Easily seen and always recognized, landmarks give us a sense of place and orientation in a big city. Wherever you go in Rome you can see the dome of St. Peter's; in Paris. the Eiffel Tower, or in Athens, the Acropolis rising above the city skyline.
These landmarks are so iconic, they are symbols of their locations, but they are also architectural masterpieces, windows into the past, and monuments of human achievement.
To find the top 25 Traveler's Choice landmarks in the world, travel booking site TripAdvisor considers the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for landmarks worldwide, gathered over a 12-month period. This year's awards recognized 759 landmarks across 68 countries and eight regions across the globe.
Here are 25 of the most spectacular landmarks in the world.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
For several centuries Angkor was the center of the Khmer Kingdom and now is one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia, and the largest in the world. The a complex of temples on over 400 acres includes the remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century.
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Last year, 2.2 million tourists visited Angkor Wat. Above, a monk meditates in the temple.
Photo: Geet Theerawat / Shutterstock
Plaza de Espana
The Plaza de Espana in Seville, known for its Renaissance/neo-Moorish style was built for the Ibero-American Exhibition of 1929. It is known for its colorful ceramic work.
Along the wall by the canal are 48 alcoves with benches, one for each province of Spain, each with a relevant tableau and map, all designed on colourful azulejos (painted ceramic tiles).
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
One the world's largest mosques, with a capacity for 40,000 worshippers, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque features 82 domes, over a 1,000 columns, 24-carat gold gilded chandeliers and the world's largest hand-knotted carpet.
The mosque is surrounded by reflective pools, and is transformed at night by a unique lightning system which reflects the phases of the moon.
St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture and the largest church in the world, as well as one of the holiest sites of the Roman Catholic Church. Construction began in 1506 and was completed 120 years later in 1626.
St. Peter's has over 100 tombs and a collection of famous artwork, including Michelangelo's Pietà.
Mezquita Cathedral de Cordoba
One of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture, this Roman Catholic church was converted to a mosque in the 8th century A.D. Today, it is the Catholic cathedral of the Diocese of Córdoba dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
Mezquita Cathedral de Cordoba is remarkable for its mix of diverse styles and artistic forms. From Hellenism to the Baroque, this cathedral offers a unique view into the history of art and culture.
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This immense mausoleum of white marble was built in Agra between 1631 and 1648 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife.
According to UNESCO, the Taj Mahal is a "masterpiece of architectural style in conception, treatment and execution and has unique aesthetic qualities in balance, symmetry and harmonious blending of various elements."
Duomo di Milano
Milan's cathedral, one of the largest churches in Europe, took nearly 600 years to complete.
Above, the bronze sculpture of Jesus on the intricately decorated central door of the Duomo Cathedral.
Photo: Krikkiat / Shutterstock
This forbidding island of rock in the San Francisco bay held an infamous federal penitentiary and is now a national park. "The Rock" operated as a prison from 1934-1963, incarcerating inmates such as Al Capone and Whitey Bulger and it inspired numerous novels and films.
In 1969, American Indians -- many whose tribes were being terminated by federal policy -- occupied Alcatraz for 18 months in protest, leading to change in federal policy towards American Indians that would save the tribes.
Today, travelers can take tours offering historical insights including a first-hand look at the prison cells and grounds.
Golden Gate Bridge
The famous red suspension bridge connects the city of San Francisco with Marin county to the north. Nearly two miles long, construction took place during the Depression, from 1933 to 1937, and nearly anyone who could stand the cold and rigors of the job lined up for steady employment.
Tourists love to walk or bike across its windy span, and take in the breathtaking views.
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Budapest's architectural jewel, a splendid neo-Gothic building on the banks of the Danube, is topped by a dome 226 feet high.
The Parliament is home to the Holy Crown of Hungary.
Photo: T photography / Shutterstock
Old Town Square
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague's historic square features a range of architectural styles and is famous for its medieval astronomical clock, which was installed in 1410, and still works.
When the clock strikes the hour, the procession of the Twelve Apostles is set in motion. The clock is currently being restored and is supposed to be back up and running in August 2018.
Notre Dame de Paris
One of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, Notre Dame de Paris was among the first buildings in the world designed with flying buttresses.
The cathedral houses some of Catholicism's most important relics, including the purported Crown of Thorns, a fragment of the True Cross, and one of the Holy Nails.
Christ the Redeemer, Mount Corcovado
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The 125-foot Art Deco statue of Jesus Christ in Rio de Janeiro was built in 1922 on the summit of Mount Corcovado. The statue is the largest Art Deco-style sculpture in the world and is one of Rio de Janeiro's most recognizable landmarks.
Photo: marchello74 / Shutterstock
The iconic wrought-iron lattice tower on the Champ de Mars in Paris was built in 1889 as the entrance to the 1889 World's Fair. Named after the engineer, Gustave Eiffel, it was initially hated by many Parisians. Today, it is one of the most recognizable structures in the world.
At night, every hour on the hour, the tower sparkles with golden lights for five minutes while the Eiffel Tower's beam lights up the city.
Tower of London
London's castle -- a secure fortress, royal palace and infamous prison-- is home to the Crown Jewels, a famous collection of 23,578 gemstones.
Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII, spent her final days at the famous fortress before she was executed.
An ancient citadel rising from a flat-toped rock above the city of Athens, the Acropolis contains the remains of several ancient buildings of architectural and historic significance, the most famous being the Parthenon, which is over 2,400 years old.
In the 5th century B.C. the Athenians built the Parthenon as a celebration of Hellenic victory over Persian invaders and as a thanks to the gods for the victory. It transformed the rocky hill into a unique monument of thought and the arts.
Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho)
One of the oldest and largest temples in Bangkok features the famous Reclining Buddha, which is the largest in Thailand. It is more than 150 feet long.
Mutianyu Great Wall
Mutianyu is a section of the Great Wall of China about 70 km northeast of central Beijing.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
This skyscraper, the tallest structure in the world, is 2,722 feet high. The building has 57 elevators and eight escalators.
Sydney Opera House
An architectural masterpiece and vibrant performance space, the Syndey Opera House offers over 40 shows a week.
The sculptural elegance of the building has made it one of the most recognizable buildings of our time.
Photo: GagliardiImages / Shutterstock
Santuario Historico de Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu stands 2,430 meters above sea level, in the middle of a tropical mountain forest. Now a UNESCO world heritage site, it was the creation of the Inca Empire at its height. Its giant walls, terraces and ramps seem as if they have been cut naturally from the continuous rock escarpments.
El Ateneo Grand Splendid
Buenos Aires, Argentina
The famous El Ateneo Grand Splendid is a bookshop set in a 100-year-old theater and is one of the most popular bookstores in Buenos Aires.
Photo: R.M. Nunes / Shutterstock
Montreal's oldest Catholic church, built in 1656, is known for its intricately designed interior, which includes stained glass chronicling the history of the city.
Photo: A G Baxter / Shutterstock
Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine
An important Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto, Fushimi Inari-taisha is famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings. The trails lead into the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari. Many visitors explore the mountain trails.
Yangon (Rangoon), Myanmar
The city's biggest tourist attraction is this immense Buddhist shrine built about 2,500 years ago.