Western Europe is more common with European tourists; the travel is easier, the landmarks more popular, the language barrier less frightening. But Eastern Europe is a multicultural haven for seasoned travelers and tourists alike. For years it was the undiscovered part of Europe; it is less traveled, and thus less crowded- but that is what makes it so exciting! And it is relatively easy to get around too, with people as friendly as the locals in Eastern Europe, getting lost should be no problem! So next time skip London, and head instead to one of these awesome destinations!
5. Tallin, Estonia
Tallin is a vibrant, cultural hub located on the Baltic Sea in Estonia. Tallin feels very much like a European capital city-; it is clean, historic and interesting- but there is something pulsating and unique about it too. It is frequently named one of the top 10 digital cities in the world, and as such is ultra-modern and brimming with all the new technology, yet it’s still rich in years of history and culture! The people in Tallin are very friendly and eager to show you around, and it is super easy to get around the capital city. The old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and best explored on foot. Tallin is a vibrant city with a unique and inviting culture.
4. Riga, Latvia
Riga, the capital of Latvia and the heart of the Baltics, is a cultural and historical blend of the old Europe and the modern, new Europe. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a long time location of international trade, Riga has developed into a multicultural mecca and a tourist destination for European travelers and tourists from abroad. This city has impressively managed to maintain its heritage and historical status- the colorful buildings and intricate architecture take you back in time- and yet, represent forward thinking at the same time managing to create a harmonious, cultural destination, inviting for all walks of tourists.
3. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Hercegovina
Not too long ago, Sarajevo was on the brink of near extinction; a war ravaged city with a dim looking future. Today, it is a bright, inviting city, brimming with history and an intoxicating atmosphere. Both Austro-Hungarian and Turkish influences are felt here, in the architecture, the people and the food, and that is what makes this place such a world class destination. The mix is almost eclectic; old bullet holes adorn the walls of many of the cafés and shops, yet those very same walls are covered with a variety of colorful and vibrant pictures, fabrics and all sorts of neat trinkets. There are many walking tours available, which are great for people looking for the story of each building and monument in town, but you would be perfectly content strolling along the cobblestone streets absorbing this friendly and cultural town ideal for an Eastern European visit.
2. Belgrade, Serbia
Belgrade isn’t traditionally beautiful; it isn’t colorful, or overly clean, but it is tough, gritty and a bit wild- which is what makes it one of the best places to explore in Europe. The people in Belgrade are loud and over-the-top; a personality trait that has seeped into every cultural aspect of the city. Belgrade is proud of its history and it’s residents are eager to move forward; while sometimes intimidating, the locals can’t wait to show off their beautiful city. The architecture is dark and astounding, and the streets are filled with large coffee shops and history and heritage loom at every corner. Belgrade is one of the most happening places in Europe, and the atmosphere is palpable from the minute you arrive.
1. Minsk, Belarus
For many, the only reason Minsk is even on their radar is due to the frequent Friends references, and there it is referred to as a dark, drab, isolated place. And yet as hilarious as those references were, they carried little truth to the Minsk of today. Minsk will surprise you, that is for sure; at every corner a new layer is pulled away and something new, vibrant and wonderful is uncovered. There are many posh cafés and restaurants adorning the pedestrian filled streets, and the loud and rhythmic music from the various nightclubs can be heard into the early morning hours. Minsk is actually very modern and cosmopolitan; because most of the city was destroyed in WWII, very few traditional buildings are left, yet you can still catch some historical and cultural nods to the Soviet Era scattered around the city.
With so many reports and studies on the world’s most expensive or most livable cities, we have a refreshing new take on the subject with the least expensive places to live in, housing costs and all. This list is intriguing for adventure travelers and expatriates looking for a nice place to spend a year abroad or to settle down in one of the cheapest places to retire. Some places are affordable and nice through circumstances beyond their control, others are inexpensive because they are lousy places to change planes on a layover, let alone spend time living in. But some of the following are diamonds in the rough that you may not have heard of and you’ll definitely want to find out more about. So here is the list of the cheapest cities for expats to live around in the world.
