Architecture is an essential part of our daily lives, and it has been for thousands of years. From the great pyramids of Egypt to the towering skyscrapers of today, architecture has played a critical role in shaping our world. While we may be familiar with some of the most famous structures in history, there are still many surprising facts about architecture that remain unknown. Today we will explore five surprising facts about the history of architecture that will deepen our understanding of the field.
Fact #1: The Oldest Surviving Building is over 12,000 Years Old
When most people think of ancient architecture, they probably picture the great pyramids of Egypt or the temples of ancient Greece. However, the oldest surviving building in the world is actually located in Turkey. Göbekli Tepe, which dates back to around 10,000 BCE, is a megalithic structure that was built by hunter-gatherers. The site features a series of massive stone pillars that were arranged in circular patterns, and it is believed that the structures were used for religious purposes. The discovery of Göbekli Tepe has forced historians to rethink the timeline of human civilization and the development of architecture.
Fact #2: The Great Pyramid of Giza Was Originally Covered in Limestone
The Great Pyramid of Giza is one of the most iconic structures in the world. Built over 4,500 years ago, it remains a testament to the ingenuity and skill of ancient Egyptian architects. While most people are familiar with the pyramid’s current appearance, few know that it was originally covered in smooth white limestone. The casing stones were removed over time, likely due to weathering and looting, and today, only a few of them remain at the base of the pyramid. The original appearance of the Great Pyramid gives us a glimpse into the incredible craftsmanship of the ancient Egyptians and the awe-inspiring sight that it must have been to behold.
Fact #3: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater Was Built Over a Waterfall
Frank Lloyd Wright is one of the most celebrated architects of the 20th century, and his masterpiece Fallingwater is a prime example of his genius. Built in 1935 for the Kaufmann family, Fallingwater is a stunning home that sits atop a waterfall in rural Pennsylvania. The house is an integration of nature and architecture, with large windows that provide panoramic views of the forest and waterfall below. While it may seem like a dream home today, building Fallingwater was not without its challenges. Wright had to work around the natural terrain and ensure that the house was structurally sound given its precarious location.
Fact #4: The Sydney Opera House Was Almost Never Built
The Sydney Opera House is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world, but it almost never came to be. The project was first proposed in the 1940s, but it faced significant political and financial hurdles. The initial budget was vastly underestimated, and the construction of the building faced numerous delays and setbacks. It wasn’t until the intervention of the architect Jørn Utzon, who designed the building, that the project was finally completed in 1973. Today, the Sydney Opera House is one of the most iconic structures in Australia and a symbol of the country’s cultural heritage.
Fact #5: The Eiffel Tower Was Originally Built as a Temporary Structure
The Eiffel Tower is one of the most famous landmarks in the world, and it has become synonymous with the city of Paris. However, few people know that the tower was actually built as a temporary structure for the 1889 World’s Fair. The tower was designed by Gustave Eiffel, a prominent engineer of the time, and it was meant to showcase France’s technological prowess. The tower was nearly dismantled after the fair ended, but it was saved because of its usefulness as a radio tower. Today, the Eiffel Tower is a beloved symbol of Paris and one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world.