On Tuesday June 14th, Tripadvisor released its “Best of the Best Things to Do” report. It includes the top world attractions, amusement parks and best overall experiences. The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona has been ranked as the top world attraction this year, followed by the Colosseum in Rome and the Empire State Building in New York City. Italy and Spain had attractions ranked on five of the top ten spots.
1. Basilica de la Sagrada Familia – Barcelona, Spain
The Sagrada Família is a one-of-a-kind temple for its origins, foundation and purpose. Fruit of the work of genius architect Antoni Gaudí, the project was promoted by the people for the people. Five generations now have watched the Temple progress in Barcelona. Today, more than 140 years after the laying of the cornerstone, construction continues on the Basilica.
The original design for the project for the Sagrada Família was done by diocesan architect Francisco de Paula del Villar following the prevailing guidelines of the time, with neo-Gothic elements: ogival windows, buttresses, flying buttresses and a pointed bell tower. Technical differences, about the cost of materials, led this architect to be replaced with another who was starting to stand out in the field, Antoni Gaudí, who took the project in a different direction, transforming it into an ambitious proposal for the church of the future.
The bell tower dedicated to the apostle Barnabas was the only one Gaudí would see finished. Until the middle of the 20th century, construction was still done using wood scaffolding. A far cry from the means used today.
In April 2021, construction began on the shaft, the middle part of the pinnacle of the tower of the Virgin Mary, which is 18 meter tall and starts from six legs and ends in three arms that hold up the luminous star. During this month, the formwork and reinforcement for the lower third of the shaft was put in place, a piece measuring 10.8 meters tall that clearly changes the city’s skyline, since it raises the tower to a height of 127 meters. It is the longest piece (10.80 mt) that has been raised so far on the Sagrada Família.
In July 2021, the shaft was covered with trencadís mosaic. The lower part of the shaft is now in place. The upper and lower part of the shaft are covered with artistic ceramic stoneware trencadís mosaic in colors ranging from blue to white with a few scattered pieces of golden Venetian mosaic.
In September 2021, the upper third of the shaft of the tower of the Virgin Mary was put in place. With the upper third of the tower of the Virgin Mary put in place, the tower reaches 134 meters. On November 29, the Sagrada Família lifted the star of the Virgin Mary into place. This was a historic moment, as it is the final piece of the tower and changes the Barcelona skyline.
On 8 December 2021, the Sagrada Família inaugurated the tower of the Virgin Mary with a mass as the central event and, afterwards, the blessing of the tower and the first lighting of the star on the second-tallest tower, which is now complete.
2. Colosseum – Rome, Italy
The Roman Colosseum is an amphitheater built in the first century, more precisely at the time of the Roman Empire. It is located in the center of the city of Rome, Italy whose original name is Flavian Amphitheater, which refers to the Flavian dynasty of emperors who built it.
Later it adopted the name Colosseum and is the name by which it is known today. This name is due to a large monument located nearby, which is the Colossus of Nero. The Colosseum was built with materials of excellent quality, such as travertine blocks, wood, brick, stone, concrete, stucco and marble. It could accommodate more than 50,000 spectators who came to this place to see the fights of gladiators and wild beasts as well as other spectacles.
It is an impressive amphitheater built in the first century in honor of the Flavian dynasty which was a group of emperors who promoted its construction. Centuries later it was called the Colosseum because during the time of Emperor Nero a large statue was built next to the Colosseum which was called the Colossus of Nero. Today this statue no longer exists because centuries later it was used as building material for other archaeological works.
The Colosseum was begun in 70 AD during the rule of Emperor Vespasian and was completed in 80 AD by Emperor Titus. For its inauguration there was a great celebration that lasted 100 days in which the Roman people were invited free of charge to watch the spectacles in the arena.
During the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD it was no longer used for the celebration of public spectacles and became a quarry from which material was extracted for the construction of new buildings. Fortunately during the 17th century it was declared a sanctuary by Pope Benedict XIV because it was believed that many Christian martyrs died in this place, which prevented the progressive extraction of materials from the Colosseum. Later in the 19th century many restoration works were carried out to the structure.
In ancient times it had a capacity for approximately 65,000 spectators, with 80 rows of bleachers. Those who were located closer to the arena were those who had the power and as one ascended the different lower strata of society were located. In the Colosseum took place different gladiator fights and different types of public spectacles were also carried out.
