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Top 10 buildings that took the most time to finish

Written by Top 100 Arena on 2012-07-25
It might seem strange for you to read this article since modern technology allows us to significantly reduce the timespan of a construction project. In fact, it would be hard pressed to find a modern construction project that takes more than 5 years or so, unless it is a huge national project like building a dam. However, in this list, we will be focusing on top 10 historic buildings in the world that took the longest time to finish.

10 The Coliseum

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Started in A.D. 70 and completed in A.D. 80, this glorious symbol of ancient Rome took 10 years in total to finish. A well-known Roman landmark building, the Coliseum was built to celebrate a military triumph at the time. It was essentially a sports stadiums, and estimations by experts stated that the Coliseum could hold between 50,000 to 80,000 audience which is on par with many modern stadiums. Standing over 620 feet long and 157 feet tall, the Coliseum was an engineering marvel and enormous undertaking. There is no doubt that Romans were unrivalled, at their time, for their advanced engineering abilities and architectural skills. Complex elements such as arches, complex system of tunnels below the arena, hydraulic mechanisms and even elevators can be seen at the Coliseum. There is no doubt that this is one of the longest and biggest project by the Roman Empire. More info

9 Parthenon

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Built in the 5th century B.C., the Parthenon took over 17 years from inception to completion. Built as a temple to the Greek Goddess Athena, the Parthenon was built to mirror the Golden Ratio which is a maths constant and the ideal of aesthetic beauty. The sophistication, the finest details, crafts, and accuracy of this building is unparalleled at that time when many societies around the world were still living in caves. The Parthenon is built on the Acropolis hill right above Athens, and have huge influence in many Roman buildings as well as neoclassical architecture. More info on Wikipedia

8 The Great Pyramid of Giza

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The Pyramids of ancient Egypt are nothing short of wonder. Among them stands the Great Pyramid of Giza, greatest of them all and one of the most famous buildings in the whole world. Started in 2,580 B.C. for the Pharaoh Khufu, it took 20 years to finish this giant building. The Great Pyramid of Giza is also one of the tallest man-made structure in the world, second only to the Eiffel Tower. Another amazing thing about this building is that the project aligns perfectly with the stars, and accuracy is within millimeters. To date, we don't exactly know how they were built since the ancient Egyptians lacked tools like pulley to move the huge stones. More info on Wikipedia

7 Sacsayhuamán

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A glorious example of the epitome and vivid imagination of the Incan Empire, it took 63 years to finish Sacsayhuamán. You can find the building in Cuzco, Peru, and be amazed at the details of the architecture. The most amazing thing about this building is that it was built using a mortarless method. Basically, they carved the stones to interlock very tight that even a piece of paper can't fit in between them. How the Incan Empire pulled off such a marvelous feat is still unknown. More info on Wikipedia

6 York Minster Cathedral

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One of the biggest cathedrals in medieval times, York Minster Cathedral took 252 years to complete. The project started in 1220 but only completed in 1472. Containing the largest example of medieval stained glass in the whole world which is about 520-feet long. The cathedral features three towers which are about 200-feet tall each. The building was built using purely medieval equipments and techniques. You can see wonderful grand designs and craftmanship of medieval architects. More info

5 Chichen Itza

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One of the most well-known Mayan settlements, Chichen Itza is more than just a building. Analysts and historians claim that this Mayan city was built around A.D. 600 and finished only around A.D. 1000 so it took about 400 years in total to finish this whole project. Mayans are well known for their amazing architectures and rich culture. The greatest example of Mayan's craftsmanship is the Chichen Itza's Great Pyramid, which was designed to enhance the sound of a speaker at the top of it. There is also the vernal equinox which cast a shadow of a writhing serpent onto the steps, which is both an amazing example of artistic imagination as well as mathematical precision. What makes this Mayan settlement so remarkable is that South American civilizations at the time didn't have domesticated livestocks, nor wheels but they still managed to build such sophisticated settlements. More info

4 Angkor Wat

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One of the wonders of the world, Angkor Wat was built in the mid-12th century. It was actually started in A.D. 802 but completed only 418 years later in A.D. 1220. Angkor Wat is not just one building, but a big temple which comprises a whole community of buildings that made up one of the biggest pre-industrial cities at the time. The outer wall is 2.2 miles long and encloses a compound space of 203 acres. Angkor Wat is lost to the jungle for so many years, but no one can ever deny that this is the finest and greatest testimony of Khmer architecture in the world. More info

3 Petra

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While all contenders in this list are awesome, none are carved straight into the rock. Petra was built in exactly that way, and it is a citadel right in the middle of Jordan's desert. There are very few construction projects with the dramatic appearance of Petra. Petra was built by the Nabataeans in the 600 B.C. and it took them around 850 years to finish. What's interesting is that at that point of time, modern tools to cut and shape the rocks didn't exist. Without such tools, carving such a huge citadel which was home to some 20,000 people was a miraculous feat. More info on Wikipedia

2 Stonehenge

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Up until now, historians and analysts are still debating about why Stonehenge was built. It was one of the most remarkable and incredible construction projects ever conceived, Stonehenge was built in the span of over 1,600 years by several different groups of settlers in England. What's really amazing is that although historians believed that three different groups of settlers across different generations built Stonehenge, it was built with such accuracy and remarkable precision. It was estimated that around 30 million man hours were spent on building this, and everything is in perfect alignment with lunar and solar movements. If it is not enough to wow you yet, then moving 4-ton heavy stones for over 240 miles with just manpower and ropes will. More info

1 The Great Wall

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It is not surprising that the Great Wall gets #1 spot in our list. The project lasted for over 2,000 years. It was started in 4th century but only finished in A.D. 1600, and several different Chinese dynasties took care of the project. The Great Wall is over 4,160 miles long and was guarded by over one million soldiers to protect the China from its northern raiders. Several millions people were part of the project, and historians estimated that around two to three million men died during its construction. The Great Wall is in fact not just an effective defense tool, but also a symbol of Chinese imperial power. To this date, there is no other longest construction project in this world. More info

We understand that our list only consists of ancient buildings and construction projects but none from the modern time. Fact of the matter is that we cannot really find significantly long building projects in the contemporary history due to technological advancements. On top of that, all the ancient projects in this list have other miraculous feats such as moving immensely heavy stones without having wheels or applying extremely precise mathematical ratios. We strongly believe that all of these buildings belong in this list, but if you feel differently, please do tell us in the comments.

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