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10 of the Most Famous Unfinished Buildings in the World

unfinished buildings

Rich architectural models are true representations of cultures. Every detail from designs to dimensions carries meaning and lasts until generations. Even the unfinished monuments have some fascinating stories to tell. The following is a list of 10 such famous unfinished buildings from around the world.

1. Palace of the Parliament 

The heaviest building on earth, named the Palace of the Parliament, started its construction in 1984 and is still unfinished. Only 400 of its 1,100 rooms are in use, and the lowest of its eight basements is a nuclear bunker connected with tunnels. Additionally, the palace features 2,800 chandeliers and a million cubic meters of marble.

Palace of the Parliament
Image credits: mikkeell/Shutterstock.com

Formerly known as “People’s Palace,” the Palace of Parliament is indeed the most significant structure in communist architecture in Romania. It was originally built to represent the prosperity and grandeur of the multilateral society. However, the reality speaks differently since people faced food shortages and blackouts as two billion dollars were invested into the project which was solely made for the ruling class.

Palace of the Parliament
Palace of the Parliament

Work on the palace started in 1984 and is still ongoing. At the peak of its construction, a total of 20,000 workers, 5,000 soldiers, and 700 architects were dedicated to working on it.

The fascinating structure is the world’s heaviest building, constructed of only steel and bronze, and totaling around 1.5 billion pounds. Other materials like marble, wood, and glass also account for an additional million cubic feet. 

In 1984, the authorities declared the construction in the morning, and by noon, the properties around the site started being demolished. A total of 40,000 people had to move on very short notice. (Source)

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2. Sagrada Familia

Currently, five generations have witnessed the progress of the making of the Basilica Temple, or Sagrada Familia, in Barcelona, Spain. The construction was started back in 1882 by Francisco de Paula del Villar, and it is still going on. The temple isn’t scheduled to be completed until 2026.

Sagrada Familia
Image credits: Rodrigo Garrido/Shutterstock.com

The construction of the beautiful temple began on 19 March 1882. The head architect soon resigned, and he was replaced by Antoni Gaudi. By the time of Gaudi’s death in 1926, less than a quarter of the projected had been completed.

Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia

The spirit of the mission is promoted by the people for the people, and it is well justified by the fact that its construction completely relies on donations made by people.

Progress was hindered by the Spanish Civil War in 1936. The revolutionaries broke into the palace and destroyed Gaudi’s models without a second thought. It was only during the 1950s that the work at Sagrada Familia resumed.

Technological advancements improved the pace of construction in the year 2010. The building is not expected to be completed by the year 2026, but that too might have to be further postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This Spanish basilica is truly an exceptional historical piece of Gothic architecture. The place was already listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site on 7 November 2010. (1, 2)

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3. Prora 

On a German Island of Rugen in the Baltic Sea, there is a hotel named Prora stretched over a longitude of three miles. The construction started on the orders of Hitler in 1936 but was interrupted by World War II.

Hotel Prora
Image credits: Shutterstock.com

Hitler initiated the building of the Prora for the German workers, hoping they could use the place as a holiday resort. There are a total of eight identical buildings featuring 10,000 rooms facing the seaside.

Hotel Prora
Image credits: Shutterstock.com

Prora was the first-ever project taken on by the Nazi leisure organization called “Strength Through Joy.” The group worked so successfully that no competing travel providers stood against them. Besides just being a resort, Hitler planned to use the structure as a fallback military installation.  

Amid World War II, swimming pools and grand theatre plans just remained fantasies. The thousands of rooms were just left abandoned during the war and the following years. This striking example of Nazi architecture was briefly used by the Soviets, German Volksarmee, and the German Bundeswehr. (1, 2

4. Ajuda National Palace

The official residence in Lisbon of the Portuguese Royal Family, known as Ajuda National Palace, is a famous tourist attraction. Its construction began in 1796, but due to series of wars and financial reasons, it never came to an end. The half-finished palace has now been turned into a museum.

Ajuda National Palace
Image credits: StockPhotosArt/Shutterstock.com

This neoclassical palace was built after the 1755 earthquake and tsunami to house the royal family. A series of events obstructed the progress of the building. First, when the royal family fled to Brazil in 1807, and then upon the invasion of the country by the French. Despite the hurdles, the project still survived until the 19th century.

Ajuda Palace
Image credits: Lethicia Coelho/Shutterstock.com

The credits for the magnificent palace should be given to three architects, namely Manuel Caetano de Sousa, Jose da Costa e Silva, and Francisco Xavier Fabri.

It was only during the reign of King Luis I that the palace became a permanent settling place for the royal family. Therefore, most of the interior of the residence was designed by King Luis I and his wife, Queen Maria Pia.

Maria Pia spent her entire royal life from the day she became queen in the Ajuda Palace. The republican revolution of 1910 finally forced the Portuguese Royal Family out of the palace and behind bars. (1, 2)

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5. St. Cathedral of St. John the divine

In New York, the St. Cathedral of St. John the Divine is the Mother Church of the Episcopal Diocese and is the seat of its bishop. Just like other great medieval churches and cathedrals, the construction at this site will continue for many centuries. The Guinness Book of World Records says it is the largest cathedral in the world.

Cathedral of Saint John the Divine
Image credits: EQRoy/Shutterstock.com

The making of the cathedral of St. John the Divine started more than 125 years ago in 1892. Only two-thirds of the proposed model has come into being since then. The reasons laid out for the failure to complete the buildings are stylistic changes and work interruptions.

The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.
Image credits: marcobrivio.photo/Shutterstock.com

The original plan was to construct the cathedral in Byzantine and Romanesque Revival styles. However, later it shifted entirely to a Gothic Revival design.

The structure also faced some damage in 2001 due to a large fire, but the impairment was restored by 2008.

The massive interior of the church hosts events and art exhibitions in hundreds.

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission recognized the cathedral as the official city landmark in 2017. It is the world’s sixth-largest church in terms of area. (1, 2)

Also read: 10 of the Most Unusual and Weird Buildings in the World

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