10. Tbilisi, Georgia
Tbilisi is an obscure place off the beaten path, but not for much longer. It’s said to be the next must-see wine destination. The winemaking tradition here goes back about 4000 years. Strikingly set on cliffs, bisected by a river, the architecture and cuisine of Tbilisi is a crazy, critically-acclaimed fusion of East, West, Russian and Near Eastern. The old city is a beautiful rabbit-warren of narrow streets and alleys. Instead of Starbucks coffee shops, there are wine bars on every corner. The beautiful wine route through stunning scenery is largely unknown – for now. A little apartment just outside town is barely $200 a month. It is a shockingly poor country. Sixty per cent of the population lives below the poverty line. There are signs of better days ahead but still, Tbilisi will remain a memorable place to visit or live at any price.
9. Managua, Nicaragua
Managua is one of those old, down at the heels, completely charming Latin American cities that resembles that past as if time simply stopped moving back in 1962. According to Numbeo, three bedroom apartments downtown can still be had for $466 a month. Or as the legendary Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians sang in a 1946 recording, “Managua, Nicaragua is a beautiful town/You buy a hacienda for a few pesos down”. Actually real estate prices are on the rise as it becomes more popular as a retirement destination and a place for expats to chill for a spell. Always warm, a cultural and financial center and a university town, it has cheap fine-dining, crazy markets, insane traffic, occasional garbage collection, and proximity to some impressive natural beauty. Guidebooks warn about wearing flashy jewelry at night, but the same be said of Cleveland.
8. Cape Town, South Africa
A heavenly alignment of the economic planets for expats as the South African Rand is hitting fifteen year lows with no letup in sight, making one of the world’s great destinations ridiculously affordable. It’s no accident that more people visit Cape Town than the Great Pyramids. The one-bedroom downtown apartment is $600 and a meal at McDonald’s is $3.80. That’s not to suggest you should eat there all the time or even at all, but it is an uncannily accurate reflection of the cost of living. Yes there is crime and the tragic sadness of the Apartheid townships. But they should remind you how far this country has come and that you are truly blessed to see Table Top Mountain as you leave your flat every day. It’s also a great treat to be able to make a quick drive to some of the world’s best vineyards and feel the presence of greatness in Nelson Mandela’s cell on Robben Island.
7. Minsk, Belarus
Poor Minsk needs a little travel lovin’. Its battered economy sinks deeper every day with that of its biggest customer while Russia disintegrates with the effects of sanctions for invading Ukraine and the disappearing price of oil. But even 40 years ago, in his 1975 comedy Love and Death, Woody Allen uses Minsk as the setting for The Village Idiots Convention. It does have its cosmopolitan side but still, it is a virtual police state run by Alexander Lukashenko, a poor man’s Vladimir Putin whose views seem locked in a Cold War era time warp. They make great beer but seriously, when one of the 10 Best Tourist Attractions is the one time home of convicted Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, it makes you think twice about hanging here for long.
6. Banjul, Gambia
Banjul is a little jewel on an island in the Gambia River in The Gambia of which it is the capital. It has a wonderful market, a charming if decrepit old town and only 43,000 people. Stunning beaches. The languorous pace of life that agrarian societies have. Lonely Planet calls it “urban Africa at its best”. Its main economic staple is the growing and processing of peanuts, which is apt since that’s what its currency is worth. The annual per capita Gross Domestic Product is $1700 USD which puts it down there with the likes of North Korea and South Sudan. It can be a nice place, maybe even idyllic, but sometimes abject poverty and the persecution of innocent minorities can take the shine away. A small cost can sometimes come at a high price which might be why the expat community is on the small side here.
5. Skopje, Macedonia
Skopje is a cheap place to live looking at all the comparisons. A pound of chicken is $2.31 and the three-bedroom downtown apartment is $422. Walmart can’t match these prices. Plus it’s just been given a modern facelift though it still has an ancient fortress dating back to the fifth century, a fantastic old bazaar second only to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul and breathtaking mountain lakes and canyons nearby. Lonely Planet says it has some of the most affordable dining in Europe. It is two hours and 47 minutes by car to the renowned beaches and nightlife of Thessaloniki in Greece. It does have an unemployment rate of 27%, but this is a travel site you won’t find advertised online. Talk about a hidden gem!
