Grand buildings – Buildings which genuinely take your breath away with either the sheer immensity of it, or just at how lavishly it is decorated. We’ll be checking both into the same list here, where the more epic the setting feels, the better it’ll do on our list. So, let’s get right to it in this week’s Top 10 list.
And hey, before you go, please do go and check out the vote at the end of the article. Today marks the four year anniversary of our Top 10’s. Thank you to everyone who has been with us every step of the way.
10) End Of The Line Club – Tron
Though we don’t see much of the outside of the club, the End of Line is pretty grandiose both inside and out. Vibrant against the dark of the Grid, the lights are turned up high, the drinks flow constantly, and Daft Punk play every night! All of this is overseen by the equally spectacular Castor (Michael Sheen), whose glowing cane and ever joyous demeanour make a party atmosphere by themselves.
Positioned at the top of the tallest tower that overlooks the city, the party floor has the greatest view a program could ask for. A shuttle-car brings guests from the floor to the top, meaning that security should be a flawlessly managed thing. Sadly, Clu’s security forces are better prepared for renegade club owners, and the End of Line club is now… ended.
9) The Tower of Isengard – Lord of the Rings
They’re taking the Hobbits to Isengard, they said. But what they didn’t count on is the fact that one of these powerful wizard-folk were going to turn on them. But I digress, Isengard is a bit of a dump when you really look at it on the outside. It’s just a bloody great big iron fortress, of which the name implies. It became the home of the almost hermit-like Saruman, a wise and powerful wizard. Who, y’know, betrays them all.
Anyway, ignoring the betrayal, the reason we chose the Tower of Isengard is the sheer immensity of it. Unlike the rest of the area, it’s just this massive spire which sits dead centre in the fortress. Don’t get me wrong, it plays an important part and is one hell of an image, but what doesn’t sit right with me is the lack of being able to see the insides. The film makes a great case for it; the book paints an impressive image… But we just don’t know what’s going on inside.
That summit however is rather incredible.
8) Cair Paravel – Narnia
The Kings and Queens of Narnia rule from within Cair Paravel, a massive, incredible castle in the realm of Narnia. Through them wardrobes you go, as you step into Narnia, where the castle houses the four thrones. Indeed, this castle is central to the story of Narnia in many ways, even if we’re not necessarily going to see everything about it, which is why we can’t rank this one much higher than this spot.
However, don’t let the placing on this list fool you. Cair Paravel is an incredible castle, home to many a people. Depending on where abouts you are, it’s just a castle or it’s a castle surrounded by a whole city. Naturally, a city isn’t a building, so throughout we’ve focused on the castle… Which is truly a shame, as hey, spoilers, that castle ain’t staying up forever. All in all, it represents power and position, which is always a surefire way for something to be brought down!
7) The Combine Citadel Tower – Half Life 2
The ominous scar that marrs the skyline of City 17, and for thousands of miles around, the Citadel is an icon of oppression. Literally scraping the sky, the tower reaches up high enough to define the clouds around its apex, and at its base it trails cables, a constant vampiric feed of information used to monitor, control, and subdue.
The monolith is so vast it requires a train to efficiently travel through. The space is filled by an enormous military force, a portal to alien destinations, and the leviathan “Advisors” that have come to enslave humanity. It’s hard to put a human face on a force that grim, and Wallace Breen is not the face any of us would have chosen.
6) The Dark Tower – Stephen King
If I were to tell you that The Dark Tower is basically about a gunslinger who’s taking over a tower, by, y’know, shooting stuff to get to said tower… It all sounds rather daft. But, that’s actually kind of what The Dark Tower is in a nutshell – And the imagery the book sets is amazing. Standing before the massive tower, one lone gunslinger is out for vengeance, from a disturbed childhood. It’s riveting reading and viewing.
Whether or not you’re a fan of Stephen King novels, you cannot deny the immensity of the tower. It’s arguably one of the taller constructs on our list. It’s hard to place what the tower is exactly, except for a nightmarish place which must be entered to be destroyed. Technically, it’s effectively a hub for many worlds… But we’ll let you read or watch it for yourself. We follow our protagonist through his perilous journey into the tower. However, you’d be better off not following Roland into the Dark Tower, as you’d be better off knowing it’s dark secrets.
5) Hyrule Castle – Legend of Zelda
Arguably the most classic example of a video game building on this list, Hyrule Castle has seen many iterations throughout the ages. It doesn’t matter what version you’ve seen, it’s always one of the grandest dungeons in any Legend of Zelda title. As of the time of writing, Hyrule Castle has been in 11 Legend of Zelda titles, which definitely makes it one of the most prolific entries on this list.
Hyrule Castle will always hold a place in gamers hearts; With a multitude of enemies having taken it over, the princess having been kidnapped and much more, Hyrule Castle has a checkered past. Here’s hoping one day Hyrule Castle will be a much more stable and secure place for a king and queen to rule from, but whilst we’ve got Legend of Zelda titles, you can bet that some serious adventuring is going to take place within the walls.
Tidy stone, royal carpets, throne rooms – This castle’s got the lot. It’s even got a dungeon underneath it, to keep the villains locked up.
4) The Disney Castle
Ahh, the iconic edifice that opens every Disney film, the many turreted, completely impractical castle over a river. I’m not saying it’s completely indefensible, but it’s not difficult to get passed that outer wall, and the compound beyond appears to be chaotic, without safe points of retreat and consolidation. Now, the original Neuschwanstein Castle, that’s got some holding power, check out that long runway, leaving invaders open to bombardment and forcing them to bottleneck for easy rep- y’know what, never mind.
