There's something special about these new global landmarks that make them a must for any travel list. Landmarks are calling cards for global cities. They dominate skylines and world views of local people, acting as symbols that identify their home towns across the world. Attracting millions with their beauty and architectural imagination, landmarks capture the adventurous spirit of host cities, daring rivals to do better. These are exceptional buildings that only exceptional cities generate, and they are always well worth visiting when travellers touch down. Recent years have seen some stunning additions to the global scene, and we've come up with our list of the most impressive to inspire you and add them into your wish list.
Landmarks are about more than structure. What's inside also marks them out from the crowd. What could be more outstanding than a sample of the Louvre's famous art collection? Opened in 2015 on Saadiyat Island, the Louvre is at the heart of Abu Dhabi's reinvention as a cultural nexus. And it's a remarkable construction, as well. The roof of the gallery has an upturned 'floating disc' form, constructed from artfully arranged concrete bands. The effect is almost organic, which isn't a surprise, as the designers sought to mimic the shade created by date fronds in an Arabian desert oasis. And the lighting is exquisite throughout, providing perfect viewing conditions to check out a growing collection of masterpieces from Europe, the Americas, and Asia.
Time travellers from the sleepy Dubai of the 1980s would barely believe that their city could become the spectacular forest of high rises that it is today. And they would surely find it hard to believe that one building could standout amongst its gigantic brothers and sisters. The world's tallest building opened in 2010. The spire-shaped Burj rises to 830 metres and can be seen from the most distant golf courses or Dubai suburbs. But despite its height, the Burj Khalifa is a delicate creation. Built to resemble the desert flower Hymenocallis, the tower seeks to create a bridge between the world of finance and modernity, and Bedouin cultures which form the roots of Dubai. Solar panels make use of the desert sun, acres of parkland surround the base, and the views from the Floor 124 viewing gallery are unmissable.
New York isn't short of landmarks, from the Empire State Building to the Statue of Liberty. But in today's world of frantic urban competition, even the Big Apple needs to stay one step ahead. With new additions like The Vessel, the city is managing just fine. Resembling a honeycomb or an oversized pine cone, the Vessel is the centrepiece of Hudson Yards, a complex filled with cultural, dining and shopping attractions. Unveiled in 2019, the building was designed by British architect Thomas Heatherwick. It is intended to engage the muscles and senses of visitors in equal measure. A mile of copper-surfaced stairwells weave around the structure, where 80 platforms provide spaces to rest, chat, and view the Hudson River. But the Vessel also stands out from a distance, offering a unique photo opportunity from river cruises or explorations of the Hudson Yards development.
London is a world city, but for a long time it lacked truly awe-inspiring high rise landmarks. That all changed when the Shard penetrated the clouds in 2013, adding 310 metres of gleaming glass and steel to the English capital's skyline. Nowadays, you can see the Shard from pretty much anywhere in London (apart from right at the base near London Bridge). It has been embraced by Londoners as part of the furniture. The Renzo Piano-designed building still packs a punch, with its razor-sharp tip. The 72nd floor open air observation deck delivers the finest possible views of central London, while Aqua Shard on the 31st floor serves contemporary British cuisine. Plus, there are numerous Asian eateries and bars on-site. So it's a landmark sure, but also a recreational hub.
Music and architecture are natural partners. At least that's how the city of Hamburg sees things, and when you glimpse the Elbphilharmonie concert hall you'll understand why. This Herzog & De Meuron creation reworked an older brick warehouse on the River Elbe, adding sensuously curved glass waves which echo the rise and fall of classical melodies. Inside, the Grand Hall has been optimised for acoustics, but has also been styled to allow every visitor to feel part of the action, and as close to performers as possible. That's no mean feat in a 2,100 capacity auditorium. Finally, music lovers can enjoy hands-on fun at the Elbphilharmonie World of Instruments, an educational centre making music accessible for all. It's a fine example of prestige architecture and culture working together to make a global attraction.
When you travel, it's nice to stay in an appealing hotel. But few of us can say that our accommodation is itself a global icon. However, that's certainly the case when you stay at the Sands Marina Bay, Singapore. The hotel's three 57 storey towers are connected via a 340 metre long horizontal roof section, creating an instantly recognisable symbol of modern Singapore. When it opened in 2010, it was comfortably the most expensive hotel ever built, and that's not surprising. It's a place that offers all luxury: An infinity pool which seems to float hundreds of metres above the bay, a huge casino, luxury shops, and nightclubs. Some attractions are limited to hotel guests. If you can't swim, wandering the SkyPark and seeing the Sands Marina Bay from the water is well worth the effort.