Some people visit a city for the cuisine; others for the nightlife; others for the hotels. However, is there really any better urban experience than just standing back and marveling at some spectacular architecture? Whether it's 2,000 years old or was just finished last week, there's nothing like a beautiful man-made structure to take your breath away. Here, we bring you seven cities—one from each continent, plus one bonus—that definitely won't disappoint in this department. Sharing 7 World Cities with Awe-inspiring architecture.
Asia: Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India
The largest city in Gujarat state is a cultural blend of Hindus, Muslims, and Jains, and these influences are reflected in Ahmedabad's rich architectural history. The gates of the fortified city, built in the 15th century, can still be visited, and the city contains many historic mosques, the oldest being Ahmed Shah's Mosque, constructed in 1414 C.E. There are several impressive step-wells, and the Hutheesing Jain Temple is not to be missed.
Ahmedabad also has some great examples of modern architecture from India's post-Independence period. In particular, the city features buildings designed by both Louis Kahn and Le Corbusier. The former worked with B.V. Doshi on the design of the IIM Ahmedabad campus, noted for its elegant lines and distinctive red brickwork, while the latter designed the Sanskar Kendra museum. Truly one of the incredible cities with awe-inspiring architecture.
Europe: Florence, Italy
Italy contains several beautiful cities that could have made this list, including Rome, Milan, Venice, Siena, and the medieval walled town of San Gimignano (the latter two are quite easily visited from our top pick, and we recommend it).
However, Florence stands out as especially impressive, even in such an august company. Much of the city is still dominated by older buildings, some of them dating back hundreds of years—and this includes the townhouses. Even minus the architectural highlights, it would still be a truly beautiful place to walk about.
But what highlights they are? Florence is home to a plethora of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque masterpieces, including Florence Cathedral, the Palazzo Vecchio, Santa Croce Basilica, the Uffizi Gallery, the Cappella dei Principi, and more. The predominant use of white marble in the construction of many of the buildings, statues and other features to be found creates the feeling of a classical city, even in the 21st century. Indeed one of the most beautiful cities with awe-inspiring architecture.
North America: Seattle, Washington, USA
Want a more modern architectural experience after your trip to Tuscany? Catch a flight to the States: Seattle, Washington, has you covered. If you're interested in the styles of the last 100 years, the city provides various striking examples.
The most famous, of course, is the Space Needle. Built-in 1962 for the Seattle World's Fair, this iconic landmark is internationally famous. Besides making the city's skyline unmistakable, it is also a perfect viewing platform for the city as a whole—while enjoying the best of Pacific Northwest cuisine at the SkyCity restaurant.
Other Seattle highlights include Rainier Tower with its tapered base, the stunning steel and glass work of the Seattle Public Library, and Frank Gehry's bold design for the Museum of Popular Culture. New York might be more famous, but Seattle more than punches its weight architecturally speaking.
South America: Buenos Aires, Argentina
For a perfect example of South American architecture, you need to look no further than Argentina's capital city. Buenos Aires is a truly beautiful city. Whilst there are some examples of Spanish colonial architecture, the most memorable and impressive buildings began to appear after the country gained independence from the Spanish Empire. A succession of neoclassical buildings was raised over the following century, culminating in the mighty Palace of the Argentine National Congress, a must-visit landmark.
At the same time, there is a strong French influence on many of the city's buildings, and the Beaux-Arts style is prominent. For the best example of this style, look no further than the striking symmetry of the Centro Cultural Kirchner—but this style is predominant all over the city. There are also several striking examples of art deco buildings, with perhaps the most impressive being the Edificio Kavanagh.
Africa: Marrakesh, Morocco
Known as the “Red City” due to its distinctive sandstone architecture, much of which dates back to the caliphates of the 12th and 13th centuries, Marrakesh is a must-visit destination for fans of historic buildings. Visit the city's medina quarter—still enclosed by the original walls—to experience the classic Marrakesh, and make sure you don't miss the stunning Koutoubia Mosque (although if you're not a Muslim, you'll have to content yourself with viewing from the outside).
Beyond the typical “red city” features, there are also some more recent landmarks that are well worth a visit. You won't want to miss the otherworldly courtyard of the Bahia Palace, built in the 19th century, and of Marrakesh's many gardens, the Majorelle Garden, designed by the 20th-century French artist Jacques Majorelle with buildings painted in the striking shade of cobalt blue associated with his name.
Oceania: Sydney, Australia
Sydney Opera House is world-famous, and the iconic “sails” of this universally recognized architectural masterpiece need no introduction here. However, as you'd expect of Australia's oldest city, Sydney is much, much more.
Parliament House, the oldest public building in the city, is worth a visit for its historic value, but the real artistic gems begin to appear in the Victorian era when Sydney's prosperity began to grow, and neo-Gothic and Romanesque architecture came into style. Visit the University of Sydney and the Queen Victoria Building for the best examples of the former and the latter.
The 20th century brought more great landmarks, such as the Grace Building, and numerous edifices in the Art Deco and Modernist styles. The contemporary era has brought more fascinating developments, such as the spectacular new Ribbon building. When it comes to architecture in Australia, look no further than the capital of New South Wales. No doubt it is one of the spectacular cities with awe-inspiring architecture.
Bonus city: Istanbul, Turkey
Straddling the two continents as it does, we didn't want to put Istanbul in either the Europe or Asia category—but we certainly couldn't leave Turkey's most famous city off the list. In fact, you might just want to put it at the top of your itinerary; Istanbul has some of the most astounding architecture in the world.
The Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque, it goes without saying, is a breathtaking building by the standards of any age. However, when you consider that the core of the building, including its great dome, was constructed in the 530s C.E., it becomes truly astonishing. It is no exaggeration to say that it transformed the history of architecture, becoming the building to emulate for centuries to come.
Beyond the Hagia Sophia, Istanbul is a veritable treasure trove of architecture, and the city's colorful history brings a variety of different styles, particularly from the Ottoman and Byzantine Empires. From the ancient city walls, erected near the beginning of the Byzantine era, to the beautiful 19th-century Dolmabahçe Palace, you could spend weeks exploring the city's architecture.
Want to find more global cities with amazing architecture? Try looking on CrowdsourcedExplorer.com, where people from all over the world tell you all about their hometowns.