The Disney Castle is iconic, a centrepiece to the visual spectacular that is every Disneyland, and the very image we have come to know from the House of Mouse. Despite the Mickey Mouse logo, we perhaps know the castle better now as a culture, since it rose to visual dominance in the days of Sleeping Beauty.
3) Tyrell Corporation – Bladerunner
From a vision of wonder, the the very epitome of domination. The great squat pyramid of Tyrell – producers of the Replicant androids – aglow with lights, but no less dark for the near-divine image it portrays. To refer to the compound as a pyramid is no mistake, creators of “life” after a fashion, Tyrell have created for themselves the image of a kind of god-king, and their temple dominates the horizon.
The floating obelisk-like outer buildings create an almost ethereal power about the thing, as though it defies physics. The interior is as temple-like as the outside, bedecked in fabric hangings, modelled to capture the image of the pope’s bedroom, or the inside of a grand cathedral. Make no mistake, this is dystopia concentrated, all hail the corporation, Tyrell is god to the people.
2) Stark Tower – Marvel
More accurately, Avengers Tower now, Stark Tower suffered some auspiciously cosmetic damage during the Chitauri invasion of New York, losing the S, T, R and K, somehow keeping hold of the stylised “A”. The landing pad sets it apart from every other tower in the Manhattan skyline, veering out from the side of the upper floors to really underline the fact that there are no helicopters putting down there, just a suit.
The lounge that overlooks the landing pad is spacious enough to host a party, a well stocked bar overlooks a seating and party space large enough to swing a god. Just below is a fully automated repair and maintenance facility for the Iron Man Suits and the Iron Legion, along with a variety of workshops and labs further and further down, including spaces specifically made to accommodate the other Avengers. The tower is impressive inside and out, and while it would serve no purpose, I still feel that New York itself would be improved for the addition of a fake one.
Not like Disney couldn’t do it for the giggles…
1) Hogwarts – Harry Potter
If you didn’t think Hogwarts was getting our first place spot, you’d have been sorely mistaken. Hogwarts is indeed our first pick – Although this wasn’t the only building in the Harry Potter universe that we considered. Indeed, we considered Ollivander’s Wand Shop, for the immensity of his collection of wands. We considered Gringotts, as the wealth of gold and the fact there’s a massive roller coaster to get to your vault. We considered Hog’s Head Inn, but that wasn’t that grand.
Indeed, Hogwarts was a fitting first place on this list. Without it, we’d have not seen so many exciting stories. We’ve gone to dark places that most wizards wouldn’t dream of seeing. We’ve been to all sorts of different wonderfully terrifying places within the walls of the school. The fact this massive, magical school is surrounded by forests filled with wildlife, vast luscious grounds, a Quidditch pitch and more is just the beginning.
Once you penetrate the fortress itself, there are staircases that move around. Grand, incredible paintings which are literally alive. A huge dining hall, where all announcements are made… Trust us, there was no better pick than the immensity of Hogwarts.
Indeed, being grand is an important matter… Although the term grand is indeed incredibly subjective. Are we on about pure size? What about randomisation?! Indeed, we’ve got two more plausible entries which we couldn’t quite fit on our list, but we certainly had to give them a bit of a nod!
Knightmare Castle – Knightmare
This was a fun pick to put in here – The Knightmare Castle doesn’t really have much of a name, other than the TV shows namesake, but honestly there have been so many great stories told in here. If you’ve never seen Knightmare, watch an episode of it above. This was a much beloved show which runs live events now-a-days and that’s about it. A pity, as honestly so many kids would love to see Knightmare on TV.
Dreaming aside, the castle was incredible. Sometimes it had people playing NPCs whose whole purpose was to kill the heroic kids; other times it had NPCs willing to get the kids out of harm’s way. Sometimes, people would get poisoned – And every time, the protagonist would be blinded by the magnificence of the castle; so much so, they would always say…
“… Where am I?!”
Unseen University – Discworld
Ankh Morpork’s campus for practitioners of the arcane is a wondrous place of learning. From the glass dome of the High Energy Magic Building and its strange atmosphere of thaumatological radiation, to the soaring, crooked Tower of Art, UU is a wonder of the mystic art of architecture and containing large amount of wizard.
Rivalled across the disc only by Buggerup Uni in Fourecks with its many-heighted tower, the university is a defining feature of the AM skyline on those days when it can be seen through the dust, smog, and general effluence of the Ankh. You could buy it in paper-craft at one point, pretty sure I missed my chance though.
So, we’ve got something to admit to all of you. Today marks the four year anniversary of our first Top 10 article, Top 10 Bears. It’s old, it’s outdated and so, so many of our classics are. But, we loved every one of them so much. To celebrate, we’re picking up three of our classic Top 10’s for a redo as we think there are many new entries we could consider – So, go ahead, select one for us to do a redeux on. Will they be better, or will they be basically the same as before?
That’s it for another Top 10 list – But as ever, we’re not quite finished yet. We’re going to pass the conversation onto you now. What did you make of our list today? Did we get the right buildings, or did we forget about any truly grand buildings? Did we get the order right? Could anything have toppled Hogwarts? Leave your comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.
Finally, on behalf of Timlah and Joel: Thanks again to everyone who has been with us every step of the way.