8 architectural spectacles from around the world

Some might be slightly obscure but certainly worth mentioning 

From ancient to modern, it’s up to you if you admire or despise these eight manmade structures around the world. Read on to see our selection.

Golden Temple, Amritsar, India

In the 19th century, the Golden Temple was renovated with marble and copper and later with a gold foil over the sanctum — Shutterstock
In the 19th century, the Golden Temple was renovated with marble and copper and later with a gold foil over the sanctum — Shutterstock
 

At the end of a causeway, surrounded by the sacred water of the Amrit Sarovar tank, lies the gilded Golden Temple. It’s part of the walled old town in Punjab’s city of Amritsar and the most significant place of worship of Sikhism. In fact, the daily number of visitors to the shrine reaches 100,000.

Before it was built in the late 16th century, the first guru of Sikhs — Guru Nanak — used to meditate at the site. 

However, the gold plating wasn’t added till much later. In the 19th century, it was renovated with marble and copper and later with a gold foil over the sanctum.

Postman Cheval’s Ideal Palace, Hauterives, France

Postman Ferdinand Cheval stumbled upon an unusual stone which led him to devote 33 years to the creation of the palace — milosk50 / Shutterstock
Postman Ferdinand Cheval stumbled upon an unusual stone which led him to devote 33 years to the creation of the palace — milosk50 / Shutterstock
 

Built following no artistic trends and architectural rules, the Ideal Palace is truly one of a kind. 

In 1879, rural postman Ferdinand Cheval stumbled upon an unusual stone which led him to devote 33 years to the creation of a palace in his own garden. Every day during his 18-mile rounds, he would pick up stones to put them in his wheelbarrow and as he was doing all the work himself, he inscribed his palace “The work of one man”.

Real Gabinete Português de Leitura, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The library's style is the neomanuelino, or a revival style from the 19th century which adopted Gothic-Renaissance from the times of Portuguese discoveries — T photography / Shutterstock
The library’s style is the neomanuelino, or a revival style from the 19th century which adopted Gothic-Renaissance from the times of Portuguese discoveries — T photography / Shutterstock
 

Located in the center of Rio de Janeiro, the cultural institution was founded in 1837 as first of its kind by 43 Portuguese immigrants to promote culture among the Portuguese in the city.

The library building — the institution’s current headquarters — was erected half a century later. Its style is the neomanuelino, or a revival style from the 19th century which adopted Gothic-Renaissance from the times of Portuguese discoveries. 

It might be small but it’s been proclaimed one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. And the entrance’s free.

Great Mosque, Djenné, Mali

The entire structure is made out of mud — Claudiovidri / Shutterstock
The entire structure is made out of mud — Claudiovidri / Shutterstock
 

Many mosques have been built on this site in the city of Djenné since the 13th century. The current Great Mosque has been standing there since the early 20th century.

The entire building is made out of mud: sun-baked earth bricks are used on the walls and sand and earth as mortar. On top of that sits a plaster to give it a polished look. 

Moreover, bundles of rodier palm stick out of the mosque’s walls and besides having a decorative purpose, they serve as a readymade scaffolding for annual repairs.

Metropol Parasol, Seville, Spain

Resembling giant mushrooms, the construction is popularly known as Incarnation’s mushrooms — Fulcanelli / Shutterstock
Resembling giant mushrooms, the construction is popularly known as Incarnation’s mushrooms — Fulcanelli / Shutterstock
 

The curves of the large wooden parasol are inspired by the Cathedral of Seville and the ficus trees in the nearby Plaza de Cristo de Burgos. Resembling giant mushrooms, the construction is popularly known as Las Setas de la Encarnación (Incarnation’s mushrooms).

Despite the initial plans to build parking there, the site was redeveloped after the discovery of ancient ruins from the Roman and Al-Andalus eras. 

Ultimately up to everyone’s taste, but this modern structure in Seville’s old quarter is worth the €3 entrance fee. It offers amazing views of the city and sunsets.

Le Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey, Normandy, France

The first monastic establishment was built here in the 8th century — Shutterstock
The first monastic establishment was built here in the 8th century — Shutterstock
 

What was once dry land during prehistoric times is now a small rocky island with a medieval monastery sitting on its top. At low tide, the water level would allow pilgrims to access the abbey but at high tide, it would become easily defensible against an incoming attack.

The history of the site goes many centuries back. However, it has a strong tradition of being a place of pilgrimage, with its first monastic establishment built in the 8th century. These days there’s only a handful of people still in residence. 

Suez Canal dividing Asia and Africa

At first, the British were opposed to the idea of building a canal — byvalet / Shutterstock
At first, the British were opposed to the idea of building a canal — byvalet / Shutterstock
 

Wanting to cut down on sail time, the planning of the canal officially started in 1854 when French former diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps negotiated an agreement with Egypt to set up the Suez Canal Company. The British were opposed to the idea, arguing that the canal was just a way to undermine the dominance of the strong British shipping economy.

Interestingly, what’s now the Statue of Liberty was once hoped to be at the Mediterranean entrance of the canal, bearing the name “Egypt Bringing Light to Asia”. However, the idea wasn’t positively received and the sculptor — Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi — eventually unveiled a completed version of his statue in New York.

Taipei 101, Taiwan

101’s elevators set a new speed record transporting passengers at a speed of over 60 kph — Shutterstock
101’s elevators set a new speed record transporting passengers at a speed of over 60 kph — Shutterstock
 

Previously the world’s tallest building, Taipei 101 lost its status with the completion of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa in 2010. However, a year after it received an award for the tallest and largest green building ever built.

Additionally, 101’s elevators set a new speed record transporting passengers at a speed of over 60 kph — from the 5th to the 89th floor in 37 seconds.