A landmark is a recognizable natural or artificial feature used for navigation, a feature that stands out from its near environment and is often visible from long distances. In modern use, the term can also be applied to smaller structures or features, that have become local or national symbols.


In old English the word ''landmearc'' (from ''land'' + ''mearc'' (mark)) was used to describe an "object set up to mark the boundaries of a kingdom, estate, etc.". Starting from approx. 1560, this understanding of landmark was replaced by a more general one. A landmark became a "conspicuous object in a landscape". A ''landmark'' literally meant a
geographic feature Geography (from Ancient Greek, Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and Solar System, planets. The first person to ...
used by explorers and others to find their way back or through an area. For example, the Table Mountain near Cape Town,
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over Demographics of South Africa, 59 million people, it is the world's List of countries by population, 23rd-most populous nation a ...
is used as the landmark to help sailors to navigate around southern tip of
during the Age of Exploration. Artificial structures are also sometimes built to assist sailors in naval navigation. The Lighthouse of Alexandria and
Colossus of Rhodes
Colossus of Rhodes
are ancient structures built to lead ships to the port. In modern usage, a landmark includes anything that is easily recognizable, such as a
building A building, or edifice, is a structure with a roof and walls standing more or less permanently in one place, such as a house or factory. Buildings come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and functions, and have been adapted throughout history for a ...
, or other structure. In
American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American English is the most influential form of ...
it is the main term used to designate places that might be of interest to tourists due to notable physical features or historical significance. Landmarks in the
British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the ...
sense are often used for casual navigation, such as giving directions. This is done in American English as well. In urban studies as well as in geography, a landmark is furthermore defined as an external point of reference that helps orienting in a familiar or unfamiliar environment.Lynch, Kevin. "The image of the city". MIT Press, 1960, p. 48 Landmarks are often used in verbal route instructions and as such an object of study by linguists as well as in other no fields of study.


Landmarks are usually classified as either natural landmarks or man-made landmarks, both are originally used to support navigation on finding directions. A variant is a ''seamark'' or ''daymark'', a structure usually built intentionally to aid sailors navigating featureless coasts.


Natural landmarks can be characteristic features, such as mountains or plateaus. Examples of natural landmarks are Table Mountain in South Africa, Mount Ararat in Turkey, Uluru in Australia, Mount Fuji in Japan and Grand Canyon in the United States. Trees might also serve as local landmarks, such as jubilee oaks or conifers. Some landmark trees may be nicknamed, examples being ''Queen's Oak'', ''Hanging Oak'' or ''Centennial Tree''.

Human made

In modern sense, landmarks are usually referred to as
s or prominent distinctive buildings, used as the symbol of a certain area, city, or National symbol, nation. Some examples include the ''Statue of Unity'' in Narmada District, Narmada, the White House in Washington, D.C., the Statue of Liberty in New York City, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Colosseum in Rome, Big Ben in London, ''Christ the Redeemer (statue), Christ the Redeemer'' in Rio de Janeiro, Bratislava Castle in Bratislava, the Space Needle in Seattle, the Sydney Harbour Bridge or the Sydney Opera House (both in Sydney), the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the Ch√Ęteau Frontenac in Quebec (city), Place Stanislas in Nancy, France, Nancy, the CN Tower in Toronto, or Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw. Church (building), Church spires and mosque's minarets are often very tall and visible from many miles around, thus often serve as built landmarks. Also town hall towers and Belfry (architecture), belfries often have a landmark character.

See also

* Contemporary history * Cultural heritage management * Cultural heritage tourism * National landmark (disambiguation) * National symbol


External links

{{Authority control Landmarks, Navigational markers Geography terminology