The World's Most Beautiful Buildings (PHOTOS)

10/14/2012 09:38 am ET | Updated Dec 14, 2012

These are the world's most beautiful buildings? Are you kidding?

A hundred years ago, naming the world's most beautiful buildings was easy: the Parthenon. Sure. The Taj Mahal. Absolutely. Hagia Sophia. No argument. But now, in part because the whole notion was chewed up and spit out by those troublemaking Modernists, we're just learning to think about architecture in terms of beauty again. It's open season.

We readily admit our choices for the world's most beautiful buildings are questionable. They include Gaudí's controversial Sagrada Família cathedral (arguably a top sight) in Barcelona--a building that teeters on the boundary between love and hate. We see that edge as the exact place where beauty happens. Beautiful is not the same as pretty; it's a strong word, suggesting big emotions.

Are we consistent? Nope. But however capricious our choices may seem, we don't take beauty lightly. After all, the ongoing search for beauty is what travel is all about. It's certainly the best reason we know to leave the house. --Karrie Jacobs

World's Most Beautiful Buildings (PHOTOS)