35+ Landmarks Around The World And Their Transformations Over The YearsBy Ekhama O
Everyone loves pictures! They’re like little portals that open our minds, showing us how things used to be and how much they might have changed. Mostly, this is for the better, but sometimes…not so much. If you’re one of those travel gurus that enjoys taking shots of the popular historical sites you visit, this article will interest you.
Some of these are world wonders, and others are just testament to the beautiful and stunning works of architecture. No matter how they came to be, these scenes have changed throughout the years, but don’t worry, they’re not all as drastic as you might think. If you’re wondering what your favorite travel destinations look like, come along! Let’s take you on this extraordinary “then and now” tour to see just how different these places have become.
The Lincoln Memorial
Everyone who knows America knows this memorial. It took eight years to build and is now one of America’s most renowned monuments. It is a highly symbolic site, too, and was raised in memory of one of America’s most influential leaders.
It’s been a century since its completion, and we have to say, it didn’t look so great during its early days. There’s now an elevator, and plans have been made to rotate the statue by 180 degrees to prevent more wear-down from the sun and weather conditions.
Ah, Paris. One of the most beautiful places in the world is also dubbed as the city of love and, of course, rats. A lot of things have evolved in this big city, but one thing that stands tall is its signature landmark, the Eiffel Tower.
Antennas and loads of other telecommunications devices have been added to the Eiffel Tower over the years. The land around it has also been revived, so it’s had a tangible upgrade since its construction. Fun fact: the Eiffel Tower has been sold twice — by the same man!
New York, the city that never sleeps! Step aside, Paris; you’ve had your turn. Just typing “Times Square” makes us excited. The neon and billboard-filled space is also New York’s liveliest area, and not only is it a tourist attraction but an entertainment and commercial hub as well.
It wasn’t always known as “Times Square.” It was called Longacre Square up until the early 1900s. Before then, the bustling center was just gritty roads filled with carriages. But, if you take a closer look at the photos, you’ll notice the tourist attraction has now evolved into a pedestrian-friendly route!
Big Ben is one of the biggest (pun intended) must-sees in the city of London. It’s a colossal tower clock and is renowned for its accuracy and massive 15-ton bell. Big Ben is also one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, garnering over 10 million visitors to the UK each year.
The tower rang for the first time in the May of 1859 and has been jingling ever since. Over the years, the neo-gothic styled clock has gotten a new face and a change of hands (no, literally), but most of the changes have been to the land surrounding it.
The eight sharp turns on this one-way road have earned it the name of the “most crooked street in the world.” Lots of people love to stand by Lombard Street, just to watch cars slither down the curved road, and some cars have even toppled on their way down, which is ironic because…
…the road’s design was intended to help drivers have an easier time finding their way down the steep slope! Built in 1922, there are now green grasses and flowers where the bare sand used to be, a couple of extra buildings, and a lot of improvement.
Your trip to Los Angeles isn’t complete if you haven’t been near the iconic Hollywood sign! It’s about fifty feet tall, well over three hundred feet long, and has stood on those hills since the early twentieth century. Although it may not look like it from the photos, the landmark is pretty huge.
The sign was formerly known as HOLLYWOODLAND, and was made of wood and sheet metal, until its incredibly disastrous damage caused it to be renovated in 1978, using a more durable corrugated steel. Access is also now restricted to the area due to vandalism in the past.
The Brandenburg gate is by far one of the most historical sites in Berlin and has stood the test of time. It was built in three years and is now recognized as a symbol of German unity. After Berlin was occupied about a decade after its construction, the statue above it was removed.
After being returned, the statue had an iron cross added to it. World War II left a whole lot of wreckage on Germany’s capital, and although the bridge survived, it was not without heavy damage. Luckily, it was restored a couple of decades later, making it the tourist spot we know today.
The Great Sphinx of Giza
The Sphinx is one of the world’s most recognizable statues. This historical monument has existed for centuries and is proof of the brilliance of ancient Egyptians when it comes to architecture. The photo at the top shows its state in the 19th century.
At the time, it had been buried under tons and tons of sand, and only the head and shoulders were visible. Over the course of a few decades, though, the statue underwent vigorous excavation to reveal its imposing size and wondrous glory.
Mount Rushmore is basically a gigantic rock that has a couple of notable figures carved on it. It took four hundred men and an outstanding fourteen years to build. It’s located in South Dakota and is said to be symbolic of the ideals of the American people.
