5 Unfinished Landmarks Worth A Visit

Many travelers associate cities, and even countries, with their iconic landmarks, like New York City with the Statue of Liberty, Paris with the Eiffel Tower and Pisa with its famous Leaning Tower. But what about those famous landmarks that never quite made it to completion?

We’ve rounded up five great places around the world where you’ll find “nearly famous” monuments worth visiting.

Barcelona, Spain: La Sagrada Familia

Still under construction after more than a century, The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia, which translates to Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family (see image above), is one of the most visited monuments in the country, with nearly 3 million visitors each year. Scheduled for completion sometime between 2026 and 2028 (as a best guess, anyway), the tower and cathedral was visited by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.

Edinburgh, Scotland: National Monument of Scotland

Construction began in 1826 on this memorial to honor Scottish soldiers who died during the Napoleonic Wars. Located on the top of Calton Hill, the monument was modeled after the Parthenon in Athens, but, due to lack of funding, was left unfinished. Today, the monument is nicknamed everything from “Scotland’s Disgrace,” to “Edinburgh’s Folly.”

Chiapas, Mexico: Tonina Maya Ruins
Between the fourth century and 900 A.D., this area was a bustling mecca of construction and today still serves as a major tourist attraction; however, construction stopped suddenly in the year 909. Visitors today can tour a museum and see many gruesome depictions of how the Mayans dealt with their enemies. (Ed. Note, 4/24: Please note that the ruins pictured above are in Palenque, another Mayan site.)

Bavaria, Germany: Neuschwanstein Castle
The model for Sleeping Beauty’s castle at Disneyland was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria for Richard Wagner, but the king died in 1886 before the castle was completed. It was opened to the public afterwards and has become a major tourist attraction for the region, with more than 1.3 million people visiting annually.

South Dakota, USA: Crazy Horse
Built in response to Mt. Rushmore, this memorial to Lakota leader Crazy Horse is the world’s largest mountain sculpture. Carving began in 1948 and has been continually delayed due to lack of funds and refusal to accept government backing. Yet, it’s surrounded by a museum and welcomes bus tours and more than one million visitors per year.

[Image Credit: Ulf Liljankoski, Ben Christian Photos, Archer10, Nite Dan, JJSchad]