While most travelers know to visit the Musee d'Orsay while in Paris or the Guggenheim Museum when in New York City, there are hundreds of buildings that get overlooked. The members and editors of travel website VirtualTourist.com have put together a list of the Top 10 Overlooked Stunning Buildings.
1) Military History Museum - Dresden, Germany
The original building of the redesigned Dresden Museum of Military History had a number of reincarnations, but once Germany unified a design competition was held for an extension and rebranding of the museum. Daniel Libeskind, perhaps best known for winning the competition to rebuild Ground Zero in New York, designed a bold interruption of the original building's symmetry with a glass and steel wedge slicing through the structure.
2) The Mezquita - Cordoba, Spain
Cordoba was once the capital of the Moorish emirate in Spain. The Great Mosque was built as the primary site of the Muslim religion in the country, complete with traditional architectural elements like arches and complex woodwork. In the 13th century, following the Reconquista by the Christians, the entire complex was revamped into a Cathedral now known as the Mezquita. The building is a rare example of Mudejar style, or a mixing of Muslim and Christian elements.
3) The Jantar Mantar - Jaipur, India
The Jantar Mantar is an astronomical observation site in Jaipur that stands out as the most significant and best preserved of India's historic observatories. Unlike modern observatories with telescopes and special lenses, the Jantar Mantar was built in the early 18th century for observing astronomical events and positions with the naked eye. Hire a guide to better understand the different instruments and their uses since many were used for purposes other than simple astronomy, like telling time and predicting monsoon weather.
4) The Hanoi Museum - Hanoi, Vietnam
Designed by GMP Architekten of Germany, this museum incorporates some common themes of museum construction with a new twist, literally. The building resembles an inverted pyramid with four levels of descending squares, the bottom level smaller than even the first floor so that the surrounding gardens and water features almost appear to begin beneath the building leading visitors from the outside in.
5) Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum - Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Isabella Stewart Gardner enjoyed travel, adventure and entertaining in a way that was somewhat scandalous for a lady of her social breeding in Victorian Boston. The museum was constructed after she realized her Back Bay manse could not house her growing collection. Built in 1902, it is modeled after a 15th-century Venetian palazzo. Among the more than 2,500 pieces in her collection, highlights include multiple Sargents, Whistlers and Titian's Europa.
6) Horta Museum - Brussels, Belgium
Victor Horta was incredibly influential in spearheading the Art Nouveau architectural movement. Horta Museum was his personal residence and studio. The interior is largely preserved with mosaics, curved windows, ironwork and even the furniture was designed to work together with the building's architecture. From the museum, visitors can walk to the Hotel Tassel and Hotel Solvay, other Horta- designed landmarks in the same neighborhood.
7) Moulay Ismail Mausoleum - Meknes, Morocco
Of Morocco's four imperial cities of - Fez, Meknes, Marrakesh and Rabat - the most commonly overlooked is Meknes. It contains some fantastic buildings including the Moulay Ismail Mausoleum. One of the few mausoleum complexes in the world that is open and accessible to non-Muslims, a visit here is said to bring baraka, or divine blessing.
The interior is exquisitely decorated with sunny yellow walls in the three ornate courts, leading to the detailed woodwork and tiling of the anteroom. Not only is the interior awe-inspiring, but it is a unique opportunity for non- Muslims to gain entrance to a holy site and learn more about the culture.
8) Selimiye Mosque - Edirne, Turkey
Some of the greatest masterpieces of the Ottoman period are found outside Istanbul. Sinan, one of the most famous Ottoman architects, designed the Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul but he did not consider that his masterpiece.
That honor belonged to the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne, the former Ottoman capital located on the Greek and Bulgarian borders along Turkey's European side. The building is more of a social complex encompassing madrassas (Islamic schools) as well as shops and is considered to be the most unified expression of the Ottoman kulliye, or group of buildings constructed around a mosque and managed as a single institution.
9) The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth - Fort Worth, Texas
Japanese architect Tadao Ando was recently commissioned to build the Modern Art Museum, which showcases his talent for incorporating Zen philosophies into his structures and reinforced concrete in their construction.
The basic materials, simple construction, and importance of light and reflection mimic the key elements of a modern work of art. If you are looking for other cool buildings to explore, there are two other landmarks in Fort Worth's Cultural District. Directly opposite the Modern, visitors can find the Kimbell Art Museum designed by celebrated architect Louis I Kahn.
10) Rila Monastery - Rila, Bulgaria
The monastery, founded in the 10th century by St John of Rila, is about 120 kilometers south of Sofia. The complex played an important role in the spiritual and social life of Bulgarian people for more than 10 centuries and the architectural styles of the various time periods are preserved throughout the property. The architecture incorporates Ottoman elements alongside evidence of the Bulgarian Renaissance.
In addition to the building itself, the artistry of the Bulgarian people can also be seen in the monastery's exquisite ceiling frescos.