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Architecture Pilgrimage: 9 Well-Designed Destinations

Morocco may be known for its Moorish designs and Miami is certainly a hub for Art Deco, but there are plenty of architecturally distinct cities in the world. From the ancient greats to modern marvels, we’ve compiled the destinations every design lover should visit.


Classical Ruins of Athens, Greece

Greece is famous for its marble and limestone temples, but there are also remnants of open-air theaters, public squares and stadiums to explore.

Best Classical Ruins:

Byzantine and Ottoman Treasures in Istanbul, Turkey

Its role in several major empires has made Istanbul a cross-section of architectural styles. Byzantine design is known for its square shapes, high central domes, and mosaic decoration, while Ottoman styles emphasize a harmony between interior and exterior space, elegant domes, refined arches and pillars, Islamic calligraphy, and intricate murals.

Best Byzantine and Ottoman Sights:

Contrast of Imperial and Modern Styles in Beijing, China

Beijing is a juxtaposition of ancient imperial and modern architecture. The traditional imperial style best recognized by pagodas, or upturned roofs, now mingle with the boxy designs of the mid 20th century and modern glass buildings of the last few decades.

Best Imperial and Modern Landmarks:

Gothic and Baroque Preservation in Prague, Czech Republic 

Prague’s soaring towers, ribbed vaults, pointed arches, and Gothic spires are remnants of the Golden Age in the 14th century. Accents like cupolas, marble columns, gold details, and large-scale frescoes are vestiges to the Baroque period when the Austrian Habsburg Empire ruled from the city.

Best Gothic and Baroque Buildings:

French, Spanish, and Islamic Influences in Marrakech, Morocco 

Morocco’s architecture is a blend of tribal designs, Islamic flairs and colonial influences, known generally as Moorish style. It’s characterized by grand archways, beautiful domes, elaborate gardens, and geometric patterns.

Best Moorish Monuments:

Renaissance Charm in Florence, Italy  

Originating in Florence, the Renaissance marked a revival of classical styles. Architects incorporated classical elements like columns, lintels, and domes into their work, setting a stark contrast to the severity and irregularity of Gothic architecture.

Best Renaissance Works:

Legendary Art Nouveau in Barcelona, Spain 

The unorthodox works of 19th century Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí are a defining characteristic of Barcelona. Influenced by Moorish, oriental, and modern Gothic styles, Gaudí integrated elements from nature in an urban setting with his colorful ceramics and undulating stone and ironwork.

Best Gaudí Creations:

Bright, bold Art Deco in Miami, Florida  

After a hurricane ravaged the city in 1926, Miami was rebuilt in the sleek style of Art Deco to evoke wealth and sophistication. South Beach is now home to over 800 nationally registered Art Deco buildings, recognizable by their sweeping curves, pastel colors, geometric patterns, and porthole windows.

Best Art Deco Architecture:

Contemporary Opulence in Dubai, U.A.E. 

Thanks to an influx of oil money, a city once full of pragmatic structures is now home to some of the world’s most prodigious buildings. Dubai’s skyline is a playground for designers who like to push boundaries and set architectural records.

Best Record-Breaking Structures: