Interior design is not just about creating aesthetically pleasing spaces; it can also serve as a profound reflection of a country's history and culture. Throughout the world, there are numerous interior designs that have been deemed significant enough to be recognized as world heritage sites. So, to celebrate the upcoming World Heritage Day, we’ll be going through some of the most momentous interior design sites in the world.
Before we go into our list, let’s cover some of the basics…
What is World Heritage Day?
World Heritage Day, also known as International Day for Monuments and Sites, is celebrated every year on April 18. The day is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of protecting and preserving cultural heritage sites around the world. It is an opportunity to recognise the value of these sites and to promote their conservation for future generations.
The history of World Heritage Day dates back to 1982 when the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) established the day to raise awareness about the importance of cultural heritage. In 1983, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) officially recognized the day as World Heritage Day.
However, no matter the day, preserving cultural heritage sites is a year-round task. Conserving our history is essential for the protection of cultural diversity and for maintaining connections between past and present generations. These sites are not only important to the countries where they are located, but also to humanity as a whole. We are who we were, and cannot look forward without looking back.
Now that we know more about heritage and its importance, let’s dive deeper into those interior designs that are so beautiful, they are protected by UNESCO.
Palace of Versailles, France
Located in Versailles, France, the Palace of Versailles is a world-famous example of French Baroque architecture and interior design. First built by the “Sun” King Louis XIV, the palace was once the residence of French royalty. This building has witnessed revolutions, peace treaties, invasions, and much, much more.
The interior design of Versailles is a stunning example of Baroque style, which was popular during the 17th and early 18th centuries. The palace was designed by architect Louis Le Vau, who worked on the original building, and expanded by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, who was responsible for the design of many of the palace's interior spaces.
The interior design of Versailles is characterised by grandeur and opulence, with lavish furnishings and decorations throughout. One of the most impressive features of the palace's interior is its use of gold leaf. Gold was a symbol of power and wealth during the Baroque period, and it was used liberally throughout Versailles to decorate ceilings, walls, and furniture.
The most famous room in Versailles is the Hall of Mirrors, which was designed by Hardouin-Mansart. The Hall of Mirrors is a long, narrow room with 17 mirrored arches on one side and 17 windows on the other. The mirrors reflect the light from the windows, creating a dazzling effect that is enhanced by the gold leaf on the walls and ceiling. The room was used for grand ceremonies and receptions, and it remains one of the most impressive spaces in the palace.
Another notable feature of the interior design of Versailles is the use of intricate tapestries. Tapestries were a popular decorative item during the Baroque period, and the palace has an impressive collection of tapestries that were woven specifically for its rooms. The tapestries depict scenes from history and mythology, and they add an extra layer of richness and texture to the palace's interior.
In addition to the Hall of Mirrors, Versailles has many other grand rooms and spaces that are worth exploring. The King's Apartments are a series of rooms that were used by the king for daily activities, and they are decorated in a more restrained style than some of the other rooms in the palace. The Queen's Apartments are similarly decorated, with beautiful furnishings and decorations that reflect the taste and style of the queen who occupied them.
Overall, the interior design of Versailles is a testament to the opulence and grandeur of the Baroque period. The palace's designers spared no expense in creating an environment that was both beautiful and awe-inspiring, and their efforts have ensured that Versailles remains one of the most impressive examples of Baroque architecture and design in the world.
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Iran
Located in Isfahan, Iran, the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is a stunning example of Persian interior design. The mosque's interior design is said to be so breathtaking that it can leave visitors speechless.
The Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is a stunning architectural masterpiece. It was built in the early 17th century during the Safavid dynasty, and is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful mosques in the world. The interior design of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is particularly remarkable, and is a testament to the incredible skill and artistry of the craftsmen who built it.
One of the most striking features of the mosque's interior design is the intricate tilework that covers almost every surface of the building. The tiles were hand-painted by skilled artisans using a range of colours, including blue, turquoise, gold, and white. The patterns on the tiles are incredibly complex and feature a range of geometric shapes and floral motifs, as well as calligraphic inscriptions from the Quran.
The mosque's domed ceiling is another breathtaking feature of its interior design. The dome is made from brick and is decorated with elaborate patterns of tilework that gradually become more intricate as they reach the top. The centre of the dome features a star-shaped pattern that is meant to represent the heavens, and there is a small opening at the top that allows light to filter into the space below.
The interior design of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque also features a number of other impressive details, such as the marble columns that line the walls and the intricate wooden doors that lead into the prayer hall. The prayer hall itself is a spacious and serene space that is flooded with light from the dome above. The walls are adorned with more intricate tilework, and there is a small niche in the wall, called a mihrab, that indicates the direction of Mecca.
Another notable feature of the mosque's interior design is the way that it uses light to create a sense of drama and atmosphere. The light that filters in through the dome creates a shifting pattern of shadows that changes throughout the day, giving the space a sense of movement and dynamism. This effect is particularly striking during sunset, when the warm glow of the setting sun illuminates the tilework and creates a magical atmosphere. As we mentioned earlier; we’re speechless.
