Which well-known landmarks do you think lived up to the hype?

Inspired by this thread.

For me, seeing the Korean War and Vietnam Memorials in Washington DC was an experience that pictures hadn’t prepared me for. The Korean War Memorial is so lifelike, that-- well, I can’t explain how it really made me feel, but it was eerie and beautiful. The Vietnam Wall is even more awe inspiring, as I never realized how big it was until I saw it first hand.

The USS Arizona Pearl Harbor Memorial was much more beautiful and striking than I thought. It was very moving to know that I was in a place where so many had died. Sitting in that tranquil, beautiful, Hawaiian harbor, it is really hard to imagine it filled with smoke, fire, and screams of people burning alive in oil covered water.

The entire Arlington Cemetery in DC is just really moving because it is such an incredibly peaceful place. It’s really astonishing to see rows and rows and rows of graves, going on seemingly endlessly, with the capitol in the background. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the guards working there are equally interest to watch. Mesmerizing, really.

Non military-history things, I’d have to say that I had low expectations for the Bellagio fountains, but those things were damned impressive. Even though I must have watched them at least 50 times by now, I still stop and watch when I have a chance.

So, what about you?

I agree with you on all the war-related memorials mentioned.

Also, for some reason, I thought that the Arch in St. Louis did precisely what it was supposed to do as a monument, and I really enjoyed visiting it both outside and within.

Some people don’t think so but I was really impressed by the St. Louis Arch.

It’s bigger than it looks and feels very 2001 Monolith when your close up to it.
There’s no visible openings in it (except the tiny windows at the top) and the massive stainless steel column just erupts from the ground. It’s surrounded by grass and trees and you gain access by going into the underground visitors center.
Even though it’s a static structure it feels very dynamic standing next to it. When you stand near one of the bases and look up at it your eye follows it into the sky like the space shuttle taking off. Then it curves and plunges downward stabbing into the ground a few hundred yards from where your standing.

The one that got me the most was the Taj Mahal.

When I went, 13 years ago, they didn’t light the inside with artificial lights so as not to damage it further. So it was fairly dim. There were places you could touch the walls, and you could feel the holes where the British had ripped out the gems and taken them.

The whole place had a vast air of melancholy about it, along with sleeping majesty. I have never felt to this day like I did then. It got me - and most of the other tourists - to start crying, and for the first time I really felt in touch with my Hindustani nationality as well as heritage. For the first time, I felt it was *my country’s *pain, rather than some obscure country called India…

The other one that always gets me is more generic. Eternal Flames - whenever I see one, be it for the Unknown Soldier in India, or for other reasons, always touch my heart.

I would have to go with Machu Picchu. The trek there is in itself an amazing experience, but getting to MP at sunrise and looking over the ruins is absolutely breathtaking. I’m sure I even shed a tear or two.

It’s much larger then it looks in the pictures too, so even imagining the time and energy that it would take to get the stone up the mountain and constructing something so large is amazing in itself.

Leaning Tower of Pisa. I literally couldn’t take my eyes off it for the 2 days were in Pisa – it looked like it could go at any time.

St. Peter’s, Westminster Abbey, Versailles, the Louvre. Can’t hype 'em enough.

The Grand Canyon. The name is an understatement.

I was quite impressed with the Empire State Building. There are taller buildings, but the cool thing about the ESB is that it still has its art deco, built-in-the-30s look. It makes it charming and, in a way, more impressive than taller, more modern buildings.

Arlington for sure.

Going to the observation deck of the Empire State building at night is amazing. Seeing lights on the ground as far as the eye can see really gives you a sense of how big NYC is. (Yes it’s also NJ and outside of NYC proper, but all that wouldn’t be there except for the city.)

In my neck of the woods is Niagara Falls. I go there every couple of years when I have out of town guests. It’s roar and raw power get me every time. If you get the chance don’t miss the Cave of the Winds tour. It’s wooden platforms and decks almost to the base of the falls. Breathtaking.

Sunrise on Haleakala. It’s like watching the earth being born.

I had completely forgotten about this! (How could I have forgotten that?) But you are totally right and your description is so apt.

I agree with the Empire State Building.

I love seeing it from a car or bus, leaving the city. It really towers over everything else in the Manhattan skyline, no other building even comes close. But it still manages to look very graceful.

The Smithsonian Institution.
The Gateway Arch.
The World Trade Centers (sigh)
The Grand Tetons
Zion Nat’l Monument
The Grand Canyon
The USS Arizona memorial

Going through the Straits of Messina.

I’ve never heard any hype for it before I went through, but my ship made a point to let the crew know it was happening. Went up to the CIWS platforms, and watched the show. It was just stunningly beautiful. It’s just a narrow channel, but somehow, the blue waters of the med, the olive scrub on the hills, and the whitish soil under the scrub just seemed a perfect set of contrasts.

Oh, and the dolphins riding our bow wave through the Strait.

Any war memorial, especially those from the Civil War. I can’t walk Gettyburg without a copious supply of Kleenex. Especially the monuments at the Peach Orchard, where my greatx5 grandfather fought with Kershaw’s Brigade. And the USS Arizona almost makes me break down. I did lose it at Normandy.

My jaw literally dropped when the bus I was riding turned the corner and I saw the Colosseum for the first time.

not “literally” as an intensifier, but “literally” as I was sitting there with my mouth wide open, like an idiot tourist. Which I was.

It’s absolutely amazing.

The Great Wall of China. Being able to stand on a wall that races off over the horizon in both directions, slipping inexorably over every obstacle, every hillock, winding as far as the eye can see, is very impressive.

The Washington Monument. The view from the top is magnificent. It’s awe-inspiring even standing at the base, with all the U.S. flags flying.

I don’t know if it qualifies, but I really liked the redwood forest in California. Just magnificent. Hoover dam too. I took a tour when I was a kid, on a field trip. A big task for mere men. I’m sure the Great Wall of China would be cool. Or the pyramids in Egypt. Maybe some day.

Sunset at Key West is like the Earth going to sleep. The sun sinking into the ocean, if you will.
I’ll also repeat** Mr. Goob’s**. Niagara Falls is pretty impressive, even if some of the locals will just write it off as just “lots of water falling”