Ten Iconic Landmarks from around the World

From giant monuments and grand old buildings to ancient structures, certain global landmarks have come to define entire nations and cultures. Travelers come from all over the world just to see these iconic sights with their own eyes. Looking at my To-Do List, I’m no different. Some of these places are crossed off, while others are still waiting. Although subjective, here are ten of the most iconic landmarks in the world.

Great Pyramid of Giza

The oldest and only remaining landmark of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Great Pyramid of Giza is believed to have been built in 2550 BC and is an incredible feat of architecture. Aside from its historical significance, the massive, golden structure and the smaller pyramids around it, create a striking, mystical skyline in the dry Egyptian desert.

Ancient Egypt PyramidsCredit

Coming in at #103 on my To-Do List, I thought I’d want to experience the pyramids by camel, but then I rode one in Jordan’s Wadi Rum. Now I think I’ll keep both feet on the ground. Pyramids—yes. Camel—no.

Amer Fort

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Close to Jaipur is the pretty town of Amer in Rajasthan, India. Known for its classy Hindu style ramparts and made purely of marble and red standstone, the Amer Fort is surely one of the major landmarks of India. Embark on amazing array of Rajasthan Tour Packages to uncover the gems of Indian architecture.

Statue of Liberty

While New York City’s iconic Statue of Liberty has become a powerful symbol of America, it was actually a gift from the French, given to honor the friendship the two countries established during the American Revolution. Today, it is a popular tourist destination.

New York City Sunset

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The Statue of Liberty screams New York City {even though it’s technically in New Jersey}, and I always try to spot it when flying into the city. Just the sight of Lady Liberty makes me smile.

Great Wall of China

Built to defend invasions from the north, China’s Great Wall has transformed from a military tool to an exquisite work of art. With over 20,000 kilometers of brick, stone, and solid earth, the Wall embodies the strength, skill, and spirit of Chinese culture.

China

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Once I got past all the tourist crap and actually walked on the Great Wall, I understood exactly how amazing this structure truly is. It’s definitely a must see and totally worth being #22 on my To-Do List. Make sure to take the luge to the bottom. Yes, that’s a real thing. Look it up!

Colosseum

A marvelous vestige of the powerful Roman Empire, Rome’s Colosseum is one of the most instantly recognizable structures in the world. Most notably, it was used for gladiator fights where men fought to the death against wild animals, with an estimated 50,000-80,000 spectators looking on. Today, the building retains its powerful presence within Rome’s scenic city center.

ancient rome

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As a lover of Ancient Roman history and a teacher of Julius Caesar, I have to say that seeing the Colosseum in person has been one of my favorite travel experiences. It’s vital to know the history, have a guide, or an audio tour to truly understand the importance of this place. Just catching a glimpse of the Colosseum sends tingles throughout my body. It’s that powerful.

Angkor Wat

Once headquarters for the entire Khmer Kingdom, UNESCO calls this fascinating 9th-century Cambodian landmark one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. With 400 square kilometers of ancient temples, monuments, canals, and basins, Angkor Wat continues to inspire locals and visitors to this day.

Angkor Wat Cambodia asia

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Having only visited Singapore, the Philippines, and Malaysia, I still have so much to explore in Southeast Asia. Cambodia and Angkor Wat is easily one of my priorities. I hear that sunrise is the best time to visit.

St. Basil’s Cathedral

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this incredible piece of architecture is the mystery that surrounds it. The inspiration for this ‘psychedelically bizarre’ building, as The Guardian calls it, is a matter of speculation, with the name of the architect still unknown. Whatever the inspiration, there’s no debating that the colorful structure is truly a sight to behold.

Red Square Moscow Credit

Ahhh…Mother Russia. I’ve found Moscow fascinating since before the Iron Curtain was officially lifted. Red Square and St. Basil’s comes in at #82 on my To-Do List. I can only imagine that the shapes, colors, and design will only be more entrancing after a few shots of vodka.

Sydney Opera House

Completed in 1963 {14 years after construction began}, the Sydney Opera House is the most modern landmark on this list, but it certainly has made an impact. A defining feature of the Sydney skyline, the Opera House has been labelled one of the most iconic buildings of the 20th century. In 2003, the building’s designer, Danish architect, Jørn Utzon, received a Pritzker Prize for his masterful work on the famous Australian landmark.

Sydney Australia

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I am DYING to go to Australia as a whole and Sydney in particular. The list is long of things I’d do in Sydney, but watching a performance in the Opera House is #14 on my To-Do List. Right now I’d settle for a glimpse of it from the Harbour Bridge.

