Blue Mosque in Istanbul, architectural masterpieces
Shutterstock

Buildings may be some of the most impressive works of art we have. After sinking untold sums of money into their construction, we can walk through the finished products and even live inside them. We have selected 30 brilliant architectural masterpieces that push the boundaries of structural expression. We think you’ll love them.

The oldest building we know of is Göbekli Tepe in present-day Turkey. Built somewhere around 9500 B.C., archaeologists aren’t certain of its function, but it was probably religious.

Göbekli Tepe in present-day Turkey, architectural masterpieces
Teomancimit / Wikimedia Commons

Since then, humans have built some pretty rad structures. In the past year, we’ve seen futuristic openings like the Fulton Center in New York …

Fulton Center, New York, architectural masterpieces
Spencer Platt / Getty

… and the Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School in Melbourne, Australia.

Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School in Melbourne, Australia, architectural masterpieces
World Architecture Festival

The Las Lajas Sanctuary in Narino, Colombia, is equally mystifying. It looks like it defies gravity.

Las Lajas Sanctuary in Narino, Colombia, architectural masterpieces
Diego Delso/Flickr

“La Sagrada Familia,” an ongoing construction project since 1882.

La Sagrada Familia, architectural masterpieces
David Ramos/Getty Images

The modernist architect Antoni Gaudí didn’t live to see his Sagrada Família completed — in fact, it’s still being built. The exterior looks like something out of Narnia …

Sagrada Família, architectural masterpieces
Shutterstock

… and the interior is even more surreal.

Sagrada Família, architectural masterpieces
Shutterstock

The Flatiron Building in New York was one of the first skyscrapers …

Flatiron Building, architectural masterpieces
Mario Tama / Getty

… as was the moody Woolworth Building, which was the tallest building in the world from 1913 to 1930.

Woolworth Building, architectural masterpieces
Ludovic Bertron / Flickr

In Onomichi, Japan, couples frequently turn to the Ribbon Chapel for their wedding ceremonies — and understandably so.

Ribbon Chapel, onomichi, japan, architectural masterpieces
World Architecture Festival

Also surrounded by green is the Light of Life Church in Seoul, South Korea.

Light of Life Church in Seoul, South Korea, architectural masterpieces
World Architecture Festival

On the inside, the church looks completely different.

Light of Life Church in Seoul, South Korea, architectural masterpieces
World Architecture Festival

Chicago’s Marina City apartments are, to say the least, uniquely designed. Built in 1964, they were one of the first mixed-use buildings and the first to be built with a crane in the US.

Chicago's Marina City apartments, architectural masterpieces
cdelmoral / flickr

But not all buildings need to scrape the sky. The Temppeliaukio Church in Helsinki is built into a rock underground and still gets lots of sunlight.

Temppeliaukio Church in Helsinki, architectural masterpieces
Jorge Láscar / Flickr

The Church of St. George in Lalibela, Ethiopia, was carved out of a single stone in the 12th century.

Church of St. George in Lalibela, Ethiopia, architectural masterpieces
Shutterstock

Some of the most beautiful buildings integrate into their landscape. The Turninn building in Reykjavík reflects the wild beauty of Iceland.

Turninn building in Reykjavík, architectural masterpieces
Courtesy of Architizer

The modernist master Mies van der Rohe used minimal lines and open space to create buildings that seemingly float in the air around them, like the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, built in the 1960s.

Mies van der Rohe, architectural masterpieces
seier+seier / flickr

Berlin is also home to the Mecca of electronic music: the brutalist masterstroke Berghain.

brutalist masterstroke Berghain, architectural masterpieces
Michael Mayer / flickr

Integrating into the environment is one of the oldest ideals of architecture. The old Japanese capital Kyoto features the breathtaking Golden Pavilion …

Golden Pavilion, Japan, architectural masterpieces
Freedom II Andres / Flickr

… and the more subtly stunning Silver Pavilion.

Silver Pavilion, japan, architectural masterpieces
Reginald Pentinio / flickr

The Great Mosque of Djenné in Mali is the largest mud-built structure in the world — it can hold 3,000 worshippers.

