This is a guide to the most impressive and historical structures ever made by man from across the globe. It’s full of interesting information and fun facts which you can use as complementary material to the Montessori cultural geography lesson or as a lecture on history.[Disclaimer: this post contains Amazon affiliate links at no cost to you]
This list contains the 17 landmarks of the world that correspond to the Safari Toob figures and the Montessori 3-part cards set from our shop. If you have purchased the cards or downloaded the printable from our shop, this guide will add an extra ingredient of knowledge to the lesson and generate excitement in your children to learn more about these mysterious and ancient structures.
Leaning Tower of Pisa
This 12th-century bell tower to the Cathedral of Pisa is famous the world over for its accidental tilt. A soft foundation caused the 55-meter tower to lean even before it was completed in the 14th century. Thanks to efforts made at the end of the last century they were able to prevent its toppling over, preventing the loss of the most beautiful example of a renaissance bell tower in Northern Italy.
No structure iconically represents a nation as much as the Eiffel Tower. It has been the symbol of France and Paris since its erection in 1889 for the World’s Fair. Scraping the sky at 327 meters it was the tallest man-made structure at the time, surpassing the Great Pyramid of Giza.
Scoffed at by much of the Parisian elite, it was originally meant to be temporary. But through efforts of its constructor, Gustav Eiffel, and over-whelming popularity it survived the destruction and has become a testament of French industrial achievement.
Translated as the ‘Crown of Palaces’, the Taj Mahal is actually a mausoleum. Constructed in Agra, India from 1632 to 1643 it is the resting place of Mumtaz Mahal, the favorite wife of the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan. The complex also contains a mosque, a guest house, and an incredible garden which rivals that of the infamous Versaille in Paris.
Its design is so amazing and iconic that it attracts more than 3 million visitors per year and received more than 100 million votes for the Unesco New Seven Wonders of the World poll.
Arch of Triumph
The Arch of Triumph is one of the most recognized landmarks in Paris. Completed in 1806 by Parisian architect Jean Chalgrin, it commemorates the fallen soldiers of the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars. At 50 meters, it is a massive awe-inspiring structure planted in the middle of Place Charles de Gaul and can be seen the entire stretch of the Champs-Élysées.
Designed in the neoclassic Roman style it has been used as a backdrop for many military victory marches throughout French history. Unfortunately, not all marches were made by French soldiers as seen in many images of the Nazi invasion of France in 1940.
The Statue of Liberty
Perched on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty was the first site of the ‘New World’ for many generations of immigrants seeking refuge, freedom, and the ‘American dream’. It is one of tallest bronze statues in the world at 46 meters (93 with the pedestal).
It symbolizes freedom more than any other in the world and is arguably the greatest gift any nation has ever given another. France admired the strength and courage of America’s revolutionary war so much that, not only did they follow suit in 1789 with their own revolution, but they gave thanks to the United States by presenting them with this amazing statue in 1886.
Temple of Inscriptions
There are a collection of Mesoamerican pyramids scattered throughout southern Mexico and Central America. But few are as impressive as the Temple of Inscriptions in the site of Palenque, just south of Cancun. Constructed in the 7th century AD as a funerary monument to the King of the Mayans, K’inich Janaab’ Pakal, it is an eight-step pyramid with a temple sitting atop.
It was only discovered in 1952 that it also housed the tomb of the king Pakal himself. The name originates from the three inscriptions found within the tomb of Pakal depicting his 70-year reign and 180 years or Palenque history.
Pyramids of Giza
The Giza complex consists of three large pyramids which rest just outside of Cairo, Egypt on the Giza plateau. At 147 meters, the great pyramid was the tallest structure ever made by man and stood so until the construction of the Eiffel Tower in 1889. It consists of approximately 2.3 million stone blocks weighing between 2.5 and 15 tons each.
The origins and purpose of the pyramids of Giza are hotly contested among historians, archaeologists, and Egyptologists the world over. Traditional Egyptologists contend that they were built around 2,500 BC and serve as tombs to the ancient Egyptian pharaohs. Unfortunately, no plausible evidence of tombs or sarcophagi has ever been found.
The Great Sphinx of Giza
A lion’s body with a pharaoh’s head, the Great Sphinx is a curious statue sprawled out on the Giza plateau just next to the great pyramids. It was carved out of limestone from the plateau’s bedrock and is believed to depict the pharaoh Kafre. It faces east-west and is connected to the southern Kafre pyramid with an underground causeway.
Though many scholars date its construction in 2,500 BC, the latest meteorological studies find that erosion on its sides could date it as far back as 12,000 BC, far before the rise of the Egyptian empire. This has led many to believe that the head of the Sphinx may be a later addition to the monument, carved from the original lion’s head.