Stonehenge

While the origins of this unique British landmark are still up for debate, researchers now believe it likely dates back to the late Neolithic period, around 2500BC. Back then it may have been used as a place to heal the ill, worship the sun or bury the dead, but today it simply serves as a truly remarkable peek into the past.

Stonehenge EnglandCredit

I’ve seen some freaky stuff from the Neolithic period in Ireland, but never the most famous enigma, Stonehenge. I’ve had it on my To-Do List, but have taken it off. I’m certain it would be interesting to see, but I think I’ll live if I never visit. However, I can’t discount Stonehenge’s place in a list of important and iconic landmarks.

Christ the Redeemer

Rio de Janeiro’s most defining feature, this 635-ton statue has survived lightning strikes and an infamous graffiti attack to remain one of the most stunning landmarks in the world. Overlooking the Brazilian capital with arms outstretched, it’s a reminder of the influential role Christianity plays in the nation’s culture.

Rio BrazilCredit

Getting to the feet of Christo is a trek and getting a photo alone with Christo is a miracle. It’s a statue, granted one of Jesus, but it’s one of those things that I can say I did and will likely never do again. Besides, there isn’t a place in Rio that you can go without seeing the symbol of the city. I prefer Cristo from afar, especially when it’s lit up at night.

Alright, let me have it. What would you add or remove from this list?

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36 Comments
  • Jennifer
    June 26, 2013

    Several of my own bucket list landmarks made your list, Leah. And I totally agree with you about the camel. That’s one experience I don’t wish to repeat.

    • Leah Walker
      June 26, 2013

      I’ve not met one person who has enjoyed their camel ride. I’m pretty sure it’s just a lesson everyone needs to learn for themselves.

  • Amanda
    June 26, 2013

    Nice list! I would add the Eiffel Tower, though – so iconic!

    • Leah Walker
      June 26, 2013

      Oh, of course, Amanda! The Eiffel Tower for sure.

  • lola dimarco
    June 26, 2013

    having gone to Angkor Wat at sunrise…well it depends on how the sun rises! haha. it was completely uneventful the day i went BUT…i did manage to avoid the crowds.

    people say Stonehenge is just a bunch of rocks. that would be one I’d take off the list. i would add the Acropolis in Athens.

    • Leah Walker
      June 26, 2013

      Yeah, Stonehenge seems to be, well, meh. That’s why I took it off my To-Do List. I’d agree with the Acropolis for its historical significance and the Eiffel Tower as Amanda {above} suggested.

  • fotoeins | Henry
    June 26, 2013

    Great list, Leah!

    * On what section(s) of The Great Wall did you visit or walk? I’ve never been, but seeing a documentary about the outer reaches of the wall, I’m fascinated by the history and construction of those very outer stretches.

    * Archeologists recently did LIDAR laser-mapping of the Angkor Wat site, and found a much larger city complex surrounding the known temples. Lots of fun study and digging for years to come … I wonder how that affects future studies and future tourism to the site.

    * The Sydney Opera House celebrates its 40th birthday later this year. Having just left Sydney (for unfortunate reasons), I was fortunate, however, to have seen “the lighting of the sails” for the VIVID Sydney cultural-festival. I’ll have a gallery-post soon about some of the highlights. Perhaps, you can visit Sydney next June for the 2014 VIVID festival? 🙂

    * Perhaps a list limited to ten is certain to bring about some disagreement about what appears. There may be cause to consider: Machu Picchu in Peru (Incas), and the various Aztec and/or Mayan temple complexes in México. For example, Teotihuacan, northeast from Mexico City, was once the most populous city on the North American continent with over 100-thousand people by the 3rd- to 4th-century CE.

    • Leah Walker
      June 29, 2013

      I can’t remember the name of the part, but it was the second closest to Beijing. You saw the lighting of the sails? That is so cool! What a lucky guy you are. I know you didn’t want to leave Sydney, but I know you’ll at least have that awesome memory. I agree on Machu Picchu, although I’ve not seen it. The story alone is awesome.

  • @mrsoaroundworld
    June 27, 2013

    I managed a very respectable 7/10 – not bad, right? Great selection, must say!

    • Leah Walker
      June 29, 2013

      I’d say that’s pretty darn good. Maybe we can get the other three by 2014.

  • Sojourner
    June 27, 2013

    oh boy, I have a lot of globe trekking to do 🙂 thanks for the inspiration!

    • Leah Walker
      June 29, 2013

      You and me both. No time like the present!

