A city is shaped by many different factors — the geographical location, the climate, the people, the culture, the food, the music, the fashion scene, the markets and others. However, nothing is as defining as the city’s architecture. Whether it’s through the ancient buildings with great historical significance or the brand new urban planning, the visual design of a city can tell you a lot about the development of the country. Today we have made a small guide with the top 5 cities for architecture lovers, ranging from Barcelona to Marrakech. During your trip with Evaneos, make sure to tell our local travel agents which monuments you want to visit, and they will arrange the details and ensure that you will have a wonderful experience without waiting in line. So without further ado, here are the 5 cities that will amaze you with their architecture and Heritage sights:
1.BarcelonaBarcelona should be on the list of every architecture lover! Unsurprisingly, the city is strongly associated with the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí because his work is admired by numerous people around the world as being one of the most unique and distinctive architectural styles. One can see extraordinary examples of Gaudí’s work all around the city. The architect’s style was radically different from those of his contemporaries and was greatly influenced by nature, which is reflected in his usage of natural curved construction stones and twisted iron sculptures. Here are 3 must-visit sights that you should visit during your trip in Barcelona:
1) Park Güell (picture above): a magical park with amazing buildings, sculptures, and tile work designed by Gaudí. If you visit it, you can also check his old home which is open to the public as a small museum. Park Güell is located in La Salut, a neighbourhood in the Gràcia district of Barcelona and is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the “Works of Antoni Gaudí” category. The park is an example of Gaudi’s inspiration from organic shapes and shows that he practised a series of new structural solutions rooted in geometry. You can find more information about the Park here.
2) Sagrada Família: the number one visited sight in Barcelona is the unfinished Roman Catholic church, designed by Gaudí. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is described by art critics as “the most extraordinary personal interpretation of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages” that is “probably impossible to find a church building anything like it in the entire history of art”.
3) Jean Nouvel’s Agbar Tower (picture below): rumour has it that this was designed before Norman Foster’s ‘Gherkin‘ in London. The building aims to give the impression of a geyser which explains its shimmering colours. There is also a pool of water running around the bottom of the building. It has three layers – one of corrugated iron, one of glass and one of the coloured windows.
The architecture of Istanbul is a mixture of many different influences that have contributed to the design of the districts of the city. The ancient part is still partially surrounded by the Walls of Constantinople created in the 5th century by the Emperor Theodosius II. Inside the city you can see buildings, statues, and functional constructions which came from Byzantine, Genoese, Ottoman, and Turkish sources. Istanbul is known as a cultural and ethnic melting pot. When you visit the city, you can go to numerous mosques, churches, synagogues, palaces, castles and towers with great historical significance and learn about the rich history of the city! The following three architectural sights impress anyone who lays eyes on them:
1) Hagia Sophia (Picture above): was a Greek Orthodox church, later an imperial mosque, and is currently a museum. It was constructed in 537 AD, and until 1453, it served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople. It is famous for its massive dome and is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture because it has “changed the history of architecture”. It remained the world’s largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years until Seville Cathedral was created in 1520.
2) Dolmabahçe Palace: is the largest palace in Turkey, located in the Beşiktaş district on the European coast of the Bosphorus. It served as the main administrative centre of the Ottoman Empire. The design contains eclectic elements from the Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassical and Ottoman styles. The palace layout and décor reflect the increasing influence of European styles on Ottoman culture and art during the Tanzimat period. After the foundation of the Turkish Republic in Ankara, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk transferred all government functions to the capital. However, on his visits to Istanbul, he stayed in a small room at Dolmabahce Palace where he welcomed his foreign guests.
3) Beylerbeyi Palace: located in the Beylerbeyi neighbourhood of Üsküdar district in Istanbul, at the Asian side of the Bosphorus. It was used as an Imperial Ottoman summer residence. An interesting fact is that Empress Eugénie of France visited the palace on her way to the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and had her face slapped by the sultan’s mother, Pertevniyal Sultan, for daring to enter the palace on the arm of Abdülaziz. However, she was mesmerized by the elegance of the palace to the extent that she ordered a copy of the window in the guest room to be made for her bedroom in Tuileries Palace.
It does not come as a surprise that Ancient Roman architecture was inspired by classical Greek architecture. The former flourished in the Roman Republic when the majority of the buildings that remain today were built. There are many remains that you can visit nowadays, and even some buildings are still in use. Three of the most famous sights that you need to visit include:
1) Colosseum (Picture above): one of the most recognisable structures in the world. It was originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre (built during the Flavian Dynasty between 70-80AD), it is the largest amphitheatre ever built and was modelled after the Teatro Marcello. The Colosseum had space for 65,000 spectators and was used for gladiator contests and public spectacles such as re-enactments of famous battles, theatrical productions, and animal hunts.
