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Top 12 Famous Neoclassical Buildings

One of the most prominent movements in the world of architecture in the Western world emerged in the 18th century.

Elements of Classical architecture could already be found in Renaissance buildings and Baroque structures, and Neoclassical architecture can also be described as a reaction against the exuberant and exaggerated ornamental elements included in Rococo architecture.

When archaeology was developed and the writings of Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-1768) gave detailed descriptions of surviving classical buildings, a revival of Classical architecture emerged in Italy and France.

Both ancient Roman temples and ancient Greek temples formed the inspiration of architects in the 18th and 19th centuries. The style is defined by symmetry and straightforward geometry and never really went away in the 20th and 21st centuries.

In this article, you’ll discover some of the most famous Neoclassical Buildings ever constructed, prime examples of Neoclassical architecture.

1. United States Capitol

The United States Capitol is also known as the Capitol Building and is one of the most incredible Neoclassical buildings in the world. It was originally constructed in the year 1800 and partially rebuilt after a fire in 1814.

The building in Washington D.C. was expanded later in the 19th century, a project that not only doubled its length but also included the amazing dome that dominates the structure. The “Statue of Freedom” was raised to the top of the dome in 1863.

Famous Neoclassical buildings United States Capitol

2. Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is an amazing palace and the official residence of the British monarch in London, and also serves as the monarchy’s administrative headquarters. This makes it a pretty important building in the United Kingdom and of London’s great landmarks.

The original building on the location dates back to the early 18th century when it was known as “Buckingham House.” It was greatly enlarged during the reign of Queen Victoria in the 19th century, including the Neoclassical eastern façade.

Buckingham Palace Neoclassical architecture
Buckingham Palace / Diliff / Wiki Commons

3. La Madeleine

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La Madeleine is officially known as “L’église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine” and is a remarkable church and a fascinating building in Paris. The Greek Revival-style building wasn’t intended to become a church initially, though.

The temple was constructed to become a glorifying monument for the army of Napoleon Bonaparte. Construction started in 1807 and it was eventually completed after the fall of Napoleon in 1828. It was then transformed into a Catholic church dedicated to Mary Magdalene.

La Madeleine Paris architecture

4. Brandenburg Gate

The Brandenburg Gate is one of the most amazing arches in the world and a typical Neoclassical building. After all, the Romans invented the triumphal arch as a monument used during triumphal processions, often to commemorate victory in war.

It’s one of the best-known buildings in Berlin and was constructed between 1788 and 1791. It was commissioned by Prussian king Frederick William II to commemorate the events of the Batavian Revolution, an event that ended the Dutch Republic. It dominates the Pariser Platz, one of the most famous squares in the city.

Brandenburg Gate Berlin
Brandenburg Gate in Berlin / Wiki Commons

5. Jefferson Memorial

The Jefferson Memorial is a monument in Washington D.C. that commemorates Thomas Jefferson, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. It’s one of the most fascinating of all Neoclassical buildings in the U.S. capital because it resembles one of the most amazing structures in Rome.

The building is located in West Potomac Park and its design was derived from the Roman Pantheon, the temple with an astounding dome that was transformed into a Catholic church. It was constructed between 1939 and 1943 and features a bronze statue of Jefferson inside.

Jefferson Memorial architecture
Jefferson Memorial / Wiki Commons

6. British Museum

The British Museum is one of the largest museums in the world as it holds a collection of over 8 million items. It’s located in the Bloomsbury district of London and is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.

The original building on the site was known as the Montagu House, a structure that was demolished to make way for the Neoclassical building we see today. Many additions have been made subsequently, including the addition of the modern Great Court in the late 20th century.

British Museum facts
Façade of the British Museum / Ham / Wiki Commons

7. Bolshoi Theater

The Bolshoi Theater is one of the world’s fine opera houses and an incredible building in Moscow, the capital of Russia. It’s the home venue of the Bolshoi opera and ballet, some of the oldest and most renowned of its kind in the world.

The Neoclassical façade of the building is one of the most stunning you’ll ever come across and is an icon of both Moscow and all of Russia. The structure was completely renovated in the early 21st century, a project that was completed in 2011 and which presumably cost a whopping $688 million.

Bolshoi Theater Neoclassical architecture
Bolshoi Theater / Marco Verch / Wiki Commons

8. Federal Hall

Federal Hall is the common name of a structure in New York City officially known as the Federal Hall National Memorial. That’s because the current structure was built as a memorial commemorating the original Federal Hall, a building in which George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the United States.

This building was demolished in the early 19th century and replaced with the Greek Revival-style building we can see today. It originally served as the U.S. Customs House for the Port of New York, a sub-treasure, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.

Federal Hall New York City Neoclassical Buildings
Federal Hall New York City / Chris6d / Wiki Commons

9. Panthéon

The Panthéon in Paris shouldn’t be confused with the building with the same name in Rome. The monument in the 5th arrondissement of Paris was constructed between 1758 and 1790 to become a church dedicated to Saint Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris.

These plans were shelved following the French Revolution and it was decided that the building was going to serve as an incredible mausoleum to hold the remains of the most notable French citizens. It still serves this purpose today and can be described as one of the earliest examples of Neoclassical architecture in France.

Pantheon in Paris architecture
Panthéon in Paris / Yair Haklai / Wiki Commons

10. Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial is another memorial that was built to commemorate a president, more specifically the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865). It’s located just across from the Washington Monument in a prominent location of the National Mall in Washington D.C.

The Neoclassical building is encircled by huge Doric columns and is home to the famous seated sculpture that depicts Abraham Lincoln in a contemplative state. The staircase of this incredible building was the location where Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have a Dream,” speech, a historic moment in American history.

Lincoln Memorial architecture
The Lincoln Memorial / Chensiyuan / Wiki Commons

11. Helsinki Cathedral

Helsinki Cathedral is the main Lutheran church in Helsinki, the capital city of Finland. It features a distinctive Neoclassical design based on a Greek cross and with 4 equal arms. Each side features a portico with collonades that support the pediment.

The building is located at Senate Square, the main square in the heart of Helsinki. Steps lead towards the magnificent church. This further highlights the amazing architectural features of this building. The roofline is decorated with large sculptures of the 12 Apostles and the building is topped by a central dome that is adjoined by 4 smaller domes.

Helsinki Cathedral facts
Helsinki Cathedral / Alves Gaspar / Wiki Commons

12. Custom House

The Custom House is one of the most beautiful landmarks in Dublin, the capital city of Ireland. It’s located in the heart of the city along the banks of the River Liffey on the Custom House Quay. The southern façade of the building is definitely one of the most striking sights in the city.

The building has a history that goes back to the late 18th century as it was constructed between 1781 and 1791 to replace an older custom house from 1707. This old building was deemed too small at the time and was located further upstream. The Custom House serves as a government building and tourist attraction today.

Custom House Dublin facts
The Custom House in Dublin / Bjørn Christian Tørrissen / Wiki Commons