Do you know where the main monuments of the world are, exactly? In which country, and how to get there? This is the purpose of these few documents on the monuments of the world, which present a list of monuments and explain not only where they are, but also how to get there, if you can get there. Because many monuments, in the world, are not accessible, and that for various reasons. For example, some are in countries at war where you can not go, militarily speaking. Others are in inaccessible geographical locations, physically. But apart from these cases, most of the world's monuments are not only perfectly accessible, but mostly arranged for sightseeing.
To ask the question of the location of the main monuments of the world is to question the countries with the most famous monuments in the world. And so to ask if the vision of a European is very identical to that of an Asian or a South American. Of course, the answer is no, and we must admit that the list of the main monuments of the world depends on each country, each population, each person even.
But there are unmissable monuments whose existence is unanimously known and the representation symbolically strong. We are talking about the Great Wall of China, the Statue of Liberty or the Sydney Opera House.
Locations of known monuments
A first observation first: The main monuments of the world are not evenly distributed on the planet. If we find them everywhere, some countries are less inclined to promote them than others, and this is normal: A large number of countries simply do not have the means to develop them, internationally or, in a more pragmatic way, does not seek to highlight them. The city of Palmyra remains buried in its ruins while the region is pacified, Mali tries to keep as much as possible the mosque of Djenné, and the Buddhist temples of the Burmese countryside are maintained but not delivered to mass tourism. And yet these three very different examples illustrate three monuments that could have an international aura, but they do not have it for reasons of conflict or lack of political will.
Unsurprisingly, it is the most economically advanced countries that have most highlighted their monuments. They are mainly found in the northern hemisphere, with a strong correlation between the standard of living of the inhabitants and the presence of internationally known monuments.
Also note that in Europe, the main monuments of a country are in its capital. This is the story that wants it, the European countries being historically strongly linked to their capitals. The example of Paris is interesting: if France is covered with monuments, there are fewer monuments in the entire territory than in Paris itself, if we stick to monuments known beyond the borders of France. Indeed, in Paris, we can mention:
- Eiffel Tower,
- The Arc de Triomphe,
- The Sacred Heart,
- The Notre-Dame cathedral,
- The Louvre Museum.
These are all monuments known all over the world. In French province, the most famous monuments are:
- The Mont Saint Michel,
- The city of Carcassonne,
- The city of the popes.
Of course, we can extend this list (Pont du Gard, Loire castles, Mihaud viaduct, Haut-Koenisbourg castle, etc.) but we must recognize that these monuments are not as well known as those of Paris, at the exception of Mont Saint-Michel, very visited.
Such an internal geographic distribution is found in all European countries. Spain has a slightly different distribution, but it's her story that wants that. Part of the national monuments are in Barcelona, capital of the Catalonia region, which has remained almost 1000 years independent. No wonder there are great monuments in Barcelona such as the Sagra Familia, the famous cathedral still under construction, the Guell garden, the ramblas, etc. Italy, which was unified recently (in the light of European history), has a more egalitarian distribution on its territory, with magnificent monuments spread all over the place. This is the exception that confirms the rule because even if the secondary cities of Germany, the United Kingdom or Romania have beautiful monuments, it is in capitals that we tour the best known.
Special cases of large states
Unlike the European countries the largest states in the world, geographically speaking, have few monuments compared to their areas. Thus Russia is mainly known for only two monuments, while it has the largest piece of planet of all countries: The Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg and the Kremlin, seat of political power in Moscow. One can add the Red Square, and after there are many other monuments, but much less known, like for example the statue of Peter the Great, always in Moscow. Their American opposite is a little in the same case: Many monuments, but few that are internationally known. At home, the most obvious is the Statue of Liberty in New York. There are also the sculptures of Mount Rushmore, in South Dakota, but other than that there are only utilitarian constructions like the Golden Gate, the famous San Francisco Bridge, or skyscrapers like Empire State Building or the Chrisler Building, both in New York. But we saw that we could not consider them as monuments, just like the natural sites that are the Grand Canyon or the Chesapeake Bay.
Brazil is also a great country that is known to have only two important monuments: The Redeeming Christ of Rio and all the monuments of Brasilia, which can be seen as a uniform architectural ensemble. Same for Australia and China, which have few known monuments to the size of their respective countries.
Location of monuments in each country
Is there a logic in the implantation of monuments in a country?
The answer is no, of course. There is never an overall plan that it is the history of the people living in this country that induced their establishment, and not a planned logic that would mean that there would have been a political will of the geographical distribution of these monuments in the country. In fact, this can be partly the case, some countries choose the link building a monument for political reasons. This is the case in countries with strong ideology in society, such as North Korea or Iraq. These two countries built monuments whose locations were perfectly studied, but these cases are that the ruling class of the country wanted to send a message to the people. We are in dictatorial countries. And of course it only concerns recently built monuments.
Sometimes a monument is in an area that is difficult to access. This is the case for ancient historical monuments, from a civilization that has disappeared or at least abandoned the site, for example the city of Macchu Piccu, Peru. We have the same case in Guatemala, a country whose Mayan sites are less accessible than in neighboring Mexico. Some monumental Buddha statues are also very difficult to access when they are in monasteries removed from China or Japan.