2) Teatro Marcello: an ancient open-air theatre that served as inspiration for the Colosseum. It was originally commissioned by Julius Caesar but was finished by Emperor Augustus in 11BC. It was named for his nephew, Marcus Claudius Marcellus. It is situated near the Tiber River and could hold up to 20,000 spectators. With arches, tunnels, columns and ramps, it showcased the finest ancient Roman skill and artistry.
3) St. Peter’s Basilica: Travellers come from all over the world to visit St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the holiest Catholic shrines in the world. Built above the burial site of Peter the Apostle, it is an important pilgrimage site and a wonder to behold in person. The Basilica was designed by numerous artists, including Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and was in completed in 1626. Michelangelo’s famous dome was inspired by the Pantheon and the Duomo of Florence.
The city of St Petersburg is known as one of the most colourful and eclectic cities in the world. Its architecture has evolved over time, creating a marvellous kaleidoscope of construction, mixing Baroque-style buildings with Soviet architecture, Neoclassical structures and Style Moderne. Here are 3 must-visit sights that will blow your mind during your trip to St Petersburg:
1) Church of the Savior on Blood (Picture above): was commissioned by the imperial family and was built between 1883 and 1907 on the site where Emperor Alexander II was fatally wounded. Architecturally, the cathedral differs from Saint Petersburg’s other buildings that combine Baroque and Neoclassical elements because it reminds to the medieval Russian architecture. It intentionally resembles the Yaroslavl churches and the famous St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. The church contains over 7500 square meters of mosaics—more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day, namely Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel. The walls and ceilings inside the church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures.
2) Winter Palace (Hermitage Museum): is one of the most iconic buildings in the city. Once the home of the Tsars, now it is open to the public and is the home of the Hermitage Museum. The Winter Palace was built in the mid-18th century it between 1732 and 1917, it was the official residence of the Russian monarchs. It is located between the Palace Embankment and the Palace Square. The palace was constructed with the intention to reflect the power of Imperial Russia. It was designed by many architects, most notably Bartolomeo Rastrelli famous for his contribution to the Elizabethan Baroque style. The green-and-white palace has the shape of an elongated rectangle and has been said to contain 1,786 doors, 1,945 windows, 1,500 rooms and 117 staircases. How impressive! Following a fire, the palace’s rebuilding and redesign led the palace to be described as a “19th-century palace inspired by a model in Rococo style”.
3) Tsarskoye Selo: a former Russian residence of the imperial family, located 24 kilometres south of the centre of Saint Petersburg. It is a World Heritage Site built in 1708 by Peter the Great as a present to his wife, Empress Catherine I. She developed the place as a royal country residence while her daughter, Empress Elizabeth and her architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli were responsible for the creation of the Catherine Palace. Later Empress Catherine II of Russia and her architect Charles Cameron extended the palace building the Cameron Gallery.
1) Fobe Home: Designed by Guilhem Eustache in 2007, the private house of a Belgium film producer is an example of minimalistic modern design. Located south of Marrakech, if you are on your way to the beautiful Faculté Taroudant, don’t miss seeing the Fobe Home through your car window. The concept of the house is to create a dialogue with the land, vegetation and the atlas to the horizon reflected by the lights, shadows and volumes present in the design. It is built with traditional techniques and materials and shows Eustache’s love for the rich culture of Morocco. Besides preserving the wild terrain, the team planted hundreds of trees on a 240-sqm plot.
2) Majorelle Garden (Picture below): Designed by the French painter Jacques Majorelle and built in 1947 Majorelle Garden is one of the most beautiful spots in Marrakech. It took him forty years to create this enchanting garden in the heart of the “Ochre City”. The garden has been open to the public since 1947. Since 1980 the garden has been owned by Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé. After Yves Saint Laurent died in 2008 his ashes were scattered in the Majorelle Garden.
3) Dar Si-Saïd Museum: created in the12th-century as a monument to Moroccan mâalems (master artisans) the building is now a museum, housed in an opulent palace reflecting regional craftsmanship. It was a home of Bou Ahmed’s brother Si Said is a showcase. One of the objects that you can see here is the AD 1002–1007 chest that belonged to a chamberlain of Spain’s Umayyad Caliphate.
Images courtesy of Shutter Stock.