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Top ten architectural achievements

The evolution of the built environment shows how far humans have come. Here’s a timeline of some of history’s greatest architectural feats.

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10. Burj Khalifa

The Burj Khalifa in the center of Dubai is the tallest building in the world

Dubai, United Arab Emirates 2010

The world’s tallest man-made structure, the Burj Khalifa, stands at 828 metres high. It utilises the bundled tube design, meaning the amount of steel used is relatively small – it consists of around half the amount of steel that was used for the Empire State Building. It won’t be the world's tallest building for long; the Jeddah Tower is currently under construction in Saudi Arabia and set to stand at over 1,000 metres tall. 

9. Beijing National Stadium, Bird's Nest 

Exterior of Beijing National Olympic Stadium also known as Bird's Nest

Beijing, China 2007

The stunning stadium staged the 2008 Olympic Games and now mainly hosts football matches. It’s one of the world’s largest enclosed spaces with a gross volume of three million cubic metres. The contrasting outer steel frame and inner red bowl is certainly a sight to behold – particularly at night.

8. Eiffel Tower

Seine in Paris with Eiffel Tower in sunrise

Paris, France 1889

The most famous example of an iron lattice tower, La Tour Eiffel, stands at 324 metres tall –  once upon a time the tallest man-made structure in the world. Originally constructed to be the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair, the Eiffel Tower has little function these days other than as a popular tourist destination and marriage proposal location.

7. La Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona

Barcelona, Spain 1882

Legendary Catalan architect, Gaudi, designed La Sagrada Familia in the 19th century and it’s still under construction. The intricate combination of Gothic and art nouveau makes for a stunning building. Visit the church and you’ll soon see why it’s taking quite so long.

6. Taj Mahal

Taj mahal on a bright day in Agra, India

Agra, India 1632-1653

In one of the largest countries across the globe that holds well over a billion people and has a rich cultural history to boot, the Taj Mahal stands out as one of India's greatest assets. It’s widely regarded as the greatest example of Mughal architecture, taking 20 years to construct and now known as one of the new seven wonders of the world.

5. Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983

Machu Picchu, Peru 15th century

One of the finest examples of wayrona style architecture that was used throughout the Inca Empire, the Machu Picchu citadel sits 2,430 metres above sea level high up in the Andes mountains. Trek the famous Inca trail and you’ll be rewarded with stunning Inca ruins, epic views and a glimpse into a mysterious human history. The site is another one of the modern seven wonders of the world.

4. Colosseum

Colosseum at sunrise in backlight, Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy  70–80 AD

One of the world’s finest pieces of Roman architecture, the Colosseum remains the largest amphitheatre in existence – covering two hectares of land. Also one of the new seven wonders of the world, this entirely free-standing structure remains reasonably intact, attracting over four million visitors a year.

3. Lost City of Petra

Al Khazneh (The Treasury) at old city Petra. Jordan

Ma’an, Jordan  312 BC

Half-built and half-carved into sandstone, Petra is noted for merging ancient Eastern culture and Hellenistic architecture. Once a thriving trading centre and capital of the Nabataean empire before it was conquered by the Roman Empire, this UNESCO world heritage site is the last in our timeline that lists as one of the modern seven wonders of the world.

2. Parthenon

Parthenon - Acropolis, Athens

Athens, Greece  438 BC

A temple in Greece dedicated to the goddess Athena and now regarded as the enduring symbol of Ancient Greece, the Parthenon is architecturally famed for its Doric columns – often referred to as the finest Doric temple ever built.

1. Great Pyramid of Giza

General view of pyramids from the Giza Plateau

Giza, Egypt  2540 BC

Built as a tomb for Pharaoh Khufu, the pyramid took over 20 years to construct. Standing at 138.8 metres it’s the only ancient wonder of the world still intact – an architectural feat indeed

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