Dan Brown’s thriller ”The Da Vinci Code” has successfully tapped into the list of the best books of all time. It also assures the general popularity of Leonardo Da Vinci. It spent 18 weeks on The New York Times best-seller list! The plot of the book is set off with the discovery of a murdered Louvre curator, found in the pose of Leonardo’s famous ”Vitruvian man” — a figure inscribed in both a circle and a square. The myth of Da Vinci is woven together with engrossing numerological symbolism, verbal puzzles, and an alternative version of Christianity wrapped up in the legend of the Holy Grail.

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Following are some Iconic Architecture Landmarks that play the backdrop for this captivating mystery: (Spoiler Alert!)

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1. Louvre Museum, Paris, France

This building perhaps is the most recognizable in the book. It plays an important role as it is the tipping off point. The Museum Curator’s body is discovered in the Louvre’s Denon Wing, not far from two of Leonardo da Vinci’s greatest works. The most recent addition by I.M. is a large glass and steel pyramid that is surrounded by three smaller triangles that provide light to space beneath it. The visual of the same is seen quite often in the movie adaption as well!

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2. Church of Saint Sulpice, Paris, France

The Church of Saint-Sulpice is a Roman Catholic Church with a distinct Baroque style. It is the second-largest church in the city second to only Notre Dame. In the story, there is a massive hunt for a keystone in the Church that is believed to unlock the secret of the Grail. The sole occupant of the church, Sister Sandrine, watches the hunt from a distance.

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3. Château de Villette, Paris, France

The Château de Villette is a French manor house with numerous outbuildings including a chapel and adjacent reception room, horse stable and greenhouse. In the 1680s, Le Nôtre designed the Palace of Versailles at the same time as they designed this manor naming it ‘Le Petit Versailles’ (the little Versailles). In the book, this house acts as the residence of art historian Sir Leigh Teabing. Holed up in the splendid 17th-century Château Villette with a butler, Teabing plays an important role in pushing the plot forward. 

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4. Champs-Élysées, Paris, France

The Champs-Élysées was completed in 1680 and it connects the Arc de Triomphe with the Place de la Concorde. It is one of the world’s most famous commercial streets. The Protagonists flee the Louvre in haste down the Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe. A stunning visual of the Avenue is seen in the Movie Adaption.

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5. Vatican City, Rome, Italy

The Vatican Council and the City itself has a heavy impact on the plot. After learning from the Vatican Council that a secret society, the art curator, Jacques Saunière had uncovered some shocking news about Jesus. The Vatican is one of the world’s most striking architecture hotspots with several famous landmarks. It is characterized by several architectural styles such as Roman, Baroque, and Gothic.

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6. Castel Gandolfo, Rome, Italy

Commonly known as the Pope’s City, it houses the Pope’s summer residence. The town’s quaint countryside remained in oblivion until 1200 when the Genoese family of the Gandolfo built the castle on top of the hill overlooking the lake. In the story, the bishop is diverted from the Vatican City to the papal summer retreat in nearby Castel Gandolfo. 

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7. Westminster Abbey, London, England

Westminster Abbey is a monumental building for the royal family. It also has famously been the location for the burials of many important people in history including Stephen Hawking, Isaac Newton, and Queen Mary. In the story, the protagonists scour the tomb of Sir Isaac Newton in the Abbey for a final clue that will crack open the second cryptex. 

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8. Opus Dei Headquarters, New York, USA

This building is located far from the location of the plot (which is all situated in Europe) way across the Atlantic to New York. The façade designed by the architectural firm of May & Pinska has a distinct look with red brick and Indiana limestone. The building stands a few blocks east of the Empire State Building but does not indicate the Opus Dei. 

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9. Rosslyn Chapel, Roslin, Scotland

Designed by Architect William Sinclair, First Earl of Caithness, the Rosslyn Chapel is a 15th-century chapel located in the village of Roslin. Its Architectural style is Gothic. The protagonist’s journey leads them to Rosslyn Chapel, Scotland’s most famous Templar temple, but what they find here is not what they expect. “When I decided to write The Da Vinci Code, I knew that its finale would have to take place at the most mysterious and magical chapel on earth — Rossly,” Dan Brown says. 

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Author

With a very culturally diverse upbringing, Shreya has been exposed to different methods design thinking in everyday life and is keen on sharing this knowledge. She believes that writing and research is an important tool in making a change through architecture.

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