You’ve seen a million lists of the top places to visit in the world and the most jaw-dropping architectural feats, but we’ve decided to provide you with a different take on the world’s top destinations. It’s time to take a look at the landmarks that are so famous and so recognizable that they’re frequently featured in creative and artistic projects. We analyzed a total of 60 million searches on our site in 2018 to find the 50 most popular landmarks featured in creative works.
All great stories have the ability to pull you in—and all great videos have the ability to pull you into a place and time. The instant recognition that comes with landmark footage gives video producers the ability to set the scene in a matter of seconds. A clip of the sun rising over the Eiffel Tower takes you to a beautiful morning in the city of love. An aerial view of the Capitol Hill will raise emotions and the sense of history associated with the powerful, political center of the United States.
Photos and video used in creative pieces such as film, advertisements, and media are often reflections of current trends and what’s popular in the world. Although some of the findings from our data are what you might expect—national parks, museums, and tourist meccas—others are a bit more surprising and potentially indicative of the times. For example, a number of government buildings like the White House, Pentagon, Capitol Hill, and the Freedom Tower made their way onto top spots and the Kremlin sits at spot #16 on the list.
Claiming a majority of the top 10 spots with The Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building, New York City seems to not only be the most popular tourist destination in the United States, but also the most featured city in creative content.
1. Statue of Liberty
It’s not easy being green, but Lady Liberty pulls it off seamlessly and represents the abstract concept of freedom as well as the city of New York in a number of large-scale video productions. Give it up for this leading lady—#1 is quite the accomplishment.
2. Times Square
Number two on our list isn’t too far away from Lady Liberty. Its bright lights attract millions of tourism dollars and its restaurants employ thousands of aspiring actors. Give it up for Times Square—a staple in any film featuring the Empire State.
3. Eiffel Tower
Who said the French can’t do anything right? The Eiffel Tower is a magnificent landmark that can instantly sweep you off into a romantic dream. The Eiffel Tower has thousands of creative professionals saying “oui.”
4. Central Park
Who wouldn’t want to feature a little piece of nature in their film about a concrete jungle? Central Park is an essential landmark featured in any New York romance or drama.
5. Big Ben
This cultural icon is recognized all around the world and can instantly set the scene for a British production. There’s no doubt that the historical clock tower is one of the most iconic film locations in London.
6. Niagra Falls
Everyone loves a good waterfall, and Niagra Falls has been a featured subject in film, television, music, fine art, and literature. Both beautiful and powerful, the falls can be difficult to capture on camera, which is no doubt why it’s in the top ten most searched for landmarks on Storyblocks.
7. Golden Gate Bridge
Known for its aesthetic, the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most popular modern architectural landmarks. Thanks to its beautiful ruddy color and ever-present surrounding fog, it’s one of the most recognizable landmarks of the west coast.
8. Taj Mahal
Not many (if any) will argue that this is the most beautiful, most famous, and most photographed mausoleum in the world. Built in the 1600’s as a monument to an emperor’s wife, the iconic architecture is instantly recognizable.
Yellowstone is so large that it’s hard to highlight in just a few words. The sheer beauty and expansiveness of the park is hard to match. Perhaps the best known of the American national parks, Yellowstone footage can really set the stage for an outdoorsy video.
Mecca is an iconic, holy land for those of the Islamic faith. During the annual pilgrimage (Hajj) for Muslims, more than 2 million Muslims will fill Mecca creating a stunning scene of a sea of followers.
11. Brooklyn Bridge
When it opened near the turn of the 20th century, the Brooklyn Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the States. While that’s no longer the case, it’s just as iconic as ever as one of the hallmarks of the Big Apple.
12. Empire State Building
NYC continues to be on top—the Empire State Building is yet another top landmark in the city that never sleeps. The distinctive point of the building and noticeable height of the structure makes it instantly stand out in the city’s skyline.
