SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Lists of beautiful buildings laud the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, and at least one token Frank Gehry building, but there are dozens of other equally beautiful choices that somehow always seem to remain unnoticed.
Members and editors of VirtualTourist.com (www.virtualtourist.com) have compiled a list of what they think are the “World’s Top 10 Most Overlooked Beautiful Buildings and Structures.” Reuters has not endorsed this list.
1. The Mezquita of Cordoba; Cordoba, Spain
This complex took more than two centuries to finish. Striped arches, breathtaking mosaics and endless columns constructed from onyx and marble make this a must-see when in Spain.
2. The Hoover Dam; Southwestern United States
A marvel of modern engineering, this Depression-era structure is most often noted for its sleek Art Deco lines and understated simplicity. As beautiful inside as out, the facility’s terrazzo floors, patterned after Native American motifs, are not to be missed.
3. Shwedagon Pagoda; Yangon, Myanmar
A tradition of donating gold to the pagoda that dates back to the 15th century has clearly paid off. Dotted with literally thousands of diamond and rubies, this work of art’s facade is eclipsed only by its interior with magnificent ceilings and containing the relics of ancient Buddhas.
4. Majolica House; Vienna, Austria
Whimsical, singular, and down-right amazing, Otto Wagner’s masterpiece is one of the greatest products of the Art Nouveau movement.
5. Opera de Arame; Curitiba, Brazil
Virtually transparent, this wiry theater plays host to some of the country’s most important theatrical events. A visual masterpiece during the day, it’s even more spectacular when lit up at night for performances.
6. 30 St. Mary Axe (“The Gherkin”), London, England
While some scoff at the modern, bullet-like structure, others are bowled over by its originality. Over three times the height of Niagara Falls, this is not the place for the acrophobic.
7. Jantar Mantar; Jaipur, India
The Griffith Observatory of its time, this 17th-century planetarium of sorts played a pivotal role in predicting the area’s astronomical and meteorological events. Among its many gems is a giant sundial.
8. The Golden Pavilion; Kyoto, Japan
The dramatic effect of the building’s gold leaf reflected in the pavilion’s surrounding, aptly named “Mirror Pond,” makes this already striking structure doubly impressive. Though imposing, the building and its surrounding area make for a remarkably serene experience.
9. Wiblingen Abbey Library; Ulm, Germany
The showy splendor and unapologetic opulence of this Rococo building is in the “You have to see it to believe it” category. A bit gaudy, perhaps, but even critics have to admit to being wowed at the pure vision and execution of this anything-but-quiet library.
10. TWA Flight Center; JFK Airport, Queens, New York
This futuristic, Eero Saarinen-designed terminal is a sleek, Jetsons-like structure epitomizing the glamour days of flying and was featured in the Steven Spielberg movie “Catch Me if You Can.”