This week, TripAdvisor announced the winners of its Travellers’ Choice awards for landmarks and Australia’s number one is somewhat of a surprise.
Nabbing top spot from the Sydney Opera House (2015 South Pacific Travellers’ Choice Winning Landmark), and the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Australian War Memorial in the Australian Capital Territory has topped the Australian list for 2016.
Award winners were determined using an algorithm that took into account the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for man-made landmarks worldwide, gathered over a 12-month period.
“This award is fantastic, and a fitting recognition for one of Australia’s most significant attractions,” said Ian Hill, Director at VisitCanberra.
“A visit to the Australian War Memorial should be on everyone’s must-do list. This TripAdvisor award win comes off the back of record visitation to Canberra, with 4.4 million visitors to Australia’s capital in the year ending December 2015.”
The list of award-winners include historically, architecturaly and culturally significant attractions that are typically owned or run by a government or non-profit organisations – UNESCO sites are often included, as are national historic landmarks.
About the awards Janice Lee, TripAdvisor’s Director of Communications, Asia Pacific, said, “These Travellers’ Choice landmarks showcase some of the world’s most iconic, must-see attractions that have been visited by our TripAdvisor community. Travellers can learn more and gain exclusive access to a number of these culturally-renowned landmarks when booking a tour on TripAdvisor.”
While the Australian War Memorial is tops Down Under, Peru’s Machu Picchu, with over 5,000 visitors a day during peak season, has been recognized as the world’s number one most popular landmark.
Here’s TripAdvisor’s global top 10:
1. MACHU PICCHU, PERU
The Incan citadel of Machu Picchu is the most famous archaeological site in South America and has never revealed all of its mysteries, including the secrets of its construction. Highlights include the ruined Temple of the Sun and the Sacred Plaza with its tremendous view across the Urubamba River Valley.
How to explore: Jump onboard an all-inclusive day trip to Machu Picchu from Cusco or a scenic rail tour when you can see the world-famous Inca ruins, learning about the ancient city’s history along the way.
2. SHEIK ZAYED GRAND MOSQUE CENTRE, ABU DHABI
The majestic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center serves as the central place of worship for citizens of the emirate. The massive white structure can accommodate 40,000 people, is home to the world’s largest marble mosaic and was built with white marble imported from 28 different countries, as well as chandeliers from Europe.
How to explore: Embark on a four-hour tour of the UAE’s dazzling capital, including a guided tour of the mosque, Abu Dhabi’s Heritage Village and Gold Souk.
3. ANGKOR WAT, SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA
Built in the 12th century, the mesmerizing ancient temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia is a true wonder. A Hindu temple, which was eventually converted to a Buddhist temple, it is surrounded by a massive 650-foot wide moat, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on the Cambodian national flag.
How to explore: With a bike tour around Angkor at sunrise you’ll send an unforgettable day cycling amongst the ruins and back roads to other iconic temples in the Angkor Archaeological Park.
4. ST PETER’S BASILICA, VATICAN CITY, ITALY
St. Peter's Basilica is like no other church with visitors finding themselves surrounded by significant artwork, including Michelangelo's beautiful marble Pieta. Atop the basilica sits its famous dome, recognisable from across the city and travellers who climb the staircase to the top are rewarded with a wonderful view over the piazza, Bernini's enclosing colonnade below and Rome’s cityscape.
How to explore: Through an exclusive VIP breakfast tour in the Vatican you’ll enjoy a lavish buffet breakfast in the Pinecone Courtyard followed by a small group private tour of the Vatican Museums. This is a great way to beat the crowds.
5. TAJ MAHAL, AGRA, INDIA
Considered one of the most iconic wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal draws increasing numbers of tourists from across the world who come to marvel at the grandeur, romance and history associated with this magnificent piece of architecture.
How to explore: Tour the Taj with a with a private Taj Mahal and Agra Fort Tour, exclusively by Viator, including a privately guided tour with dining at the 4-star Gateway Hotel as well as a visit to the Taj Museum and round-trip hotel transport with a private chauffeur.
6. MOSQUE-CATHEDRAL OF CORDOBA, CORDOBA, SPAIN
One of the largest mosques in the world, the Great Mosque of Córdoba is one of the jewels of Islamic civilisation. The Mezquita (Mosque) dates back to the 10th century when Córdoba reached its zenith under a new emir, Abd ar-Rahman 111 who was one of the great rulers of Islam.
How to explore: Join a local guide on a two-hour walking tour which takes you through the stunning cathedral mosque to experience Mudejar, Baroque, Renaissance and Byzantine architecture. The walk finishes on one of Cordoba’s pretty patios for a glass of local wine.
7. CHURCH OF THE SAVIOR ON SPILT BLOOD, ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA
The Russian-style church was built where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated in March 1881. Both the interior and exterior of the church is decorated with detailed mosaics, designed and created by the most prominent Russian artists of the day, V.M. Vasnetsov, M.V. Nesterov and M.A. Vrubel. The most breathtaking view of the church can be seen from Nevsky Prospekt.
How to explore: On a three-hour tour of St Petersburg by night you’ll join a small group and an expert guide on a journey through the city’s magnificent flood-lit monuments including the State Hermitage Museum and St Isaac’s Cathedral the embankments of the Neva River and surrounding streets.
8. THE ALHAMBRA, GRANADA, SPAIN
Built between 1238 and 1358, the Alhambra is the palace and fortress of the Moorish monarchs of Granada, Spain and pays homage to the region’s Moorish culture. It’s a sanctuary where fountains trickle, leaves rustle, and ancient spirits seem to mysteriously linger.
How to explore: With a private two and a half-hour tour of the Alhambra and Geralife travellers can enjoy a fast-track entrance to see the best of Granada’s premier UNESCO World Heritage sites such as Alcazaba Fortress, the Nasrid Palaces and Generalife Gardens, while learning about its Moorish history.
9. LINCOLN MEMORIAL REFLECTING POOL, WASHINGTON DC, USA
Stretching approximately 534 metres end to end, the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool lies between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. Built in 1920 on marshland, the pool gradually sank, leaking into the surrounding land. In 2012, the pool was reconstructed, and today holds nearly seven million gallons of water pulled from the nearby Tidal Basin.
How to explore: An insuder VIP tour of the home of Congress includes reserved priority entrance to two of Washington DC’s most sought-adter attracionts – the US Capitol BUIlding and the National Archives Building, as well as the White House and Lincoln Memorial. Book it exclusively through Viator.
10. MILAN CATHEDRAL (DUOMO), MILAN, ITALY
Milan’s much-loved cathedral is Italy’s most exuberant example of Northern Gothic architecture. The exterior is an upwardly thrusting collection of pinnacles, elongated statues and buttresses, while the central spire is topped by a gilt statue of the Madonna. The view from the roof is the main highlight—on a clear day, the Italian Alps are visible.
How to explore: Join a one-hour rooftop tour of Milan’s Duomo in the evening and you’ll enjoy priority access, sweeping views over Milan, and be able to admire the cathedral’s statues, spires and buttresses up close.
TOP 10 LANDMARKS IN AUSTRALIA:
1. Australian War Memorial – Australian Capital Territory
2. Sydney Opera House – Sydney
3. Sydney Harbour Bridge – Sydney
4. Shrine of Remembrance – Melbourne
5. Block Arcade – Melbourne
6. Port Arthur Historic Site – Port Arthur
7. Fremantle Prison – Fremantle
8. Kings Park War Memorial – Perth
9. Australian Parliament House – Canberra
10. Queen Victoria Building (QVB) – Sydney
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