What do you love about traveling to cities you’ve never visited before? You may say the food, the culture, perhaps even the climate.
One thing that goes a long way to creating a strong impression is a city’s individual style and architectural history. Here are some of our favorite architectural cities in the world for you to explore.
London is an unusual city due to its patchwork of old and new constructions. After the great fire of 1666 reduced the greater part of the city of London to ash, famous architect and scientist Christopher Wren approached King Charles II with an innovative new city plan for London that would do away with the medieval labyrinth of cramped and chaotic streets in favor of broad roads and orderly civic design.
The King rejected the plan out of hand, stating that he did not want to have to learn new road names. He had rebuilt it just as it was in the medieval period.
Wren got one key part of his plan approved through – a new design for London’s cathedral St Paul’s. Rising above the city with its gorgeous vaulting Neoclassical dome which stands to a height of 111 meters and weighs in at over 60,000 tonnes.
London has many architectural oddities to seek out beyond this though, from London Bridge to Big Ben and even Buckingham Palace. There are also more recent additions if you plan on visiting London, such as the London Eye, the giant Ferris wheel at the heart of the city, and the Millennium Dome now known as the O2 Arena.
Venice has many beautiful buildings that point to its opulent past as a vibrant trade hub transporting goods from east to west along the silk road. One building that speaks to this unique history is the Basilica di San Marco, which was completed in 1092. It is famous for its special blend of East-West architectural influences known as the Italo-Byzantine style.
The church features many sacred relics and artifacts and is richly decorated inside with gold mosaics. The church is often known by the name Chiesa d’Oro (the Church of Gold) for this reason.
In addition to this sacred marvel is a monument to Venice’s epicurean tastes. The Casino di Venezia features a beautiful façade in the high renaissance style you will see throughout the city. Built-in 1638, this casino is in fact the oldest in the world. The venue moved to other premises in 1950 but its doors are still open today, 400 years later.
From the old now to the new, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates began life as a quiet fishing village, until the 90s where an economic boom led to rapid growth and development. Dubai’s global appeal is as a sensational tourist destination and home to the global super-rich. Dubai is home to several incredibly ambitious building projects such as the Burj Al Arab, a luxury hotel colloquially known as the world’s only 7 star hotel due its extravagance.
Situated on its own artificial island about 1 kilometer off-shore, the building is shaped like a yacht’s sail and stands at a height of 321 meters making it one of the tallest hotels in the world. Inside is a tall open atrium rising to a height of 18 stories. Of course such luxury doesn’t come cheap, a stay in the Royale Suite will set you back $24,000 a night.
Impressive as this is, without a doubt the star attraction of Dubai architecturally is the Burj Khalifa. Construction began on this project in 2004, and was completed in record time in 2009. The Burj Khalifa is the tallest free-standing skyscraper in the world, at 828 meters. It is a marvel of modern engineering with many unique innovations.
Use of tubular steel in the construction results in the final building only needing about half as much compared to the Empire State Building and its incredible looking stepped, spiral design minimises the impact of wind on the integrity of the structure.