We all know about the world’s most iconic landmarks, but there are always some lesser-known facts hidden behind their grand facades. In this article, we unveil 12 unusual facts about the world’s most famous landmarks that will undoubtedly surprise you and enhance your appreciation for these incredible monuments.
The Eiffel Tower Grows and Shrinks
Did you know that the Eiffel Tower’s height can vary by up to 6 inches (15 cm) due to temperature fluctuations? The iron structure expands when it’s hot and contracts when it’s cold, making the tower “grow” and “shrink” with the changing seasons.
The Great Wall of China is Not Visible from Space
Contrary to popular belief, the Great Wall of China cannot be seen from space with the naked eye. While it is an impressive feat of engineering, its width is too narrow to be visible from such a great distance. This myth was debunked by astronauts who have been to space and confirmed that they were unable to see the wall without the aid of telescopic lenses.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa Was Never Straight The Leaning Tower of Pisa started tilting during its construction in the 12th century due to the unstable soil beneath its foundation. The tower’s lean has been partially corrected in recent years, but it still leans at an angle of approximately 4 degrees.
The Statue of Liberty Was Originally a Lighthouse
When the Statue of Liberty was dedicated in 1886, it served as a lighthouse for New York Harbor. Its torch was fitted with electric lights, making it visible from up to 24 miles away. However, the statue’s lighthouse function was discontinued in 1902 due to its inefficiency.
The Pyramids of Giza Were Originally White
The Great Pyramid of Giza, along with its neighboring pyramids, was originally covered with polished white limestone casing stones. These stones reflected the sun’s light, giving the pyramids a smooth and shiny appearance. Most of the casing stones have been removed over the centuries, leaving behind the stepped structure we see today.
Mount Rushmore Was Supposed to Feature More than Just Faces
Sculptor Gutzon Borglum originally intended to carve the upper bodies of the four presidents into the granite at Mount Rushmore. However, due to funding constraints and unstable rock, the project was scaled back to only include their faces. The original design also included a secret room, known as the Hall of Records, which was intended to house important American documents but was never completed.
The Colosseum Was Flooded for Mock Naval Battles
Ancient Romans would sometimes flood the Colosseum to stage mock naval battles, known as naumachiae. The arena was filled with water, and large ships were brought in to re-enact famous battles. This impressive feat was made possible by an intricate system of underground canals and pipes.
The Taj Mahal’s Four Minarets are Designed to Fall Outward
The four minarets surrounding the Taj Mahal are not perfectly vertical but are slightly tilted outward. This design choice was intentional, ensuring that if the minarets were to collapse, they would fall away from the central mausoleum and not damage it.
Sydney Opera House’s Roof is Covered in Tiles
The iconic roof of the Sydney Opera House is covered in over one million glossy, self-cleaning tiles. These tiles were specially designed to reflect sunlight and give the building its unique shimmering appearance.
Niagara Falls is Slowly Moving Upstream
Niagara Falls is gradually moving upstream due to natural erosion. The falls currently recede at a rate of about 3 feet (1 meter) per year, and over the last 12,000 years, they have moved approximately 7 miles (11 kilometers) upstream.
The London Eye Can Carry 800 Passengers
The London Eye, one of the world’s tallest observation wheels, can carry up to 800 passengers at once across its 32 capsules. Each rotation takes about 30 minutes, allowing visitors to enjoy breathtaking views of the city from a height of 443 feet (135 meters).
Christ the Redeemer Was Built with Reinforced Concrete and Soapstone
Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Christ the Redeemer statue was constructed using reinforced concrete for its internal structure and a special type of soapstone for its outer layer. Soapstone was chosen for its durability and ease of carving, as well as its resistance to weathering, which has helped the statue withstand harsh environmental conditions since its completion in 1931.