Last updated on January 13, 2023
Landmarks can give us a sense of place and time, connect us to a destination and inspire travel. With some of the most famous landmarks in the world, people can know at a glance the country of origin and even some history of the landmark without even visiting before! Many see the Eiffel Tower and immediately think of Paris and correlate Mount Rushmore with the United States. People know the Great Wall in China and that the Taj Mahal is located in India. And the unique structure overlooking Sydney harbour is, of course, the Sydney Opera House.
From modern landmarks in the world to those of the ancient world, we have put together an exhaustive list of world landmarks for you to peruse and learn more about. So read on and see if you know all about the world’s most famous monuments and landmarks.
Think you’re an expert already? Then jump right in and test your knowledge with our World Landmarks quiz! Or if you’re not quite ready for that, keep reading on to learn some fun and interesting facts.
30+ Facts About World Landmarks
~ The original Seven Wonders of the World list was created in the 2nd Century BCE, and only one of the ancient structures remains standing (the Pyramid of Giza). The New Seven Wonders of the World list, each being a UNESCO World Heritage Site in their own right, was compiled in 2007 and includes the following:
- Great Wall of China
- Chichen Itza, Mexico
- Petra, Jordan
- Machu Picchu, Peru
- Christ the Redeemer, Brazil
- Colosseum, Italy
- Taj Mahal, India
World Landmarks in Africa
~ Victoria Falls is a spectacular waterfall on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe and is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world! It is found between two National Parks, spans more than 5,500 feet across, and plunges to a maximum drop of 355 feet.
~ Tanzania, Africa, is where you can find the highest free-standing mountain in the world – Mount Kilimanjaro! It is also the highest mountain located on the African continent.
~ Egypt is famous for its fascinating pyramid complex located in Giza. Here is where you will find the Giza Pyramid Complex which contains the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Great Sphinx of Giza.
Famous World Landmarks in Asia
~ It is a lesser-known fact that the Taj Mahal is actually a mausoleum! It was commissioned by Shah Jahan to immortalize his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who had died in childbirth, although his tomb is also there as well. By today’s standards, the cost to build this famous landmark would equate to USD 1 billion!
~ Located in Agra, India, the Taj Mahal is only a one-hour plane ride or a three-hour train ride from the capital city of New Delhi. Just a short trip to one of the world’s top attractions!
~ The Great Wall of China stretches over an astounding 20,000 km (over 12,000 miles) and took over 2,000 years to complete. It comprises long stretches of wall interspersed with a series of fortifications, barracks, and beacon towers along the way.
~ The Great Wall of China is the most popular tourist attraction in China, with more than 10 million visitors per year!
~ Mount Fuji is a famous mountain peak that symbolizes Japan. However, it is not just a mountain but an active volcano that contains three volcanos within. Followers of the Shinto religion consider the mountain a sacred site.
~ Angkor Wat in Cambodia is the largest religious monument on the planet! The world-renowned site was initially built as a Hindu complex in the 12th century, spreads across an astounding 400 acres and took millions of tons of sandstone to complete.
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Famous World Landmarks in Australia
~ The first performance at the Sydney Opera House, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, actually happened during construction! In 1960, while it was being built, Paul Robeson climbed the scaffolding and sang Ol’ Man River to the construction workers as they ate lunch.
~ Off the coast of Australia is the world’s largest coral reef, called the Great Barrier Reef. Not just a location in the popular Disney movie, Finding Nemo, the Great Barrier Reef covers an astounding area of over 340,000 square kilometres, including 900 islands and 2,900 individual reefs. It is so impressive that it can even be seen from outer space.
~ Sydney Harbour Bridge is a heritage-listed bridge located in Sydney, Australia and stands 134 meters above the water and stretches 503 meters long. The bridge connects trains, buses, cars, and pedestrians to Sydney’s business district with the North Shore. Visitors can even climb the bridge for those looking for spectacular views of the city skyline, which takes about 3.5 hours.
Famous World Landmarks in Europe
~ Europe has no shortage of iconic landmarks but the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy is up there as one of the most famous. The freestanding bell tower took over 200 years to complete and is also called the Bell Tower of Pisa. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is built on soft soil and cannot support its own weight. The iconic lean is due to its unstable foundation as the tower reaches a remarkable maximum height of 183.3 feet.
~ The Roman Colosseum is impressively over 1,900 years old! The large amphitheater is twice as long as a football field and was used to house fights between gladiators. It was a form of entertainment in Roman times, bringing in large amounts of spectators to watch these deadly duels. Now the structure is one of the most famous buildings in Europe.
~ Arguably one of the most famous landmarks in the world, the Eiffel Tower sits in the city centre of Paris, France. The iconic structure towers 1,062 feet high and was built by Auguste Eiffel (hence the name, Eiffel Tower!) for the 1889 World Fair to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.
