We have all heard of the Burj Khalifa, The Great Wall of China and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. But there are few structures and famous landmarks around the world which are unknown to most of us.
Here are 5 such lesser-known architectural marvels that are worth knowing.
#1- Atomium, Belgium
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The Atomium in Brussels is a masterpiece. This structure is made of steel and represents nine, iron atoms arranged in a crystal shape.
The Atomium was constructed in the 1950s and was monumentally futuristic. It was designed by a Belgian engineer named André Waterkeyn for a World Fair in Brussels in1958. It was the ‘centre of attraction’ at the fair and was designed to spread the message of peace among nations, along with support for technological advancement. The Atomium kept with the theme of the Atomic Era, the period after the first nuclear atomic bomb was set off in 1945.
The structure was only meant to last for six months. However, it sustained with minimal maintenance for close to five decades, until a 2-year renovation in 2004. Out of its nine spheres (‘atoms’), six are open to visitors, with a restaurant, an exhibition centre and even a hangout for Belgian school children to sleepover!
#2- The Great Wall of India
The Great Wall of India is a gigantic wall protecting the Kumbhalgarh Fort, in the dry deserts of Rajasthan. The Kumbhalgarh Fort is more famously known as the birthplace of Maharana Pratap of Mewar.
The Great Wall of India was constructed by Rana Kumbha in the 15th century. The wall runs 36km long and holds the honour of being the longest fort wall in the world. It was also declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
However, there is another wall in Madhya Pradesh that is said to run more than 80km long. Archaeologists are still digging around to find some concrete information about it. Till more information is available on that fort, the Kumbhalgarh Fort Wall will remain the ‘Great Wall of India’.
#3- Singing Ringing Tree, England
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The Singing Ringing Tree is a unique structure in Lancashire, England. It is a ‘wind-powered sound sculpture’. It is built of steel pipes that are spirally arranged, such that the whole structure resembles a tree.
The Singing Ringing Tree was built as part of a project to create a set of 21st century landmarks. Known as ‘Panopticons’, these landmarks were symbols of renaissance spread across east Lancashire. The ‘Tree’ was designed in 2004 by architects, Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu. It was completed in 2006 and stands 3 metres tall.
The structure’s pipes are tuned and have holes on their undersides. As the wind passes through them from various angles, these hollow pipes produce a sweet sound.
This magnificent structure won the National Award of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) for architectural excellence in 2007 and also inspired the creation of another Singing Ringing Tree in Texas, USA.
#4- Transfiguration Church, Russia
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The Transfiguration Church in Russia is built with just wooden logs interlocked together! It is believed that this structure used just one axe throughout the construction and nothing else! It is also believed that the axe was thrown away into a lake nearby after the construction, as the builder believed that there is not, and will not be another one like this one.
This church is situated on a narrow island named Kizhi. The construction of this elaborate 22-domed church began in 1714, after a previous church at the same location was burnt by a lightning. The Transfiguration Church is around 37 metres tall, making it one of the world’s tallest log structures. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990.
#5- The Ideal Palace, France
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The Ideal Palace in France is a single-handed labour of love, built by a postman named Ferdinand Cheval, over a period of 33 years.
It all started in 1879, when Cheval was on his usual mail route. He tripped on a rock and picked it up to examine it. Inspiration struck, and Cheval found his true calling— to build an extraordinary palace using just pebbles.
Cheval began the construction of the palace in the same year. Every day, as he travelled around the region to deliver letters, he would fill his pockets with pebbles. He would glue them together using cement, lime or mortar, often at night, using only an oil lamp. He did not have any professional training in masonry, but drew from different styles of architecture ranging from Catholic to Hindu designs. He included intricate statues inspired by elephants and bears. Those who initially called him a ‘mad man’ began showering him with praise. In addition to being an architectural marvel, Cheval’s work went on to inspire the legendary Pablo Picasso!
Know any more architectural wonders that deserve the limelight? Comment below!