4. Tunis, Tunisia
Recent terrorist attacks, responsibility for which has been claimed by Islamic State militants will wreak havoc on the country’s already fragile economy. At least half a million jobs depend on a tourism sector worth over $20 billion and that should be in past tense. The wonderful beaches and the sublime combination of Arab, French and African influences will be cheaper to experience but expats, especially Westerners, will need an amazing reason to settle there. The U.S. State Department advises “U.S. citizens in Tunisia maintain a high level of vigilance, as terrorism remains a significant concern”. It doesn’t really sound like now is the time or place to look for bargains here, now does it?
3. Karachi, Pakistan
It sounds fantastic with a wealthy industrial, commercial, artistic and financial hub, one of the fastest growing cities in the world. Called the City of Lights for its nonstop nightlife. Close to fabulous beaches on the Arabian Sea. Less than $400 for a three bedroom place in the city. What’s not to like? You can’t help but wonder why it is so cheap. Unfortunately, it is not ideal in terms of deadly heat waves, unsustainable power accessibility and high rates of crime. So, if you can look past these headlines, it’s one of the cheapest places to travel in the world.
2. Windhoek, Namibia
Windhoek is the capital of Namibia and largest city in the country. It has a westernized appearance and wouldn’t look out of place anywhere in North America. Well, except for north of the Tree Line. It is clean, relatively safe, with a stable and occasionally corrupt government it is magically placed in one of the world’s most biodiverse and scenic nations. Numbeo.com says a one-bedroom apartment is $491 a month. Most expats can find work in the booming tourism business or the uranium and diamond mining companies. Main courses at the best African cuisine restaurants start at $8. Talk about a cheap date! Those who have traveled here rave about the ecotourism and safaris throughout gorgeous orange deserts. The New York Times put it at #6 of world’s destinations to see. Decent wine at $4.83? What are we waiting for -grab a wine glass and go!
1. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
At 63 Kyrgyzstani Som to the dollar, a gin and tonic sets you back about a buck and a half while dinner will be five to 10 dollars. If you must, Marlboro’s are 86 cents a pack. According to the Expatistan cost of living chart, the rent for a two bedroom apartment in the expensive part of town is $763 USD. That’s about one-ninth the cost for a similar place in the survey’s most expensive city, Luanda, Angola. Many of the expats who travel here work the gold mines or teach English to students. It’s not the safest place to travel, but when visiting here be sure to take a tour along the legendary Silk Road.
A homestay can be an incredibly rewarding experience both for the homeowners and visitors. Typically, students use homestays as safe, affordable accommodations when traveling on a tight budget. But it’s also a great way to practice language skills in a comfortable environment and receive insider information on the best areas to explore in their travel destination—homestays are especially suited to solo female travelers. There are homestays all around the world to suit almost any type of endeavor, from remote villages to vivacious cities, the following are 10 alluring destinations ripe with homestay options ideal for enjoying a fulfilling sojourn abroad.
10. Yuvacali, Turkey
In Turkey’s southeast region, in the village of Yuvacali, visitors receive a raw experience of what daily life is like for local Kurdish families. Traditional life means hard work for families living here, most only survive off a few dollars a day. Though struggling financially, these families offer a culturally rich experience for anyone interested in a unique holiday. A handful of families in the small village offer accommodation under the starry skies of Yuvacali in a nomadic canvas tent adorned with vibrant paintings or in a traditional, mud/brick house. Guests help out on the farm, learn to cook traditional dishes on an open hearth and enjoy swapping stories with locals. This is no five-star hotel (in fact, it’s far from it) and families here, though extremely friendly, present an opportunity to work together, not offer hotel-like services. If you’re up for the challenge of helping out, Yuvacali has plenty to offer any curious, open-minded traveler.
9. Tighza Valley, Morocco
Throughout Morocco, there an abundant number of opportunities to experience a homestay with a local family. One particularly magical place is within the breathtaking Tighza Valley where many Berber families open their homes to foreign visitors, offering simple, clean rooms within family-owned homes. The arid valley, dusted with cacti and leafy green foliage, is within the high-reaching Atlas Mountains, far from the turbid, bustling cities of Fez, Marrakesh, Casablanca, and Rabat. This is rural Moroccan life at its finest: simple and scenic. Within the valley, most guests take to the alpine trails, hiking throughout the valley and enjoying mountainous routes filled with endless snap-worthy scenes: Berber women cultivating fields, shepherds watching after flocks of goats and sheep, and boisterous children playing imaginative games. Life definitely happens at a slow pace, which is not for everyone, but the Berber people are exceptionally welcoming and on point with keeping guests occupied and well-fed.
