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Aim, Focus, Shoot - The HyPyC blog
Iconic Landmarks of the World - Part 1

Iconic Landmarks of the World - Part 1

Throughout the world there are certain buildings and landmarks that have come to represent the city they were built in, and are extremely well known and renowned whether it is for their stunning architecture or elaborate history. For some people, such buildings are undesirable as tourist attractions due to the sheer volume of people that visit them, for others they are a must see sight – It just comes down to personal preference. Personally I love iconic landmarks and always try to visit any in the place I am visiting – I love the history behind them, the way they stand out, and in most cases the spectacular design and construction of the buildings. Below is a list of some of the favourite landmarks I have visited during my travels, enjoy!

The Belfry at Bruges

Birds fly round the Belfry in Bruges

Standing at 83m high, the Belfry at Bruges is one of the towns major landmarks and can be seen from most places within the centre. It has had several changes, additions and modifications over its 700+ year history and has survived fires and lightning strikes. I visited Bruges in 2014 and climbed the 366 steps to the top of the Belfry – The stairs are winding and narrow and it's quite a challenge to get to the top, especially with people coming down at the same time! Once you are up, you are greeted with splendid views of the charming town of Bruges, and you can also see the magnificent set of bells that weigh up to 27 tonne! I think the Belfry is a fascinating building, and really stands out against the relatively low-rise town of Bruges, creating a statement of the people's former power and glory.

Florence Cathedral

Intricate detail on the exterior of the Duomo

Otherwise known as the Duomo, Florence Cathedral is huge and remains one of the largest churches in Italy and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. The whole cathedral is comprised of the Church, the Baptistery and the Bell Tower and the façade uses Polychrome marble panels in various colours. Some people think that the Cathedral and façade are too lavish and overly decorated, but when I saw the Cathedral in 2013 I was awestruck and amazed at the sheer amount of detail and artwork – I think it is beautiful! I did not get chance to see inside the Cathedral, but have looked at various articles and the inside of the dome looks fantastic, with the rest of the cathedral interior being fairly sparse, keeping in tradition with ideologies of the time.

The Empire State Building, New York

The Empire State Building seen from the GE building

In my opinion this is one of the most iconic buildings of all time and when people think of New York, the Empire State Building always gets a mention. It may not be the tallest building in the New York Skyline anymore, however who can overlook its striking Art Deco style and the place of awe it holds in Midtown Manhattan. As you walk through the queue to get to the lifts there are photos that were taken during the construction of the Empire State - Men working at great heights with no supports or safety gear; I found this really awe-inspiring and I love the history surrounding the construction of this building. I viewed the Empire State from the GE building and also went up it to both the 86th and 102nd floors; If you are visiting New York I think it is a must do and typifies what an Iconic Landmark is all about.

Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia at Barcelona

The impressive interior of La Sagrada Familia

The bizarre constructs of Antonio Gaudi pop up all over the city of Barcelona and La Sagrada Familia is undoubtedly the most famous and eye catching; you simply can't escape the detail of the exterior façade's, or the colourful towers topped with sculptured fruit, or the stunning interior columns – It's a unique building and has a long and protracted history (It's still being built as of 2015!). I have visited the cathedral twice and each time it was at a different stage of construction – The first time, the interior had barely been started on, whereas the second time the interior was complete and looked absolutely stunning, it really is a magnificent building if not a little eccentric and over-the-top.

Monaco's Monte Carlo Casino

A Ferrari GTO parked opposite Monte Carlo Casino

A true reflection of how the other half live, Monte Carlo Casino is all about decadence, unlimited wealth and used as a playground for the rich and famous. As you walk up to this grand building you will most likely see the kind of cars us peasants can only dream of, such as Lamborghinis, Bugatti's and Ferrari's (All parked by chauffeurs of course!), and you can just tell that the people walking into the Casino have money to burn. I could have spent hours photographing the various super cars that rolled up to the Casino, and I even got to see a Bugatti Veyron! The building itself was started in 1858 and was intended to bring wealth into Monaco and financial stability for the governing family, and has operated as a successful casino ever since; It has been featured in many movies and I just think it is a fascinating place to visit.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

The trademark tilt of the tower can clearly be seen here

I always wonder if the Bell Tower in Pisa would have been as famous and popular had it been straight? Would the thousands of tourists flock to see it every day? Would it be so well known and revered? I'm not so sure; it is a beautiful and elegant building that makes a statement next to the Cathedral, but you cannot deny that a major part of its attraction is the fact that it is leaning! Over the years there have been many attempts to stabilise the tower and correct its tilt, but only the most recent tries have yielded any success and the tower is now supposedly secure for at least another 200 years. I really enjoyed visiting Pisa despite the overwhelming amount of tourists, it was surreal to see the actual tilt of the tower and marvel at the towers beautiful design, columns and arches.

The Treasury at Petra

The Treasury was carved out of the very rock itself

Possibly my favourite ancient iconic landmark, the Treasury at Petra has to be one of the most well-known tourist attractions in the world and definitely one of the main reasons people visit Jordan (This shouldn't be so as Jordan has so much more to offer!). Carved into the very rock itself, the Treasury of Petra is an architectural marvel and stands today in near perfect condition even after 2000 years. It was a pleasure to see the building up close and walk through the canyon and learn about the history of the Nabateans. Furthermore the Treasury has been featured in several films, most famous is probably Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, another reason why this landmark is so iconic! The whole Petra city is just fantastic and I would recommend that anyone planning a visit should spend a minimum of two days here.

St Paul's Cathedral in London

Stunning detail in the interior of St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral stands as a testament to the hardiness and stubborn nature of the British population; it has survived the horrendous destruction of the Blitz and shines out as a beacon of hope. I love the design of St Paul's and although I have visited London many times, I have only stepped inside the Cathedral once. The exterior is finished in a white stone and has a striking dome that stands out against the London Skyline, while the interior is lavished with decoration and religious imagery. I found the interior to be absolutely stunning, the decoration is simply fantastic, bold and seeping with religious iconography – Even if you aren't a religious person, you can still appreciate the sheer amount of fine detail and effort that has been put into this Church.

St Peter's Square in the Vatican

Chairs are set outside St Peter's Basilica for an audience with the Pope

Rome is full of iconic landmarks – The Pantheon, The Colosseum, The Forum, the list goes on and I could have easily listed any of them in this article, however I have chosen St Peter's square – The central point of the Vatican state and a place where many historical events have taken place. The square itself is not a square, it's a circle formed from two semi-circular colonnades that have huge columns and are decorated with the statues of various Catholic and religious figures. In the centre of the square there is an Egyptian Obelisk that was originally erected in Heliopolis, and at the far side of the square is the majestic St Peter's Basilica. I was quite awestruck when I entered the square, and taken back by the sheer size of the colonnades, the queues for the Vatican museums and the importance this space holds for the Catholic church worldwide.

The Szechenyi Chain Bridge, Budapest

The Szechenyi Bridge dominates the river Danube at night

Generally known as just the Chain Bridge, the Szechenyi bridge spans the river Danube from Buda to Pest and is regarded as a significant factor to Budapest's economic, cultural and social life and is one of the finest examples of a chain suspension bridge in Europe. I really like the design of the bridge, from the sculptured Lion statues that stand guard at either end of the bridge, to the stately arches and the distinctive chain suspensions – It really is a beautiful structure and lends an air of elegance and splendour to the city.

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