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The world’s unexpected architectural treasures

For travellers who have already explored well-known architectural delights around the world, here is a list of lesser-known treasures.

Brasilia, Brazil

Clean, bold architectural lines in Brasilia's Federal District

Clean, bold architectural lines in Brasilia's Federal District

Built in just over three years, Brasilia is a peculiar but charismatic place, now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city was designed by chief architect, Oscar Niemeyer, in the International Style of architecture; a technique that combines vast sheets of glass, steel, spacious interiors, no fussy details, and a more elusive weightless quality. Touring its artistic buildings is like Disneyland for architecture enthusiasts. If you want to stay in a showcase of Brasilia's forward-thinking architecture, the Royal Tulip Brasília Alvorada hotel is just what you're looking for, with a futuristic exterior and chic interior.

Alberobello, Italy

The unique dry stone huts of Alberobello

The unique dry stone huts of Alberobello

This small Apulian town is an architectural oddity. Its inhabitants live in trulli, dry stone huts with whitewashed walls and conical, limestone roofs that were built in the 14th century. The white tips of the roofs glisten in the sun and the huts are all draped in wisteria and potted plants, making the setting feel almost fictional. And best of all, you can actually stay in one of these historic huts. The family-run Trulli e Puglia Resort has restored a number of trulli to offer self-catered, air-conditioned accommodation for architecture enthusiast travellers.

Vicenza, Italy

The impressive Basilica Palladiana dominates Vicenza's skyline

The impressive Basilica Palladiana dominates Vicenza's skyline

Set amid the dark green, sun-soaked hills of northern Italy, the town of Vicenza is a masterpiece by 16th-century Italian architect Andrea Palladio. Lesser-known than neighbouring Venice or nearby Bologna, Vicenza enjoys fewer tourists and untouched Italian architecture. Rustic villas and classicist town buildings characterise the region, decorated by magnolia trees and vines covering handsome porticoes and balustrades. The Hotel Victoria is a sophisticated accommodation with a glamorous swimming pool, just a short drive from the centre of Vicenza.

Noto, Italy

The baroque cathedral of Noto

The baroque cathedral of Noto

Noto is an ethereal, eighteenth-century city made entirely of honey-hued limestone on the sun-drenched island of Sicily. While it’s not a household name, Noto is perfectly set up for tourists, especially architecture enthusiasts.. The town’s urban centre was meticulously-planned and there are countless points from which you can enjoy incredible panoramic city views. Don’t miss the soft golden glow of the regal Baroque architecture under the setting sun. The boutique hotel Seven Rooms Villadorata is a palatial place with brocaded curtains, chandeliers, and antiques for a super special stay.

Nancy, France

Stanislas Square in the evening, Nancy

Stanislas Square in the evening, Nancy

East of Paris near the border with Germany, you’ll find the not-so-well-known town of Nancy. While it may not attract as many tourists as the Champs-Élysées, this picturesque town has many, fine examples of elaborate French architecture. Baroque and art nouveau palaces are embellished with 18th-century details, gilded wrought iron gates, and rococo fountains. While the main square is an immaculate, symmetrical, and serene space. Stay at the Hotel Des Prélats, an Episcopal house dating from early 17th century, with rooms that feature four-poster beds and stained-glass windows.

Dunedin, New Zealand

Dunedin Railway Station

Dunedin Railway Station

A little known city in New Zealand, Dunedin is an undiscovered architectural treasure and is often called the Edinburgh of the South, with its Scottish heritage evident in its ample Victorian and Edwardian architecture. The ornamented facade of the Edwardian railway station, made from dark basalt and contrasting limestone, with beautiful granite pillars, a tower, and a magnificent central hall is a must-see. A short drive from Dunedin CBD you'll find a cream, wooden house with a beautiful wrought-iron verandah. Known as Artica Art & Accommodation, one large and homely room is rented out to guests and comes particularly highly-recommended by couples.

Morelia, Mexico

The resplendent fountains and flower-filled streets of Morelia

The resplendent fountains and flower-filled streets of Morelia

Though it’s not a common destination on most Mexican travel itineraries, Morelia is arguably one of Mexico’s most exquisite historic cities. Dating back to the 16th-century, its resplendent architecture displays a combination of Renaissance, Baroque, and Neoclassical style. All built in local pink stone, the glittering interiors of the churches and the impossibly grand Morelia Cathedral are shining examples. The Virrey De Mendoza, an elegant hotel in the historic centre, has balconies that overlook this magnificent Cathedral, regal decor, and a haute cuisine hotel restaurant.

**The data analysts at Booking.com looked at endorsements for ‘architecture’ by Booking.com customers. They then identified the most obscure destinations that were most highly-rated for this endorsement.