~ Welcoming an average of 9 million guests per year, the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, is the most visited museum in the world. Opened in 1793, it is an iconic landmark with a unique glass pyramid on display in front of the building.
~ The ancient city of Pompeii is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is frozen in time due to the volcanic eruption from Mount Vesuvius. The volcano erupted in 79 A.D. and the Roman city of Pompeii lay at the base of the volcano so when it erupted, the entire city was destroyed, freezing everything in time beneath layers of ash and pumice. Plaster was used to create plaster casts of the bodies of the people at Pompeii, giving researchers (and visitors!) glimpses into the life of a resident of Pompeii in their final hours.
Famous World Landmarks in the Middle East
~ Known for its distinctive carved sandstone (so distinctive that Petra is thought to come from the Greek word ‘Petros’ which means ‘rocks’), Petra, Jordan was founded in the year 312 BC and is considered one of the oldest cities in the world.
~ Burj Khalifa, located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, holds the record as the tallest building in the world sitting at over 2,716.5 feet and more than 160 stories high. It also holds a number of other world records including the highest occupied floor in the world, the elevator with the longest travel distance in the world, and the world’s highest observation deck. With a Rolodex of awards, it is possibly one of the most famous buildings in the world.
Famous World Landmarks in North America
~ Mount Rushmore national memorial is an iconic symbol and national monument located in South Dakota in the United States of America that features the faces of four notable US presidents, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson, carved into the side of a mountain.
~ The Statue of Liberty proudly sits on Liberty Island in New York Harbor and was given to the United States by the French in 1886 as a symbol of friendship between the two nations. A shocking fact about the Statue of Liberty is that Lady Liberty is struck at least 600 terms per year by lightning!
~ A fun correlation between two of the most famous landmarks in the world is that the same man who built the Eiffel Tower helped build the metal framework of the Statue of Liberty!
~ Forget the general title of world landmarks, could the Golden Gate Bridge be THE most famous bridge in the world? The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, USA is a suspension bridge that was completed in 1937. Iconic for being a notable red bridge, it spans an impressive 1.2 miles across San Francisco Bay.
~ Also found in San Francisco Bay? Alcatraz Island! The island houses an old maximum security prison that was in use for 29 years. Alcatraz Island, or “The Rock,” had held captives since the Civil War but it wasn’t until it was re-fortified in 1934 that it became the maximum security, isolated, secure island prison that it is known as today. More than one million visitors from around the world visit Alcatraz Island each year and many still try to solve the mystery of whatever happened to the only three inmates to ever have escaped.
~ Prominently featured in New York City’s city skyline, the Empire State Building was constructed during a race to create the world’s tallest building. Completed in only 1 year and 45 days, the Empire State Building held the record as the world’s tallest building for nearly 40 years until the completion of the first World Trade Center tower in 1970. It still stands as one of the most iconic buildings in North America.
World Landmarks in South America
~ The amazing ruins of the lost city of Machu Picchu sits in the clouds at more than 7,000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains in Peru. The site is believed to have been built as a royal estate or sacred religious site for Incan leaders and built around 1450 AD. The Inca civilization was virtually wiped out by Spanish invaders in the 16th century, but the ruins at Machu Picchu, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, still symbolize the Incan Empire and their rule.
~ Christ the Redeemer, one of the new seven wonders of the world and the most famous monument in South America, is a 98-foot tall Jesus statue that overlooks the entire city centre of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The arm span reaches an impressive 92 feet!
~ Easter Island, also called Rapa Nui, sits about 2,000 miles off the coast of Chile and is most known for the 1,000+ giant stone statues, officially known as Moai statues, that cover the island. It is a mystery as to what the purpose of the moai is but most scientists agree that they were probably carved to commemorate important ancestors. The statues were made for a period of time between approximately 1000 C.E. and the second half of the seventeenth century.
~ Much of Easter Island is protected within Rapa Nui National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. But where did the “Easter Island” name come from? Although the island was settled by colonists from Eastern Polynesia in 800 A.D., the name Easter Island originated with a European explorer who first saw the island on Easter Sunday in 1722.
The world truly is full of amazing and wonderful natural and manmade sites. We hope that this comprehensive list of some of the most famous landmarks in the world sparks a fire to see explore and see them all! From relics of the ancient world, monuments that have turned into national symbols, and top attractions, we have covered many of the most famous ones. Now get out there and see them! Trust us – travel is always worth it.
Now that you’ve read our facts about World Landmarks, test your knowledge and take our 20-question quiz.
This post was compiled by the Travel Trivia Challenge (TTC) team. TTC was founded by Dalene and Pete Heck who traveled the world non-stop for almost 8 years.