Everyone knows about the Great Pyramid, The Mausoleum, The Hanging Gardens and The Great Wall of China. These ancient wonders of architecture have been part of culture form the beginnings of civilization and even today they endure as popular topic of inspiration in all of the arts and the reaches of human ingenuity. However, what about those magical locations that aren’t part of the listing dictated by that capricious number? Why seven and not eight? All of the awe-inspiring accomplishments mankind is responsible for cannot possibly be contained in only a handful of projects that for the most part, no longer exist.
Great Mosque of Djenne, Mali
This beautiful mosque is located in the city of Djenné, Mali. One of its most amazing accomplishments, is the fact that this building is considered the largest mud structure in the world, built almost completely out of mud mortar, plaster and ferey (sunbaked bricks). The first mosque on the site was built around the 13th century, but the current structure dates from 1907. It has been rebuilt a few times, most notably after a large portion of it collapse due to a copious amount of rain it received.
Locals are also deeply involved in the maintenance and upkeep of the mosque. They celebrate and annual festival with the main purpose of making repairs to the mosque considering the erosion and cracks due to the high temperatures and humidity. The Great Mosque of Djenne was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988.
Palace of the Parliament, Romania
The Palace of Parliament in Bucharest is considered the largest, heaviest and most expensive civilian administrative building in the world. It comes as no surprise to hear the popular saying that it is quite difficult to photograph the building while doing justice to its massive scale. The twelve-story neo classical building was built in 1984 costing a jaw-dropping 3.3bn euro. Out of the 1,100 rooms built, only 400 are finished and in current use. The Palace has eight underground levels, the last one being an atomic shelter, linked to the main state institutions by 20 km of catacombs.
The building was constructed almost entirely of materials of Romanian origin.
Derawar Fort, Pakistan
Derawar is a fortress of enormous magnitude. Its 40 magnificent bastions rise from the desert in a remarkable square formation. The outside perimeter measures about 1,500m and stand some 30m high. Rai Jajja Bhati Rajput ruler of the Bhatti clan, built Derawar fort in the 9th century AD as an offering to the king Rawal Deoraj Bhatti. Sadly, the fort is greatly deteriorated today due to lack of maintenance and the inclement conditions of the surrounding Cholistan desert.
Great Wall of India, Rajasthan
Also known as Kumbhalgarh, this great wall is only second to China as the longest in the world measuring 4.5m of thickness in some areas and extending for 36km. Rana Kumbha built the wall during the 15th century, it was occupied in the 1800’s and in 2013 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the group Hill Forts of Rajasthan. There are over 360 temples within the fort and seven fortified gateways to gain access to the other side of the wall.
The Rajasthan Tourism Department organizes a three-day annual festival in the fort in remembrance of the passion of Maharana Kumbha towards art and architecture. The wall is lit every evening for a few minutes to the delight of the many visitors who come from all over the world to see this beautiful architectural wonder.
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Iran
This beautiful and remarkable mosque is located in Naghsh-i Jahan Square in the city of Isfahan. The elegant building was completed in 1619 during the reign of Shah Abbas. One of its most prominent features is the fact that unlike other mosques, it lacks no minarets or a courtyard. Most speculate the reason behind this strange characteristic to be the fact that the mosque was built as the worship place for the women of the shah’s harem. One of the most beautiful portions of the mosque is the “peacock” at the center of the interior side of the dome. If you stand at the entrance gate and look at the center of the dome, the sun rays coming in from the hole in the ceiling, can be seen forming the bird’s majestic tail.
Bukhara fortress, Uzbekistan
Also known as The Ark of Bukhara, this massive fortress located in the city of Bukhara, Uzbekistan was built around the 5th century AD. More than a fortress, Bukhara was a whole town protected by the massive walls around it. During the Russian Civil War, the Ark was greatly damaged by Red Army troops under the command of Mikhail Frunze in 1920. It is believed that the last Emir, Alim Khan ordered the Ark to be blown up so that the Bolsheviks could not desecrate its secret places.
For more amazing buildings worthy of being called wonders of architecture, check out our other articles available at Slaught’s blog.