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.
10. Burj Khalifa
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
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
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
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
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, 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.
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
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.
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
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