Monuments have always been the echoes of a civilization that once existed; gleaming through eternity, the glory of its creators. Though the civilizations may have succumbed to war or just ceased to exist, their contributions to the present world and their heritage is always remembered through the monuments, dedicated to their once famed glory. Every civilization has done its part in erecting a monument to their achievement, but only the most grandest of endeavors have survived through time and even gained the respect of its conquering enemies. Here, we list only those magnificent architectural achievements that have stood the test of time.
10. The Hagia Sophia
Built on the heart of the greatest city that existed in the world during the Roman Empire – Constantinople; Hagia Sophia is the greatest of all monuments that brought about the change in architecture. Initially built as a Cathedral, the Hagia Sophia was the largest church of the world for over 1000 years, until the Seville cathedral was completed in 1520. This epitome to Byzantine architecture has seen the world change at its door steps between the two great religions. The Hagia Sophia was converted to a Mosque, when Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks. The structure housed the most sacred relics known to mankind of both religions. In 1935 it was re-established as a museum for public viewing by the Republic of Turkey.
This ancient archaeological dig site has been a subject of fascination for archeologists for decades now. Not just because of its planned architecture, or its mysterious backgrounds on which civilization it belonged to; but on the sheer size of the monument. By what archeologists believe, this city would have been the greatest city that existed on the face of earth if it stood today. In its day, its presence marked the power of the ancient Mayan Civilization; its glory exceeded far beyond Rome or Constantinople; its population and trade routes bringing in wealth beyond imagination even today. No wonder it’s named, “the city where man meets God”.
This red-rose city, half as old as time, is the greatest testament to man’s cultural heritage. Its rock cut architecture alone speaks volumes of the culture and architectural innovation that existed, far before any modern civilization came into existence. Being in the heart of Jordan, where water is scarce as the knowledge of this great city; the complex conduit systems provided for the wellness and glory of this city. The city is entirely carved out of the red rock present in the area; the numerous monuments and the remains of the city still are subject of fascination to many architects. The path leading to the great treasury, formed between the red sand canyons alone is an awe-inspiring achievement. Now wonder it’s listed in the Smithsonian Magazine, as one of the “28 Places to See before You Die”.
7. Machu Picchu
Hiram Bingham once quoted, that, a few romances can ever surpass that of Machu Picchu – the crown of the Inca Land. And in honor to his words, even if you spent an entire life’s savings to visit this place, I am sure it would not be wasted. Built around 1450 at the height of the Inca empire; this city estate is the only intact cultural heritage site, that escaped the Spanish conquests. The city boasts of Incan architecture with polished dry stone walls, used to build all the building in and around the city. With cultural richness portrayed on its wall, the city was also a major trade route considering its position on the top of the mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley in Peru. This ancient city is still being restored to its ancient glory.
6. Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer)
The statute of Jesus Christ located at Peak of Corcovado Mountain is both, the Symbol of Brazilian Christianity and icon for Rio de Janeiro. It’s considered as one of the world’s largest Art Deco statue, and the 5th largest statue of Jesus Christ. Though not a monument to any particular civilization; the statue stands to the testament of the faiths of millions.
5. The Colosseum
No other monument in the entire history of mankind has so much historical hype as the Colosseum. Truly, it’s a monument incomparable to any other in the history of time. It was basically an amphitheater during the Roman times; serving from then on a multitude of roles, including one as a quarry, a fortress and even as a church. But, perhaps the best known use of the great structure to the world is, as a Gladiatorial Theatre. Countless number of battles between gladiators and animals alike has taken place within the walls of the Colosseum, burying within itself the endless stories of the departed souls. Even, today, the walls of the Colosseum echoes with its former glory.
4. The Eiffel tower
This iconic symbol of Paris is also the most visited, paid monument in the world. The structure towers over 320 meters and was the tallest building the world till the Chrysler building was built. With over 10,000 tons of iron put into the construction of this structure; it’s truly one of the greatest achievements of engineering. The tower has three levels which serve as observation desks, with the bottom two levels also serving as restaurants. The tower was named after its engineer, Gustav Eiffel, who, even under large opposition from the artist community in Paris, completed the tower in just two years, pleasing both the artists and people alike. The tower was such an engineering feat, it served as an inspiration for almost every other tall structure in the world; it would be even fair to say, that it initiated the race to building the tallest structures of the world. The Eiffel tower is painted with three coats of paint, every seven years to enhance its perspective height. It is also the most recognizable structure in the world; with 7.2 million visitors every year, it comes as no surprise.
3. The Great Wall of China
From a defense structure to a monument and finally to an icon, the Great Wall of China has been an integral part in the history of China. Initially built by the Warring states of Yan, Zhao and Qin, against the occasional incursions of nomads, barbarians and Mongols; the Great Wall united and fortified to its present glory only during the Ming Dynasty. Most of the wall was constructed during this era; all in all, the wall took 2000 years to take shape. The Wall is not entirely constructed out of stone, in some places it is even built by mud, and in others it is supplemented by natural barriers like mountains and rivers. Apart from its defensive characteristics, the wall was also a key factor in controlling trade via the silk route. Also, immigration and emigration from China was controlled with the use of the Wall. The characteristic watch towers also played an important role is serving as alarm beacons, and the entire wall itself served as a corridor for the passage of armies and people alike.
2. The Taj Mahal
The eternal monument to love has never lost its reputation and beauty in all the years that it has stood in the banks of the river Ganges, as the most admired and treasured cultural legacy of man. Located in the city of Agra, the Taj Mahal is a mausoleum to the queen Mumtaz Mahal, wife of Shah-Jahan. Built entirely out of white marble, the Taj Mahal once housed more precious gems than any treasury of the world and valued higher than many small countries. Though defaced and robbed in passage of time, the Taj Mahal still reflects its grandeur by its white marble coronation. Now wonder the Taj Mahal translates into English as – crown of palaces.
1. The Great Pyramids of Giza
Though hundreds of monuments may rise and fall, none, would ever compare to the magnificence of the Great Pyramids of Giza. The monument that is old as time itself is not just a tribute to the Pharaohs, but also a tribute to the engineering premises of mankind. The pyramids were constructed and engineered so masterfully that they have survived almost every form of destruction imaginable. From Earthquakes to invasions, the Pyramids at Giza have stood the test of time. They were oldest of even the seven wonders of the ancient world, and yet it never fails to put a spell on its beholder of its astounding beauty. It stood as the tallest man made structure for over 3800 years, outweighing any other monument as incomparable. It was constructed out of 2.3 million limestone blocks and 8000 tons of granite which was imported all the way from Azwan 800 kilometers away. Even today the construction of this monument would be a nightmare to any architect, and yet the will of Pharaohs forged them to existence.