5 must-see building structures of the World

Each city has its own eye candy and must-see for its visitors and tourists. We have compiled a list keeping a number of aesthetic and architectural aspects in mind backed by a random sampling among a cross section of global travellers.

travel Updated: Sep 14, 2012 12:39 IST

There are buildings of all shapes and sizes. The different classifications allow us to view large temple complexes, mausoleums, shopping malls, hotels, offices and even embassies as buildings. Each city has its own eye candy and must-see for its visitors and tourists. Compiling then a list of the five building structures which must figure in every individual’s list is a challenging task. For, each of us would have our own criteria for assessing them. For some it may be a building which is energy efficient, while for another it maybe purely aesthetic. There may be some of us who may find the most bizarre buildings beautiful or the most opulent or conversely the ones that are the most modest and simple. Well, we at ht.com have compiled a list keeping a number of aesthetic and architectural aspects in mind backed by a random sampling among a cross section of global travellers.

1. Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain: Opened in September 1997, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, was designed by Canadian architect Frank Gehry. Displaying inspired use of flowing canopies, cliffs, promontories, ship shapes, towers and flying fins, it is considered to be one of the world's most spectacular examples of modern architecture. Built alongside the Nervion River, Gehry designed the Guggenheim with historical and geographical context in mind. The interiors are purposefully vast with a cathedral-like atrium which is more than 45m high. The gleaming ribbon like sheets of titanium and the collection interconnecting blocks makes it an innovatively designed architectural landmark. The museum creates a compelling backdrop for exhibiting contemporary art.

2. Potala Palace, Tibet: Perched at 3,767.19m above the holy city of Lhasa, the Potala Palace is one of the highest ancient locations in the world. The awe-inspiring Potala Palace which was once destroyed by lightning and war was later rebuilt by the Fifth Dalai Lama. It is now the winter residence of the Holy guru. Potala, named after a holy hill in South India means "Abode of the Avalokitesvara (Buddha of Mercy)." The palace with its vast inward-sloping walls broken only in the upper parts by straight rows of many windows, and its flat roofs at various levels, makes it no less than a fortress in appearance. The building measures 400 metres east-west and 350 metres north-south, with sloping stone walls that are 3m. thick at the top and 5m (more than 16 ft) thick at the base. The construction includes copper poured into the foundations to help proof it against earthquakes. This huge bulwark is 13 storeys high with over 1,000 rooms, 10,000 shrines and about 200,000 statues. Potala Palace is now a state museum of China, and has been given a spot on the Unesco World Heritage list. Famous for its grand buildings, complicated constructions, devotional atmosphere and splendid artwork, it stands proud and tall, awe inspiring in every way.

3. Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt: Completed in the year 2002, Alexandria’s ocean front library is perhaps the first great design of the new millennium. It is a wonderful reincarnation of the old one and resembles an angled discus or an enormous light switch. The architecture of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina is modern and outstanding, with a 160m-diameter glass-panelled roof tilted out toward the sea like a sundial. The building was designed by Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta and cost about $220 million. The building consists of four below ground floors and six elevated floors under the highest point of building. The library facility includes also a Planetarium, a Science Museum and a 250m long steel pedestrian bridge. The 85,000 square meters Bibliotheca has room for up to 8 million volumes of books. The Bibliotheca bounded by an open plaza and reflecting pool and is connected to the nearby University of Alexandria by footbridge links. The outer wall of the building is made of grey Aswan granite and is carved with symbols from 120 different scripts.

4. Sagrada Família, Spain: Designed by Antoni Gaudí, the Sagrada Familia is considered one of the most extraordinary personal interpretations of Gothic architecture since the middle ages. The construction of the building started in the year 1882 and is yet to be finished. In comparison to the Catalan and many other European Gothic cathedrals, the Sagrada Familia is shorter in width. It also has a great complexity of parts, which include double aisles, an ambulatory with a chevet of seven apsidal chapels, a multitude of towers and three portals, each widely different in structure as well as ornament. Unlike other cathedrals in Spain which are surrounded by numerous chapels and ecclesiastical buildings, the plan of this church has an unusual feature. It has a covered passage or cloister which forms a rectangle enclosing the church and passing through the narthex of each of its three portals. As per Gaudí's original design, there are a total of eighteen spires which in ascending order, represents the height of the Twelve Apostles, the four Evangelists, the Virgin Mary and, tallest of all, Jesus Christ. As of 2010, eight spires have been built, corresponding to four apostles at the Nativity façade and four apostles at the Passion façade. The Sagrada Familia it is a truly magnificent building and an absolute must-see when you visit Barcelona.

5. The Taj Mahal, India: Covering an area of 42 acres, the iconic Taj Mahal is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful and romantic buildings of the Mughal period. Built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal is known as one of the Seven Wonders. The construction of the Taj Mahal involved 22,000 workers including masons, stonecutters, inlayers, carvers, painters, calligraphers, and other artisans called on from all over the central Asia and Iran. The entire Taj complex consists of five major constituents, namely Darwaza (main gateway), Bageecha (gardens), Masjid (mosque), Naqqar Khana (rest house) and Rauza (main mausoleum). This large, white marble structure stands on a square platform and the main structure is symmetrical with an arch-shaped doorway topped by a large dome and finial. Its height of around 35 metres (115 ft) is about the same as the length of the base, and is accentuated as it sits on a cylindrical "drum" which is roughly 7 metres (23 ft) high. People have made the observation that because of its shape the dome looks like an onion. The main gateway of Taj Mahal stands bordered with Arabic script of verses from the Quran, made up of black stone.

Shruti Menon, a freelance feature writer based in Delhi, is fond of travelling. She loves meeting new people and during her leisure time, surfs the internet on destinations that are untouched by tourists.

First Published: Sep 13, 2012 13:23 IST