List Of 22 Tallest Buildings In History

history of tallest buildings in the world

Humans have always been fascinated by tall structures, and in this post, you’ll discover the complete history of tallest buildings in the world.

From ancient temples and pyramids to modern skyscrapers, Listerious has created an overview of the tallest buildings in history.

Please note, this list contains all the tallest, man-made, and freestanding structures on land, which is different than a list containing just buildings.

Let’s take a chronological look at buildings that were once the tallest in the world!

Tallest Buildings In History

22. Göbekli Tepe

Period: 10,000 – 8000 B.C.

Height: 18 feet / 5-6 Meters

The Göbekli Tepe was the first temple of humankind and was constructed in the Southeastern Anatolia region of Turkey. The temple was part of a major complex that consisted of about 200 pillars in about 20 circles.

Each pillar has a height of up to 6 meters (18 feet), which means it was the highest building in the world in this period of history.

History Of Tallest Buildings In The World Göbekli tepe
What remains of Göbekli Tepe / Teomancimit / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

21. Tower of Jericho

Period: 8000 – 4000 B.C.

Height: 28 feet / 8.5 meters

The Tower of Jericho was discovered after British archaeologist John Garstang was digging for what he believed to be the “Wall of Jericho,” a structure described in the Book of Joshua in the Bible.

The Tower of Jericho was a stone structure built against this wall, which was one of the first fortified city walls in history, making the Tower of Jericho one of the first stone monuments in history as well.

Tower of Jericho
Remains of the Tower of Jericho. / Wiki Commons

20. White Temple of Uruk

Period: 4000 – 2650 B.C.

Height: 40 feet / 13 meters

The White Temple in Uruk, modern-day Iraq, was built on top of a Ziggurat, a raised area on which buildings were constructed that was common in Ancient Mesopotamia.

Uruk was one of the first cities in the world and is the place that the first writing was discovered. It was home to the tallest building in the world as it stood majestically on the Ziggurat of Uruk, towering above the city walls and visible from a great distance.

Ziggurat of Uruk
The White Temple stood on the Ziggurat of Uruk. / Source

19. Pyramid of Djoser

Period: 2650 – 2610 B.C.

Height: 203 feet – 62 meters

The Pyramid of Djoser is the first pyramid in the list of tallest buildings in history, and it’s known to be a “Step pyramid” which contains 6 tiers.

The Pyramid was built as part of the Saqqara Necropolis for the Pharaoh Djoser, just northwest of the city of Memphis. It’s considered to be the first large-scale cut stone project in history.

Djoser Pyramid
Djoser’s Step Pyramid. / Pixabay

18. Meidum Pyramid

Period: 2610 – 2605 B.C.

Height: 307 feet / 93.5 meters

Meidum Pyramid is part of an archaeological site of the same name and is believed to be only the second pyramid that was ever constructed.

On top of that, it was the first-ever pyramid to be constructed with a straight side as well, as opposed to the step pyramid design. Unfortunately, it didn’t hold the record of the tallest building in the world for too long because it partially collapsed shortly after it was completed which reduced its size to just 213 feet / 65 meters.

Meidum Pyramid
Meidum Pyramid. / Wiki Commons

17. Bent Pyramid

Period: 2606 – 2600 B.C.

Height: 332 feet / 101.5 meters

Bent Pyramid is located at the royal necropolis of Dahshur, approximately 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of the Egyptian capital Caïro. It’s the first structure in history to cross the 100 meters height mark.

The pyramid got its name because the angle at which it rises at the bottom is 54 degrees, while the top section of the pyramid (starting at a height of 47 meters) rises at a smaller angle of just 43 degrees. This gives it a bent appearance.

Bent pyramid
The angle of the Bent Pyramid suddenly changes.

16. Red Pyramid

Period: 2600 – 2560 B.C.

Height: 481 feet / 146 meters

The Red Pyramid is another Pyramid at the Dahshur Necropolis near Caïro and is the largest of the 3 that are located there. It’s also the third-largest pyramid in Egypt.

