Sights with a Capital 'S'

Written by  Kat Mackintosh

Some pieces of architecture or striking natural features become so synonymous with a place as to loom large over it in the minds eye. Paris without the Eiffel Tower or the glass pyramid of the Louvre is impossible to imagine, Sydney sans Opera House is a bland any-city, what is Pisa without its tower? and London is a landmark after a historic building after a monument - some of the roads and parks which make up the spaces in between are monuments in their own right.

The images of a million postcards, if you visit a place without seeing its major landmarks you may feel like you haven't really been there…but you don't always need to visit a landmark to get a feel for it, sometimes just finding a spot where it dominates the scene, making this view unlike that over any other city, is enough. Yes, a trip up the Eiffel Tower is good fun, you get a pretty view from the top and it's interesting to hear about its history and why it was built, but up close it’s less interesting than a lot of Paris’s other sights. Seen from a café terrace or hotel balcony its attractive silhouette over Paris adds romance to the view, yes, you’re really in Paris, city of romance and light…

I loathe travelling with hoards. I hate sharing my experiences with people on tick box tours. People striking that famous pose holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, missioning through the Louvre to get to the Mona Lisa, talking loudly in the Sistine Chapel – they kill it for me. So finding my own private way to experience these favourites is vital to really visiting a city – I don’t want to miss them, I just like to think of slightly more creative ways to enjoy them and sometimes that means appreciating from a distance or interacting with them in a different way. Go and see a performance at the Sydney Opera House, instead of vying for the same photo spot to take your pic of the Houses of Parliament, pass by them on a river cruise and see it from a different vantage point. The Great Wall of China is pretty long, you don’t have to walk along the same stretch as anyone else and why just go to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome as a tourist, go to a service – see it at work! But the best way to avoid having your solemn, reflective visit to the profound human tribute to the love of God that the Sistine Chapel represents, wrecked by tour guides lecturing in a multitude of languages, is to visit it way out of season.

Best of the World's Monuments and Landmarks

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