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Traveling abroad is an invaluable experience for anyone who gets the chance. Last year, 93 million Americans were lucky enough to travel abroad.
Although there is plenty to see in the United States, nothing beats jet setting across the ocean to soak up new cultures and learn about our world’s rich history.
There simply isn’t enough time (or money) to see it all, but if you can even scratch the surface of Earth’s historical offerings, you’re one of the lucky ones.
If your main mission when traveling is to learn about history and behold famous sights, keep reading to learn about 10 historic buildings you must see in your lifetime.
Here they are, in no particular order.
1. Taj Mahal, India
This striking marble mausoleum is smack dab in the middle of Agra, India. It’s widely recognized as one of the most memorable, iconic buildings in the world.
Constructed between 1632 to 1653, the Taj Mahal was built in memory of Mughal Emporer Shah Jahan’s wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth.
Legend has it that the Shah was so protective of the temple that he cut off the hands of the architects so they’d never be able to build a similar building anywhere else.
2. St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City
No list of historic buildings would be complete without St. Peter’s Basilica. At the heart of the Vatican, this church was designed by the most iconic artists in history — Michaelangelo, Bernini, and Maderno all had hands in its architecture.
It was built in the 1600s and rumor has it that it’s the final resting place of St. Peter himself.
3. Westminster Abbey, London
The oldest on this list so far, construction of the currently-standing gothic church Westminster Abbey in the center of London began in the mid-1200s.
The original building, however, was said to have been completed around 1060. It was the first building in England constructed in the Romanesque style.
To date, Westminster Abbey has played host to 16 royal weddings.
4. Acropolis, Athens
Knocking Westminster Abbey out of the park, historically speaking, the Acropolis in Athens, Greece is the first truly ancient historical site to hit this list.
Sitting atop the Acropolis is the Parthenon, which is noted by many to be the ultimate monument to ancient Greece. It was thought to be constructed between 447 BC and 438 BC.
The temple was erected as an ode to the ancient Greek goddess of wisdom, Athena Parthenos, also known as Athena the Virgin.
5. The Colosseum, Rome
If you’ve ever visited Rome, The Colosseum would have likely been high on your list of sights to see. This famous amphitheater has a dark and morbid history — it’s where gladiators used to fight to the death for the entertainment of nobility.
Upon its completion around 80 AD, The Colosseum was the largest structure of its kind in the Roman empire.
Unfortunately, due to centuries of wear and tear, it’s beginning to crumble. It’s still a sight to see, and the foundation isn’t going anywhere. But you should plan a trip to see it soon.
6. St. Mark’s Cathedral
Italy is a country rich in history, and Venice is no exception. St. Mark’s Cathedral lies in the middle of the floating city, and is the most famous church in Northern Italy.
Completed around 1092, it’s considered to be one of the world’s most well-known examples of the Italo-Byzantine architectural style.
7. St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow
Traveling to Russia isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do. Tourists need to go through a rigorous visa process to step foot on the land of the Kremlin, but the historical sights are worth it.
St. Basil’s Cathedral is considered by many to be the symbol of Russia. Originally constructed in the 16th century at the direction of Ivan the Terrible, it was built as a memorial of the capture of the Khanate of Kazan.
8. Bagan, Myanmar
Not a specific building, per se, but the ancient temples of Bagan, Myanmar are certainly a historical sight to see.
Most known for having the largest number of Buddhist temples in the world, the Bagan temples were constructed between 1000 and 1100 when the region was still the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Pagan.
9. Pyramids of Giza, Cairo
Another ancient historical site that is worthy of any bucket list, the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx in Cairo are thought to have been constructed between 2550 BC to 2490 BC.
The Pyramids of Giza consist of three structures — the Pyramid of Menkaure, the Pyramid of Khafre and the Great Pyramid of Khufu. All three were originally built as burial grounds and are now considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
10. Blue Mosque, Istanbul
This historic Turkish mosque was built in the early 17th century and is now one of Turkey’s main historical sites. Though it is not the biggest mosque in Turkey, it’s regarded by many as being the most beautiful.
Its official name is The Sultan Ahmed Mosque but is more commonly referred to as Blue Mosque because of the many blue tiles making up its walls.
Historic Buildings in the United States
If you’re reading this from America, you don’t have to travel far to get a dose of history. While it’s hard to beat the rich history of the ancient Pyramids of Giza or Westminster Abbey, here are a few monuments a little closer to home:
The Alamo, San Antonio
This historic Spanish fortress is important to American history because it’s where the famous Davy Crockett and his comrades held their ground against almost 2000 Mexican soldiers for 13 days in 1836.
The Truman Memorial Building
Constructed in 1926 in Independence, Missouri, the Truman Memorial Building was built as an homage to the soldiers who gave their lives in World War One.
It was built with support from 33rd American president Harry Truman who was himself a veteran of the war.
Cathedral of St. John the Divine
Among the top 10 largest church buildings in the world, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine was built in 1892 and is the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of New York.
Pack Your Bags
There you have it! 10 must-see historic buildings across the globe, plus 3 more local ones you can visit!