The incredibly popular LEGO Architecture series has released around 50 sets since it was first introduced in 2008, catering to builders who love realistic replications of their favourite international landmarks (though obviously, on a much smaller scale).
We’ll be the first ones to admit that, with the release of first sets in the series, we assumed that The LEGO Group would take a very US-centric approach with LEGO Architecture. But, with the release of landmarks like the Burj Khalifa and Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate in 2011, and the Sydney Opera House in 2012, it’s clear that this series definitely caters to an international audience.
Needless to say, LEGO lovers have been hooked ever since.
But while there are plenty of notable buildings that have been officially released by The LEGO Group – we’re talking Big Ben, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Eiffel Tower and Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands, to name a few – there are even more unofficial builds created by AFOLs. And, because the LEGO community is a generous bunch, you can download many of the instructions for free or cheap online.
Keen to get dive headfirst into the rabbit hole that is LEGO Architecture? Here are seven of our favourite MOCs to get you started.
Neuschwanstein Castle by Thilo Schoen
This fabled castle in Bavaria, Germany, sees as many as 6000 videos each day in summer – a remarkable feat, considering its mountaintop position. It was built in the 19th century for King Ludwig II of Bavaria and opened to the public shortly after his death in 1886. Today, it is beloved for its Disney-like silhouette – it really looks like it’s come straight out of a fairy-tale.
Machu Picchu by Diego Baca
The most famous icon of the Incan civilization, Machu Picchu is believed to have been built in 1450 as an estate for emperor Pachacuti. Interestingly, while Machu Picchu was known to the local population, it wasn’t “discovered” by the rest of the world until 1911, when American historian Hiram Bingham brought it to international attention.
Tokyo Tower by Mitsui Brick Studio
Japan’s iconic red and white tower has stood tall since 1958, and welcomed over 150 million visitors in that time. It was inspired by the shape of the Eiffel Tower, and was originally planned to be taller than the Empire State Building – but at 332.6m, it came up short of the 381m Empire State Building. Fun fact: did you know that the Tokyo Tower is repainted every five years? It needs over 28,000 litres of paint and takes a year to complete the process.
Istanbul Skyline by Ben Builds LEGO
Featuring Istanbul’s most iconic and celebrated buildings – like the incredible Hagia Sophia, the medieval Galata Tower and the modern Istanbul Sapphire skyscraper – this MOC by Ben Builds LEGO is one of few LEGO Architecture builds that celebrate the Middle East. You can clearly see how old meets new in this skyline build, where buildings constructed as early as 537 AD are positioned next to buildings constructed as recently as 2010.
Parthenon by Jean Paul Bricks
Once a sprawling temple, the now ruined Parthenon stands tall on the Athenian Acropolis in Greece. It was built between 447 and 438 BC in dedication to Athena, the goddess of wisdom, handicraft and warfare, and served as the treasury of the Athenian Empire before being converted into a Christian church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and later a mosque. Now, the building – still damaged from a 1687 siege – is one of Greece’s most famous landmarks.
World Trade Centre by The MOC Style
Between 1973 and 2001, the World Trade Center was home to the highest-grossing restaurant in the United States (Windows on the World raked in $37 million in revenue in 2000), the site of four major disasters and depicted in an estimated 472 films. The legacy of the World Trade Centre goes far beyond the tragedy we all know so well – it was a bustling hub of business and culture, and a site as quintessentially New York as the Statue of Liberty herself.
Palace of Versailles by Ethan Brossard
It is said that the Palace of Versailles is a testament to what man can do when time and money are no object – take a walk through its famous Hall of Mirrors alone, and you’ll understand why. First built as a hunting lodge for Louis XIII in 1623, then renovated (and vastly expanded) by his successors, Versailles is linked to major historical events like the French Revolution and the aftermath of World War I. Note that if you do decide to recreate this MOC of Versailles’ grand entrance courtyard, know that it might take a bit of deconstruction and reconstruction to get right.