My first glimpse of the Taj Mahal is a moment I’ll never forget. Glowing in the early morning light, the white marbled wonder drew gasps from those around me and left everyone suitably breathless.
India’s iconic landmark is one of many across the globe, so why not create your own landmark bucket list, for inspiration on your next adventure? Get ready to travel the world of landmarks, with these top 13 picks.
1. Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi
As far as holiday destinations go, Abu Dhabi is on the rise. This makes it the perfect place to tick off a landmark, especially as it is home to the majestic Sheikh Zayed Mosque. Considered as a key place of worship, the mosque can hold up to a whopping 41,000 worshippers.
The imposing structure created by the first president of the UAE, is surrounded by manicured gardens. Inside, you can feast your eyes on reflective pools, crystal chandeliers, pure white marble and the world’s biggest loomed carpet. If you’d like to visit, you can do so in non-prayer times.
2. Machu Picchu, Peru
With its dramatic backdrop of sheer mountains, Machu Picchu has long topped the landmark bucket lists of adventure travellers. Built by the Inca Empire, the complex ruins of temples, plazas, homes and palaces captivate your imagination with its mystery and intrigue.
To take your own happy snaps of the panoramic views, you can reach the site from Cusco by train. However, if you love hiking and adventure, go on a tour of the Inca Trail. Over six incredible days, you’ll enter the heart of nature and your first site sight of Machu Picchu will offer ample reward for the hard work.
3. St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome, Italy
Italy’s Rome is packed full of landmarks, including the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and the Roman Forum. This means you’ll easily work off all the pizza, pasta and red wine as you set out to explore them all.
The one not to miss is St. Peter’s Basilica, as it is one of the largest ever built in the world. History has it that it stands on the traditional site where Peter, the apostle, was crucified and buried. It’s most famous for the its stunning dome which was designed by Michelangelo, and houses the tombs of popes along with incredible works of art.
4. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
If you’re a Lara Croft fan, have your own ‘Tomb Raider’ adventure at Cambodia’s Angkor Wat. It’s believed to be the world’s largest religious temple and when you view it on at sunset and sunrise, the striking sight transforms with light and colour.
Surrounded by the jungle, Angkor Wat was built in the 12th century as a Hindu temple, dedicated to the god Vishnu. In the 14th century, it was converted to Buddhism. The best way to explore the complex is to find a travel deal for Siam Reap as your base, and go on a cycling tour or hire a driver to make the most of your time there.
5. Cathedral of Cordoba, Spain
Another country that’s absolutely brimming with landmarks is Spain. With the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and the Seville Cathedral, you could spend months simply sipping sangria, tasting tapas and exploring incredible architecture.
Cordoba offers one of the most spectacular sites, with the Cathedral of Cordoba. The Islamic structure among the most significant monuments in the world and evokes awe at first sight. Visit the 54 metre high bell tower, see the prayer hall and stroll through the stunning courtyard.
6. Taj Mahal, Agra, India
If you love world travel, chances are you’ve had India’s Taj Mahal on your list for a long time. Located in the city of Agra and perched on the banks of the River Yamuna, the white marble structure features a giant dome, four minarets and pure marble inlaid with precious stones.
Its history is just as fascinating as its appearance, with a dash of romance. In 1632, Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan built it to house the tomb of his beloved wife. Mumtaz Mahal died in childbirth in 1631 and the mausoleum is an ode to his love for her.
7. Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, St Petersburg, Russia
Though it was built to mark the place of an assassination, the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood looks like it’s straight out of a Russian fairy tale. Colourful, onion-shaped domes characterise the church, which highlights the spot Alexander II was fatally wounded in 1881.
Designed by Alfred Parland and featuring mosaics and icons, the St Petersburg icon is generally swarming with tourists. Therefore, you need to pick the right moment to get the perfect holiday shot. Inside, make sure you get an audio guide, to immerse yourself in the history of the famous landmark.
8. Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, Washington DC, USA
You may have seen it in movies, if you haven’t visited it yet. The Lincoln Memorial comprises of a 19-foot stature of Abraham Lincoln, the Washington Monument and the spectacular Reflecting Pool. It was dedicated in 1922 and it’s the home of many important moments in American history.
As well as historic happenings, the Reflecting Pool, which is located on the National Mall, hosts millions of tourists every year. Take a stroll down the walking paths flanked by shady trees, to watch the light reflect beautifully in the water.
9. The Alhambra, Granada, Spain
The Alhambra enchants with trickling fountains, domed roofs, terraced gardens and sparkling reflection pools. It’s part palace, part fort and often visited as part of a pilgrimage for history lovers and spiritual seekers.
The first palace built on the site was founded in the 11th century. Since then, The Alhambra has seen many transformations and during the Napoleonic occupation, it was even used as a barracks and nearly destroyed. For landmark bucket lists the world over, the marvelous structure has happily been restored.
10. Milan Cathedral, Italy
The second largest Catholic cathedral in the world resides on in the main square of Milan in elaborate glory. It took 600 years in the making and today comfortably fits 40,000 people within its Gothic façade.
Inside, you’ll see the world’s largest stained-glass window. For panoramic views, climb to the rooftop and gaze through the famous marble spires. There’s also medieval art and the tomb of Cardinal Borromeo and you can visit from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm.
11. Notre-Dame Cathedral, France
The bell of Notre-Dame, made famous by the fictional Quasimodo in Victor Hugo’s novel, ‘The Hunchback of Notre-Dame’, is a huge drawcard to the symbolic heart of Paris.
Not only that, but also the views of the city, framed by stone gargoyles from the top of the south tower, grace photo albums the world over. Along with the Eiffel Tower, the cathedral is arguably the second most-popular landmark in ‘The City of Light’.
12. Grand Central Terminal, New York, USA
It’s hard to guess how many romantic wedding proposals have taken place in at New York’s iconic Grand Central Terminal (often referred to as Grand Central Station), on and off the silver screen.
Opened in 1871, it’s one of the busiest train stations in the world, as well as a prime backdrop for romance. Decorated with art statues and an astronomical ceiling mural, it’s not hard to see why.
13. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, USA
The striking image of The Golden Gate Bridge surrounded by swirling fog is enough to give any traveler itchy feet. It was once called ‘the bridge that couldn’t be built’, but finally opened in 1937, despite wild winds and treacherous tides disturbing the building process. Stroll from one side to the other or cycle across, for beautiful vistas of the city.
Now that you’ve started your bucket list, the only problem is, you’ll find it’s a never-ending adventure into the world’s manmade wonders!