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The Most Exciting Cities For Architecture Buffs (PHOTOS)

Posted: 12/27/11 07:30 AM ET

A city with a distinct architectural style has a certain draw to travelers. Great architecture is both artistic and scientific, both beautiful and practical. Even more, architecture gives us cultural clues about a city's past, present and future.

Important architectural advancements such as the invention of the dome, of concrete, and of the skyscraper itself not only advanced the technology of construction, but also challenged architects to compete amongst themselves to produce more efficient and creative structures.

We've selected a handful of cities that have developed a reputation for notable architecture styles and histories, but it's impossible to give enough attention to all architectural masterpieces. Here are seven great cities for architecture buffs and a few highlights not to miss in each one.

Athens, Greece
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Athens is a city for travelers who are drawn to architecture with clues about the culture and lifestyle of people of the past. The Ancient Greeks were political, religious, and proud. They built many monuments to celebrate victories, to give honor to the deities, and to stroke their own egos.

Greek architecture is often associated with temples and columns. The Doric, Ionic and Corinthian orders designed by Ancient Greek architects have proved to be timeless and are apparent in many of the buildings that still stand in Athens today. The friezes and sculptures housed in Athens temples provide insight into the lives and worship practices of the Athenians of yesteryear. They depict battles, processions, important statesmen, and deities.

Parthenon

This temple to the Greek goddess Athena was finished in 432 BC and is the most important surviving structure remaining from Ancient Greece. It still stands even after 2,500 years of weathering, war, and vandalism. The Parthenon is an art history teacher's dream, complete with columns of both the Doric and Ionic order, metopes depicting various battles, pedimental sculptures, and a frieze.

Temple of Athena Nike


Although this temple is the smallest on the hill, it is the first to greet visitors to the Acropolis of Athens. The height-to-diameter ratio of its columns is unusual; it is 7:1, whereas most Ionic buildings are 9:1 or 10:1.The Temple of Athena Nike was built with marble and was a place to worship gods and goddesses of war. Fragments of the original frieze are housed in the Acropolis Museum and copies rest in their place inside the temple.

Temple of Olympian Zeus

Only the ruins of this once grandiose temple remain, but it still represents the power and pride of past Athenian rulers. Various rulers sought to finish the temple to their own governments and themselves, but death and war prevented its completion. The temple was finally dedicated in 132 AD, several centuries after constructions first began. But it was badly damaged and pillaged shortly after, and was never fully restored.

Plan your trip with our Greece travel guide, book ferries in Greece, or discover off the beaten path spots in Greece
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photo credits: MorBCN, Francisco Diez, Oberazzi, Sergey Gabdurahkmanov, Frederic Poirot, JOVIKA, Storm Crypt

 

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