8. Old Havana, Cuba
Becoming familiar with the words “casa particular” or “casa particulares” is a great advantage when traveling to Cuba for an independent holiday. The term means “private house”, and upon booking, will land you either a private home or room. The Cuban government issues special permits for renting out privately owned homes or rooms in family homes, and they are advertised through bright blue signs out front with the words “Arrendador Divisa”, it’s a rental permit showing which casas are legal. Prices vary and depend on the travel season, area of Cuba, amenities offered, square footage, and so on. One of the best places for casas is in Old Havana, where friendly owners give a healthy measure of gossip and tips on the lay of the land. You’ll get great insider information on Old Havana’s top music clubs, festivals, and bars, and most often the owner will treat you just like family.
7. Lisbon, Portugal
In Portugal, “Solares de Portugal” is an interesting idea introduced to bolster tourism within houses laden with charm and unique character, called “Turismo de Habitação”. The concept is aimed at preserving rich heirlooms of the country’s cultural and architectural heritage. This type of accommodation is not a guesthouse or hotel, but a genuine homestay. The accommodation comes in various forms such as rustic farmhouses, elegant estates, and grand country homes restored to their original luster for welcoming guests from around the world. Most homestays can be found in Lisbon, but others are in Porto, Faro, the southwest islands, and other small Portuguese cities and towns. The Solares exemplify hundreds of years of Portuguese culture and history (a large part of the magnificent 17th and 18th centuries manors are owned by descendants of the original owners). Taken quite seriously as a representation of their country, the Portuguese are dedicated to providing exceptional experiences to foreign visitors.
6. Amazon Rainforest, Brazil
If you’ve ever had the desire to explore the deepest reaches of the Amazon Rainforest, a Brazilian homestay could be an idyllic experience. Easily planned in Manaus, you can book a trip and be paired up with an indigenous family. You’ll score a room in an eco-lodge or camp under the forest canopy—it’s entirely up to you. Lodges are simply constructed from locally sourced, natural building materials and designed in traditional style. Think “fancy” thatch hut with some modern conveniences and you’re not far off. Ideal for intrepid spirits, planning a trek through the lush, magical landscape is authentic, eye-opening, and lands you where wildlife is richest. Friendly indigenous guides offer a healthy dose of insight into the rainforest ecosystem and teach guests survival tips in a natural environment. You’ll also be treated to some amazing local eats and be privy to some Amazonian cooking secrets too.
5. Lake Titicaca, Peru
Peru is home to some of the greatest archaeological treasures in the world and exhibits some truly fascinating history. The entire country has something to offer: the finest specimens of Inca ruins, Pacific Coast beaches, Amazon River rafting, sand-boarding, incredible national parks, and magnificent cross-country train rides. There are a host of options for budget accommodation in Peru, but a homestay experience offers more; enjoy a vacation with a ton of insight into one of the most culturally and historically prosperous countries in the world. There are several homestays around Lake Titicaca (the highest lake in existence) providing authentic accommodations with the added value of a tour of the floating reed islands, local dining and Andean musical evenings, and a look at pre-Inca ruins and centuries-old agricultural terraces. If city living seems more interesting, there are many host families in colorful Cusco and in the capital city of Lima.
4. Brest Oblast, Belarus
There are a large number of homestays and farm stays in the Brest region of Belarus, a cosmopolitan town situated in the southwest bordering Poland. Here you’ll find historical monuments, war memorials, charming galleries, and Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park. If you’re traveling from the capital city of Minsk, prepare to disembark into a town far more influenced by its EU neighbors than the Soviets. Cozy, comfortable Brest homestays are run by friendly families eager to show guests surrounding attractions, cook traditional meals, and facilitate independent outings including hiking and fishing trips, cycling tours, and other outdoor pursuits. Visitors will find that Belarusians have an innate love for the natural world so expect to spend quality time exploring surrounding landscapes. Most homes are two stories and have anywhere from two to six bedrooms with shared bathrooms. Some sport saunas, outdoor fireplaces, canoes, and fishing boats so check amenities thoroughly.
