1 of 24

Take a tour of the world’s most beautiful buildings, from Alabama to India.


These are the world’s most beautiful
buildings? Are you kidding?

A
hundred years ago, naming the world’s most beautiful buildings was easy: the
Parthenon. Sure. The Taj Mahal. Absolutely. Hagia Sophia. No argument. But now,
in part because the whole notion was chewed up and spit out by those troublemaking
Modernists, we’re just learning to think about architecture in terms of beauty
again. It’s open season.

We
readily admit our choices for the world’s most beautiful buildings are
questionable. They include Gaudí’s controversial Sagrada Família cathedral (arguably a top sight)
in Barcelona—a building that teeters on the
boundary between love and hate. We see that edge as the exact place where
beauty happens. Beautiful is not the same as pretty; it’s a
strong word, suggesting big emotions.

Beauty also
elicits reaction, like the goose bumps you get when you see another of the
world’s most beautiful buildings: the tremendous curl of the Akron Boys and
Girls Club II roof rising from its flat, dusty small town Alabama surroundings.
Or the dumb “Wow!” you might utter when you first step into the soaring atrium lobby
of the Burj Al Arab in Dubai. The 60-story sail-shaped hotel
is one of the most talked about properties on the planet because of its sheer
size and unique architectural vision. It’s no surprise the hotel is a national
icon, a source of local pride that also lures thousands of travelers to the
Middle East’s most forward-looking city each year.

Yes,
certain themes are evident in our choices of the world’s most beautiful
buildings. We love buildings surrounded by water; the interaction between water
and daylight is always magical. (Why do you think the Lincoln Memorial has a
reflecting pool at its doorstep?) And we are head over heels for flamboyant
uses of pattern and color. The Netherlands Institute for Sound
and Vision
, for
example, is positively psychedelic.

So are
we consistent? Nope. But however capricious our choices may seem, we don’t take
beauty lightly. After all, the ongoing search for beauty is what travel is all about.
It’s certainly the best reason we know to leave the house.

World's Most Beautiful Buildings

Take a tour of the world’s most beautiful buildings, from Alabama to India.


These are the world’s most beautiful
buildings? Are you kidding?

A
hundred years ago, naming the world’s most beautiful buildings was easy: the
Parthenon. Sure. The Taj Mahal. Absolutely. Hagia Sophia. No argument. But now,
in part because the whole notion was chewed up and spit out by those troublemaking
Modernists, we’re just learning to think about architecture in terms of beauty
again. It’s open season.

We
readily admit our choices for the world’s most beautiful buildings are
questionable. They include Gaudí’s controversial Sagrada Família cathedral (arguably a top sight)
in Barcelona—a building that teeters on the
boundary between love and hate. We see that edge as the exact place where
beauty happens. Beautiful is not the same as pretty; it’s a
strong word, suggesting big emotions.

Beauty also
elicits reaction, like the goose bumps you get when you see another of the
world’s most beautiful buildings: the tremendous curl of the Akron Boys and
Girls Club II roof rising from its flat, dusty small town Alabama surroundings.
Or the dumb “Wow!” you might utter when you first step into the soaring atrium lobby
of the Burj Al Arab in Dubai. The 60-story sail-shaped hotel
is one of the most talked about properties on the planet because of its sheer
size and unique architectural vision. It’s no surprise the hotel is a national
icon, a source of local pride that also lures thousands of travelers to the
Middle East’s most forward-looking city each year.

Yes,
certain themes are evident in our choices of the world’s most beautiful
buildings. We love buildings surrounded by water; the interaction between water
and daylight is always magical. (Why do you think the Lincoln Memorial has a
reflecting pool at its doorstep?) And we are head over heels for flamboyant
uses of pattern and color. The Netherlands Institute for Sound
and Vision
, for
example, is positively psychedelic.

So are
we consistent? Nope. But however capricious our choices may seem, we don’t take
beauty lightly. After all, the ongoing search for beauty is what travel is all about.
It’s certainly the best reason we know to leave the house.

Design by Neutelings Riedijk Architecten/Photo by Scagliola Brakkee

World's Most Beautiful Buildings

Explore More