Top 5 Iconic Buildings

5. Taj Mahal

The crowning jewel of India, the Taj Mahal is a testament to one man’s love for his wife. It looks like a palace, but it was actually built as a tomb for the Emperor’s favorite wife. Construction began one year after her death in 1632 and the mausoleum was completed in 1648 with the surrounding buildings and gardens taking another five years to complete. The construction took 20,000 workers and craftsmen that were recruited from all across northern India. Soon after the Taj Mahal was completed, the Emperor was deposed by his son Aurungzeb and put under house arrest. When the Emperor died in 1658, he was buried beside his wife inside the Taj Mahal. During world War II the Indian government erected scaffolding around the Taj to mislead German and Japanese bomber pilots. Today the Taj Mahal is under a different threat: acid rain and pollution from the Mathura Oil Refinery has begun to turn its white marble yellow.
Who built it?
The Taj Mahal was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan when his third wife Mumtaz Mahal died while giving birth to their fourteenth child, Gauhara Begum. He exchanged a large palace in the center of Agra with Maharajah Jai Singh for the three acres of land where the Taj now sits.
4. Eiffel Tower

Towering high above Paris, the Eiffel Tower was built between 1887 and 1889 and acted as the entrance arch for the Exposition Universelle, which marked the centennial of the French Revolution. The tower was only supposed to stand for 20 years but it was a valuable communication tool and remained as an unmistakable element of the Paris skyline (especially as buildings in the city cannot surpass seven stories). During the German occupation of Paris during World War II, the lift cables were cut forcing German soldiers to climb the stairs to the top to hoist the swastika. Within hours of the Liberation of Paris, the lifts were back in working order.
Who built it?
The Eiffel tower was designed by engineer Gustave Eiffel who had originally submitted the design to Barcelona for the Universal Exposition in 1888 but they refused. When it was built, he engraved the names of 72 French scientists, engineers and other notable Frenchmen.
3. Big Ben

One of the world’s most famous clocks, Big Ben is actually the name of one of the bells but over the years it has come to be used for both the clock and the tower as well. It was completed during the restoration of the Palace of Westminster in 1858. The tower stands 316 feet tall, each clock face is 23 feet square with 4 foot numbers and the great bell is seven and a half feet tall and weighs 13 tons. Nobody knows exactly whom Big Ben is named after but common theories include Sir Benjamin Hall (who oversaw the installation of the bell) or English Heavyweight Boxing Champion Benjamin Count.
Who built it?
Charles Barry designed Westminster Palace, however, Augustus Pugin created the clock tower. Pugin fell into madness and died in 1852 and Big Ben was the last building he would ever design. The clock itself was designed by Beckett Denison.
2. The Colosseum

The largest Roman amphitheater ever built, the Colosseum is one of the greatest architectural feats ever achieved by the Ancient Romans. Construction began between 70 and 72 AD and was finished in 80 AD. It was capable of seating 50,000 people and was usually used for gladiatorial games, but could also be used for public spectacles, mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, reenactments of battles, and dramas based on Classical Mythology. During the medieval era its entertainment purposes ended and it has since been used as housing, workshops, a fortress, a quarry, quarters for a religious order, and a Christian shrine. Today the Colosseum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Rome and attracts thousands of visitors every year.
Who Built it?
The Colosseum was imagined by Emperor Vespasian who used the vast treasure seized during the Great Jewish Revolt in 70 AD to fund its construction. It was built up to the third story when Vespasian died in 79 AD, but his son Titus finished it and inaugurated it in 80 AD.
1. The Giza Pyramids

The oldest buildings on this list, the pyramids on the Giza plateau have intrigued mankind for centuries. Not only have they stood the test of time, but the accuracy with which they were built is impressive even by today’s standards. They were built as tombs for three separate pharaohs during the Third and Fourth Dynasty. It is also the only surviving wonder of the ancient world and was the tallest building in the world until 1300 when it was surpassed by the Lincoln Cathedral. Despite their long history, or perhaps because of it, mysteries have swirled around the pyramids since they were found by the Ancient Greeks thousands of years ago. How were they built? How many people worked on the project? How long did the construction take? What was the Egyptians’ understanding of astronomy, mathematics, and geography? And even crazy questions like: did aliens help in their construction? While these questions go unanswered, all we are left to do is marvel at a culture who were master builders even before the invention of the wheel.
Who built it?
The oldest and largest of the three pyramids was built by Khufu between 2551 and 2531 BC. The second was built by Khufu’s grandson Khafre between 2558 and 2532 BC. And the third pyramid belongs to Khafre’s son Menkaure and despite not knowing the exact date of the construction many believe that it was finished somewhere around 2490 BC, several years after his death.


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