Top 10 – Most Iconic Buildings of The World


Taj Mahal

The crowning jewel of India, the Taj Mahal is a testament to one man’s love for his wife. It looks like a palace, but it was actually built as a tomb for the Emperor’s favorite wife. Construction began one year after her death in 1632 and the mausoleum was completed in 1648 with the surrounding buildings and gardens taking another five years to complete. The construction took 20,000 workers and craftsmen that were recruited from all across northern India. Soon after the Taj Mahal was completed, the Emperor was deposed by his son Aurungzeb and put under house arrest. When the Emperor died in 1658, he was buried beside his wife inside the Taj Mahal. During world War II the Indian government erected scaffolding around the Taj to mislead German and Japanese bomber pilots. Today the Taj Mahal is under a different threat: acid rain and pollution from the Mathura Oil Refinery has begun to turn its white marble yellow.

Who built it?

The Taj Mahal was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan when his third wife Mumtaz Mahal died while giving birth to their fourteenth child, Gauhara Begum. He exchanged a large palace in the center of Agra with Maharajah Jai Singh for the three acres of land where the Taj now sits.

Sydney Opera House

Declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007, Opera House is one of the most iconic buildings the world standing tall at 185 meters with a width of 120 meters. In the late 1940’s Eugene Goossens, the Director of the NSW State Conservatorium of Music lobbied for a new venue for large productions. In 1955 a design competition was held by NSW Premier Joseph Cahill, and by 1958 construction had begun with 10,000 builders employed. The winning design features several concrete shells and houses performance spaces like the concert hall, the opera theater, the drama theater, the studio, the Utzon room, the forecourt as well as a recording studio, five restaurants, four souvenir shops and a guided tour operation.

Who built it?
The winning designer was Jørn Utzon, an architect from Denmark. When Cahill insisted on radical changes to the design, Utzon resigned mid-construction and the project was finished without him. Till the time it was finishes, the cost of the project reached 102 million Australian Dollars. The formal inauguration of the building took place on on 20 October 1973. In the 90s, the Sydney Opera House Trust reconciled with Utzon, naming him a design consultant for future work but he died in November of 2008.

Paul Robeson was the first person to perform at the Sydney Opera House in 1960. The first opera performed at the house was Sergei Prokofiev’s War and Peace, on September 28 1973. Around thirty thousand events take place here every year and is visited by around eight million people.

Eiffel Tower

Towering high above Paris , the Eiffel Tower was built between 1887 and 1889 and acted as the entrance arch for the Exposition Universelle, which marked the centennial of the French Revolution. The tower was only supposed to stand for 20 years but it was a valuable communication tool and remained as an unmistakable element of the skyline (especially as buildings in the city cannot surpass seven stories). During the German occupation of Paris during World War II, the lift cables were cut forcing German soldiers to climb the stairs to the top to hoist the swastika. Within hours of the Liberation of Paris, the lifts were back in working order.

Who built it?
The Eiffel tower was designed by engineer Gustave Eiffel who had originally submitted the design to Barcelona for the Universal Exposition in 1888 but they refused. When it was built, he engraved the names of 72 French scientists, engineers and other notable Frenchmen.

Empire State Building

Once the tallest building in the world, no film or television show set in New York is complete without including a shot of the grand Art Deco skyscraper. Originally the site of the Waldorf-Astoria, construction of the Empire State Building began on St Patrick’s Day 1930. 410 days later construction was finished and it won the title of world’s tallest building, surpassing both 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building, which were being built around the same time. The opening of the building coincided with the Great Depression so it sat almost empty for the next 20 years. This wasn’t the only challenge the building has had to face: there was a 1945 plane crash, shootings in 1997, and more than 30 suicides. Through it all the Empire State Building has endured as a timeless monument of New York City.

Who built it?
The Empire State Building was designed by William F. Lamb, based on the designs for the Reynolds Building in Winston-Salem North Carolina and the Carew Tower in Cincinnati Ohio. Because of this, the staff of the Empire State Building sends a Father’s Day card to the staff of the Reynolds Building every year.

Giza Pyramids

The oldest buildings on this list, the pyramids on the Giza plateau have intrigued mankind for centuries. Not only have they stood the test of time, but the accuracy with which they were built is impressive even by today’s standards. They were built as tombs for three separate pharaohs during the Third and Fourth Dynasty. It is also the only surviving wonder of the ancient world and was the tallest building in the world until 1300 when it was surpassed by the Lincoln Cathedral. Despite their long history, or perhaps because of it, mysteries have swirled around the pyramids since they were found by the Ancient Greeks thousands of years ago. How were they built? How many people worked on the project? How long did the construction take? What was the Egyptians’ understanding of astronomy, mathematics, and geography? And even crazy questions like: did aliens help in their construction? While these questions go unanswered, all we are left to do is marvel at a culture who were master builders even before the invention of the wheel.