13. Hollywood Sign
Nestled in the mountains of Los Angeles, there’s nothing quite like the Hollywood sign. Big, distinctive, bright letters spell out the name of the entertainment capital of the world.
Set the stage perfectly for a top secret video with (authorized) footage of the Pentagon. Named for its distinctive shape, the home of the American military instantly commands respect and authority.
15. Burj Khalifa
Dubai is known for its extravagance and its height. Scaling more than 2,700 feet, the Burj Khalifa’s distinct shape is instantly identifiable.
Located in Moscow, the Kremlin features Russian renaissance architecture that sets it apart visually from almost any other structure. The well-fortified walls and towers give a sense of security to the well-known Russian structure.
Built in roughly 3100 BC, the origins of Stonehenge are still mysterious. The huge stone slabs took great effort to stand up and arrange, and perhaps no other landmark in this round-up evokes more discussion and speculation than Stonehenge.
18. Mount Everest
“Mount Everest” is practically a euphemism for those who achieve at the highest level. The world’s tallest peak, located in the Himalayas, is visually stunning for its altitude and treachery.
19. London Eye
London’s massive Ferris wheel, the “London Eye,” is the tallest of its kind in Europe and attracts almost 4 million riders annually. Thanks to its prominence in the London skyline, the Eye is one of the most visible structures of the city and allows visitors to get some of the best views of the city.
20. Death Valley
Located in California, Death Valley is a stark contrast to much of the rest of the state’s lush landscapes. Sinking below sea level, Death Valley is one of America’s hottest and driest spots.
Although not in its original form after a 1349 earthquake, Rome’s Colosseum is just as stunning in the modern era. Gladiators, actors, and criminals all shared the center stage of Rome’s Colosseum thousands of years ago and it still commands as much respect.
22. Sydney Opera House
There’s no structure quite like the Sydney Opera House thanks to its incredible design. The high arches and almost “shell-like” structure help it stand out and act as a symbol for Australia.
23. Washington Monument
Its namesake was the first U.S. president, and the Washington Monument has come to be one of the DC’s best-known monuments. The tall obelisk stands out from the rest of the crowd due to its extremely simple design, height, and position in the city.
24. Machu Picchu
Located in Peru, Macchu Picchu is a stunning structure situated within the Andean mountains. Believed to have been built for an Inca emperor, the estate is still worth an excursion nearly 600 years later thanks to its impressive stone construction.
25. Great Wall of China
Maybe you can’t see it from space as many people believe, but the Great Wall of China is still one of the globe’s most impressive structures thanks to its incredible scale. It’s believed that over a million people died in the building of this wall over the course of its 20-year construction.
26. Berlin Wall
Mr. Gorbachev may have torn down the wall at Ronald Reagan’s urging in 1987, but it still is one of the most searched-for landmarks in this round-up. In the modern era, the Berlin Wall no longer divides East Germany and West Germany, but parts of the wall and a memorial stand where the wall once was.
27. Tower Bridge
If you know one scene from London, it might be a view of Tower Bridge. In typical British style, this structure is as opulent as it is functional. Whether by foot or via vehicle, Tower Bridge finds its way into seemingly every scene that includes London.
28. Buckingham Palace
Another London favorite, Buckingham Palace houses a number of British royalty. Footage of Buckingham often includes the Palace Guards, clothed in their distinctive bright red uniforms.
29. Mount Rushmore
I have a sneaking suspicion that anyone who visits Mount Rushmore pictures themselves sharing a space with the other four faces atop the South Dakota landmark. Maybe you’ll never find yourself carved into this stone structure, but Mount Rushmore is one of the best-known landmarks for its size and scale.
30. Capitol Hill
Much like the White House and Washington Monument, Capitol Hill is one of the unforgettable structures in DC. The huge dome atop the building and long staircase leading to the entrance set it apart from the other structures in D.C.
