The Top 10 Uses of Marble in Classic Architecture

Nowadays we associate marble with the white marble of Greek antiquity, the Italian Renaissance or classicism. We think of the buildings on the Acropolis in Athens or of Milan’s Cathedral. The term of Marble was used to describe all polishable stones, including varieties as geologically disparate as alabaster, granite or porphyry, which have a broad and, in some cases, vibrant color palette. The history of marble as a material is therefore also a story of variously colored stones.





1) The Taj Mahal (Agra, India)

the Taj Mahal is an incredible mausoleum made of marble. Considered one of the greatest architectural achievements in Indo-Islamic culture, it required the work of craftsmen from across the empire. Marble is used for the domes and towers that make the Taj Mahal so recognizable. The marble inside is highly polished and inlaid with precious stones and materials. It was built as a tribute to the emperor’s favorite wife.


2) Lincoln Memorial (Washington, the USA)

Situated in Washington, the Lincoln Memorial is one of the America’s most treasured monuments, with its façade, columns and upper steps containing marble blocks, pink Tennessee marble for the floors, and the ceiling adorned in Alabama marble. These stones, brought in from different parts of the USA, symbolize the importance of unity to Lincoln.   The statue of Lincoln himself, carved from Georgia marble, depicts the 16th USA president during the midst of war. 


3) The Vatican & St. Peter’s Basilica (Vatican City, Italy)

St. Peter’s Basilica is an ancient church located in the Vatican City. Long renowned for its ornate ceilings, the artworks on the Vatican’s floor are also definitely worth paying attention to. The intricacies of the inlaid marble offer detail and complexity often ignored by visitors. In different rooms, the tiles range from geometric patterns, while others depict scenes. 


4) The City of Ashgabat (Turkmenistan)

Aptly referred to as ‘The city of white marble’, the former Soviet state was recently noted by the Guinness Book of World Records as having the largest amount of white marble-clad buildings in the world, covering a total area of 4.5 million square meters. Imperious statues stand guard at the feet of marble buildings and monuments, transforming the capital into a luxury marble showpiece.


5) The Pantheon (Rome, Italy)

A Roman temple dedicated to all the gods in the heart of Rome, the Pantheon boasts beautiful marble floors and walls. The floor features geometric designs, and can still be visited in its original form, although there has been some restoration involved in retaining its grandiose appearance. Marble used to feature on the exterior of the building too, but much of this was stripped away when a Pope decided to melt down all the bronze in the city.


6) Marble Arch (London, UK)

A 19th-century landmark, Marble Arch was originally designed to be the state entrance to Buckingham Palace, though it was later moved when the palace was extended. Marble-plated, it’s beautiful coloring soon became discolored by the pollution of Victorian London. The rooms inside the arch were used as a police station from 1851 to 1968.


7) Marble Boat (Beijing, China)

Also known as the Boat of Purity and Peace, the Marble Boat is actually a pavilion on the grounds of the Summer Palace in Beijing. It is designed to look like a western-style stone steam boat, but it is actually made of wood, and painted to imitate marble. It was originally constructed in 1755 but was later burned down. Empress Dowager Cixi had it rebuilt in a western style, using funds she had embezzled from the navy.


8) Sheikh Zayed Mosque (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)

This immense mosque is a key place of worship for the whole of the United Arab Emirates. Finished in 2007, it is designed to unite the Muslim world, and it can be visited by more than 41,000 people during the celebration of Eid. The courtyard has what’s considered to be the largest example of marble mosaic in the world. There are 96 columns in the main prayer hall and they are all marble-clad and inlaid with mother of pearl.


9) The Washington Monument (Washington, the USA)

The world’s tallest stone structure, the Washington Monument is made up of 36,000 marble stones. It changes color part way up too because the quarry used to source the marble was changed in the middle of construction.


10) Marble Palace (Tehran- Iran)

The Marble Palace, built between 1934-1937, is one of the historic buildings and residences in Tehran, built on the order of Reza Shah. The external surface of the palace is of white marble. The stone entrance of the palace where two statues of Achaemenid soldiers holding arrows were erected particularly reflects eclectic architectural style. The internal area of the palace is highly formal with heavily carved doors and extremely high ceilings. The palace has a very large reception room where mirrors are used.