Travel the world through the eyes of an architect

Architecture Travel: the 5 best cities to visit in the world.

The best cities in the world to visit during the summer.

“To look is a cradle” writes Arminius. What is the best way to describe the experience a trip gives you? 

Our goal to find the best city destinations will guide our itinerary and suggestions. 

A brief practical guide for architecture enthusiasts: the 5 best cities to visit during the coming summer months.

There are five top cities in the world for architecture enthusiasts to visit. These cities are known for their distinguishing architecture that are a testimony of the ancient civilizations that once thrived there. 

PETRA – Jordan, the land of contrast where sea meets desert. Petra is an incredible city, located 250 km south of Amman, inside a basin surrounded by mountains, east of the Arabian Wadi, the great valley that from the Dead Sea reaches the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea. The archaeological site appears to be one of the most beautiful and interesting in the world, accessible through the Siq, a narrow canyon with high and mighty walls leading to the “Treasury” of Khazneh.

The facade of the treasury represents the diamond of Petra: 43 meters high and 30 meters long. It reveals the architect’s genius. Carved into the rock, as well as the whole city from which it derives its name, it leads to ancient tombs and a Roman-style theater. Through a staircase of 80 steps you can also reach the Ad-Deir Monastery.

On December 6, 1985, Petra was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1993 the surrounding area, the National Archaeological Park, was also declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2007, Petra was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, which should come as no surprise to anyone who has traveled to this incredible city. 

MACHU PICCHU – Peru, inheritance of the prestigious Inca empire. With ten thousand years of history, Machu Picchu is one of the richest lands in testimonies of ancient civilizations. Located on top of a mountain, it is considered among the greatest landscapes in the world.

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and named in 2007 as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, it was discovered on July 24, 1911 by Yale professor and explorer Hiram Bingham.

The mausoleum-city has large stone buildings that extend from the high sector (hanan) to the low sector (hurin). In the first one are the Temple of the Sun, the Royal Residence, the Sacred Plaza with the Temple of the three windows, the main Temple, and the Intihuatana, There is a stone that rests atop a hill that continues to confuse archaeologists for its function: astronomical observatory, sundial or sacred altar?

In the lower part there are several groups of smaller buildings that once made up houses, tents and places to raise animals. The most amazing part of this complex is to the north of the citadel. There stands a narrow and steep staircase that leads to Huayna Picchu, the Young Mountain, where from a height of about 2700 m you can look over the entire archaeological site of Machu Picchu. 

AGRA – India, five thousand years of history that from the peaks of the Himalayas plunge us into the waters of the Indian Ocean. Agra is a citadel in the north of India that houses the iconic Taj Mahal, a mausoleum built by the Mughal Shah Shah Jahan for his beloved late wife Mumtaz Mahal. This iconic mausoleum was intended to represent the couple’s immortal love.

The Taj Mahal, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, comes close to perfection in terms of architecture. An expanse of white marble inlaid with fine precious stones is reflected in the mirror of water at the imposing entrance. The suggestive position near the sacred river and the magnificent ornamental gardens, as well as the perfect symmetry, make the monument one of the most spectacular in the world.

Near the Taj Mahal are the 20-meter-high red brick walls of the Agra Fort, a great fortress where, at the will of the ambitious son, the ruler Jahan spent the last years of his life locked away, gazing at the Taj Mahal and mourning what he had lost. 

CHICHÉN ITZÁ – Mexico’s northern Yucatán peninsula is home to one of the largest and most important Mayan archaeological sites in the world: Chichén Itzá. This city was also nominated in 2007 as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and recognized in 1988 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The center of the city is named after the great pyramid of Kukulkan, also called El Castillo. This area is characterized by four staircases running on all sides; these staircases are no longer in use. The Temple of the Warriors, on the other hand, is composed of a large stepped pyramid surrounded by a few rows of columns representing Mayan warriors.

A particularity of this spectacular archaeological site is the presence of the largest ball court in Yucatan, 166 meters long and 68 meters wide.

GIZA – Egypt is incredibly famous for its pyramids. These iconic pyramids are testimony of one of the oldest populations in the world. In Giza, in the context of the great Pyramid of Cheops, reclines the Sphinx of Giza, which is said to protect the entrance to the ancient Greek city of Thebes, proposing a riddle to travelers to allow them to pass.

The sphinx has the appearance of a lion lying down with the head of a man wearing a Nemes headdress of the pharaoh. It has enormous dimensions and is striking for its mystical presence within the surrounding expanse of sand and stone.

An important aspect to note about these cities mentioned above is their architectural macro-dimension. These cities were built “on a measure of divinity” rather than on a human scale. The monuments and statues hold enormous dimensions, which we define as “out of scale”.

We live in a world of constant and frenetic change. Looking back in history allows us to follow the past’s example and to move confidently into the future. “Looking is a cradle.”

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