Architecture is fascinating, particularly as you make your way around the world and take in the shapes, colors and functions of buildings in different cultures. A great thing to remember as you travel, in fact, is to look up periodically and to absorb the details of the buildings around you. The architecture of our lives is as much a product of our culture as is the food we eat or the music we enjoy. If you agree, then you’ll enjoy this recent article by Betsy Mikel on BootsnAll, in which she produces a list of some of the best cities in the world for architecture. An excerpt:
Barcelona, Spain– Any visitor to Barcelona cannot miss the spectacular work and influence of architect Antoni Gaudi. With its bright colors, tiled mosaic patterns, and nature-inspired forms, Gaudi’s architecture was dramatically different than that of his contemporaries. Gaudi not only designed breathtaking work, but also is the architect who best captured Modernisme, or the Catalan modernism movement in Barcelona. This movement sought to elevate the status of Catalan thought, art, literature and philosophy to the same level of European ideas and art. In Gaudi’s work, this meant predominance of curves over straight lines, heavy decoration and detail, shapes and asymmetry, and experimentation with new materials like iron, stained glass, and stone.
Istanbul, Turkey – Istanbul is located on both the continents of Europe and Asia. Most citizens practice Islam, but the city also claims strong Christian and Jewish communities. Istanbul is thus known as a cultural melting pot, and the city’s architecture certainly lives up to that reputation. Visitors to Istanbul will find more than 2,000 mosques, 100 churches and 20 synagogues. Over time, Istanbul has served as a capital for Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman Empires, and is now Turkey’s capital. Each period built a new architectural layer on top of the old, and many of these monuments remain intact.
The Ancient Romans and Greeks left their aqueducts and the Walls of Constantine. The Byzantines and Genoese left their domed churched with arches. The Ottoman Empire left its castles, palaces and mosques. And the European Baroque styles and Art Nouveau palaces and mansions that followed add more to the eclectic landscape of Istanbul.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates – Although Chicago gave birth to the skyscraper, in recent years Dubai has been the city to master constructing these tall and extravagant buildings. Dubai’s economy was initially built on oil, but its oil reserves have already been significantly depleted and only account for a small percentage of the economy. So the government recently decided to reinvent its image as a major international hub of commerce. A wide-scale real estate boom followed, which completely changed the city’s landscape in a short period of time. Dubai now houses some of the tallest and most contemporary and ambitious architecture in the world.
The full story has much more, not only information on such other cities as Rome, Chicago, Beijing and Athens, but also overviews on some of the more spectacular structures in each place.
Photo credit: Marek Holub via Wikimedia Commons.