31. Monument Valley
Monument Valley in the Utah / Arizona region is full of those tall stone structures often called “buttes.” When you picture of the deserts in the west, you’re likely picturing Monument Valley.
32. Notre Dame
One of Europe’s best-known cathedrals, Notre Dame in Paris is located right in the heart of the city. The beautiful stained glass and beautiful architecture make it one of the city’s most popular attractions year in and year out.
33. Freedom Tower
Freedom Tower, or “One World Trade Center,” became the tallest building in North America after its completion in 2006. There’s no other building quite like it in the Big Apple’s skyline thanks to its unique shape.
High atop the hills of Athens, Greece, the Acropolis is a series of buildings including the Parthenon. You’ll instantly recognize these buildings for their towering columns and distinctive architecture that sets the tone for an ancient setting.
35. CN Tower
Toronto’s most popular structure became even more famous after Drake “posed” atop it for his 2016 album Views. Often the target of lightning strikes, CN Tower is instantly visible in most footage of Toronto.
36. Wailing Wall
Located in Jerusalem and sometimes called the “Western Wall,” this religious monument is significant to several of the world’s largest modern religions.
37. Tokyo Tower
Sometimes jokingly compared to the Eiffel Tower, Tokyo’s red and white namesake tower is markedly different than the other buildings it shares the city with. It might no longer be the tallest tower in Japan (that belongs to the Skytree), but the unique color of this building makes it iconic in footage of Tokyo.
There’s no other landmark in this round-up quite like Petra, located in Jordan. Petra is an entire city of incredible architecture, cut from stone, thousands of years old. With more than 800 monuments in all, Petra is a testament to the incredible skill of those who built it.
39. The White House
See footage of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and it instantly evokes a sense of reverence and importance for all who have shared it in history. Set the stage with footage of the the home of past, current, and future presidents for your political video productions.
40. Christ the Redeemer
Overlooking Rio de Janeiro, the almost 100-foot statue of Jesus Christ took 8 years to carve and construct in the early 1900’s. Footage of this statute is almost always surrounded by beautiful aerial views of Rio below it.
The highest mountain in Africa, you’ll find Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. While other mountain ranges feature higher points, Kilimanjaro has the honor of being the tallest free-standing mountain and is truly a spectacle thanks to its proportion to the land around it.
Sometimes called “Alhambra of Granada,” the Arabic origin of its name translates to the “red castle” that you’ll see in footage of this impressive palace situated in Spain.
43. Victoria Falls
If you want video clips of a waterfall, why not choose the world’s largest? These falls divide Zimbabwe and Zambia, and each side offers a vastly different view of the beautiful falls.
Versailles barely dodged destruction during the French Revolution, and any lover of architecture (and history) is certainly thankful for that. Versailles is an incredibly expansive palace that was clearly built for royalty.
45. Angkor Wat
If you head East to Cambodia you’ll find Angkor Wat, a 12th-century temple constructed in honor of the Hindu God Vishnu. A massive structure like this one is impressively large given its age and the construction techniques that were used in that era.
45. Sagrada Familia
Ever started a project that you couldn’t quite finish? Then, Sagrada Familia, a church in Barcelona might resonate with you. Over 150 years in the making, this church still isn’t quite completed, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most popular sites in the city.
46. Blue Lagoon
Thanks to cheap flights, it seems like everyone is going to Iceland these days. The beautiful Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa where you can soak and relax, might be one of the reasons why so many people are drawn in by Iceland.
One of the world’s most famous prisons, Alcatraz was originally a fort before later becoming a home for some of the United States’ best-known criminals. Fun fact: the families of prison guards lived on the island with them!
48. Moulin Rouge
Rounding out our top 50 landmarks, the Moulin Rouge stands out for its mid-city windmill in France. This is the quintessential cabaret and is a can’t miss for visual tours of the capital of France.
There you have it—the 50 most featured landmarks in creative works. Explore our collection of landmark footage to get the perfect shot for your next project.