The Flatiron building
And, to give acknowledge modern times as well, let’s mention the Flatiron building (named so after its resemblance to a cast-iron clothes iron), which is a skyscraper in the shape of a triangle situated between busy car-filled streets in New York. It was built in 1902, one of the tallest of the time and is considered emblematic for New York and for the skyscrapers of the world in general.