It got its name because it was constructed using limestone stones that have a red shine to them. It wasn’t red when it was constructed though because it used to be covered in white Tura limestone.

red pyramid
The Red Pyramid, one of the largest pyramids in Egypt.

15. Great Pyramid of Giza

Period: 2560 B.C. – 1311 A.D.

Height: 481 feet – 146.7 meters

The Great Pyramid of Giza is the epitome of pyramids in the world. It’s considered to be one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world and received a spot of honor in the New 7 wonders of the world list as well because it’s the only ancient monument that still stands.

At the moment, the pyramid has eroded to a height of about 455 feet (138.8 meters) but remains as impressive as ever. One of the most remarkable facts about this amazing ancient monument is that we wouldn’t be able to construct it with modern equipment if we wanted to!

great pyramid of giza
The Great Pyramid of Giza.

14. Lincoln Cathedral

Period: 1311 A.D. – 1549 A.D.

Height: 525 feet – 160 Meters

The Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lincoln is a church in Lincoln, England. Its construction started way early in the year 1072 but the building didn’t top out until 1311.

The height is measured based on the spire which unfortunately collapsed during a storm in the year 1549. The height of the tower at the moment is only 272 feet – 83 meters, but it sued to be the tallest building in the world for 238 years.

lincoln cathedral

13. St. Mary’s Church in Stralsund

Period: 1549 – 1569

Height: 495 feet – 151 meters

The St. Mary’s Church in Stralsund, northern Germany, is another church that had a high spire that got destroyed because of a storm. In 1647, lightning struck the 495 feet – 151 meters high spire. The current spire is 341 feet – 104 meters high.

It’s the only building that actually held the record of the tallest building in the world twice. It was surpassed by Beauvais Cathedral in 1573 but regained the record when the spire of that church collapsed as well.

marienkirche in straslund
The Marienkirche in Straslund. / Darkone / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5

12. Beauvais Cathedral

Period: 1569 – 1573

Height: 502 feet – 153 meters

The Beauvais Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church in the town of Beauvais in northern France. It held the record of the tallest building in the world for exactly 4 years until the spire collapsed in the year 1573.

After this event, it wasn’t structurally changed anymore and this pretty remarkable Gothic church only stands 159 feet – 48.5 meters tall.

Beauvais Cathedral

11. Strasbourg Cathedral

Period: 1647 – 1874

Height: 483 feet – 142 meters

The Strasbourg Cathedral is a Catholic church in the city of Strasbourg in eastern France. The construction started back in 1015 and it was completed in the year 1439. The church still has the same height today as the moment it as completed.

It held the record of being the tallest building in the world because the spires of previous churches had collapsed and because the Great Pyramid of Giza had eroded to a height of just 456 feet – 139 meters, which made the Strasbourg Cathedral just a bit higher.

strasbourg cathedral
Strasbourg Cathedral / Diliff / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0

10. St. Nikolai in Hamburg

Period: 1874 – 1876

Height: 483 feet – 147 meters

The St. Nicholas Church in Hamburg was constructed in the 14th century but completely burned down by a fire in 1842. It was completely rebuilt and completed in the year 1874 when it became the tallest building in the world at that time.

This Gothic Revival church suffered majorly in the Hamburg Bombing in World War II, and only a few things remained intact. Remarkably, the tower including its spire still stood, which means the church remains just as high today as when it was completed in 1874.

Hamburg Caethdral
The St. Nicholas Cathedral in Hamburg. / Source

9. Cathédrale Notre Dame in Rouen

Period: 1876 – 1880

Height: 495 feet – 151 meters

The Cathédrale Notre Dame is a church in the western city of Rouen in Normandy, France. Rouen used to be one of the largest and most prosperous cities in medieval Europe and the construction of the cathedral started way back in 1030.

The original spire was built in the Renaissance style but was destroyed by lightning in the year 1822. The Neo-Gothic spire that was built to replace it made Rouen Cathedral the tallest building in the world for 4 years.