Wawel Castle, Poland
Wawel Castle is a historic castle located in Krakow, Poland, and is one of the country's most significant landmarks. The castle was built in the 14th century and was the residence of the Polish kings for over 500 years. The interior design of Wawel Castle is a stunning combination of different styles and periods, reflecting the castle's long and varied history.
One of the most impressive features of Wawel Castle's interior design is its collection of tapestries. The castle has one of the largest and most valuable collections of tapestries in Europe, with over 150 pieces on display. The tapestries were woven in Brussels in the 16th and 17th centuries and depict scenes from history and mythology. They are hung on the walls of the castle's grand chambers and add a rich and colourful element to the interior design.
The castle's grand chambers are another notable feature worth noting. These spacious rooms were used for official ceremonies and receptions and are decorated with ornate furnishings and decorations. The walls and ceilings are covered with intricate frescoes, many of which depict scenes from Polish legends and their rich past. The ceilings are often adorned with elaborate stucco work, and the floors are made from polished wood or colourful ceramic tiles.
It’s impossible to talk about Wawel Castle's interior design without mentioning its stunning collection of royal portraits. The castle has a vast collection of fine art dedicated to the Polish kings and queens, which are displayed in many of the grand chambers. The portraits are often set against richly patterned wallpaper or hung on walls decorated with intricate stucco work, adding to the overall grandeur of the spaces.
The castle's chapel is another stunning example of its interior design. The chapel was built in the 16th century and is decorated with intricate frescoes and stained glass windows. The altar is made from richly carved wood and is adorned with gold leaf and precious stones. The chapel's ceiling is decorated with a series of wooden panels that depict scenes from the life of Christ, and the walls are covered with beautiful tapestries. Decadent and richly decorated? Sign us up please!
The Alhambra, Spain
The Alhambra is a stunning palace and fortress complex located in Granada, Spain, and is widely considered to be one of the most impressive examples of Islamic architecture in the world. Designed in the old Al Andalus region of modern Spain after the conquest of 711, the interior design of the Alhambra is a breathtaking combination of intricate tilework, stunning carved woodwork, and elaborate stucco ornamentation.
One of the most impressive features of the Alhambra's interior design is the intricate tilework that covers many of the palace's surfaces. The tiles were hand-painted by skilled artisans using a range of colours, including blue, green, and gold. The patterns on the tiles are incredibly complex and feature a range of geometric shapes and floral motifs, as well as calligraphic inscriptions from the Quran.
Another striking feature of the Alhambra's interior design is the elaborate carved woodwork that adorns many of the palace's ceilings, doors, and archways. The woodwork features intricate designs and patterns, including geometric shapes, stylized flowers, and intricate calligraphy. The use of carved woodwork is particularly impressive in the palace's Hall of the Ambassadors, where the ceiling is a stunning example of the intricate and highly skilled craftsmanship of the palace's designers and artisans.
The palace's interior design also makes use of water features, which were an important element in Islamic design. The palace's courtyards feature pools of water that reflect the palace's stunning architecture and create a sense of tranquillity and peace. The use of water also helps to cool the palace's interior spaces, making them more comfortable during the hot summer months. Also, the vegetation planted outside the palace was chosen on purpose to attract certain birds, and so a specific kind of song. Talk about thoughtfulness!
Taj Mahal, India
The Taj Mahal is a white marble mausoleum located in Agra, India, and is widely considered to be one of the most iconic and beautiful buildings in the world. The Taj Mahal was built in the 17th century by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died while giving birth to their 14th child.
Shah Jahan was deeply devastated by the death of his wife and decided to build the Taj Mahal in her honour. Construction on the Taj Mahal began in 1632 and took 22 years to complete, with the help of more than 20,000 workers. The design of the Taj Mahal was the result of collaboration between architects, artists, and craftsmen from all over the Mughal Empire.
The Taj Mahal was designed to be a symmetrical, harmonious building. The mausoleum’s main dome stands at a height of 73 metres and is surrounded by four minarets, each standing at a height of 40 metres.
One of the most impressive features of the Taj Mahal's interior design is the intricate marble work that covers many of the palace's surfaces. The marble was hand-carved by skilled artisans and features a range of intricate floral motifs, geometric patterns, and calligraphic inscriptions. The marble is particularly impressive in the palace's central chamber, where the walls are adorned with a range of intricate patterns and designs.
Another striking feature of the Taj Mahal's interior design is the stunning mosaics that decorate many of the palace's surfaces. The mosaics feature a range of colourful stones, including jasper, jade, and onyx, and are used to create intricate patterns and designs. The mosaics are particularly impressive in the palace's central dome, where the complex patterns and designs create a stunning visual effect.
The Taj Mahal's interior design also features a range of impressive calligraphy. The calligraphy is used to decorate many of the palace's surfaces and is often used to feature verses from the Quran. The calligraphy is particularly impressive in the palace's central chamber, where the walls are adorned with a range of intricate designs and inscriptions.
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