Buildings can serve many different purposes, and the only limits to what can be built are imagination and ingenuity. Soviet-style apartment complexes were built as simply as possible with form totally subservient to function. Baroque chapels were as ornate as humanly possible to dazzle the senses. The lavish buildings throughout history amaze us today.
Buildings can be the seats of government or created as residences. They can be fortresses, concert halls, or anything in-between. When it comes down to it though, there are some buildings made simply to be looked at with jaws falling.
See 15 of the most lavish buildings from history.
15.) Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock was built specifically as a place for Muslims, but it has become a beacon for people of all major religions for centuries. The price of the building’s initial cost is estimated at best, having been built officially at some point between 691 and 692 CE.
This building has been destroyed or fallen apart numerous times since it went up centuries ago. That left it to being repaired or restored completely and/or partially several times.
It has been called Jerusalem’s most notable or recognizable building and has now been made into a UNESCO World Heritage site.
14.) Emirates Palace
The Emirates Palace is not what it sounds like. Usually, when lavish buildings have “palace” in the name, you naturally assume that is exactly what it is. However, Abu Dhabi made this five-star hotel as a place for tourists in an effort to get more people to come to the nation.
It cost the nation $3 billion to accomplish this, but it seems to have worked out for them. Since going up in late 2005, the hotel has played host to several people from around the world. That list includes several celebrities, athletes, and royal family members. The building does have marble and gold all around, so, that makes sense.
13.) Hagia Sophia
The Hagia Sophia was built in 537 AD in Istanbul as a Greek Orthodox cathedral. It eventually became an Ottoman imperial mosque and now is a museum. The Hagia Sophia is considered to be one of the world’s greatest structures, resulting in Turkey trying to take care of it as often as possible.
It plays guest to over 3 million people per year, and several Muslims head there due to its historical connection to the Islamic Religion. This cathedral was never built to be lavish, but it turned out that way when the original build was done.
12.) Roman Pantheon
The Greeks and Romans were odd regarding their religious loves. They are connected to several buildings dedicated to mythological gods, as well as a massive amount of Jewish and Christian related structures. One of those happens to be the Pantheon, a former Roman Temple. It was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa, who lived during the reign of Emperor Augustus.
The building was eventually finished in 126 AD. Currently, it’s the most well preserved of all the Ancient Roman buildings. It’s clearly one of the most famous buildings in the world for good reason. It was made to be one of the world’s most lavish buildings and is still absolutely beautiful.
11.) Notre-Dame Cathedral
The Notre-Dame Cathedral was never built to be massively gorgeous. It was made to serve as a church in Paris, France. The build was finished in 1260, but by the time of the French Revolution, the people of France hated everything the nation stood for.
With the Cathedral being one of its primary symbols, it was damaged and relatively destroyed. After Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame came out, a massive restoration project began in 1845 due to a renewed interest in the church. It continued for 25 years and has been restored a few times since.
10.) St. Basil’s Cathedral
Not to be outdone by other cathedrals is Russia’s Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed, better known as Saint Basil’s Cathedral. It was built between 1555–1561 on orders from Ivan the Terrible. It has become a symbol of the Russian nation ever since then. Today, the building is a state historical museum and still has services from time to time.
We’re not sure if the likes of Vladimir Putin or certain presidents from other nations attend services here. However, it was made to be among the most lavish buildings in the world. It remains a colorfully beautiful building to this day.
9.) Las Lajas Sanctuary
The Las Lajas Sanctuary is carved out of the canyon of the Guáitara River. It is located in the Southern Colombian Department of Nariño in the municipality of Ipiales. Inside, you’ll be within one of the most lavish buildings on the planet.
It is the site of a miraculous event in 1754 when Amerindian Maria Meneses de Quiñones and her deaf-mute daughter Rosa were caught in a strong storm. The two sought refuge between the gigantic Lajas. Mueces’s daughter Rosa exclaimed “the Mestiza is calling me” and pointed to the lightning-illuminated silhouette over the laja.