Rouen Cathedral / Daniel Vorndran / DXR / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

8. Cologne Cathedral

Period: 1880 – 1884

Height: 515 feet – 157 meters

The Cologne Cathedral, also referred to as the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter or simply the “Dom,” is a Gothic Style church in the eastern city of Cologne, Germany, of which construction started in the year 1248.

It’s remarkable that the cathedral was only completed on August 14, 1880, after a construction period of 632 years! It became the tallest building in the world and held this title for 4 years. It’s now a very popular tourist attraction that is visited by on average 20,000 people every single day.

Cologne Cathedral

7. Washington Monument

Period: 1884 – 1889

Height: 555 feet – 169 meters

The Washington Monument is an obelisk located in the National Mall in Washington D.C., the capital of the United States. It’s located right between the Capitol Building and the Lincoln Memorial.

The monument commemorates George Washington, the first president of the United States and it was completed in the year 1884.

Washington monument

6. Eiffel Tower

Period: 1889 – 1930

Height: 986 feet – 300 meters

It’s arguably one of the most iconic structures ever created, and it used to be the tallest building in the world for an extended period of time (41 years to be exact). The Eiffel Tower in Paris is one of the few structures in the world that have defined a city as it did.

The original height of the Eiffel Tower was 986 feet and it was the first building in history to surpass the 300-meter mark. In the 1950s, a telecommunications tower as added on top of the tower which brought the current height to 1,063 feet – 324 meters.

facts about the Eiffel Tower

5. Chrysler Building

Period: 1930 – 1931

Height: 1,046 feet – 319 meters

The Chrysler Building in New York City was an active participant in the “race to the sky” which erupted in the 1920s in the United States. It ended up winning, but only briefly because it was surpassed the following year after merely 11 months.

The Chrysler Building remains one of the most iconic skyscrapers ever constructed and keeps on defining the New York Skyline. It also remains the tallest brick building in the world with a steel framework up until today.

chrysler building

4. Empire State Building

Period: 1931 – 1967

Height: 1,250 feet – 381 meters

If the Eiffel Tower is one of the most iconic structures ever created, then the Empire State Building in New York City has to be one of the most iconic skyscrapers ever created. It’s the ultimate winner of the race to the sky, which was abruptly ended by the Great Depression of the 1930s.

It surpassed the Chrysler Building just 11 months after it was completed, and remained the tallest building in the world for 36 years. It was the first building ever to have over 100 floors as well.

empire state building

3. Ostankino Tower in Moscow

Period: 1967 – 1975

Height: 1,762 feet – 540.2 meters

The Ostankino Tower in Moscow is a radio and television tower in the Russian Capital. It was the first-ever building in the world to surpass the 500-meter mark.

It remains the tallest structure in Europe up until today and held the record of being the tallest building in the world for a total of 8 years. It was named after the district it was built in and to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution.

Ostankino Tower

2. CN Tower in Toronto

Period: 1975 – 2007

Height: 1,815 feet – 553 meters

A similar structure was constructed in Ontario, Canada, in the 1970s. The CN Tower in Toronto would eventually surpass the height of the tower in Moscow to become the tallest building in the world for 32 years.

The CN Tower, which is located in Downtown Toronto, also serves as a tourist attraction because it has an observation deck. It was also declared to be one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World and remains the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere until today.

cn tower toronto

1. Burj Khalifa

Period: 2007 – Now

Height: 2,722 feet – 829.8 meters

A lot can be said about the race to the sky of the 1920s in New York, but that’s nothing compared to the race which is going on today. The Burj Khalifa is not just the tallest building in the world today, but it also blew all of the other structures out of the water!

This remarkable building, which is located in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, holds the record of the tallest building since 2007.

burj khalifa

Will taller buildings be constructed?

It’s hard to imagine taller buildings than the Burj Khalifa being constructed, right? Well, better think again, because there’s more to come!

At least 2 new skyscrapers will surpass the current tallest building in the world in the near and distant future:

jeddah tower
Jeddah Tower construction / Wiki Commons

This concludes our list with the history of the tallest buildings in the world, and a glimpse of the future as well!

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