32 architectural masterpieces everyone should see in their lifetime

La Sagrada FamiliaDavid Ramos/Getty Images‘La Sagrada Familia,’ an ongoing construction project since 1882.

Buildings may be some of the most impressive works of art we have.

After sinking untold sums of money into their construction, we can walk through the finished products and even live inside them.

Business Insider has selected more than two dozen buildings that push the boundaries of structural expression. Make sure to add at least few to your bucket list.

Drake Baer contributed to an earlier version of this article.

The oldest building we know of is Göbekli Tepe in present-day Turkey. Built somewhere around 9500 B.C., archaeologists aren't certain of its function, but it was probably religious.

Teomancimit / Wikimedia Commons

Since then, humans have built some pretty rad structures. In the past year, we've seen futuristic openings like the Fulton Center in New York ...

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... and the Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School in Melbourne, Australia.

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Equally bendy is the 'Dancing House' in Prague, designed by Frank Gehry and Vlado Milunic in 1996. It's nicknamed 'Fred and Ginger' in honour of longtime dance partners Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

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The Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, is a stunning structure that seems to have been dropped right in the middle of the Amritsar River.

The Las Lajas Sanctuary in Narino, Colombia, is equally mystifying. It looks like it defies gravity.

The modernist architect Antoni Gaudí didn't live to see his Sagrada Família completed -- in fact, it's still being built. The exterior looks like something out of Narnia ...

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... and the interior is even more surreal.

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The Flatiron Building in New York was one of the first skyscrapers ...

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... as was the moody Woolworth Building, which was the tallest building in the world from 1913 to 1930.

Ludovic Bertron / Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

In Onomichi, Japan, couples frequently turn to the Ribbon Chapel for their wedding ceremonies -- and understandably so.

Also surrounded by green is the Light of Life Church in Seoul, South Korea.

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On the inside, the church looks completely different.

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Chicago's Marina City apartments are, to say the least, uniquely designed. Built in 1964, they were one of the first mixed-use buildings and the first to be built with a crane in the US.

cdelmoral / flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

But not all buildings need to scrape the sky. The Temppeliaukio Church in Helsinki is built into a rock underground and still gets lots of sunlight.

Jorge Láscar / Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

The Church of St. George in Lalibela, Ethiopia, was carved out of a single stone in the 12th century.

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Some of the most beautiful buildings integrate into their landscape. The Turninn building in Reykjavík reflects the wild beauty of Iceland.

Courtesy of Architizer.

The modernist master Mies van der Rohe used minimal lines and open space to create buildings that seemingly float in the air around them, like the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, built in the 1960s.

seier+seier / flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

Integrating into the environment is one of the oldest ideals of architecture. The old Japanese capital Kyoto features the breathtaking Golden Pavilion ...

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... and the more subtly stunning Silver Pavilion.

Reginald Pentinio / flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

The Great Mosque of Djenné in Mali is the largest mud-built structure in the world -- it can hold 3,000 worshippers.

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The whimsical Pompidou Center in Paris is a postmodern masterwork: It gleefully displays the guts of the building.

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Built around 1200, the Chartes Cathedral in northern France is a primary example of Gothic architecture. Notice the ornate 'portals' that you enter into the building through ...

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... and the stunning organ inside.

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Perhaps the only house of worship that can match its grandeur is the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, built in the early 1600s at the height of the Ottoman Empire.

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Its interior features more than 20,000 handmade tiles.

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Neuschwanstein Castle in the German state of Bavaria reportedly inspired Walt Disney to create Sleeping Beauty's castle. It's easy to see why.

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Trinity College in Dublin is a gem of a university.

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The Imperial Palace -- aka the Forbidden City -- is the ultimate form of high Chinese architecture. It was the seat of government from 1420 to 1912

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The interior remains epic ...

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... as do the details.

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Today, some of the most experimental modern architecture in the world is being built in Beijing, like the CCTV Tower, locally known as 'The Trousers.'

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Further south, the Sheraton Huzhou hotel climbs 27 stories into a horseshoe shape. Its designer, Ma Yansong, also worked on the iconic Absolute Towers in Ontario.

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With Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the late Zaha Hadid did what she could only ever do -- turn the hard, clean lines of modernism into something organic.

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Perched high in the Peruvian Andes, Machu Picchu is the best example we have of Incan architecture.

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Archaeologists say it was built around 1450.

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Here's a closer look at the residential section.

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Opened in 2007, the Parque Biblioteca España in Medellín, Colombia, was designed by the Colombian architect Giancarlo Mazzanti. The three buildings are meant to look like stones ...

Dr EG / Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

From inside the library, in the Santo Domingo Savio neighbourhood, the view is of Medellín itself, in a valley surrounded by the Andes.

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... and the interior is stunning, too.

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