domingo, 15 de julio de 2012


 Empire State Building, New York, United States

The building that united a country.
Height: 437 meters
Cost to build: US$41 million
Completion date: May 1, 1931
Fast fact: The Empire State Building took only one year and 45 days to build, or 7 million man-hours, a record to this day for a skyscraper of its height.
"With the passing of the World Trade Center, it became even more entrenched in the hearts and souls of New Yorkers and the rest of the world.” -- Michael Greene.
JAY-Z didn’t pick his song names out of nowhere. The 443-meter Empire State Building is the icon of New York, where “dreams are made” and King Kong went berserk.
Built during the Great Depression, this gigantic building has been an American symbol for 70 years, providing a solid anchor through the ebbs and flows of its economy. It is also the longest holder of the “World’s Tallest Building” title, from 1931 to 1972.
The building, whose exterior lighting changes regularly to promote charitable causes and mark significant events, is one of the few skyscrapers that offers wedding packages at its observatory. 

China Central Television Headquarters, Beijing, China

Cutting through the Chinese smog.Height: 234 meters
Cost to build: US$600 million
Completion date: January 2008 
Fast fact: A building in the complex was badly damaged during a fire that was ignited by fireworks.
Reportedly nicknamed "big boxer shorts" by a Beijing taxi driver, the CCTV headquarters look like no other building. 
Comprising a continuous loop of six horizontal and vertical sections, the design represents a running stream of “qi” in the building. 
Given China’s monumental economic ambitions, the 234-meter-high structure is considered on the short side for a skyscraper. 
But its light gray curtain of glass blends in perfectly with the notoriously misty skyline of Beijing, earning this one-of-a-kind skyscraper two awards at the annual Cityscape World Architecture Congress in Dubai.

Commerzbank Headquarters, Frankfurt, Germany

The world’s first ecological office tower.Height: 300.1 meters
Cost to build:  US$414 million
Completion date: 1997 
Fast factThere is no observatory or open area on top. The public can only get as far as the plaza level.
With the aid of a 50-meter mast, the Commerzbank Headquarters in Frankfurt soars past the 300-meter mark by a whopping 10 centimeters. The building is the tallest in Germany and second-tallest in Europe, for now. It will be surpassed by the Shard London Bridge in 2012.
Swimming against the tide marks it out for this list.
The Commerzbank Headquarters was the world's first so-called ecological skyscraper, making use of natural systems of lighting and ventilation and reducing energy consumption as early as 1997.
In contrast to Europe's conspicuous lack of grand skyscrapers, this building celebrates its rise above low-rise offices, making it not just a symbol of Frankfurt's economy, but of Germany's attempts to pioneer eco-architectural design. 

Elephant Tower, Bangkok, Thailand

10,000 times bigger than a real elephant, and 10,000 times uglier too.
Height: 102 meters
Cost to build: NA
Completion date: 1997 
Fast fact: The building contains a swimming pool.
If there’s one thing besides a smile that can represent Thai people, it's elephants.
From pretty much anywhere in this dusty district in northern Bangkok, you can catch a glimpse of this 102-meter-high jumbo building, with its eyes and tusks towering above a busy junction.
As well as highlighting the importance of elephants in Thai culture and history, the building also nods toward Thailand's coming-of-age, with high-tech offices, a shopping plaza and a floor of luxury residential suites. 
This would never make a list of the most beautiful skyscrapers, but there's no denying Elephant Tower's place in local hearts. Plus, you just can’t keep your eyes off it.

 Bitexco Financial Tower, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Helicopters welcome, rich residents even more so.                          Height: 262 meters
                          Cost to build: US$220 million
                          Completion date: October 2010

The Bitexco Financial Tower may no longer be the tallest building in Vietnam, but it still defines Ho Chi Minh City’s skyline.
Designed to represent Vietnam’s national flower, the lotus, this 262-meter skyscraper is meant to characterize the beauty and growth of the city below.
It's ambitious, and it's in your face, much like its host city. 
There's an observation deck on the 47th floor, where visitors get a 360-degree view of HCMC, and a helipad on the 50th level, creating one of the structures most salient features. 

Turning Torso, Malmo, Sweden

The only building that likes yoga.
Height: 190 meters
Cost to build: US$80 million
Completion date: 2005
Fast fact: Tourists are not allowed in the building because it houses apartments and offices.
Designer Santiago Calatrava wanted to recreate the natural movements of animals and humans in this building.
By crossing the boundaries of strict geometry and modern technologies in architecture, he came up with a masterpiece that has more than a twist in its tail. 
The spine-like skyscraper turns a full 90 degrees from top to bottom. In order to follow the rotation, the windows are leaning either inwards or outward zero to seven degrees.
No other skyscraper has achieved anything as extreme.
In line with Sweden’s low-emission promise, this tallest residential building in the country is also supplied with 100 percent locally produced renewable energy -- a true symbol of modern Sweden.