  • Lance Wiedower
    June 27, 2013

    Statue of LIberty is meh to me. I’ve seen it, and actually briefly docked there on the ferry. But I was more interested in seeing Ellis Island so I didn’t get off the boat to visit Lady Liberty. Colosseum is really cool. I did visit Stonehenge and I can see why people would not go. I would only say go if someone is in the region. We spent a few days in Bath and took an afternoon van tour to Stonehenge. If you have plenty of time, why not visit? Otherwise, whatever. I can’t think of any manmade monuments I’d like to see that you don’t mention. But there are plenty in nature starting with the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Yosemite. I’ve never done the western U.S. national parks.

    • Leah Walker
      June 29, 2013

      Oh, there are plenty of natural iconic things that I’d love to see. I’ve done Yellowstone a few times, but never Yosemite. I’ve seen the Grand Canyon from the air, but that’s it. So much to see in the world, I’m not sure how one gets around to it all.

  • Donna andrews
    June 27, 2013

    St. Louis’ Gateway Arch – 630 feet of stainless steel.

    • Leah Walker
      June 29, 2013

      I’ve actually never seen the Arch in person, although I feel that it would be quite impressive. It’s certainly an iconic symbol of St. Louis and the West.

  • Matthew Hirtes
    June 28, 2013

    Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner, but I’m a sucker for the London Eye.

    • Leah Walker
      June 29, 2013

      Me too, Matthew. I especially love the Eye at night with the various colors.

  • Pola (@jettingaround)
    June 28, 2013

    Great list, Leah! Still quite a few places I need to check out, especially the Great Wall of China. I got to see St. Basil’s Cathedral and it looked surreal, just unbelievably beautiful.

    • Leah Walker
      June 29, 2013

      St. Basil’s really is high on my list. Moscow in general is as well. The Great Wall is spectacular, especially if you get to the less touristy parts.

  • Anita Mac
    June 28, 2013

    The Colosseum was pretty spectacular! I did the tour, wandered around on my own, and would go back in a heart beat! I am also with you on the Sydney Opera House. When I first moved to Australia, I actually packed a ball gown exactly for that purpose! Didn’t end up using it although I have seen a performance there. You have a number of places on my list…oh, how I need a second version of me for all the places I want to see!

    • Leah Walker
      June 29, 2013

      That’s so awesome that you saw a performance! Next time we see each other, I want to hear about it.

  • LuizzeOliveira
    June 29, 2013

    I am really impressed by your list of Iconic landmarks from around the world. As per my view people visit this all destination atleast one time so they lots of new experience and enjoy their life.

    • Leah Walker
      June 29, 2013

      I agree. It’s such a cool feeling to see all of these iconic things in person. I hope that I eventually scratch them all off in the near future.

  • Traveling Ted
    June 29, 2013

    I have only been to two of these, so I have some work to do. I would have been to the other 8, but I had to get beer: priorities.

    • Leah Walker
      June 29, 2013

      I’ll let you know that they sell beer on the Great Wall, so if that’s one of the ones you’ve missed then there’s no excuse.

  • Erin at The World Wanderer
    June 30, 2013

    LOVE this list! Couldn’t help but laugh over your pyramid camel comment! I always dreamed of riding a camel at the pyramids and did it last summer, but like you, I will NEVER get back on a camel again. Haha, just not my idea of a good time!

    • Leah Walker
      July 1, 2013

      Yeah, unless you like your neck jostled about like a Naked strawberry and banana smoothie, I wouldn’t recommend a camel ride to anyone.

  • I checked the Great Wall off years ago, but most of these still remain for me. The Pyramids are #103?

    • Leah Walker
      July 1, 2013

      It’s in no particular order, DJ. How could I possibly rank such things?

  • Dave
    March 5, 2015

    Machu Picchu, always wanted to visit. So many thoughts come to mind viewing it from a web page or a book. Why it was built where it was built? Was it to be closer to God or more for protection. What were the people like, did they want to be isolated or were they just that more in tune with the environment. It not only leaves it mark as questions un answered but also as an accomplishment.

    • Leah Walker
      March 7, 2015

      Machu Picchu is on my to-do list. I really can’t imagine what it must be like to see in person.

  • richard colman
    March 6, 2015

    Such a great list, what about the paris and the blue mosque in Istanbul and Big Ben in London? There is so many iconic places around the world.

    • Leah Walker
      March 7, 2015

      All of those are great adds.

  • Monty
    March 6, 2015

    I have been lucky to have done all of them. That’s one good thing about getting older I think.

    • Leah Walker
      March 7, 2015

      No luck involved. That takes proper planning.

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