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Choosing what to study

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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Burj Khalifa

Dubai, UAE (2010)

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

The world’s current tallest man-made structure stands at 828 metres high. It uses 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.

Beijing National Stadium

Beijing, China (2007)

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

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 a sight to behold – particularly at night.

Eiffel Tower

Paris, France (1889)

Seine in Paris with Eiffel Tower in sunrise

The most famous example of an iron lattice tower, La Tour Eiffel stands 324 metres tall –  once the tallest man-made structure in the world. Originally constructed to be the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair, the Eiffel Tower functions these days as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

La Sagrada Familia

Barcelona, Spain (1882)

Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona

Legendary Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí 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 so long.

Taj Mahal

Agra, India (1632–1653)

Taj mahal on a bright day in Agra, India

In one of the largest countries in the world 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.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, Peru (15th century)

Machu Picchu a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983

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.

Colosseum

Rome, Italy (70–80 AD)

Colosseum at sunrise in backlight, Rome, Italy

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.

Lost City of Petra

Ma’an, Jordan (312 BC)

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

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 also lists as one of the modern seven wonders of the world.

Parthenon

Athens, Greece (438 BC)

Parthenon - Acropolis, Athens

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.

Great Pyramid of Giza

Giza, Egypt (2540 BC)

General view of pyramids from the Giza Plateau

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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