As pandemic restrictions have lifted, travelers are once again venturing out of their home countries to explore the world—be it via land, air, or sea. The tourism industry is back and running, with nearly 76% of Generation X comfortable traveling.
Going abroad is your chance to see the world—both its natural beauty and the genius human creations that together define its landscape. As a global luxury real estate brand, Engel & Völkers is highlighting just a few architectural monuments that are worth the trip. Starting with an ancient town in Italy and ending with the tallest building in the world, this list compiles some of the world’s most stunning structures, with design nuances that serve as inspiration for modern architects and designers alike.
San Gimignano | Italy
Located midway between Siena and Florence, San Gimignano and its iconic towers sit perched on a scenic hilltop. The town gained its independence in 1199 and reached its glory days in the 1300s. During this century, the noble families who controlled the town constructed 72 towers—exceptional in their height, magnificence, and expense. While only 14 towers have survived, the town’s skyline maintains its resemblance to those of major cities like New York.
Thousands of tourists visit every year to experience the distinctive medieval architecture that has earned the town a spot as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Beyond the stunning architecture, visitors to San Gimignano can visit local museums like San Gimignano 1300 and take a peek at local life at the Tower and Casa Campatelli. The town’s tallest tower, Torre Grossa, overlooks a striking panoramic view of the historic district.
Tiger’s Nest | Bhutan
Also known as Taktshang Goemba, Paro Taktsang, and the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Tiger’s Nest is one of Bhutan’s most famous and recognizable structures. Constructed in 1692, the building is centered around one of the Himalayas’ 13 tiger lairs. Guru Rinpoche (Padma Sambhava), who is credited for bringing Buddhism to Bhutan, is believed to have meditated there for three years, three months, three weeks, and three hours.
What makes Tiger’s Nest so beloved is its location and beauty. Almost 3,000 feet in the air above the Paro Valley, perched on a cliff, the monastery is comprised of four temples, residential houses, and a series of wooden bridges. The only catch: guests must travel through miles of treacherous terrain to reach this remote location.
Royal Palace of Brussels | Belgium
Across the park from the House of Parliament, the Royal Palace of Brussels sits imposingly in front of its meticulously maintained landscaping. Located in the Kuntsberg district, the palace is one of Belgium’s most breathtaking works of architecture—a must-see for lovers of art and history alike. The structure features the magnificent neoclassical architecture popular at the time of its construction, between 1820 and 1934.
Throughout the majority of the year, the palace serves as the king’s main office, and its interior is closed to visitors. While the building is closed, guests are welcome to visit the building’s exterior and the surrounding park. Those who hope to take in the architectural brilliance inside should plan to visit between July and September.
Chrysler Building | The United States of America
Constructed in 1930, the 1,048-foot Chrysler Buidling was the tallest building in the world for just 11 months (surpassed by the Empire State Building in 1931); however, that does not take away from its architectural brilliance and significance. Located on Manhattan’s East side, the skyscraper was designed by William Van Alen on behalf of developer William H. Reynolds. Its Art-Deco-style architecture was considered modern and luxurious at the time of its construction, and it remains a favorite of architects, builders, critics, engineers, and historians.
Originally housing the Chrysler Corporation’s headquarters, the building is now home to storefronts, restaurants, cafes, bars, office suites, apartments, the exclusive Chrysler Club, a library, a lounge, and a yoga and meditation room.
Hungarian Parliament Building | Hungary
The Hungarian Parliament Building is located on the left bank of the Danube River in the center of Budapest. Although more than a century has passed since its opening, it remains the largest building in Hungary, covering more than 193,800 square feet (or 4.5 acres of land).
The building harmoniously combines elements of Neo-Gothic, Beaux–Arts, and Italian Renaissance architecture. The interior of this impressive building contains the main state symbols of Hungary in its dome hall: the Holy Crown, sword, and globus cruciger, Hungary’s sacred symbols of full sovereignty in the medieval period.
Maropeng Visitor Centre | South Africa
Maropeng Visitor Center was constructed in 2006, making it a more modern addition to our list. This state-of-the-art, award-winning visitor center is dedicated to telling the story of human development over the course of the past few million years. The exhibition goes all the way back to Earth’s formation and follows our ancestors to the modern day.
The structure itself was designed by GAPP Architects and MMA Studio of South Africa. It is designed to model a burial mound, growing from the ground and seamlessly blending with nature.
“You enter the building as ants would enter an ant heap, or bees a hive.”Chris Kroese, GAPP Architects
Once you exit the building at the end of the exhibition, however, the view transforms. From the back, Maropeng Visitor Center is sleek, modern, and futuristic. Kroese goes on to explain that this is representative of how we have not yet come to the end of history, as the future awaits.
Peleș Castle | Romania
Located in Sinaia, Romania, Peleș Castle is considered one of Europe’s most beautiful neo-Renaissance-style castles. Previously a summer residence for Romania’s royal family, the castle is now home to the Peleș National Museum and is occasionally used for royal ceremonies.
The palace’s exterior is breathtaking, and its interior feature incredible worksand of art. It boasts more than 160 rooms, over 4,000 pieces of weaponry, an extraordinary ceramic collection, and thousands of art pieces like works from Gustav Klimt.
The Burj Khalifa Tower | The United Arab Emirates
The Burj Khalifa Tower in the center of Dubai is both the tallest and most expensive construction in the world. With superb, panoramic views, chic restaurants, luxurious shops, and lively entertainment, it is one of the most exclusive buildings in the city.
While the tower is surrounded by high-rise buildings, its height of 2,717 feet ensures it’s visible from almost everywhere in the city. The building includes an Armani hotel, luxury apartments, a restaurant, a rooftop with 360° views, office spaces, and a lounge. It meets the highest environmental protection standards as it independently generates electricity via a wind-driven turbine, an array of solar panels, and a rainwater collection system.