Colorado is one of the 9 Mountain West states in the Western part of the United States.
This means that it features some of the most amazing natural landmarks on the planet, including the majestic Rocky Mountains, as well as parts of the Colorado Plateau and the Great Plains.
The state’s capital and largest city are Denver and nearly 3 million people live in its metropolitan area, which is nearly half of the state’s population.
It’s also the 8th-largest state in the country but only the 21st-most populous one. This means that the areas outside of Denver are scarcely populated.
So what are the most famous buildings in Colorado? In this article, you’ll discover some of Colorado’s most popular landmark structures.
1. Manitou Cliff Dwellings
The Manitou Cliff Dwellings is a tourist attraction that features a replica of Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings. These are cave-like structures that were carved out of cliffs in various parts of Colorado.
The attraction is located just west of Colorado Springs in El Paso County, a city with a population of nearly half a million people.
The replica of these cliff dwellings was created n 1904 and the attraction officially opened its doors in 1907. The archaeological museum provides great insight into the life of the Ancestral Puebloan Native American culture.
Official website: Manitou Cliff Dwellings
2. Denver Union Station
Denver Union Station is the main train station in Denver, the capital and most populous city in Colorado. It’s located in the LoDo district of the city and the first train station here was established in the year 1881.
The original terminal building of the train station burned down to the ground in 1894 and was replaced by the current historic building. This structure was completed in the year 1914.
A huge renovation project completely transformed the area in 2012. This mixed-use development now features an open-air train hall that is located right in front of the historic building.
Official website: Denver Union Station
3. Royal Gorge Bridge
The Royal Gorge Bridge is one of the most fascinating man-made tourist attractions in Colorado for multiple reasons.
The bridge is the centerpiece of a larger tourist attraction named the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, a park that covers an area of 150 hectares (360 acres).
This park is located near Cañon City, a city situated along the Royal Gorge, a magnificent canyon of the Arkansas River.
This fascinating bridge was originally completed in 1929 and was the highest bridge in the world until the completion of the Liuguanghe Bridge in China in the early 2000s.
The bridge crosses the gorge at a height of 291 meters (955 feet) and it remains the highest bridge in the United States until today.
What’s remarkable about this bridge is that it’s a dead end. You can cross it but you have to turn around and cross it again to get out.
Official website: Royal Gorge Bridge
4. Mesa Verde National Park
The Mesa Verde National Park is located in Montezuma County and features one of the best-preserved Ancestral Puebloan archaeological sites in the United States.
The park is situated near the Four Corners region in the American Southwest and covers a total area of 21,240 hectares (52,485 acres).
The park features an incredible number of archaeological sites, including 600 fascinating cliff dwellings.
Most of these were built in the 12th and 13th centuries, and the most prominent one is a structure referred to as the “Cliff Palace,” a complex built between 1190 and 1260 but which was remarkably abandoned by the year 1300.
Official website: Mesa Verde National Park
5. Red Rocks Amphitheater
We all know that the Ancient Greeks and Romans built magnificent amphitheaters, many of which have been remarkably well-preserved and even more remarkably still serve a purpose today, some 2,000 years after they were built.
None of these structures, though, can hold a candle to the magnificent setting of the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, a town about 16 kilometers (10 miles) west of Denver.
This incredible amphitheater was built right next to the distinctive rock formations found in Colorado and provides one of the most astounding concert locations in the world.
It’s located within the Red Rocks Park and the skyline of Downtown Denver is visible as well.
This stunning theater has a total capacity of 9,525 and was opened to the public in 1941, and is pretty much a must-visit spot in case you’re in the Denver area.
Official website: Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater
6. Bishop Castle
Bishop Castle is a landmark building in central Colorado that was named after Jim Bishop, the man who singlehandedly constructed it. He started working on the project in 1969 after h bought the plot of land for $450.
He faced a lot of opposition from the local government during the 40 years that he actively worked on the castle. That was because of the particular type of rocks that he used which were excavated from the National Forest that surround his land.
The castle is located just southwest of the city of Pueblo and its most distinctive feature is the huge tower that reaches a height of 49 meters (160 feet).
Official website: Bishop Castle
7. Denver Art Museum
The Denver Art Museum is an astounding art museum located in the Civic Center area of Colorado’s state capital. It houses a collection of over 70,000 items which makes it one of the largest museums in the western part of the United States.
The architectural highlight of the museum is the Frederic C. Hamilton building, a structure that opened its doors in 2006. The majority of the museum was designed by renowned Italian architect Gio Ponti and was completed in 1971.
The museum has one of the most extensive collections of American Indian art in the United States and also houses numerous renowned works by European masters.
Official website: Denver Art Museum
8. Denver Performing Arts Complex
The Denver Performing Arts Complex is locally known as “The Plex” or “The DCPA” and is one of the largest performance arts centers in the country. It covers an area of 49,000 square meters (12 acres) which is the equivalent of 4 city blocks.
The building consists of 10 different performing arts venues that have a combined capacity of over 10,000 seats. These can be reached from a central space that is covered by a 24-meter (80 feet) tall glass roof.
The three main venues are an opera house called the Ellie Caulkins Opera House (2,225 seats), the Boettcher Concert Hall (2,679 seats), and the Buell Theatre (2,884 seats).
Official website: Denver Center
9. Daniels and Fisher Tower
The Daniels and Fisher Tower is a landmark Clock Tower in Denver that was constructed as a part of the Daniels & Fisher department store. It was completed in 1910 and has been one of the most distinctive buildings in Washington State ever since.
The tower stands 99 meters (325 feet) tall, a height that made it the tallest building west of the Mississippi River upon completion. It features 20 floors and has clocks on all 4 sides.
The tower was inspired by the St. Mark’s Bell Tower, an iconic tower on St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy. Although the department store was demolished, the bell tower was saved and serves its function as a residential and office tower today.
10. Colorado State Capitol
The Colorado State Capitol is the official seat of the Colorado General Assembly and also houses the offices of both the Governor of Colorado and the Lieutenant Governor of Colorado.
The design of the building resembles that of the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. and was completed between 1886 and 1901. The main material used to build the structure was locally-quarried Colorado white granite.
The most distinctive feature of the building is its stunning dome that is covered with real gold leaf. This was first added in the year 1908 and is a reference to the Colorado Gold Rush.
This event happened between 1858 and 1861 and eventually culminated in the formation of the Colorado Territory between 1861 and 187 and the subsequent formation of the state of Colorado.
Official website: Colorado State Capitol