Empire State Building
After construction in 1931 was completed, the Empire State Building was the world’s tallest building and held that title until 1973 when the Twin Towers were built. Located in midtown Manhattan, it symbolizes an era of American industrial prowess never before seen in history. It was also one of the first true skyscrapers. Rising to a nauseating 443 meters it has 103 stories and has been featured in hundreds of Hollywood film’s, including the iconic King Kong.
Unknown to most who visit him, Big Ben is actually the nickname of the bell which resides in the clock tower to the Palace of Westminister in London. Completed by architect Augustus Pugin in 1859 it stands at 91 meters and is a stunning example of neo-gothic style. Big Ben himself is really big, weighing 13.7 tons. He has four other bell brothers, of which he is the largest.
Dedicated to the Goddess Athena, the Parthenon is a historic temple perched on a hill overlooking the city of Athens. Upon completion of construction in 438 BC, it was adorned with classic sculptures and statues and was considered the ultimate achievement in Greek architecture.
Today it serves as a reminder of the former glory of Classical Greece, the birthplace of democracy and philosophy in Western civilization. After several years of reconstruction and renovation, it once again dominates the skyline with its immense columns and impressive pediment.
In 1923, historian Doane Robinson had the idea to promote tourism in the area of Keystone, South Dakota. So why not carve giant 18-meter heads of the most important Presidents in US history? Though his ambition was mocked by many at first he succeeded in not only securing federal funding for the project but also attracted star sculptor Gutzon Borglum for the job. He finished his masterpiece, carved in the granite cliffs of the Black Hills, in 1941 and the tourists haven’t stopped coming since.
The Great Wall of China
One of the largest and greatest architectural structures in history the Great Wall of China is a succession of walls built in the north of China on the Mongolian steppe. Its primary function was to keep hoards from raiding and ransacking its rural territories. The wall has several sections and branches and was built over several dynasties, but some estimates calculate the total length at 21,196 km (13,171 mi).
The earliest, and now destroyed sections were built as far back as the 7th century BC. Adding to it as history rolled by, the most famous sections which still stand today were erected in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries during the Ming Dynasty. Not only did it keep out irritating neighbors bent on expansion but it also served as a border control for immigration and Silk Road trade.
Buddha of Lantau
One of five giant bronze statues of the Buddha in China, this example stands out as being one of the most impressive and admired in the world. It measures 34 meters from the base, weighs more than 250 tons and was erected in 1993. Serving as a symbol of man’s relationship with nature and faith, it rests atop the hills of Lantau Island in Hong Kong and attracts Buddhists and tourists from across the globe.
Easter Island heads
One of the most remotely populated islands in the world were it not for the nearly 900 carved stone heads scattered about, you most certainly never would have heard of this place. Called moai in the local language, these heads were created by the indigenous Rapa Nui Polynesian tribe. The largest of the statues stands at 9.9 meters and weighs more than 80 tons. It’s estimated that between 180 and 250 men were needed to move and raise the statues into position.
Unfortunately, the Rapa Nui caused their own cultural collapse as deforestation and the Polynesian rat led to the erosion of fertile soils causing the island to become incapable of sustaining a growing population.
Once the setting to some of the most barbaric gladiator battles in Roman history the Colosseum endures as a symbol of former world domination by the Roman Empire. In this oval amphitheater at the heart of the Roman Forum in Rome, scenes of carnage and bloodshed were on the daily program. It was constructed between 72 and 80 AD by the Emperors Vespasian and Titus and could hold up to 80,000 blood-thirsty spectators.
One of the most mysterious landmarks on this list, Stonehenge has intrigued tourists and scholars for millennia. This neolithic stone circle, located in Wiltshire, England, was built approximately 5,500 years ago and is the largest example of its kind. Some of the stones weigh upwards of 25 tons and stand 4 meters tall. It is part of what may have been an entire neolithic community as recent excavations have uncovered many tools and building foundations buried beneath the topsoil.
Some believe the stones to be a burial ground while others assert an astronomical function. Parts of it align perfectly with the sunset during the winter solstice and the sunrise with the summer solstice. Though any debate is purely speculation as no written evidence of its purpose has ever been unearthed.
The majority of this information was found in Wikipedia.
As I mentioned, those were the 17 monuments of the world, which correspond to the Safari Toobs. But don’t forget we also have a more comprehensive set of landmark 3-part cards of the world spanning all 6 inhabited continents in our shop. They will cover even more beautiful and ancient structures from across the globe, dating back many millennia.