3. Brisbane, Melbourne & Sydney, Australia
Australia has scores of homestay organizations typically helping students find a safe and comfortable place to live while studying abroad. Many programs are government endorsed, aimed at helping students acclimate to a healthy and safe environment while providing a reliable place to practice their studies. Though those scenarios are typical, homestays are also an option for anyone wishing to travel in Australia while staying with local hosts. There’s a dizzying array of options in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney along the southeastern stretch and even more in the west and northern territories. Australian homestays are popular because of their relatively inexpensive rates compared to hotels while also offering an authentic local experience in the Land Down Under. If you’re using an organization to book accommodation, succinctly communicate your desired experience; some families offer more of a bed and breakfast whilst others set aside ample time to spend with guests.
2. Sa Pa, Vietnam
If Southeast Asian culture is appealing, there are Vietnamese families offering homestays across the country. From lively cities packed with people and an endless flurry of activity to verdant farmlands and rice paddies where slow and steady is the pace, what’s up for grabs in Vietnam is fairly unique to many other countries. In the old town of Sa Pa in the Hoàng Liên Son Mountains there are stunning agricultural terraces that define the landscape where host families wait with open arms; Vietnamese people are extremely welcoming, hospitable, and chatty. Families embrace you, ply you with food and drink, introduce you to all the neighbors. They will even show you around the area. There’s almost no beating the incredible pride Vietnamese people feel when hosting foreigners. Enjoy Sa Pa’s beauty through climbing and hiking within the mountains, exploring hill tribe markets, volunteering at the local school—there are plenty of fulfilling activities available.
1. Kerala, India
Tucked into the southwest tip of India is delightful Kerala, a world away from the typical, chaotic India. A lovely coastal town nestled on the shores of the Arabian Sea, Kerala is a laid-back plexus of gleaming backwaters and flourishing tea and spice-covered slopes. Tame your inner wild child with a hefty dose of Kerala, breathe in the salty air, gaze upon peaceful temples, and smell the endlessly spiced aromas. Festivals and celebrations, wild elephants, and exquisite boathouses will reel you in. Most accommodations are heritage homes, unique in architectural design with anywhere from one to twenty-plus rooms led by easygoing locals for nominal fees—choose a smaller abode for a more personal cultural exchange. Hosts are easygoing, offer rides to and from town, and usually provide bicycles for exploring. Sanctuaries and synagogues, beaches, and bayous; Kerala is an arresting blend of attractions with piles of things to do and see.
Some travel for action, some for adventure, and some travel for natural beauty, while others appreciate a good piece of architectural art. The world is full of such works, ranging from beautifully detailed buildings whose history dates back before a time we can even imagine, to towering feats of engineering whose summits seem to almost touch the sky. Yes, the world of architectural design is an exciting and visually interesting field and it seems that whatever city or country we choose to travel to, there will inevitably be some sort of architectural landmark. As travelers, we often notice those standout buildings with sleek geometric designs when first visiting a city so in this article we explore 15 visually stunning modern buildings of the world:
1. Markthal -Rotterdam, Netherlands
Also known as ‘Market Hall’ this first installment on our list of amazing modern architecture shows the innovation and progressive nature of the city of Rotterdam Netherlands. The brilliantly decorated Market Hall combines food, leisure, living and parking creating a fully functional living center.
Below the covered arch structure lies a food market with over 100 stalls offering fresh foods daily. Parking is offered in the basement below and the cover of the building offers an indoor market that still has the feel of an outdoor market thanks to the buildings huge glass faces. If you’re a fan of innovative living, you could find yourself living amongst the colorful murals as the building houses 228 apartments all with unique views.
2. Habitat 67 -Montreal, Canada
Habitat 67 designed by Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie was named so after originally being built for Expo 67 and The World’s Fair in Montreal Canada. The landmark building which lies next to the Saint Lawrence River started as Safdie’s Master’s thesis project through McGill University in Canada.
The design of this unique structure consists of 364 prefabricated concrete forms uniquely arranged to create 146 units in the building. Development of the building was funded by the federal government of Canada but in 1985, the building’s tenants purchased the building under a limited partnership. To this day, Safdie still owns a penthouse apartment in the building.
