If you’re tired at the end of a 37-hour working week, then spare a thought for the team that spent an estimated 30 million hours building Stonehenge! This prehistoric workforce had to drag many of the massive rocks comprising the ancient monument 240 miles from Wales and then stand them upright.
Ancient Egyptians could spend decades building prestigious mausoleums in preparation for the death of their rulers – but King Tut’s premature passing caused a rush job to finish his tomb and it was then forgotten about by his people. By this twist of fate, the 18-year-old ruler’s resting place was in an immaculate condition when it was discovered in the 20th century.
As an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece, the Parthenon has no equal. This temple to the goddess Athena was built at the height of the Athenian Empire, and its famous Doric columns – much like the democratic culture from which it came – would spread throughout the western world.
The Great Wall of China began life as a series of smaller fortifications, evolving over hundreds of years into today’s 21,196 km long structure – that’s roughly 22 times the length of Britain or about 200,000 football pitches!
The Colosseum was the largest amphitheatre in the Roman Empire and would regularly host sporting events for up to 80,000 spectators – or about 7,000 fans more than can fit in the Stadio Olimpico for Lazio and Roma football matches today.
Intertwined with the history of the British monarchy, Westminster Abbey was originally consecrated by Edward the Confessor in 1065; it has been the coronation site since one year later and is the resting place of 17 kings and queens.
Construction of the Tower of Pisa lasted 199 years – but it had already started to subside when the third storey was added just five years into the project. Once complete, the eight-floor building continued to sink until a 2001 restoration project brought it back from a sketchy 5.5-degree lean to a much-less worrying 3.99-degree slant.
Up to 300 workers a day spent 26 years building the Gothic-influenced Chartres Cathedral – a remarkably short space of time when considering the present York Minster took more than 240 years to complete.
The Forbidden Palace was the imperial home and centre of political life for the Qing and Ming Dynasties for 500 years – with 980 buildings and nearly 9000 rooms, there must have been a lot of politicians.
St Basil’s Cathedral’s boldly coloured onion-shaped domes only became such distinctive features 200 years after construction had finished, when a dramatic growth in available paint shades led to much brighter religious art.
La Rotunda marks a high-point in the development of classical thought into the Renaissance style and has influenced the design of thousands of buildings across the world. However, its nickname is misleading. Rather than having a round floor plan, La Rotunda is in fact the shape of a square divided by a cross with a circular hall at its centre.
Following the death of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, grief-stricken Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan is said to have ordered his court into two years of mourning before deciding to build the magnificent Taj Mahal as his true love’s resting place.
From surviving the blitz to royal weddings and funeral services for the likes of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Winston Churchill, St Paul’s Cathedral has long been an icon of British life. The huge dome of Sir Christopher Wren’s design made it London’s tallest building for more than 250 years until 1962 – it’s now ranked fortieth.
With 132 rooms spanning 55,000 square feet of prime retail estate that includes a swimming pool, a bowling alley, a theatre and a certain oval-shaped office, the White House was recently valued in excess of $1 billion!
Towering over New York Harbour, the Statue of Liberty remains a symbol of independence and freedom for everyone who dreams of a better life in America. This huge neoclassical sculpture was constructed piece by piece in France, transported to the States in boxes and then put together on what became Liberty Island.
Designed to be the entrance to the 1889 Exposition Universalle, the Eiffel Tower has become a cultural icon and is the most-visited paid tourist attraction in the world. Not bad for a building that was originally intended to be pulled down after just 20 years!
Named after the similarly shaped clothes presses of the time, the Flatiron building’s official opening attracted the attention of the gambling public, who placed bets on the first gust of wind blowing over this tall narrow structure.
It took an awful lot of rock to build the 462-feet-tall Tribune Tower – including around 150 small stones that staff at the newspaper office brought back from sites across the world, such as Angkor Wat, the Berlin Wall and the Alamo.
The Chrysler Building was the tallest skyscraper in the world for just eleven months – but despite being overtaken within a year, it remains the tallest brick structure to this day.
With its striking inside-out ‘Bowelism’ design, the 25-year-old Lloyd’s building became the youngest structure to ever obtain the UK’s Grade-I listed status in 2011.
Following a 16-year construction break after the collapse of financial backers the Soviet Union, the flashy exterior of the Ryugyong Hotel was finally completed in 2008. But work on its interior continues and it remains to be seen when – or whether – the ‘Hotel of Doom’ will open.
Is there a more apt business headquarters than the Longaberger Company building? The basket makers didn’t have to search far to find influence for an eye-catching office design – they simply took inspiration from a product they had been manufacturing for more than a century.
Underneath the radical stainless-steel curves and dreamlike structures of the Walt Disney Concert Hall is an impeccable auditorium, which has drawn praise from world-renowned conductors for its quality acoustics.
Despite being nicknamed the ‘Bird’s Nest’, the Beijing National Stadium is based upon a design that was heavily influenced by the cracked glaze found on local pottery. Its eye-catching nest-like structure comprises roughly 42,000 tonnes and 26kms of steel.
Inspired by the fairy tales of Jan Marcin Scanzer and the art of Per Dahlberg, the Crooked House is actually a retail centre where shoppers may – or may not – be able to purchase glass slippers, steaming hot bowls of porridge or red riding hoods.
The designers of the Kansas City Public Library car park really knew their audience; its garage resembles a bookshelf featuring 22 titles, including Lord of the Rings, To Kill a Mocking Bird and Invisible Man.
The National Library of Belarus is a rhombicuboctahedron – that’s right, it’s a shape with eight triangular and eighteen square faces! Architects Mihail Vinogradov and Viktor Kramarenko designed its striking diamond shape to symbolise the wealth of knowledge the building stores.
Located on an artificial island, the 1500-room hotel Atlantis, The Palm, draws influence from the famous sunken city of ancient mythology. In its unique ‘underwater’ suites, guests share their stay at this high-end resort with around 65,000 fish and other sea creatures, visible through glass walls in certain rooms.
An indoor canal, two floating crystal pavilions, a 500-table casino … and an infinity pool perched atop three 55-storey towers give the $5.5 billion Marina Bay Sands Resort an unmistakeable wow factor.
The Cybertecture Egg represents the archetypal sustainable workplace of the future; its uniquely angled oval design minimises solar gain, the office space is cooled by a roof garden, and wind turbines and PV panels produce energy.
The Shard is the second-tallest free-standing structure in the United Kingdom, after the 330-metre concrete transmission tower at Emley Moor!