SUBJECT : Famous Buildings and Structures  

1. The Great Sphinx of Giza 

One of the wonders of ancient Egyptian architecture, adjoins the pyramids of Giza and has a length of 240 ft. Built in the fourth dynasty, it is approximately 4,500 years old. A 10-year, $2.5 million restoration project was completed in 1998. Other Egyptian buildings of note include the Temples of Karnak, Edfu, and Abu Simbel and the Tombs at Beni Hassan.

2. The Parthenon

The Parthenon of Greece, built on the Acropolis in Athens, was the chief temple to the goddess Athena. It was believed to have been completed by 438 B.C. The present temple remained intact until the 5th century A.D. Today, though the Parthenon is in ruins, its majestic proportions are still discernible.

Other great structures of the ancient Greek world were the Temples at Paestum (c. 540 and 420 B.C.); the famous Erechtheum (c. 421–405 B.C.), the Temple of Athena Nike (c. 426 B.C.), and the Olympieum (begun in the 6th century B.C.) in Athens; the Athenian Treasury at Delphi (c. 515 B.C.); and the Theater at Epidaurus (c. 325 B.C.).

3. The Colosseum

The Colosseum (Flavian Amphitheater) of Rome, the largest and most famous of the Roman amphitheaters, was opened for use A.D. 80. Elliptical in shape, it consisted of three stories and an upper gallery, rebuilt in stone in its present form in the 3rd century A.D. It was principally used for gladiatorial combat and could seat between 40,000 and 50,000 spectators.

4. The Pantheon

The Pantheon at Rome, begun by Agrippa in 27 B.C. as a temple, was rebuilt in its present circular form by Hadrian (A.D. 118–128). Literally the Pantheon was intended as a temple of “all the gods.” It is remarkable for its perfect preservation today, and has served continuously for 20 centuries as a place of worship.

5. St. Mark's Cathedral

St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice (1063–1071), one of the great examples of Byzantine architecture, was begun in the 9th century. Partly destroyed by fire in 976, it was later rebuilt as a Byzantine edifice. Other famous examples of Byzantine architecture are St. Sophia in Istanbul (532–537); San Vitale in Ravenna (542); and Assumption Cathedral in the Kremlin, Moscow (begun in 1475). The cathedral group at Pisa (1067–1173), one of the most celebrated groups of structures built in Romanesque style, consists of the cathedral, the cathedral's baptistery, and the campanile (Leaning Tower). The campanile, a form of bell tower, is 180 ft high and now leans 13.5 ft out of the perpendicular. Other examples of Romanesque architecture include the Vézelay Abbey in France (1130) and Durham Cathedral in England.

6. Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey, in London, was begun in 1050 and completed in 1065. It was rebuilt and enlarged in several phases, beginning in 1245. With only two exceptions (Edward V and Edward VIII), every British monarch since William the Conqueror has been crowned in the abbey.

7. The Alhambra

The Alhambra (1248–1354), located in Granada, Spain, is universally esteemed as one of the greatest masterpieces of Muslim architecture. Designed as a palace and fortress for the Moorish monarchs of Granada, it is surrounded by a heavily fortified wall more than a mile in perimeter.

8. The Tower of London

The Tower of London is a group of buildings and towers covering 13 acres along the north bank of the Thames. The central White Tower, begun in 1078 during the reign of William the Conqueror, was originally a fortress and royal residence, but was later used as a prison. The Bloody Tower is associated with Anne Boleyn and other notables.

9. Notre-Dame de Paris

Notre-Dame de Paris (begun in 1163), one of the great examples of Gothic architecture, is a twin-towered church with a steeple over the crossing and immense flying buttresses supporting the masonry at the rear of the church.

Other famous Gothic structures are Chartres Cathedral (France; 12th century); Sainte-Chapelle (Paris, France; 1246–1248); Reims Cathedral (France; 13th–14th centuries; rebuilt after its almost complete destruction in World War I); Rouen Cathedral (France; 13th–16th centuries); Salisbury Cathedral (England; 1220–1260); York Minster, or the Cathedral of St. Peter (England; 1220–1472); Milan Cathedral (Italy; begun in 1386); and Cologne Cathedral (Germany; 13th–19th centuries; damaged in World War II but completely restored).

10. The Duomo

The Duomo (cathedral) in Florence, with its pink, white, and green marble façade, has become a symbol of the city and the Renaissance. Construction began in 1296 and was completed nearly 200 years later, with the addition of Brunelleschi's massive dome. The adjacent baptistery is famous for its gilded bronze doors by Ghiberti.

11. The Vatican

The Vatican is a group of buildings in Rome comprising the official residence of the pope. The Basilica of St. Peter, the largest church in the Christian world, was begun in 1452, and it was rebuilt between 1506 and 1626. The Sistine Chapel, begun in 1473, is noted for frescoes by Michelangelo.

Other examples of Renaissance architecture are the Palazzo Riccardi, the Palazzo Pitti, and the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence; the Palazzo Farnese in Rome; the Palazzo Grimani (completed c. 1550) in Venice; the Escorial (1563–93) near Madrid; the Town Hall of Seville (1527–32); the Louvre, Paris; the Château at Blois, France; St. Paul's Cathedral, London (1675–1710; badly damaged in World War II); the École Militaire, Paris (1752); the Pazzi Chapel, Florence, designed by Brunelleschi (1429); and the Palace of Fontainebleau and the Château de Chambord in France.