Top 10 Marble buildings and Structures
Marble has long been used to adorn the world’s most beautiful buildings. We have compiled a list of what we believe are the best marble buildings and structures around the world, including Malta. The list is in no particular order, because, let’s face it, how can one possibly decide? Read on, and let us know whether you agree and whether we’ve left out a building which you believe was worth a mention.
St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican museum
The Vatican has long been renowned for its ornate ceilings. Our tip if you plan on visiting this gem: Look down. The floors are a work of art in marble, from intricate mosaics to religious motifs. And it’s not just the floors. The Vatican is home to numerous marble sculptures, such as the world renown Pieta by Michelangelo as well as a number of beautiful as well as a number of marble columns of varying types of marble which are over 12 meters high.
The Duomo of Florence
Dominating the Florentine skyline and a sight to behold the cathedral is entirely covered in marble: white from Carrara, green from Prato and red from Siena. Even the interior flooring of the Duomo is all marble. With the construction of the building taking around 140 years, we must admit, it was definitely worth the wait.
One cannot possibly mention marble in architecture without making a reference to the breathtaking Taj Mahal in Agra, India, built entirely of marble (including the foundations). The building is a declaration of love and grief, having been commissioned by Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, who died while giving birth to their 14th child….a love he literally carved in stone.
When the Athenians set out to build the Parthenon, their aim was to outshine all the other temples built up to that era. Needless to say, their go-to material to reach this scope was…yes you guessed it…marble. This building has inspired countless other buildings including the US Supreme Court building, the British museum and the Lincoln Memorial.
Situated in Washington, the Lincoln Memorial is one of America’s best loved monuments. The memorial utilizes Pink Tenessee marble for the floors, Alabama marble for the ceiling and 28 blocks of Georgia marble for the statue. The marble structure is based on the classical Greek temple, the Parthenon, with the memorial’s structure reportedly believing that “a memorial to the man who defended democracy should be modelled after a structure from the birthplace of democracy.”
Dome of the Rock, Israel
Dome of the Rock is Islam’s third holiest site and the oldest surviving Islamic building from anywhere on the planet. Built in the late 7th century, the present structure is a mix of previous restorations, with some of the marble utilized on the inside, donated, oddly enough by Benito Mussolini.
This list wouldn’t be complete without some of Malta’s very own gems. (You didn’t think we were going to forget them eh?) Floors don’t get more lavish than this. Covered in marble tombstones of members of the clergy and noble families, carrying various coats of arms and inscriptions. One word….amazing.
Some say that the geometric marble floor of the magnificent Pantheon is a representation of the Roman conquests as it is decorated with colored marble tiles from all four corners of the Mediterranean Roman Empire with marbles from Egypt, Asia Minor, Carthage, and Gaul. Apart from its beauty the floor also has a functional aspect as it slopes down so that rainwater which enters the building through the dome can be drained out.
This one is off the radar, but definitely worth a mention in our opinion. The capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat boasts an area of 543 buildings clad in white marble. If the marble was laid out flat, there would be one square metre of marble for every 4.87 m² of land. So it’s basically a city made up of white marble. How’s that for impressive?
St. John’s Co-Cathedral, Valletta
Saving Malta’s best for last, The St John’s co-Cathedral in Valletta greatly influenced the St Paul’s Cathedral in Mdina and both buildings are similar in many ways. The flooring of the cathedral is a magnificent marble mosaic of 405 tombstones belonging to many 16th to 18th century European nobles and Knights and each depicts the coat of arms and images relevant to each personality’s life. Standing proudly at the centre of the capital city, this beautiful work of art surely holds pride of place in all the locals hearts.