Over the years, I’ve traveled extensively for both my professional pursuits and personal pleasure. I truly relish the opportunity to explore the world on an international scale as it has presented the unique opportunity to learn from a variety of people, life perspectives, and cultures. But I particularly enjoy learning about the area’s history and taking the time to appreciate the architectural influences that are unique to the region as well. Below are a few examples of places around the world with breathtaking architecture rich with history and culture.

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

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Although New Orleans was founded by the French, most of the architectural influences we know of today come from Spain. In the late 18th century, fires destroyed the city and its original French-style, wooden buildings. To ensure this tragedy never happened again, the Spanish government, who ruled the city at the time, enacted strict building and fire codes. Fro then on, fire-resistant materials like plaster, stucco, and brick were required on all buildings.

Today, we know New Orleans as a city with beautiful ironwork, lacey victorian columns, rainbows of stucco exteriors, and balconies and galleries dotted with a variety of plants that adorn most multistory buildings.

Barcelona, Spain

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In the city of Barcelona, you’ll notice architects took more colorful risks by having its buildings designed in a rainbow of bold colors — much like New Orleans! What’s even more unusual about Barcelona’s architecture is its streets. Known as a chamfered corner, almost all street corners are cut off to provide its crossroads an airy feel and more room on corners for terraces.

As tourists stroll throughout the city, many may notice that almost all major buildings were designed and built by Antoni Gaudi, who was a Spanish Catalan architect. He is best-known for the immense — and still unfinished — Sagrada Família cathedral, which has been under construction since the late 19th century. Gaudi’s extremely detailed works implemented his other crafting passions of ceramics, stained glass, wrought ironwork, and carpentry. The result is dozens of breathtaking buildings that bear his name.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

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Built of sandstone in the first half of the 12th century by the Khmer empire, the temple complex of Angkor Wat was built to worship Vishnu, one of the principal gods of Hinduism. The Angkor Wat’s architecture is often admired for its grandeur and harmony, and for its extensive sculptures and carvings on the walls.

Before entering the temple, tourists see two small pools, a moat, and an outer wall with galleries. The interior of the entrance to the area is decorated with mythical snake-like animals. At the center stands a quincunx of towers. Architecturally, the elements characteristic of the style include gothic arches, towers shaped like lotus buds, galleries to broaden passageways, and cruciform terraces.

Where have you traveled with breathtaking architecture? Let me know in the comments!