Here’s where things get a bit… let’s say, rocky. That mountain used to be sacred ground — until it was carved up, of course — which is a big slap to the face of the native tribes that dwelled there. Although it’s considered a landmark, it does have a dark past.
Ireland! The country that gave us Bono, Guinness, and St. Patrick’s Day is also where this stunning prehistoric monument was built. Although less recognized worldwide, Newgrange predates the pyramids in Egypt and Stonehenge in England. How come it isn’t as well-known as other UNESCO sites?
Before its “excavation” in the 1900s, Newgrange was covered in grass and shrubs, making it impossible to see its pretty walls. The stone age passage tomb has now been cleared and fitted with stairs on the outsides to allow an easy entrance for the millions of visitors it receives each year.
Moulin Rouge means “Red Mill,” and it’s a cabaret in the city of Paris in France. It was a place dedicated to music and dance, so it’s no surprise that it’s the origin of the can-can dance! Despite its rich cultural history, it’s seen some major changes over the years.
The first picture represents the Moulin Rouge after it had already burnt down in 1915 by a fire, renovated, and re-opened a couple of years later. Today, you can see the buildings near it have undergone some change in color, and some of the old rustic signs are also gone.
The London Eye
The London Eye is a gigantic Ferris wheel and used the be the largest one in the world, up until 2006 when China built a bigger one. It had its ceremonial opening on the 31st of December in 1999, in a bid to welcome the new millennium.
Before its construction, the region was pretty much bare. Of course, Big Ben has been there for ages, but the London Eye pulls in a sizable crowd on its own. It was actually scheduled to be dismantled a few years after its construction, but they decided to keep the wheel due to its popularity.
Pyramids were clearly a favorite among ancient civilizations. Aside from the extremely famous Pyramids of Giza, another well-known historical structure that adopts this shape is Tikal. Located in Guatemala, these ruins represent what urban life was like for ancient Mayans.
The site was virtually unknown to most of the world before the mid-19th century. At the time, the city’s inhabitants had abandoned it for hundreds of years, and it had been overtaken by a lush green forest. But as you can see in her, Tikal has had quite the makeover since then.
Paris is a city of a thousand wonders. If you wanted to take photos of every notable location in the city, your camera would be filled up by the time you got home. Among those hundreds of pictures will be some spectacular shots of the Louvre. If not, you didn’t really see Paris.
The Louvre Pyramid is a prismatic structure that sits in front of one of the world’s most visited museums. Although the entrance was constructed in 1989, the museum itself is more than a century older. It added just the right touch of sophistication to an already magnificent building.
Long ago, Central Park was actually a small thriving neighborhood, made up of mainly African Americans and other minorities living in the area at the time. During the middle of the 19th century, the city began making plans to build a park.
The residents were compensated and then vacated their homes for the creation of the park. It has undergone a bit of reconstruction over the years and some natural changes as well; the lake looks like it has expanded a bit and there are a lot more trees, grasses, and flowers.
The uniqueness of the Lotus Temple, located in New Delhi, transcends all others of its kind and is comparable to other spectacles of the new age like the Sydney Opera House. It’s certainly one structure that always leaves us in awe.
This house of worship, as the name implies, takes the shape of the sacred lotus flower, and although much hasn’t changed when it comes to the building itself, pollution has taken a toll on the air around it. It’s almost barely recognizable in recent photos.
The nearly two thousand feet skyscraper, the CN Tower, is the tallest free-standing structure in the western hemisphere and a true sight to behold. Get this: the restaurant at the observation deck takes a little more than an hour to do a full rotation!
Before the CN Tower was one of the major tourist attractions in Toronto and a telecommunications tower, delivering first-class experiences to its visitors, it was a privately owned building. Now, the barren land surrounding it has been replaced with new buildings!
Empire State Building
There are probably hundreds of high-rise buildings in New York, and a lot of landmarks too. We’ve touched on a number of them in this post, but one that has deep significance has certainly got to be the Empire State Building.
The renowned hotel on the left was bought off and torn down to build the magnificent skyscraper. The Empire State Building was then constructed in a short span of two years and held the title of the tallest superstructure in the world back when it was created.
The US is truly a country of firsts, especially when it comes to superstructures. When the Washington Monument was completed, it was the tallest building in the world, and the more than century-year-old structure is still standing as it was back then, fully intact.
There haven’t been drastic changes to the monument itself, except for the two-year and eight months of restoration work done on the building back in 2016. The biggest difference is how much the land surrounding the structure has changed. It’s greener and more accommodating to the millions of visitors it receives each year.
