Nine Fascinating Pieces of Denver’s Architecture You Must See

The peaks of the Rockies are a big part of the unforgettable backdrop set against this busy Colorado city. But did you know that some of Denver’s buildings are almost equally impressive?

Denver has been many things over the years. Once a small cow-town, it was also a very important location during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush.

Its rich history may have played a role in making people view Denver as one of the most independent cities in the US. Even the city’s architectural style reflects this fact through its unique ingenuity.

Do you want to see some of Denver’s most impressive buildings? There are quite a number of them, so make sure to take your time. Use this list as your primer to the city’s amazing man-made marvels.

#1. Colorado State Capitol

One of the top Denver attractions, the state capitol building dates back to 1894 and bears the mark of Elijah E. Myers. 

What catches the eye of many is that it almost perfectly mimics the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. But the similarities stop there.

Its dome features copper panels and gold leaves straight out of a Colorado gold mine, representing the state’s importance during the gold rush. But even the interior is immaculately decorated, as it has rose onyx pieces that were also mined within the state.

#2. Union Station

Denver’s Union Station first opened in 1984 after D.H. Burnham & Co was commissioned for the design. And the transportation hub retains most of its original features even after going through a handful of renovations over time. That said, the impressive terrazzo floors and the Columbine motifs still stand. 

Today, the building serves as both a transportation hub and a hotel lobby for the Crawford. Visitors can also spend time in the retail sector or the dining center after inspecting Union Station’s impressive architecture.

#3. D&F Clock Tower

If you want to find things to do in Denver other than hiking, check out more of the city’s impressive buildings. And the gorgeous D&F Clock Tower always deserves a visit. 

It’s one of the city’s historic landmarks and lights up the city skyline on a nightly basis. Built in 1911, it was once the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. But its height is relatively less impressive compared to the others in the vicinity.

But it’s not the building’s height of 393-feet that impresses tourists anyway. What really catches anyone’s eye is the Italian Renaissance architectural style and the combination of terracotta, stone, and brick.

Visiting the tower is simply one of the best things to do in Denver at night if you’re not up to partying with the locals.

#4. The Denver City and County Building

A trip to the cultural center of the city will be well worth it. 

Construction on the City and County of Denver building finished in 1932. And since then, the neoclassical structure has been a centerpiece and landmark of Denver, Colorado. 

Considering its appearance, it blends in well in the middle of the Civic Center where you can find statues, gardens, and a Greek amphitheater of the same neoclassical design.

#5. Frederic C. Hamilton Building

This is one of the newest Denver attractions, as the construction on the Frederic C. Hamilton building only ended in 2006. 

The structure is part of the Denver Art Museum, which always deserves a visit. But even the building itself draws the attention of visitors and locals. By all accounts, it’s a massive work of art that features a metallic and asymmetrical look.

Some 9,000 titanium panels shine against the sun every day, while the interior’s angular design easily commands attention. Of course, you can see some art exhibits there, too.

#6. The Denver Public Library

You don’t have to be searching for a book just to visit the Denver Public Library. 

The building is now one of the most popular Denver attractions thanks to its postmodern architectural style. Initially, however, it looked very different. This all changed in 1990 when architect Michael Graves won the renovation project. 

What you’ll now see up close are the varying colors and natural materials used, and how well they all fit together to capture the essence of what a library should look like. The interior gives off a superb vibe, too, what with the high vaulted ceiling and abundance of natural wood finishes.

#7. The Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory

You probably already know that the Denver Botanic Gardens is one of the most popular Denver attractions. But what you may not know is that one of the city’s architectural gems is located inside the Gardens.

When visiting the Gardens, don’t forget to explore The Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory. Open since 1966, it later reached its historic landmark status as one of the most marvelous greenhouses ever.

The ingenious combination of concrete and Plexiglas gave birth to a functioning sculptural wonder that’s available for anyone to explore year-round.

#8. Basilica of the Immaculate Conception

As you can tell by now, there’s no shortage of architectural variety in Denver. And adding to the list of the top Denver attractions is this European-style cathedral.

Thomas Walsh, Aaron Gove, and Leon Coquard were the three architects responsible for the design of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. It’s one of the few genuinely awe-inspiring French Gothic cathedrals in Colorado. 

You can see a couple of gargoyles, massive spires, 75 stained glass windows, vaulted ceilings, and just about any other classical details you can think of.

#9. Brown Palace Hotel

Maybe the Brown Palace Hotel isn’t the most jaw-dropping piece of architecture in Denver. However, it’s of significant historical importance.

Completed in 1892, this red building will immediately catch the eyes of passersby. This hotel on 17th street has terracotta walls, making it the second fireproof building in the country.

Although it lacks detail compared to other buildings in this list, it still manages to impress with its Colorado wildlife carvings, rounded corners, and triangle shape.

Explore Denver’s Clash of Styles

Irrespective of whether you’re an architecture enthusiast or not, you can’t deny that Denver has a unique style and a good number of notable buildings. From the capitol building to the terracotta hotel and on to the massive greenhouse, everything reflects the city’s long-standing independent cultural trademark.

Styles from all over the world converge at the heart of Colorado to create some of the best Denver attractions any tourist would want to see.

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Nine Fascinating Pieces of Denver’s Architecture You Must See