The Colosseum was used for almost 500 years for public spectacles, but centuries later it was used as a refuge and fortress. It was later converted into a Christian sanctuary in honor of the captives martyred in the early years of Christianity. Although today its structure is absolutely damaged, it was considered an icon of Imperial Rome and one of the most amazing examples of Roman architecture.
At present the Roman Colosseum is considered one of the tourist attractions par excellence of Rome, which receives millions of visitors annually. It is also important to mention that it has been taken to the movies on different occasions, as for example in the film Gladiator.
In 1980, UNESCO declared the historic center of Rome a World Heritage Site. According to the honorary designation made in Lisbon in 2007, the monument was designated as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
3. Empire State Building – New York City, USA
In mid-1930, the Chrysler Building, located on Lexington Avenue in New York, was inaugurated. At that time it was the tallest building in the world, demonstrating the power of the automotive brand. In a battle for the top spot in the automotive industry, John Jakob Raskob, founder of General Motors, commissioned architect William F. Lamb to erect a building larger than the competition.
Thus began the Empire State Building on March 17, 1930. Located at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 34th Street, the Empire State Building was erected in just 410 days. It was the then President of the United States, Herbert Hoover, who inaugurated New York’s tallest skyscraper on May 1st, 1931, by flipping a switch from the White House.
When Hoover turned on the lights, he showed the world the most impressive piece of architecture ever built. 41 million dollars was the budget for the Empire State Building to tower over New York City. 3,500 workers were needed to erect its 102 floors, using 10 million bricks, 60,000 tons of steel and 6,500 windows. The tower went up quickly, at a construction rate of four and a half stories per week.
At the time of its inauguration, the building was 381 meters high. In 1953, it grew a little more, to 443.2 meters, as the broadcast tower and antenna were installed at the top, which now provide radio and television signals to 7.4 million US homes. With this renovation, which is still in place today, the Empire State Building has a total surface area of 195,000 square meters. To reach its highest point, one must either walk up its 1,860 steps or ride one of its 73 elevators. Some of these are of the ultra-fast type and reach a speed of up to 120 kilometers per hour.
The building is currently owned in its majority by the Malkin family through the Empire State Realty Trust investment fund. In 2011, it generated revenues of $156.7 million, thanks in part to the rental of its offices (some 9,000 people currently work there) and the large influx of tourism (since it opened, it is estimated that it has received 110 million visitors). In addition, its owners are in the process of taking the building public, with which they estimate to raise around 1,000 million dollars in securities.
In 1964, spotlights were added to the dome of the façade. Recently they were modified with LED devices that allow it to be illuminated with different colors. Generally, the chosen hue is dedicated to a particular political, sporting or social event. The inclusion of this technology in the building was part of a redevelopment program to make the Empire State Building an environmentally friendly site.
In 2011, it received the LEED-Gold award from the U.S. Building Council. The association wanted to recognize the effort of a retrofit that cost $550 million and will reduce CO2 emissions by 105,000 tons over the next 15 years. In addition, the return on investment is expected to materialize before 2015 since, among many other benefits, it will save the building 4.4 million dollars a year in energy consumption.
Top 10 world attractions, according to Tripadvisor:
- Basilica de la Sagrada Familia: Barcelona, Spain
- Colosseum: Rome
- Empire State Building: New York City
- Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- Gallerie Degli Uffizi: Florence, Italy
- Plaza de España: Seville, Spain
- Iguazu Falls: Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil
- The Roman Baths: Bath, United Kingdom
- Garden of the Gods: Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Trevi Fountain: Rome
When it comes to amusement and water parks, Spain was awarded with the first and fourth spots. Brazil had three parks listed on the third, sixth and tenth positions. The top 10 amusement and water parks are:
- Siam Park: Adeje, Spain
- Puy du Fou: Les Epesses, France
- Beto Carrero World: Penha, Brazil
- Puy du Fou España: Toledo, Spain
- The Milky Way Adventure Park: Clovelly, United Kingdom
- Hot Park: Rio Quente, Brazil
- Waterbom Bali: Kuta, Indonesia
- Dollywood: Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
- Universal’s Islands of Adventure: Orlando
- Parque Terra Mágica Florybal: Canela, Brazil