8.) The Great Mosque of Mecca
Located in Mecca, Hejaz, Saudi Arabia, the Great Mosque of Mecca is the largest Islamic Mosque on the planet. The Muslims believe the Mosque was established at the end of Abraham. However, historians think the timeframe of the original building was between 634-644.
The current building of over 350,000 square meters in length has been renovated numerous times since the 8th Century. It is one of the most lavish buildings in the world.
Due to being in the rich kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the people living nearby have put billions into the building over the years to make it look extra nice.
7.) Istana Nurul Iman Palace
Built in 1984, the Istana Nurul Iman Palace cost over a billion to make. If you were wondering, yes, it is as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside. When you talk lavish buildings, this might need to be among the first you mention. It is the current residence of the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, and the official seat of the Brunei government.
It is relatively tough to enter and check out as a result of this being a residential building as much as a government one. However, we have seen images and heard stories of the palace. To say it’s lavish is an understatement.
6.) Parliament House, Canberra
The Parliament House was opened in 1988 by Queen Elizabeth II herself in the capital of Australia, Canberra. This building is where the Australian Parliament meets. The house has 4,700 rooms in it because a few were not enough. Many of those rooms are open to the public.
The Aussie House of Representatives room is decorated green while the Senate room is in red. The main foyer contained a marble staircase and leads into the Great Hall, which has a massive tapestry on display. The Members’ Hall has a water feature open to the public and is quite beautiful.
5.) The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City is not one building as the name suggests. It is a palace complex. In fact, it’s made up of more than 900 buildings, with a total footprint of almost eight million square feet! From the mid-15th century until the early 20th century, this massive palace complex was off-limits to nearly everyone in the empire. Well, except for those chosen few whom the emperor allowed in.
The entire complex is surrounded by a moat and high walls. This could only be passed through at the East or West Glorious Gate or the “Gate of Divine Might.” Inside, visit lavish buildings like the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the Palace of Tranquil Longevity, and the Hall of Military Eminence.
4.) Antilia, Private Residence of Mukesh Ambani
If you lived in a 400,000-square-foot, 27-story building staffed by 600 fulltime employees and situated in southern Mumbai’s business district, you’d be home by now. You’d also be named Mukesh Ambani, one of the world’s richest men and owner of what is purported to be the world’s most expensive private residence.
It’s not publicly known what Ambani spent constructing Antilia, but estimates put the number well north of a billion dollars.
3.) The Sistine Chapel
To stand on the floor of the Sistine Chapel with head tilted back, eyes on the ceiling is one of the most amazing experiences any lover of art, history or Catholicism can have. However, it must have taken a long time, money, and effort to decorate that one relatively small space designed initially as a private Papal chapel.
It’s also clear why Martin Luther kicked off that whole Protestant Reformation half a decade after the ceiling painting was completed. Michelangelo painted the ceilings and walls of the Sistine Chapel, but he did so under the threat of Pope Julius II, not as a nice sort of patronage.
2.) The Taj Mahal
This magnificent building is without a doubt the most beautiful thing ever constructed for someone who couldn’t appreciate it. The Taj Mahal isn’t a palace or hall of government. It is a mausoleum built for and dedicated to one woman, the third wife of the emperor Shah Jahan.
Its 20-year construction began after her death in 1631. In one fell swoop, the sorrowful emperor created both a stunning sample of Islamic art and architecture. Meanwhile, lavish buildings like this made for a woman made every other guy on Earth feel like an inadequate partner.
King Louis the XIV was not a man who lived life in moderation. The Sun King has become synonymous with extravagant living, and his palace of Versailles is the most outsized, lasting example of that lavish legacy. The palace sits on hundreds of acres of manicured gardens dotted by more than 200,000 trees and 50 fountains.
The main building itself features well over 2,000 rooms. The building of Versailles largely contributed to the draining of French national coffers. It was also an ostensible cause of the French Revolution that would break out a little more than 50 years after Louis’ death in 1715.