The Great Wall of China
If anyone were to make a comprehensive list of the most amazing structures ever built, the thirteen-thousand-mile-long Great Wall of China must be one of the top spots. To put how long it is into perspective, it would take you a year and a half to walk it!
A lot of it used to be covered in grass and shrubs, as it wasn’t yet considered a tourist attraction. Today, though, it receives up to tens of millions of people each year. Most of it is still well preserved, despite the Great Wall is more than 2000 years old.
Spanning more than an outstanding six thousand feet with seven distinct lanes and several train tracks, the Manhattan Bridge has got to be one of the most impressive builds of the twentieth century. It carries almost a hundred thousand travelers each day.
The older photo is a view of the steel structure taken in 1909. Although it doesn’t look nearly ready, the bridge was completed not long after the photo was taken. Over the years, the bridge has been renovated several times but still stands as the most load-bearing bridge in the US.
Discovering The Inca Ruins of Machu Picchu has definitely got to be one of the biggest “eureka” moments in the world of archaeology for the 20th century and it was certainly an accomplishment for the two lucky lads that discovered the place.
Before the expedition that found this Atlantis, the whole area was basically buried in grass and trees. The ancient city is now a world heritage site and receives so many visitors that the Peruvian government has begun restricting access to the site for preservation.
Christ The Redeemer
If there’s a landmark that readily identifies Brazil’s bustling city of Rio de Janeiro, it’s the Christ the Redeemer statue. The impressive structure is now a bonafide cultural icon synonymous with the city and Brazil as a whole. Ask any avid movie lover.
The photo on the left is a closeup of the monument as it was being constructed in the 1920s. Fun fact: the statue was supposed to portray Christ holding a globe in one of his hands and a cross in the other, as opposed to the outstretched arms we know today!
The world wars left devastating marks on several places all across the globe, especially in Hiroshima (the headquarters of the Japanese second army). There, lots of radiation from the explosion lingered for a while, long after the bomb was deployed.
It’s perfectly safe to live in Hiroshima now, though the city that was once almost reduced to rubble. It is now a thriving urban center and home to more than a million people. It’s been given a complete makeover and is not in the same state it was almost a century ago.
We’ve gotta say, nothing wows us more than the grandeur old buildings exude, and our love for this near millennia-old cathedral extends farther than the famous novel and its popular Disney adaptation based on it. That’s why it was so heartbreaking to see what happened to it several years ago.
In April 2019, the people of Paris bore witness to the ravaging fire that almost caused irreparable damage to this medieval catholic cathedral. It’s now been a few years since the devastating fire, and more than a billion dollars have been donated to restore this magnificent structure to what it once was.
Sydney Opera House
Sydney’s most popular landmark, one of the most photographed buildings in the world and one of the most brilliant structures of the twentieth century, is the Sydney Opera house. It’s also one of the leading multi-purpose performing arts facilities on the planet.
Before the Opera House came to be the glamourous structure it is today, the Fort Macquarie tram depot stood where the facility is today. The fifty-year-old structure was then demolished for the purpose of constructing the Sydney Opera House. Talk leveling up!
When it comes to the best city in the world, there’s a lot of competition. From London to Berlin to Moscow, there are loads of contestants, but there’s something just too unique about this city that sets it aside from the rest, and that is the futuristic landscape it is.
Long before it earned its spot on the global stage, Tokyo was an incredibly humble city. Occasionally there were natural disasters, and the world wars further devasted the land. But that didn’t stop it from becoming the largest urban economy in the world.
The Temple of Bacchus
The ancient Romans are another civilization known for their stunning and enduring architecture. An excellent example of this skill is the Temple of Bacchus, located in Lebanon. Like most ancient archeological sites, the temple is still being studied to date.
The top photo shows what it looked like in 1942. Though the exact date of its construction is unknown, by then, it had withstood a lot of natural and artificial factors that led to its degradation. Thankfully, the site has mostly been restored over the years and can be visited today.
The Statue of Liberty isn’t just one of America’s most recognizable statues. It was given to the US as a gift from France in a toast to their friendship — how cute. The structure wasn’t built in the US. It was initially assembled in France before it ever reached American shorelines.
Although we see the iron lady as a green figure today, she used to be red, thanks to the large amount of copper. Environmental conditions caused the metals in her to oxidize, turning her body to the green hue it is today.
Las Vegas Sign
The Las Vegas sign was built far back in the fifties, costing just a couple of thousand dollars, but it is now one of the most significant landmarks in one of the liveliest cities in the United States of America.