3. The Chapel of Holy Cross -Arizona, USA
Perched amongst the scenic buttes of Sedona Arizona is the spectacular Chapel of Holy Cross, also known as ‘Chapel in the Rock’. The Chapel was commissioned by Arizona local Marguerite Brunswig Staude, who had other ideas about the original location for the project.
The original project, inspired by the newly constructed Empire State Building in New York City, was scheduled to be built in Budapest Hungary in collaboration with Lloyd Wright, son of famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Due to the breakout of World War II in 1939, the project was moved to Staude’s native region of Sedona Arizona. The chapel was completed in 1956 at a cost of $300,000 USD. Today the space offers breathtaking views and a chance to be truly connected to earth, nature and beyond.
4. Guggenheim Museum -Bilbao, Spain
It’s only fitting that a museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art be of spectacular modern design itself. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao Spain is all that and more. Designed by famous Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, the building which sits beside the Nervion River was first opened in 1997.
Incorporating mediums of stone, glass and titanium, the building’s shapes and swoops unfold to create a most recognizable structure which offers more than 120,000 sq ft of exhibition space; more than the museums in New York and Venice combined. One of Gehry’s most recognizable buildings, this amazing structure is widely considered one of the most important works of architecture completed since 1980.
5. Fallingwater -Pennsylvania, USA
The house that originally inspired tranquil living, you can’t get much more entwined in nature than at Fallingwater. Designed by famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, this house was built as a private residence for the Kaufmann family. The family owned land with a waterfall outside Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and commissioned Wright to design a home for them in which they could entertain large groups of people. Given that the plot had limited space, a cantilever design was used to address this issue and the house was built over the waterfall on Bear Run.
Since its completion in 1939, the structure has received many accolades including “best all-time work of American architecture’ in 1991 by the American Institute of Architects. The house is also listed among Smithsonian’s Life List of ‘28 places to visit before you die’. The Kaufmann family eventually donated the house to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and in 1964, it was formally opened as a public museum.
6. The National Library -Minsk, Belarus
You’d be forgiven for not knowing the geometric name for a 3D shape with 8 triangular and 18 square faces. The answer is a rhombicuboctahedron, and this is exactly the shape of the main structure of the National Library of Balarus located in Minsk.
The 236 ft high building has 22 floors and was finished in 2006. Designed by architects Mihail Vinogradov and Viktor Kramarenko, the building can seat about 2,000 readers and features a spectacular 500 seat conference hall. The unique design of this interesting work of architecture draws people from far and wide to marvel at its glory, making it one of the most notable landmarks in Minsk.
7. Cube Houses -Rotterdam, Netherlands
Just more proof that Rotterdam Netherlands is truly a hotspot of modern architecture; these 38 interconnected cubes offer truly unique living. The Cube Houses as they are known, were designed by architect Piet Blom and constructed on Overblaak Street above the Blaak Subway Station in Rotterdam.
Blom designed the innovative living spaces with the premise of “living as an urban roof” and took the traditional cube shaped living space, tilted it 45 degrees and placed it atop a a hexagon shaped pylon. The cubes are all interconnected and the designer describes the project as a village where each cube (house) represents a tree and all the trees (houses) together create a forest.
8. Lotus Temple -New Delhi, India
Built in 1986 by Iranian architect Fariborz Sahba, the easily recognizable Lotus Temple located in New Delhi is one of the city’s most notable landmarks. The building is a House of Worship for the Bahá’í faith and the structure follows the religions architectural requirements that all Houses of Worship have 9 sides in a circular shape.
The structure quite obviously takes its influence from a lotus flower as it includes 27 individual white marble clad ‘petals’ that form the 9 sides of the temple. The marble for the exterior comes from Greece and is from the very same source as was used for many other ancient monuments and other Bahá’í Houses of Worship. The surrounding 26 acre temple grounds also include 9 ponds and a garden. The beautiful building has won numerous architectural awards and has been featured in hundreds of publications over the years.
9. Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus -Berlin, Germany
Located in Berlin’s government district is the interesting and uniquely designed Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus. Completed in 2003 by German architect Stephan Braunfels this structure has many interesting features, perhaps most notably the ‘Great Hall’ which has 2 large circular openings.