Burj Khalifa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

File:The Burj.jpg
Tall, elegant, skinny. Sure it wasn't inspired by Naomi Campbell?
Height: 828 meters
Cost to build: US$1.5 billion
Completion date: January 2009
Fast fact: Not only is this the world’s tallest building, it is also home of the world’s highest mosque, on the 158th floor. The tower is more than twice the height of the Empire State Building in New York.
Size isn't everything -- that's what the little guys always say.
Standing 828 meters high and weighing half a million tons, Burj Khalifa towers above its city like a giant redwood in a field of daisies.
It has been been the world's tallest building since 2010. 
Gigantic doesn’t begin to describe it.
This “desert flower” stands out comfortably among other skyscrapers and has become the symbol of Dubai’s bling, which often goes hand-in-hand with figures of per capita carbon footprints –- which Dubai also tops.

Tokyo Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower, Tokyo, Japan

Designed like a cocoon for Tokyo's students to learn and grow.
Height: 204 meters
Cost to build: NA
Completion date: October 2008 
Fast factIt's the second-tallest educational building in the world, next to the M.V. Lomonosov State University building in Moscow.
The tower is one of the few educational skyscrapers in the world, hosting schools of fashion, computer science and medicine.
As its name suggests, its exterior resembles the silky home of various larvae.
Students are educated inside the 50-level tower and metaphorically transformed into something bigger and more beautiful, culminating in generations of Tokyoites prepared to give this sprawling city, and its country, focus. 
The Cocoon Tower is also a symbol of innovation -- soaring above its older and shorter neighboring buildings not just literally, but figuratively.

Kingdom Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

If this is a shovel, we'd like to see the hole it dug.
Height: 302 meters
Cost to build: US$458 million
Completion date: 2002
Fast fact: Ladies Kingdom claims to have "almost every thing a female would need" -- even a ladies’ bank and a ladies' mosque.
Some observers have drawn a connection between the Kingdom Center and a shovel stuck in the sand; a somewhat misplaced comparison for the tallest building in Saudi Arabia. 
But get this: Riyadh building code forbids any building with more than 30 usable floors, but doesn’t impose height restrictions. So, thanks to the big void in the new Saudi Arabian icon, only 30 floors are used for normal purposes. 
It features an area offering a refreshing break from usual social norms in the region, with a shopping mall that includes a female-only "Ladies Kingdom," an entire floor designated for women to shop freely without needing to be covered. 

Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Petronas TowersThrowing the gauntlet down to Hong Kong as a financial capital.Height: 452 meters
Cost to build: US$1.6 billion
Completion date: June 1996
Fast fact: National poet laureate A. Samad Said was commissioned to write a poem for the towers, which can be read here:"These towers changed the skyline of Kuala Lumpur, and jumped the existing scale there dramatically. Petronas was also an attempt to relate a tall building to a country’s culture and history, and to make a statement about its power and desire to replace Hong Kong as a financial capital.” -- A. Eugene Kohn.
Employing the repetitive geometric principle of Muslim architecture and Islamic arabesques, architect César Pelli wanted the Petronas Twin Towers to exude Malaysian culture and heritage; and he succeeded.
Although nothing in Kuala Lumpur is nearly as colossal, the world’s tallest twin towers somehow feel at home amid the capital’s otherwise unassuming cityscape.
Completed in 1996, the sky bridge that connects the two towers symbolizes “a gateway to the future” and Malaysia’s sky-high ambition entering the millennium. Since completion, this 451-meter skyscraper has become Malaysia’s unmistakable icon.

sábado, 14 de julio de 2012


This castle was originally commissioned by Francois I, so that he could be closer to his mistress.  But when the affair was over, the castle was mostly forgotten. The chateau – with its giant hallways and ornate decorations – was picked apart and left to crumble until the Post WWII-era, when it was finally restored.
Chambord Castle 630x393 20 Amazingly Beautiful Castles from Around the World
Matsumoto Castle, also known as the “Crow Castle” because of its black exterior, is one of Japan’s premier historic castles. It is located in the city of Matsumoto, in Nagano Prefecture and is within easy reach of Tokyo by road or rail
Matsumotojo Castle 630x420 20 Amazingly Beautiful Castles from Around the World

