The architecture of a place is one of the best things about travel. The way that buildings are designed and placed can tell us so much about the history of the city and perhaps even the future of the countries that we visit. A single building can change the skyline of a city and characterize a place for years to come.
Some people love to go on beach holidays, some people are looking to party, and some people love to sample the local cuisine. But for some, the best part of the whole experience is simply walking around a city and admiring the architecture. If that’s you, these are some of the best places for you to visit.
Miami doesn’t exactly spring to mind when you think of great architecture because it’s best known as a party destination for people that want to hit the clubs all night and then soak up the sun all day. But if you stop and take the time to look around, you’ll notice that Miami actually has some incredible architecture. South Beach was a luxury tourist destination in the 1920s and 1930’s, so it’s filled with some amazing art deco buildings complete with pastel colors and geometric shapes. These timeless designs still fit well with the relaxed beach party vibe in Miami. Some of the highlights can be found down Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue, like the Vizcaya Museum and gardens. The design district is also home to the Moore Building, which is an old furniture showroom that has since been turned into an events venue and a modern art space.
Prague is another one of those places that have earned a reputation as a party hotspot, but there’s a lot more to it than that. If you head into the old town areas of Prague, there is plenty of beautiful architecture and rich history to be found. One of the reasons that Prague is such a treat for architecture lovers is that it was not heavily damaged during World War Two, while most European cities were. That means that the majority of the baroque, gothic, and art nouveau buildings survived. Wandering through the old town of Prague, you’ll find some incredible buildings like the Dancing House, designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry. If you want something with a bit more history, the National Theatre or the St. Vitus Cathedral won’t disappoint.
If Prague doesn’t have enough history to offer you, you should consider visiting Petra, one of the most amazing historical sites in the world. It dates back as far as 300BC and you will find some incredible buildings carved into the cliffs. There are some great Egypt and Jordan tours that give you a good taste of both countries, as well as some time to explore Petra and see all of the amazing architecture there. The whole area is covered with temples, tombs, palaces, and theatres, carved from sandstone in the side of the cliffs. Some of the locations are a little further out but everything is close enough that you will get the chance to see it all. Just make sure that you go with a tour guide so you get the most out of your experience.
On the other end of the scale, you have Dubai. This is the best place to go if you want to see examples of how modern technology can create architectural masterpieces. The most recognizable feature of the Dubai skyline is probably the billowing sail of the Burj Al Arab Hotel, but the crowning glory has to be the Burj Khalifa. At an incredible 829 meters high, it has been the tallest building in the world since 2009. If you visit Dubai, you will also get to experience the Palm Jumeirah Islands, a man-made set of islands that are visible from space. These are some of the best known architectural sites in Dubai, but the amazing thing about it is that it’s always changing. There so much investment going into the city and constant innovation mean that there are underwater hotels, rotating buildings, and all sorts of other incredible feats all over the place. Things change so rapidly that you can go back time and time again and there will always be something new to discover.
Singapore is one of the best destinations for architecture because it has such a great mix of modern and traditional. It’s a meeting place for cultures from around Asia and you can see influence from these different places in all of the incredible temples in the surrounding area. But Singapore is a place that has been through a lot of changes over the years. Significant investment turned the place into an economic powerhouse and it’s now a hotspot for international business. This newfound prosperity also bought a lot of new architecture along with it, and it contrasts heavily with the traditional temples. The same kind of impressive skyscrapers that you would expect to find in Dubai or New York can be found in Singapore as well, but there are some big differences.
Singapore is making an effort to become the first ‘city in a garden’, and this ambitious effort is creating architecture that you cannot find anywhere else in the world. This project-centered around the construction of the Gardens by the Bay, a nature park consisting of three beautiful waterfront gardens. But the real change can be seen in the buildings. There is a strong focus on sustainability and a lot of the new buildings, like the ArtScience museum, are designed with this in mind. The shape of the building maximizes natural light and also collects rainwater which fills the pond at the base of the building. A lot of the buildings are also being constructed with creeping gardens up the side as well. Singapore is just getting started with this green architecture revolution so only time will tell what the future holds.
If you are looking for the most impressive architecture in the world, these cities are some of the best places to find it.