The world’s quirkiest architectural gems

Are you an architecture or art student? Or perhaps you just have a passion for these topics and are looking for your next holiday destination? There are a number of hidden gems out there that are known for their quirky, strange, and fascinating architecture. While Barcelona and its Gaudi neighbourhood might not exactly be unknown, it’s definitely worth a mention for the sheer wonder of it all. Other mentions include Tirana in Albania and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Barcelona, Spain

Over the years, Spain has been influenced by many cultures and has become famous for much more rather than just football! Lots of them left their unique stamp on its architecture as well. But one of the most fascinating gems in the country and the world is La Sagrada Familia cathedral and the surrounding area, which make it one of the best places to visit in Europe. Designed by Spanish artist Antoni Gaudi, the streets and buildings are a vibrant delight comprising architecture and paintwork.

You can take yourself on a tour of his work, including the seven main buildings designed by him between 1852-1926. If you’re heading to Spain and Barcelona, it’s always a good idea to engage a tutor to help you pick up some phrases along the way. While Barcelona is a tourist city, you may well encounter situations where people don’t speak English. With online tutoring, you can fit it around your studies at a time that suits you. Knowing a bit of Spanish will also help you tour Gaudi’s works when you visit.

Tirana, Albania

When you think of global architectural gems, the capital of Albania probably isn’t top of your list. But you’d be surprised. This former communist country is a mish-mash of influences including Ottoman, Italian Fascist, Socialist and Brutalist, post-communist, and finally, weird and outstanding new developments. Many apartment blocks are painted in bright colours like blue, pink, and green; some are even covered in murals.

You will find street art on every corner, alongside red and orange government buildings adorned with bright lights. Lastly, some of the newer developments may raise a few eyebrows. One currently in the works is in the shape of a man’s head, another in the form of the country. There is one block that’s almost finished, which includes trees and foliage hanging from every floor. Albania is a safe, attractive, and low-cost option for travellers, and the architecture is something else.

Dubai, UAE

Dubai is one of the most vibrant, diverse, and luxurious destinations in the world. You are probably familiar with its towering skyscrapers, including the Burj Khalifa, which stands at 828 meters. If modern and over-the-top architecture that leaves you stunned is your thing, Dubai definitely is the place to go. It’s also home to Marina 1010, Princess Tower, and more than 70 over 200 meters tall.

But Dubai is also home to an old town called Al Bastakiya, which dates back to the 1800s and comprises low-rise, stone, and traditionally built blocks. With maze-like streets, you can explore traditional food, market stalls, and a more laid-back and authentic pace of life. The contrast between the two kinds of architecture makes for a fascinating visit.

We hope our insider tips have inspired you to book the cultural holiday of your dreams!

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