Rochefoucauld Castle has been owned by the same family for more than a thousand years. Originally, it was a simple castle, meant to protect its residents. But over time, its beauty has unfolded, in many forms – including a sprawling staircase, sky-piercing towers and large, wide balconies.
Rochefoucauld Castle 630x383 20 Amazingly Beautiful Castles from Around the World

The Alcázar of Segovia (literally, Segovia Castle) is a stone fortification, located in the old city of Segovia, Spain. Rising out on a rocky crag above the confluence of the rivers Eresma and Clamores near the Guadarrama mountains, it is one of the most distinctive castle-palaces in Spain by virtue of its shape – like the bow of a ship. The Alcázar was originally built as a fortress but has served as a royal palace, a state prison, a Royal Artillery College and a military academy since then
Segovia Castle 630x393 20 Amazingly Beautiful Castles from Around the World

Château de Saumur is perhaps the mostly beautiful fortified structure. Originally used as a military barrier between Norman aggressors and the families that would eventually give birth to England’s most famous monarchs, the castle has changed hands numerous times over the centuries.
Saumur Castle 630x472 20 Amazingly Beautiful Castles from Around the World

The palace stands on the top of a hill above the town of Sintra, and on a clear day it can be easily seen from Lisbon and much of its metropolitan area. It is a national monument and constitutes one of the major expressions of 19th century Romanticism in the world.
Castelo da Pena in Sintra 630x393 20 Amazingly Beautiful Castles from Around the World

Frederiksborg Castle is a water castle in Hillerød on the Danish island of Zealand . It is the largest and most important building of the Northern Renaissance and today houses the Danish National Museum.
Frederiksborg Castle 630x393 20 Amazingly Beautiful Castles from Around the World

Sigmaringen Castle (German: Schloss Sigmaringen) was the princely castle and seat of government for the Princes of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. The castle was rebuilt following a fire in 1893, and only the towers of the earlier medieval fortress remain.
Sigmaringen Castle 630x393 20 Amazingly Beautiful Castles from Around the World

This magnificent building was commonly visited by Charles IV, stolen away from its rightful owner by Nazis, then re-vamped and opened to the public since the 1950s.
Hluboka Castle 630x472 20 Amazingly Beautiful Castles from Around the World

Kasteel de Haar has been rebuilt and torn down multiple times since its conception in 1391. Hundreds of rooms and dozens of bathrooms are in this castle. The intricate woodwork in the interior of the castle is on par with the great Roman Catholic cathedrals in the same region.
Castle de Haar 630x393 20 Amazingly Beautiful Castles from Around the World

Bodiam Castle is a 14th-century moated castle near Robertsbridge in East Sussex, England. It was built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, a former knight of Edward III, with the permission of Richard II, ostensibly to defend the area against French invasion during the Hundred Years’ War.
Bodiam Castle 630x393 20 Amazingly Beautiful Castles from Around the World

Chateau Chenonceau was under the direction of Diane de Poitiers who was the king’s mistress at the time. But when the king passed away, his widow, Catherine de Medici, forced out the mistress and made the chateau her own place of residence. During World War II, the castle served as a barrier between the German-controlled puppet government in France and the actual free world.
Chenonceau Castle 630x420 20 Amazingly Beautiful Castles from Around the World

Kilchurn Castle is a ruined 15th century structure on the northeastern end of Loch Awe, in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. It was the ancestral home of the Campbells of Glen Orchy, who later became the Earls of Breadalbane also known as the Breadalbane family branch, of the Clan Campbell. The earliest construction on the castle was the towerhouse and Laich Hall (looks onto Loch Awe). Today, its picturesque setting and romantic state of decay make it one of the most photographed structures in Scotland.
Kilchurn Castle 630x393 20 Amazingly Beautiful Castles from Around the World

Mont Saint-Michel is a rocky tidal island and a commune in Normandy, France. It is located approximately one kilometre (just over half a mile) off the country’s north-western coast, at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches. The population of the island is 41, as of 2006. The island has been a strategic point holding fortifications since ancient times, and since the 8th century AD it became the seat of the Saint-Michel monastery, from which it draws the name.
Le Mont Saint Michel 630x393 20 Amazingly Beautiful Castles from Around the World

Gripsholm Castle is a castle in Mariefred, Södermanland, in Sweden and is regarded as one of Sweden’s finest historical monuments. It is located by lake Mälaren in south central Sweden, in the municipality of Strängnäs, about 60 km west of Stockholm.
Gripsholm Castle 630x393 20 Amazingly Beautiful Castles from Around the World

