History and Architecture go hand in hand. When one speaks about the evolution of human beings, the traces of it are reflected in the slow evolution of architecture as well. The architecture around the world has developed over centuries across different cultures, landscapes and climatic conditions, religions, availability of resources, and the advancement in the technology. The study of historical architecture exudes tons of knowledge to learn and adapt from, especially for architects.
So here are 20 historical heritage structures that every Architect must visit, or at least learn about:
1. Machu Picchu, Peru
Located in the Andes Mountains of Peru, this citadel is a proof of the greatness of the Inca dynasty in the 15th century. The settlement reflects the classical Inca style of architecture and was constructed using polished cut stones fit tightly together, without the use of mortar. The incomparably beautiful site is situated 2430 meters above sea level.
2. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Built from 1113 AD to 1150 AD, this magnificent Stone temple complex was once home to thousands of monks. It is a Buddhist pilgrim destination and the largest religious monument in the world. Surrounded by forests, this place yields an immense sense of serenity and calmness.
3. Registan, Uzbekistan
Located in the city of Samarkand, the complex was the heart of the ancient city’s social life. This public square, built from 15th to 17th centuries is surrounded by three magnificent Madrasas, each one having its own unique identity. These Mosiac and Majolica-ornated structures are excellent examples of Islamic architecture in Central Asia.
4. AhuTongariki, Easter Island, Chile
Formed by extinct volcanoes, this remote triangular island is a part of the Chilean territory. It is known for its skillfully carved and placed stone statues called Moai. There were more than 900 such statues, carved by the local people from the 13th-16th centuries, to honor their chieftain and other descendants. AhuTongariki is the largest platform on the island shore, which consists of 15 Moais.
5. Colosseum, Rome
Built from 70-72 AD, this structure is a triumph in the history of architecture. The massive stone amphitheater was a gift from an emperor of the Flavian Dynasty to the people of Rome. The structure boasts elements from the ancient Roman architecture. Even though most of the theater is destroyed, it is still amongst the most desired tourist destinations around the world.
6. St. Mark’s Cathedral, Venice
Every inch of this Cathedral flaunts rich culture, heritage, and history. The Venetian merchants stole the relics of St.Mark the Evangelist from Egypt. This Italo-Byzantine Church was built to preserve all the relics and other precious items. The blend of several architectural styles is reflected in its facade, as well as planning. It consists of five domes, several arched portals, and statues on the balconies. The facade consists of the winged lion which is a symbol of Venice, above which is the statue of St. Mark and his angels.
7. Petra, Jordan
This stunning rose-coloured site was a mystery until it was rediscovered in the 19th century. According to the archaeological surveys carried, later on, it is said that it was probably carved by the Nabataeans, centuries ago. This monument, which is engraved on the facade of a cliff itself, is a treat to the eyes.
8. Konark Sun Temple, India
This temple is an extraordinary monumental depiction of Lord Surya’s chariot (Lord of Sun). There are 24 stone wheels, which are intricately carved. Constructed in the 13th century by King Narasimhadeva of the Eastern Ganga dynasty, the temple complex reflects the teachings of the Vedic hymns of Hinduism. According to the hymns of Rigveda, The rising sun is the dispeller of darkness, one who empowers knowledge, and all life. This temple is one of the most significant pilgrim destinations for Hindus and Buddhists from around the world.
9. Parthenon, Greece
This monument is a precious window to the past as it depicts the beliefs and the rich culture of Athens. Built in the 5th century BC by the Athenian empire itself, this structure originally served as a temple dedicated to the Goddess Athena. It reflects the classical Roman and Greek styles of architecture. It is located at the highest point of Acropolis in Athens.
10. Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey
Also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, the blue mosque is an eye-popping monument. It consists of a large dome, and six minarets surrounding it. The mosque was built between 1609 and 1617, reflecting the Islamic, as well as the Ottoman styles of architecture. It is known as the Blue mosque because blue colored tiles are used for the decoration of the interior of this mosque.
11. Tikal, Guatemala
Tikal is one of the most prominent Centres of the ancient Maya civilization in the region. By 100 CE, it became an important ceremonial Centre with the development of Pyramids and Plazas. The Tikal ruins are the main attraction of the Tikal National Park, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
12. Chichen Itza, Mexico
Another fine example of the history of the Mayan civilization. It is known for its step pyramid temple (also known as El Castillo) which is jaw-droppingly magnificent. The pyramid consists of a series of terraces with stairways on all the four sides to the temple on top.
13. The Great Wall of China
Also known as “the long wall”, the history of the development of this wonder is long as well. It took almost 2300 years to build the complete Great Wall of China. It was developed in parts, during the reign of several dynasties, and most of the development took place during the Ming Dynasty. These parts were then finally joined together by Qin Shi Huang, which resulted in almost a 21,000Km long wall. It was initially built to provide security and trade control on the northern side of China.
14. Knap of Howar, Scotland
Located on the island of Papa Westray of Orkney, it is a preserved structure from the Neolithic age dating back to 3500BC. It is a stone farmstead which consists of two adjacent structures, connected by a passageway. It does not have any openings, except for the one on the roof. The view of the sea from these structures is breathtaking!
15. The Alhambra, Spain
It is an excellent example of a unique blend of Islamic and Renaissance styles of architecture which is pretty rare. It is a fortress built on a plateau that overlooks the city of Grenada. It was built in the year 1238 during the reign of the Nasrid Dynasty and was later taken over by Charles V, who then destroyed some parts to rebuild in renaissance style!
16. The Minaret of Jam, Afghanistan
This graceful structure dates back to the 12th century;the overall setting and location of the Minaret are stunning as it stands amidst the Mountains and valley of the Hari River. It has four levels, constructed using bricks and bluestone to ornate. The intricate carving further enhances its beauty.
17. Piazza Dei Miracoli, Pisa, Italy
Translated as “The square of miracles”, this cathedral complex surely has a novel charm to it. It was built after the battle of Palermo, to memorialize the achievements of Pisa. It consists of a cathedral, a baptistery, a cemetery, and a bell tower (now known as The Leaning Tower of Pisa).
18. Hampi, India
Located in the state of Karnataka, Hampi is an ancient village consisting of a group of monuments. It consists of numerous Nagara style temple ruins. These temples were built during the reign of the Vijayanagara Empire(1336-1570CE) when the Hindu Temple architectural style was trending in India.
What is so unique about a set of stones placed in concentric circles? Stonehenge surely seems to be a mysterious place to many people. But it is a must-visit, especially for architects because it is probably one of the oldest attempts to megalithic architecture, which is still preserved. It is presumed to be constructed in 3000 BC by using Sarsen and Bluestones.
20. Great Pyramid of Giza
Egypt is certainly rich in culture and historical heritage, which makes it a definite stop on our travel list! The pyramids of Giza were built as the tombs for the fourth dynasty Egyptian pharaoh-‘Khufu’. They were mainly constructed using limestone and granite which dates back to 2580-2560BC. The pyramid complex also consists of The Sphynx and ruins of many other ancient monuments.