Over the years, the symbolic sign has changed quite a bit. Its face used to be pinstriped (there were lots of lines on it to make it sturdy), and the “F” on the fabulous used to be elongated, but that was changed, alongside all the writing. We have to say, the vintage look was a bit better.
The Burj Khalifa is a testament to the impressive architectural feats we humans have achieved. This structure is the Titanic of buildings; it’s thrice as tall as Paris’ Eiffel Tower and has the most floors of any building in the world.
What’s just as impressive as this building is the city it stands in. Merely half a century ago, Dubai was dry arid land, and now it’s the UAE’s most populous city, has the busiest airport on the globe, and is the wealthiest city in the Middle East.
Tower Of Pisa
Many people know Italy’s Tower of Pisa is one of the best-known landmarks in the country and a cultural icon. What you may not know is that the “leaning” part is a new addition to its name. Back in the day, it wasn’t in the slanted state it’s in now.
The tower was built as a bell tower for a cathedral and currently leans at about four degrees, but it hasn’t always. The angle of the tilt of this medieval structure has been changing a lot over time due to environmental conditions.
La Sagrada Familia
Sagrada is a temple located in the Spanish capital of Barcelona, and one of the most iconic works of the architect that planned it. Its design is gothic, and the most mind-blowing part of this amazing build, is the fact that it’s incomplete!
La Sagrada Familia has eighteen towers, all symbolic, and the church is estimated to reach completion in 2026, a full century after the death of its architect. That means it would have taken a whopping 144 years to build the tallest church in the world!
A long time ago, Singapore was known as a sea town. Centuries later, it became a trading post and started to develop during the 19th century. A couple more centuries later, Singapore has earned itself a nice comfy seat in the world trade scene.
Today, the country is ranked as one of the world’s most competitive economies, developing from a low-income to a high-income country in a matter of decades. The transformation this country has undergone to become one of the wealthiest countries in the world is stunning.
Golden Gate Bridge
We’ve covered many massive and impressive structures already, like the Burj Khalifa and the Manhattan Bridge, so it’s no surprise the iconic nine thousand feet structure, the Golden Gate Bridge, has made its way to our list. For this one, we’ve got some great before and after shots for you…
After the structure was completed, much hasn’t changed since its early days. It’s still red, still big, and still standing. San Francisco has plans to recreate the suspension bridge, and we’re excited to see how the new one will turn out.
The Berlin wall is an incredibly symbolic structure, acting as a border between eastern and western Germany and the European continent as a whole. It was built in the sixties and fell in the late eighties, nearly thirty years after its construction.
Today, it’s basically nonexistent, although it left a lot of traces. Some metal plates can be found on the ground the walls once stood, and the rest that remain of it have been heavily graffitied and stand as historical sites.
The Victoria Harbor is a natural harbor and was formerly known as the Honk Kong Harbor. Starting from the seventies, Victoria Harbor experienced extreme pollution from the growth of its manufacturing sector. It was so bad that operations had to be ceased.
The Victoria Harbor of today is much more successful and far less polluted than the one that existed decades ago, housing most of the city of Hong Kong’s ports and keeping its spot as the key gateway to trade with China. There are lots more high-rise buildings now, and more occupants on the hills.
There have been some impressive builds constructed all over the world through the years, and most of them are quite unique. The Atomium is one of those. It’s a cube-shaped building in the capital of Belgium and was constructed for one of the world fairs that took place in the fifties.
It’s pretty clear there are a lot more lights on the Atomium today, while there’s little to no difference in its surroundings, just a couple more trees. An estimated six hundred thousand people come to see the structure each year, and we’re amazed at how little has changed since its early days.
Las Vegas strip
Although known officially as the Las Vegas Boulevard, the Las Vegas strip is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city. All of Las Vegas’ most popular casinos and hotels are located here, and it’s got some pretty spectacular structures (there’s a smaller replica of the Eiffel tower here as well).
The more recent photo was taken from further down the strip, but you can still pick out the differences. There are loads more neon lights now, and a good deal of those old signs are gone. Either way, the boulevard is still the same as it’s always been, lively, and a great place to get lucky.
This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning ancient Greece and its stunning acropolis. Parthenon is an ancient temple found in Athens that was built for the beloved goddess Athena. Even those who aren’t very familiar with Greek mythology have undoubtedly heard of her.
Like most ancient Greek buildings, this temple has tall, formidable columns that have stood for centuries. Another thing this building is famous for is the decoration inside, which includes ornate statues, the frieze, and marble structures. Since 1875, which is when the top photo was taken, Parthenon has been renovated severally.