Trakai Island Castle is exactly what its name suggests: an entire island. The castle was made with thick, brick walls, firing galleries galore and is surrounded by a series of locking gates. The castle currently serves as a prominent tourist magnet.
Trakai Island Castle 1 630x418 20 Amazingly Beautiful Castles from Around the World

Eltz Castle is a well-known structure because it used to be a visible presence on Germany’s currency. Built in the middle ages, it now acts as an intricate apartment complex, housing a large number of families who all have some small ownership claim.
Burg Eltz 630x416 20 Amazingly Beautiful Castles from Around the World

Dracula’s Castle is situated between Bucegi and Piatra Craiului Mountains, right where you enter Rucar-Bran Pass.
Bran Castle 630x393 20 Amazingly Beautiful Castles from Around the World

This castle is relatively recent: built in the 1800s to pay tribute to the bygone era. In addition to being wonderfully beautiful, the castle houses a large collection of weapons, on display to curious tourists.
Lichtenstein Castle 630x775 20 Amazingly Beautiful Castles from Around the World

Built in the 19th century, this castle is truly a work of art. The castle was considered an architectural translation of Wagner’s music, which can explain some of the high peaks, asymmetrical outlines, the presence of the Rectangular Tower and multiple references to the mystic Holy Grail.
Neuschwanstein Castle 2 630x504 20 Amazingly Beautiful Castles from Around the World


One of the most iconic bridges in the United States – the Brooklyn Bridge is in a similar class – the Golden Gate Bridge is the emblem of San Francisco and indeed, the state California. The suspension bridge spans the conflux of San Francisco Bay with the ocean and although built in 1937, endures as a favourite with architects today.
Other than New York, San Francisco may be the most cosmopolitan city in the United States
The Bosphorus has a claim to fame that no other bridge in the world can challenge. Perhaps one day the powers that be will erect a colossal link between Russia and Alaska across the Bering Strait. Until then however, only Turkey can boast of a bridge that connects two continents: in this case, Asia and Europe.

China seems bent on squashing all previous engineering feats. From skyscrapers to airports, the country is in an unprecedented uber-construction phase. The Hangzhou Bay Bridge is just one extreme example of the hyper growth. The super-structure that links Shanghai with Ningbo is the longest trans-oceanic bridge in the world.

One of the most unusual bridges and a tribute to steely modernity, the Millau Viaduct soars above the valley of the Tarn River in southern France. Drivers prone to vertigo in the face of acute height would be wise to take a more circuitous route. The Millau beats out the Eiffel Tower and is the current record-holder for road-bridge height.

Residents of lovely Rotterdam in The Netherlands once had much less attractive methods by which to cross the Nieuwe Mass River to reach the other half of the city. Since 1996 that is no longer the case. The Erasmus Bridge has been a beacon on the Dutch landscape from day one. Upon completion, “The Swan” became an instant architectural icon.

The most notable Medieval bridge still subject to daily use, the Ponte Vecchio is one of the grand symbols of Florence. Cross the Arno River on the Ponte and gaze at the curio dealers and jewelers who hawk wares much in the same fashion as was done hundreds of years ago. There are few marvels to rival the Ponte Vecchio in the world, let alone Italy.

If they gave an award for best tilt bridge ever in the history of the world, Gateshead Millenium would win hands down. The cyclist and pedestrian span over the River Tyne vaulted into the architecture Hall of Fame when it was erected in 2000. Even more impressive than how it looks however, is the way it allows river traffic to pass through. The bridge opens, rotates and astonishingly, mirrors a wink in the process. Fittingly, Gateshead Millenium is now affectionately called “The Blinking Eye”.

Known as the Pearl Bridge, Akashi-Kaikyo is the one of the most magnificent structures in a country famous for them. The near-2 km suspension bridge holds the world record for length and links beautiful Kobe to Iwaya on Awaji Island. The cost of the bridge was an extravagant $5 billion and as a result, the over 20,000 cars that cross it daily pay $20 to do so.

The symbol of record for most in London is without question, the Tower Bridge. The bascule, or moveable, suspension bridge spans the Thames and is not London Bridge, much to the dismay of many amateur photographers. The old girl, open since 1894, still receives over 40,000 motorists a day.

No other bridge in the world makes engineers drool like the Oresund. With enough space for train and vehicle traffic, the hybrid bridge-tunnel connects two phenomenal Scandinavian towns: the capital of Denmark, Copenhagen, and Malmo, Sweden. No other border span in the world is longer, or dare we say, more impressive.