The facility, which also houses the Parliamentary Library, was named after Lüders who was instrumental in the fight for women’s rights in Germany and commemorates all her hard work and advancement. The site on which the building was built is that of the former Berlin Wall and the building’s modern concrete design is meant to reflect Germany’s cold history and socialist past.
10. United States Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel -Colorado, USA
Originally a rather controversial design, the striking 17 spire Cadet Chapel at the US Air Force Academy north of Colorado Springs has now become a highly regarded piece of American architecture. The remarkable work measures an impressive 150 feet high and 280 feet long. Construction is steel frame with individual aluminum panels. Between each section is a gap which is filled with colorful glass creating striking beauty when standing in the chapel.
Designed by American architect Walter Netsch and completed in 1962 the chapel was designed to house 3 individual worship areas within the same structure. On the upper level is the Protestant area, below which is space for Catholic and Jewish faiths as well as a Buddhist room. The lower level is used for meeting rooms and a space for the Islamic services.
11. Beijing National Stadium -Beijing, China
You may recognize this easily identifiable piece of architecture from the 2008 Summer Olympics. Officially known as National Stadium in Beijing but affectionately nicknamed the ‘Bird’s Nest’, this interesting stadium was built in 2007 in preparation for China to play host to the Summer Olympic Games.
The design of the stadium which drew inspiration from the study of Chinese ceramics, was submitted by Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron and cost $428 million US to build. Originally planned to have a retractable roof, this was removed from the design but did inspire the ‘random-looking’ steel frame as it was going to be a way to hide the roof’s supports. After the Olympics, the iconic structure suffered from a lack of use and major events however, these days it’s reportedly earning sufficient income as a tourist attraction.
12. NORD LB Building -Hannover, Germany
Located in the heart of Hannover Germany is the boldly designed Norddeutsche Landesbank building, abbreviated as NORD LB. The building is the head office for this German bank and is one of the largest commercial banks in the country.
The 17 story high structure was designed by German architecture firm Behnisch Architekten and was opened in 2002. The building which has space for 1,500 employees has several notable features including its extensive glass construction with an 81,000 sq m glass floor space and an inner courtyard featuring 3 lakes. A total of 18,800 individual panes of glass make up the design of this state-of-the-art office and the features are rounded out by in-house shops, restaurants and the well-known NORD LB art gallery.
13. Dancing House -Prague, Czech Republic
The building known as Dancing House sits on the historically important site of a former house that was destroyed by the US bombing of Prague in 1945. Dutch insurance company Nationale-Nederlanden sponsored the project which was completed in 1996 as a collaboration of Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunić and famous Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry.
Dancing House got its name from the unique design featuring 2 side-by-side towers which look like a pair of dancers. This modern design was controversial as it was starkly different from the traditional Baroque and Gothic buildings for which Prague is famous. Despite this, it has gained much publicity and attention over the years and the shape was featured on a gold 2,000 Czech koruna coin.
14. Cathedral of Brasilia -Brasilia, Brazil
One of Brasilia’s most recognizable landmarks, the Cathedral of Brasilia serves as the Archdiocese of Brasilia and serves as the Roman Catholic cathedral for the city. The interesting design was created by Brazilian father of modern architecture, Oscar Niemeyer and construction was completed in 1970. Niemeyer was also responsible for the designs of several other civic buildings in Brasilia.
The structure consists of 16 concrete columns which reach up to the glass roof and are said to appear ‘open, to the heavens’. Each of the concrete columns weighs a whopping 90 tons and are all connected by 16 fiberglass panels featuring blue, green, white and brown stained glass work. The majority of the construction of the cathedral is actually underground with only the 138 foot roof and bell tower visible above ground.
15. Experience Music Project Museum -Seattle, USA
The Experience Music Project or EMP Museum for short, is located in the music mecca of Seattle Washington in the USA. Sitting adjacent to the iconic space-needle, this 140,000 sq ft structure was designed by the renowned Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry.
The design of the museum is quite similar to many of Gehry’s other projects with its shiny sheet metal construction. The concept for the design was reportedly based on studying images of smashed guitars and guitar components. Though Gehry has received many accolades for his works of architectural art, this design was not one of them and the mishmash has been called everything from a ‘blob’ to ‘something that crawled out of the sea, rolled over, and died’.