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5 Must-See Architectural Wonders in Arizona
The art of designing and constructing buildings is a craft carefully honed over the centuries — and in Arizona, you can experience its evolution. On your next Arizona vacation, gaze at dwellings and ruins as old as 900 years old. Walk across a 19th-century bridge that was constructed in London, but carefully dismantled and reassembled thousands of miles away. Or tour contemporary structures, like Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home or a chapel built right into the rocks. Arizona’s architectural gems are truly a sight to behold.
1. Ancient Cliff Dwellings
Journey back in time and explore the homes of the earliest people of Flagstaff at Walnut Canyon National Monument. Follow the Island Trail to see 25 cliff dwellings, which were constructed as early as 1100 by the Sinagua people. These scattered families had farmed the canyon rims for corn for centuries, and many eventually moved into the limestone alcoves where they thrived for another 150 years.
The Kinishba Ruins, inside the Fort Apache Historic Park, are the sprawling remains of a 600-room great house constructed by Pueblo people more than 650 years ago. This community was occupied by Zuni and Hopi ancestors until about 1400, when it was vacated for unknown reasons. It’s one of the most extensively excavated and visited sites in the Southwest, and an interesting place to explore on your next vacation to Pinetop.
Built in 1831, the London Bridge stood proud for over 100 years in England before it came to light that the overpass was slowly sinking into the River Thames. (And, yes, this is where the nursey rhyme came from.) Instead of committing it to the junkyard, the city decided to see if they could sell it — and American business tycoon Robert McCulloch bought it in 1968. McCulloch had just founded the community of Lake Havasu City in Arizona and thought the bridge would be the perfect attraction, so the structure was painstakingly dismantled brick by brick and reassembled in Arizona over the course of three years. Today, you can visit the relocated bridge and learn more of this fascinating tale on the London Bridge Walking Tour.
Scottsdale’s Taliesin West began as architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s idea of a desert utopia. He purchased several hundred acres of land in the Arizona foothills and brought his dream to life in 1937. Over the years, Wright continually altered and expanded his winter home, and today, that same spirit of architecture is alive and well there. In addition to its national historic landmark status, it acts as the main campus for the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. Tours are offered year-round, including the Junior Architect tour for little ones with their sights set on design.
Pictured above, the Chapel of the Holy Cross is an impressive church built into Sedona’s red rocks. The chapel was inspired and commissioned by Marguerite Brunswig Staude, a student of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and completed in 1956. On your next trip to Sedona, appreciate this remarkable construction before stepping inside to view impressive desert vistas through its floor-to-ceiling windows.