Dec 11, 6 years ago

Top ten manmade structures in Latin America ten manmade structures in Latin America

Here is a list of some of the most incredible, artificial structures in Latin America.

  • Top ten manmade structures in Latin America
  • Top ten manmade structures in Latin America
  • Top ten manmade structures in Latin America
  • Top ten manmade structures in Latin America
  • Top ten manmade structures in Latin America
  • Top ten manmade structures in Latin America
  • Top ten manmade structures in Latin America
  • Top ten manmade structures in Latin America
  • Top ten manmade structures in Latin America
  • Top ten manmade structures in Latin America

1. Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

A formidable, open-armed Christ overlooking the bays, beaches, and hills of Rio is one of the most iconic images of Latin America. The concrete and soapstone structure, perched atop the 710 metre (2,300 foot) high Corcovado Mountain, was built in 1931 as a symbol of peace and the religious strength of Brazil. The biggest art deco statue in the world is attractive to travellers as well as the forces of nature. In 2008, the Christ had his eyebrows singed and fingers burnt after a particularly strong lightning storm.

2. Cable car, Mérida, Venezuela

Venezuela already boasts the 907 metre (3,000 feet) Angel Falls or Kerepakupai-Meru, but the country’s fixation with things of a stratospheric nature doesn’t end there. It is also home to the world’s highest cable car. Conceived in 1952 and completed in 1960, the teleferico ascends from the Andean city of Merida to Pico Espejo, a jaw-dropping 4,776 metres (15,700 feet) in four stages over a distance of 12.5 kilometres (7.7 miles). The Venezuelan government closed the line in 2008 and it is currently undergoing renovation with full service expected to resume in early 2013.

3. Salt Cathedral, Zipaquirá, Colombia

It’s not much to look at from the outside, but the inside, with the help of some strategic lighting, is stunning. Tunnels take visitors 180 metres (580 feet) underground to a series of chapels and chambers, as well as to scenes depicting the 14 Stations of the Cross. The original cathedral, finished in 1954 and dedicated to Nuestra Señora del Rosario, the patron saint of miners, was closed in the early 1990s due to safety concerns. The new cathedral was opened in 1995 close to its predecessor.

4. Stone figures of Easter Island or Moai of Rapa Nui, Chile

Seafarers from Polynesia began to settle on the island in 300 AD and, between the 10th and 16th centuries, fashioned stone heads ranging from 2 metres (6″6) to 20 metres (65 feet) in height. The tribes competed with each other to show strength and dominance by building the most complex stone sculptures, which are believed to be representations of their ancestors. The backdrop of extinct volcanoes makes these world-famous sculptures even more captivating.

5. Machu Picchu, Cuzco, Peru

Machu Picchu, or Old Mountain in the local language, Quechua, is on the wish list of the majority of visitors to Latin America and with good reason. Nestled in the Vilcanota mountain range, at 2,400 metres (7,900 feet) above sea level, the mysterious citadel has been subject to conflicting theories regarding its purpose. While some believe that it was built as a sacred site, others claim that it was the summer retreat of an Inca emperor. All, however, agree that it is breathtaking. It was built during the 14th century during the rule of Inca leader Pachacutec and his successor Tupac, and had the capacity to house up to 1,200 citizens. “The City of the Incas,” built on land prone to tremors, was cleverly designed to keep earthquake damage to a minimum by using the dry stone wall method in its construction, which allows the structures to absorb impact.

6. Reed islands of Lake Titicaca, Peru

Who said an amazing structure has to be made of stone, concrete or, cables? The Uros people aren’t as attached to terra firma as some folk and are quite happy to live on islands made of woven totora reeds and transport themselves between the islands using totora reed boats. Being an island resident is a never-ending job, as new layers of reed have to be laid down every three months. However waking each morning to the sight of azure Lake Titicaca would make it all worthwhile.

7. Chichen Itza, Yucutan, Mexico

This city is the most important archaeological site of Maya-Toltec architecture. Since its original settlement between 550AD and 800AD as a religious site, the city was subject to abandonment, invasion, usurpation and resettlement by the Mayans and the Toltecs. By the middle of the 1550s Cuidad Real, as it was named by the Spanish, was virtually abandoned. The area is strongly associated with the cult of Kukulcan or the Feathered Serpent deity. The most famous building of the metropolis is the 22 metre (72 foot) Kukulkan Pyramid. Every spring and autumn equinox, the position of the sun creates an optical illusion known as “the descent of Kukulcan” in which the illuminated body of a snake is seen wriggling down the side of the pyramid until it joins a serpent’s head carved of stone.

8. Nazca Lines, Peru

Though not exactly a structure, these images carved into the land are definitely worth seeing, especially from the air. Various theories exist regarding what the lines represent, with possibilities including an astrological calendar, symbols of fertility or water, and messages destined for extra-terrestrial neighbours. The images, carved using shallow trenches, include not only geometric figures, but also animals such as a hummingbird, lizard, and even a killer whale.

9. The Panama Canal, Panama

This staggering feat of engineering was achieved by cutting through swathes of land to link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Each year over 14,000 vessels pass through the 77 kilometre (48 mile) canal which was completed in 1914. It took 33 years to complete, cost the French and US construction companies a colossal $639 million and sadly the lives of over 30,000 workers to disease and accidents. In addition to being a vital shipping route, the titanic waterway provides travellers with relatively easy access to the flora and fauna of Panamanian rainforest.

10. Swimming pool at San Alfonso del Mar resort, Algarrobo – Chile

A pool might not sound like an amazing structure but a little dip in the world’s largest outdoor pool could take a while. The artificial lake stretches over a kilometre (two-thirds of a mile), is 35 metres (115 feet) at the deepest point and contains 250 million litres (66 million gallons) of sea water which are helpfully warmed by the sun to 26 degrees Celsius (79 degrees Fahrenheit). The gargantuan swimming pool was completed in 2006 at a cost of $1.6 billion. It even has artificial beaches lining one side, so don’t forget your bucket and spade.

This list is by no means exhaustive. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comment box.

Lead image: CC Image courtesy of Mike Vondran on Flickr


An inquisitive traveller who teaches, writes, and takes photos, based in Colombia.

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