Who built it?
The oldest and largest of the three pyramids was built by Khufu between 2551 and 2531 BC. The second was built by Khufu’s grandson Khafre between 2558 and 2532 BC. And the third pyramid belongs to Khafre’s son Menkaure and despite not knowing the exact date of the construction many believe that it was finished somewhere around 2490 BC, several years after his death.

The Colosseum

The largest Roman amphitheater ever built, the Colosseum is one of the greatest architectural feats ever achieved by the Ancient Romans. Construction began between 70 and 72 AD and was finished in 80 AD. It was capable of seating 50,000 people and was usually used for gladiatorial games, but could also be used for public spectacles, mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, reenactments of battles, and dramas based on Classical Mythology. During the medieval era its entertainment purposes ended and it has since been used as housing, workshops, a fortress, a quarry, quarters for a religious order, and a Christian shrine. Today the Colosseum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Rome and attracts thousands of visitors every year.

Who Built it?
The Colosseum was imagined by Emperor Vespasian who used the vast treasure seized during the Great Jewish Revolt in 70 AD to fund its construction. It was built up to the third story when Vespasian died in 79 AD, but his son Titus finished it and inaugurated it in 80 AD.

The Burj Al Arab

In a city famous for its architecture, the Burj Al Arab defines the Dubai  skyline. The newest building on a long list of architecture built on a grand scale, the Burj Al Arab was built in 1994 and is one of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Perched on a man-made island in the Persian Gulf, it was built to mimic the sail of a dhow. The hotel features a 590-foot tall atrium, a large seawater aquarium, two restaurants (one of which was voted in the top 10 restaurants in the world by Conde Nast) and 202 luxuriously appointed suites.

Who built it?
The Burj Al Arab was designed by Tom Wright and built by Atkins for Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts. It is currently the second largest hotel in the world.

Burj Khalifa

This 829.8 m skyscraper in Dubai is the tallest structure in the world and one of the most iconic buildings of the world. The building was designed by Adrian Smith and the construction began in 2004 and was completed in 2009. The design of the tower is inspired by the shape of Hymenocallis flower. The building was officially inaugurated in 2010 as a part of Dubai Downtown project. There are hotels, residences and observational laboratories in the 163 floors of the building. Apart from being the tallest building in the world, it is also the tallest freestanding structure in the world, highest number of stories in the world, highest occupied floor in the world, highest outdoor observation deck in the world, elevator with longest travel distance in the world and and tallest service elevator in the world.

Who built it?
The tower was constructed by Samsung C&T from South Korea, who also did work on the Petronas Twin Towers and Taipei 101. Samsung C&T built the tower in a joint venture with Besix from Belgium and Arabtec from UAE. Turner is the Project Manager on the main construction contract.

Casa Mila

Casa Mila popularly known as La Pedrera was designed by architect Antoni Gaudí for a wealthy couple Roser Segimon and Pere Milà in Barcelona, Spain. It took six years to build the structure from 1906 to 1912. The building occupies a space of 1,323 meters square per floor. The building was criticized for its bold and modernistic design when it was made. The building resides many structural innovations which include self-supporting stone front and columns, and floors free of load bearing walls and underground garage.

The Kaaba

The kaaba is the most sacred Muslim pilgrimage site in the world. This brick cuboid structure is located at the center of Islam’s most sacred mosque, Al-Masjid al-Haram, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. While performing their prayers, Muslims all over the world face in the direction of the Kaaba . Every Muslim visits the Kaaba at least once in their lifetime as a part of Hajj pilgrimage. The glorious structure is a bricked cuboid made of granite. The Kaaba is approximately 13.1 m , with sides measuring 11.03 m by 12.86 m. Inside the Kaaba, the floor is made of marble and limestone. The Kaaba was initially open to all pilgrims but due to huge numbers of visitors the entry was restricted for the general crowd.The initial Kaaba had a door for entrance and another for way out with a window situated to 1 side. The present Kaaba merely has one door and no window.

Who built it?
The actual structure of the Kaaba has been demolished and rebuilt several times in the course of its history. We don’t really know when it was first built….nor by whom.