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World's Most Beautiful Buildings

Therme Vals, Vals, Switzerland

Prisma Bildagentur AG / Alamy

Therme Vals, Vals, Switzerland

This extraordinary bathhouse, mostly underground, contains a network of thermal pools situated between walls assembled from some 6,000 layered slabs of local stone, Valser gneiss, cut to architect Peter Zumthor’s precise specification. The grassy roof is punctuated here and there by thin skylights, softly lighting the bathing areas below. The overall effect is the rarest thing in architecture: true timelessness.

Back in the Real World: The adjacent hotel complex is a holdover from the 1960s, but Zumthor has spruced up the dining facilities. Try drinks in the Blue Lounge.

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