Many cities in the world are known for their particular architectural traits which delight travellers and locals equally. Here are 10 of the world’s most recognizable and most well-known cities in terms of architecture. Whether you love architecture or just like to glance at aesthetic buildings, these cities should definitely feature on your bucket list.

1. Vienna, Austria

Vienna is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and the Austrian capital consistently tops liveability index rankings. The city is moreover the home of a distinctive architectural style, namely the ‘Habsburg‘ architecture. This particular architectural style is the work of the architects of the Austro-Hungarian Empire who for centuries created some of the grandest and most lavish palaces and buildings in Europe, notably in Vienna, Prague and Budapest.

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2. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai is the city of the 21st century. In the last 20 years, Dubai has embarked on an unprecedented building spree and the result is that it has become the city of superlatives. Even though some records do not stand any more, Dubai’s futuristic and innovative architectural masterpieces are still global references and we are hearing that the Burj Khalifa and the Burj al arab were just the beginning. Dubai is building a tower that will be higher than 1km and a new city gate that will be bigger than any other gate ever built. So here we are, architecture lovers, Dubai will keep providing astounding buildings to marvel at and it certainly won’t be fazed by the competition in the East or the West.

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3. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is well-known for its unusual buildings which are the result of Antonio Gaudí’s creative genius. His unorthodox approach to the art-nouveau movement has given Barcelona some of the oddest yet most recognizable and picturesque buildings in the world. Identifying a Gaudí building is an easy task as Barcelona is literally full of them and their wide array of decorative ornaments and weirdly shaped windows are absolutely unmissable.

Gaudi’s ‘La Pedrera’

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4. New York City

New York is the original city of skyscrapers. It was here where the untamed race to the sky began and the big apple has lost none of its glory even it if does not hold height records any more. New York City still has the most photographed and most recognizable skyline in the world and the recent additions of 432 Park Avenue and the One World Trade Center have demonstrated that New York is still very capable of adding jaw dropping skyscrapers to its cityscape.

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5. Rome, Italy

The Italian capital has been the centre of the world on two occasions. The ancient Romans ruled an empire larger than some of the largest modern state and Rome has been the home of Christianity for over 2000 years. The Roman structures that are still visible in the city are breathtaking, buildings like the Colosseum and the Forum Romanum definitely need no introduction while the Renaissance buildings and ancient churches are equally staggering. On that basis Rome is without a doubt a must visit city for architecture and history lovers and for anybody else who doesn’t live behind the moon.

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6. Shanghai, China

Shanghai is the centre of China’s new economic predominance. The area of Pudong has evolved into one of the world’s most astonishing skylines in a mere 20 years, now rivalling anything from New York to Dubai. Shanghai moreover hosts some of the world’s most innovative buildings, such as the Shanghai tower, the tallest building in Asia, which contains a wide range of sustainability elements and has been completed using the most state of the art building technology.

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7. Athens, Greece

Akin to the Romans, the ancient Greeks were one of the most advanced and wealthy nations in the world and Greece therefore has myriads of ancient structures and temples. Athens put in place one of the first democracies in the world and the antic structures that were built in this context were so far ahead of their time that they are still considered architectural masterpieces. Like Rome, Athens has buildings that every architecture and history lover will have to visit at least once, such as the Acropolis and the Parthenon.

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8. Istanbul, Turkey

The largest Turkish city is not only situated on two continents but also the cradle of two major ancient superpowers, the Byzantine and the Ottoman empires. This unique historical timeline has created some uncanny structures in Istanbul, such as the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia. In addition to its architectural wonders of the past, Istanbul is nowadays a rapidly growing metropolis, with skyscrapers popping up throughout the city.

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9. Tel Aviv, Israel

Tel Aviv is widely perceived as the modern metropolis of Israel but there is quite a lot more to this city than shiny new high rises. The city is in fact home to more than 4000 Bauhaus (a German art school in the early 20th century that combined craft and fine arts) buildings, more than any other city in the world. The Bauhaus buildings in Tel Aviv were often the work of German Jewish architects that fled to the Middle East when the Nazis took power in 1933. The complete extent of Tel Aviv’s Bauhaus buildings is a Unesco world heritage site.

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10. Cairo, Egypt

The Great Pyramids of Giza are the only remaining building of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and Egypt’s most popular tourist attraction. In addition to the pyramids, Cairo has numerous other ancient architectural gems, which are a remnant of Egypt’s former might. Cairo has in fact always been the reigning trade hub on the Nile and this economic and cultural dominance has created some fabulous buildings in Cairo over the centuries.

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21 comments

  1. Well written.. Have been to Athens, Istanbul, Israel and Cairo and cant agree with you more. Hope to see the others soon. Though would argue that London needs to feature in that list as well. 🙂

  2. Dubai has changed so quickly with the constant building work around. We love the buildings there. We’ve been to 6 of the cities – we’ll slowly make our way through the list. 😉

  3. Prague also has some amazing buildings, especially in the old town but that can be said for many for the central and European countries as I’m sure you’re probably already aware 😀

    1. Yes Prague and Budapest have a similar architectural style to Vienna, that’s why they are not in this list, you can read about their architecture in the city guides:) Thanks for stopping by!

    1. Thanks for stopping by:) Definitely! London has fantastic Victorian buildings which will certainly feature in a future article:) And there will be something about Edinburgh and Scotland soon, stay tuned;)

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