Great Mosque of Djenné in Mali, architectural masterpieces
37degrees/flickr

The whimsical Pompidou Center in Paris is a postmodern masterwork: It gleefully displays the guts of the building.

Pompidou Center in Paris, architectural masterpieces
Shutterstock

Built around 1200, the Chartes Cathedral in northern France is a primary example of Gothic architecture. Notice the ornate “portals” that you enter into the building through …

Chartes Cathedral in northern France, architectural masterpieces
Shutterstock

… and the stunning organ inside.

Chartes Cathedral in northern France, architectural masterpieces
Shutterstock

Perhaps the only house of worship that can match its grandeur is the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, built in the early 1600s at the height of the Ottoman Empire.

Blue Mosque in Istanbul, architectural masterpieces
Shutterstock

Its interior features more than 20,000 handmade tiles.

Blue Mosque in Istanbul, architectural masterpieces
Shutterstock

The Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, is a stunning structure that seems to have been dropped right in the middle of the Amritsar River.

Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, architectural masterpieces
Arian Zwegers/Flickr

The Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, is the center of the Sikh Faith, and it’s lustrous at night.

Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, architectural masterpieces
Munish Sharma / Reuters

Neuschwanstein Castle in the German state of Bavaria reportedly inspired Walt Disney to create Sleeping Beauty’s castle. It’s easy to see why.

Neuschwanstein Castle in the German state of Bavaria, architectural masterpieces
Sean Gallup / Getty

Trinity College in Dublin is a gem of a university.

Trinity College in Dublin architectural masterpieces
Chris Jackson / Getty

It has the prototypical library, the most stunning section of which is called, fittingly enough, the Long Room.

Trinity College in Dublin architectural masterpieces
Tony Webster / Flickr

The Imperial Palace — aka the Forbidden City — is the ultimate form of high Chinese architecture.

 Imperial Palace — aka the Forbidden City, architectural masterpieces
Lintao Zhang / Getty

It was the seat of government from 1420 to 1912.

Imperial Palace — aka the Forbidden City, architectural masterpieces
See-ming Lee / Flickr

The interior remains epic …

Imperial Palace — aka the Forbidden City interior, architectural masterpieces
Feng Li / Getty

… as do the details.

Imperial Palace — aka the Forbidden City details, architectural masterpieces
Drolexandre / Wikimedia commons

Today, some of the most experimental modern architecture in the world is being built in Beijing, like the CCTV Tower, locally known as “The Trousers.”

The Trousers, beijing, architectural masterpieces
Getty

With Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the late Zaha Hadid did what she could only ever do — turn the hard, clean lines of modernism into something organic.

Hong Kong Polytechnic University, architectural masterpieces
Forgemind ArchiMedia/Flickr

Perched high in the Peruvian Andes, Machu Picchu is the best example we have of Incan architecture.

Peruvian Andes, Machu Picchu, architectural masterpieces
Wikimedia Commons

Archaeologists say it was built around 1450.

Peruvian Andes, Machu Picchu, architectural masterpieces
Wikimedia Commons

Here’s a closer look at the residential section.

residential-section, Peruvian Andes, Machu Picchu, architectural masterpieces
Christophe Meneboeuf / Wikimedia Commons

Opened in 2007, the Parque Biblioteca España in Medellín, Colombia, was designed by the Colombian architect Giancarlo Mazzanti. The three buildings are meant to look like stones …

Parque Biblioteca España in Medellín, Colombia, architectural masterpieces
Dr EG / Flickr

From inside the library, in the Santo Domingo Savio neighborhood, the view is of Medellín itself, in a valley surrounded by the Andes.

Parque Biblioteca España in Medellín view, Colombia, architectural masterpieces
Kevin Loria / Tech Insider

Sydney’s Opera House is the rightful ambassador of Australian architecture.

Sydney's Opera House, architectural masterpieces
Daniel Munoz / Reuters

Designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon and opened in 1973, it has become a literal canvas of public expression …

Sydney's Opera House, architectural masterpieces
Tim Wimborne / Reuters

… and the interior is stunning, too.

Sydney's Opera House, architectural masterpieces
Jason7825 / Wikimedia Commons

The world of the marvelous stays unrevealed. Until you travel.

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