There are countless iconic landmarks that dot the globe, each with its own unique story and significance. However, even the most famous of these landmarks harbor secrets and fascinating facts that are often overlooked. These 15 fascinating facts remind us that there’s always more to discover about the world’s most famous landmarks, no matter how well-known they may seem.
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1. The Great Pyramid of Giza
Despite being one of the oldest and most well-documented structures in the world, the Great Pyramid of Giza continues to hold many secrets. One of the lesser-known facts is that the pyramid was once covered in polished limestone, causing it to shine brightly under the Egyptian sun. Can you imagine how bright that must have been?
Fun Fact: The Great Pyramid was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years until the completion of Lincoln Cathedral in England in the 14th century.
2. The Eiffel Tower
Did you know that the Eiffel Tower grows and shrinks with the seasons? Due to thermal expansion, the iron structure can change its height by up to 15 centimeters (about 6 inches) depending on the temperature.
Fun Fact: The Eiffel Tower was originally intended to be a temporary structure, erected for the 1889 Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair) and was almost torn down afterwards.
3. The Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty wasn’t always green. When it was first erected in 1886, it was a dull brown color, the natural hue of its copper cladding. It took about 30 years for the statue to develop its now-iconic green patina. It’s hard to even imagine her any other color but green.
Fun Fact: The seven spikes on the crown of the Statue of Liberty represent the seven continents and the seven seas.
4. The Leaning Tower of Pisa
While famous for its accidental tilt, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is also home to a lesser-known fact: it was once a bell tower. The seven bells on top, each representing a note in the musical major scale, are seldom rung due to fear of exacerbating the tower’s lean.
Fun Fact: The last time the bells of the Leaning Tower of Pisa were rung was on the turn of the millennium, December 31, 1999.
5. Machu Picchu
Hidden among the Peruvian Andes, Machu Picchu was lost to the world until its rediscovery in 1911. Intriguingly, despite its fame and extensive exploration since, no one really knows what its original name was – “Machu Picchu” simply means “Old Mountain” in Quechua.
Fun Fact: The Incas did not use wheels or animals to transport heavy rocks for the construction of the city. Instead, hundreds of men pushed the rocks up the steep mountain side.
6. Sydney Opera House
Beyond its stunning architecture, the Sydney Opera House holds an acoustic secret. The concert hall ceiling, with its intricate pattern of wooden panels, is designed to scatter sound waves in multiple directions, providing exceptional acoustics.
Fun Fact: The Sydney Opera House’s “sails” are actually made up of over a million self-cleaning tiles.
Stonehenge, the mysterious stone circle in England, was constructed in several stages over many centuries. One little-known fact is that the smaller stones, known as “bluestones,” were transported over 200 miles from Wales – a remarkable feat for the Neolithic people.
Fun Fact: Stonehenge was built using only tools made of wood, bone, and stone.
8. The Colosseum
The Colosseum in Rome, known for its gladiatorial contests, had a wooden floor covered with sand. Underneath this floor was an elaborate system of tunnels and rooms known as the hypogeum, where gladiators and animals were kept before the battles.
Fun Fact: The Colosseum could be filled with water for mock naval battles known as “naumachiae.”
9. The Great Wall of China
Contrary to popular belief, the Great Wall of China is not a single, continuous structure. It is actually made up of many different walls and fortifications, some of which date back as far as the 7th century BC.
Fun Fact: While it’s a myth that the Great Wall of China can be seen from space, it is long enough to circle the Earth over two and a half times.
10. The Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal, a symbol of love and beauty, appears perfectly symmetrical from the front. However, one thing that breaks this symmetry is the western building, which was constructed as a mosque and faces towards Mecca.
Fun Fact: It is said that the Emperor Shah Jahan planned to build a black marble mausoleum across the river as a mirror image of the Taj Mahal, but his plans were interrupted when he was overthrown by his son.
11. Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore is famous for its colossal carvings of four U.S. presidents. A lesser-known fact is that there’s ahidden chamber behind Lincoln’s head. Known as the Hall of Records, this chamber contains sixteen porcelain enamel panels inscribed with the history of the U.S., the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the biographies of the four presidents.
Fun Fact: Thomas Jefferson’s face was originally started on Washington’s right, but after 18 months of carving the rock was found to be unsuitable and Jefferson’s face was blasted off and restarted on Washington’s left.
12. The Parthenon
The Parthenon, an ancient temple on the Athenian Acropolis, is renowned for its architectural precision. What’s less known is that there are no straight lines in the structure; every horizontal element has a slight upward curvature. This subtle feature, known as entasis, enhances the Parthenon’s visual appeal.
Fun Fact: The Parthenon was used as a Christian church dedicated to the Virgin Mary in the final centuries of the Byzantine Empire, and then as a mosque when the Ottoman Empire took control.
Petra, the ancient city carved into the cliffs of southern Jordan, is famous for its rock-cut architecture. However, much of Petra remains unexplored. It’s estimated that only 15% of the city has been uncovered, leaving many secrets buried beneath the sand.
Fun Fact: The Treasury, the most iconic building in Petra, appears in the final sequence of the Hollywood film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
14. The Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge, an engineering marvel, is painted in a color known as “International Orange.” This color was originally used as a primer for the steel, but it was later chosen as the final color due to its visibility in fog and its contrast with the surrounding landscape.
Fun Fact: The Golden Gate Bridge’s two main cables contain enough wire to circle the Earth more than three times.
15. Christ the Redeemer
Christ the Redeemer, the towering statue overlooking Rio de Janeiro, has a heart-shaped silhouette when viewed from certain angles. This is not by design but a happy accident resulting from the statue’s pose with outstretched arms.
Fun Fact: Lightning strikes the Christ the Redeemer statue several times a year. In 2014, a lightning strike damaged the statue’s right thumb.
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This article was produced by Our Woven Journey.