The second-largest city in Missouri can be found in the utmost eastern part of the state.
Even though the city proper only has around 300,000 inhabitants, the metropolitan area surrounding the city is home to over 2.8 million people, the 20th-largest in the United States.
The city of St. Louis was founded near the confluence of the two longest rivers in the United States, the Mississippi River, and the Missouri River.
The city was founded by French fur traders in 1764 who named it after Louis IX of France (1214-1270), commonly referred to as “Louis the Saint.”
In this article, you’ll discover some of the most famous buildings in St. Louis, Missouri, attractions you simply have to put on your bucket list when you plan to visit.
1. Gateway Arch
Very few landmarks around the world define a city as the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
This magnificent arch reaches a total height of 192 meters (630 feet) which makes it the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere, and the tallest accessible structure in all of Missouri.
This stunning monument was built in honor of the western expansion of the United States and is commonly referred to as “The Gateway to the West.”
It’s located within the Gateway Arch National Park which is located just near Downtown St. Louis.
It’s possible to ascend to the top of this arch and get amazing views of the city and its surroundings, making it a must-do attraction when you plan to visit St. Louis.
Official website: The Gateway Arch
2. Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site
Even though the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site is located in the city of Collinsville, Illinois, it’s located just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis.
It’s the site of a pre-Columbian Native American city that thrived between 1050 and 1350 A.D. The entire park covers an area of about 9 square kilometers (3.5 square miles).
At its height, the city consisted of 120 mounds of which about 80 still exist today.
The city itself was inhabited by an estimated 14,000 to 18,000 inhabitants, slightly more than for example London in the year 1100 A.D.
Today, Cahokia Mounds is a National Historic Landmark and a popular tourist attraction in the area. The visitor center has a lot of artifacts from the Mississippian culture on display as well.
Official website: Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site
The Missouri Botanical Garden is home to one of the most famous greenhouses in the United States.
It features a herbarium that is home to over 6.6 million specimens, the second-largest in North America after the New York Botanical Garden.
It was founded by businessman and Philanthropist Henry Shaw (1800-1889) and is therefore sometimes referred to as “Shaw’s Garden” as well.
One of the most famous buildings in St. Louis is the so-called “Climatron.”
This structure was completed in the year 1960 and was the world’s first geodesic dome greenhouse. It replicates the climate of lowland rain forests and is home to over 1,500 types of plant species.
The compound is also home to the Seiwa-en, the largest Japanese-style garden in North America, another must-see attraction during your stay in St. Louis.
Official website: Missouri Botanical Garden
4. City Museum
If you want to experience something different, then the City Museum of St. Louis will provide that for you.
The exhibits in this museum consist mostly of repurposed items from buildings and industrial sites which form an ensemble of tunnels, slides, bridges, and other passages which visitors must go through to complete the tour.
The museum was founded inside a forùer warehouse of the International Shoe Company and opened its doors in 1997.
It has become one of the most famous buildings in St. Louis with hundreds of thousands of yearly visitors lining up to be surprised.
The motto of this museum is “expect the unexpected,” and that’s entirely what you’ll get when visiting this awesome place.
Official website: City Museum
5. Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis
The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis is arguably one of the most amazing churches in the United States.
It’s also sometimes referred to as the “Saint Louis Cathedral” and is located in the West End neighborhood of the city.
The structure was completed in the year 1914 and as you surely expected was dedicated to Saint Louis, the King of France in the 13th century after which the city was named as well.
The church was completed to replace an older church in St. Louis named the Basilica of St. Louis, King of France which dated back to 1834.
This much larger church is renowned for featuring one of the largest mosaic installations in the Western Hemisphere.
Just like the countless churches in Europe, it also features the tomb of prominent members of the Catholic church in its crypt.
The amazing artworks inside the church make this an amazing place to visit while you’re in the city.
Official website: The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis
6. Forest Park Buildings
What better place to spend a relaxing afternoon than in one of the most amazing public parks in the city, right?
Forest Park covers an area of 5.37 square kilometers (1,326 acres) and is situated just west of downtown St. Louis.
The park was established back in 1876 and has been the venue of multiple important events, including the 1904 Summer Olympics.
Today, the park has been completely transformed into one of the most amazing parks in the United States, mainly thanks to a $100 million restoration project that was started in the early 2000s.
The park is home to multiple famous buildings in St. Louis, including but not limited to the Missouri History Museum, the St. Louis Zoo, the Saint Louis Art Museum, and the Jewel Box, an art-deco greenhouse that is used for special events.
Yes, Forest Park is a must-see tourist spot in the heart of the city of St. Louis!
Official website: Forest Park Forever
7. One Metropolitan Square
St. Louis is home to multiple amazing buildings, but this doesn’t include huge skyscrapers. This is emphasized by the fact that the Gateway Arch is the tallest building in the city.
The second-highest building is a great skyscraper called One Metropolitan Square. This office building was completed in 1989 and stands exactly 180.7 meters (593 feet) tall.
It’s also the second-tallest skyscraper in Missouri because only One Kansas City Place in Kansas City is slightly taller with a height of 189.9 meters (623 feet).
8. Old Courthouse
Often when you see pictures of the Gateway Arch, you see a green dome sticking out behind or in front of it. That’s the amazing dome of the Old Courthouse of St. Louis.
This magnificent Neoclassical building was constructed between 1816 and 1864 and the dome and copula were inspired by those of St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the most famous buildings in Rome.
This copula was completed in 1864 and turned the building into the tallest building in Missouri at a height of 59 meters (192 feet). It held this record between 1864 and 1896, the year that Union Station was completed.
Today, the building is one of the features of the Gateway Arch National Park and is operated by the National Park Service. It is used for events and also has historic exhibits on display.
9. Wainwright Building
The Wainwright Building is another historic building in St. Louis. The terra cotta office building was constructed between 1890 and 1891 and is one of the most remarkable architectural feats in downtown St. Louis.
The building is considered to be one of the most beautiful and harmonious of all early skyscrapers, although it only features 10 floors and has a height of 41 meters (135 feet).
It has been described as one of the “first tall steel office buildings in the world” and was therefore listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1968. It was named after the man who commissioned it, Ellis Wainwright, a man who owned a brewery in the city.
Today, the building is still used for its original purpose. It’s owned by the State of Missouri and it houses offices inside this fascinating structure.
10. St. Louis City Hall
St. Louis City Hall is arguably one of the most amazing buildings in St. Louis. It was constructed between 1890 and 1904 and has been continuously operated by the city ever since.
Today, the building houses the offices of the Mayor of St. Louis, the Board of Aldermen, and the St. Louis Department of Public Safety.
The design of the building was chosen through an architectural competition and the national competition was won by Missouri-based architects Eckel and Mann.
It was modeled on one of the most famous Renaissance buildings in the world, the Hôtel de Ville in Paris. The interior looks just as amazing as the exterior as it’s decorated with marble and gold trim.