Photos: 10 Lavish Monuments to Love

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Come Valentine's Day, most of us just give flowers. Others are more ambitious. We selected some of the world's most lasting monuments to love, from New York's Boldt Castle (pictured) to well-known passion projects like the Taj Mahal.
Courtesy Vicki Zandbergen/
An aerial view of Boldt Castle, located on the aptly named Heart Island in the Thousand Islands region of Alexandria Bay, New York. It was a gift from millionaire George C. Boldt—proprietor of New York City's Waldorf Astoria Hotel—to his wife, Louise.
Courtesy Boldt Castle
More than 300 carpenters, stonemasons, and artisans worked on the 120-room Boldt Castle, which includes turrets, a drawbridge, gardens, and a dove cote.
No structure is more synonymous with romance than the Taj Mahal, an iconic tribute to eternal love.
Thousands of craftsmen worked on the Taj Mahal and its intricate inlays, bas relief, and accents of precious and semiprecious stones. Centered on a dome-topped tomb, the structure features Islamic minarets and Persian and Hindu decorative touches.
The beautifully decorated tombs of Mumtaz and Shah Jahan are just decoys; according to Muslim tradition, their bodies actually lie together in a plain crypt beneath the Taj Mahal's inner chamber, with their faces turned toward Mecca.
Mirabell Palace and Gardens were a lavish gift from Austrian Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau to his mistress, Salome Alt. The site worked its magic on those lovebirds, who eventually had 15 children.
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You may recognize the gorgeous gardens of Mirabell Palace—filled with topiary, statues, and fountains—from the "Do-Re-Mi" number in the film The Sound of Music.
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"A Japanese noblewoman honored her deceased husband with the creation of Kodai-ji Temple in Kyoto."
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Kodai-ji Temple houses artwork and lacquer furnishings, and is surrounded by a memorial hall with carved images of the couple, a mausoleum, a bamboo grove, and several formal gardens said to have been designed by 17th-century Zen landscape architect Kobori Enshu.
Rudy Sulgan/Corbis
Scotsman William Kellie Smith began work on Kellie's Castle to honor his wife, but work stopped after his unexpected death in 1926. The rambling (and some say haunted) house remains a tourist curiosity in Perak, Malaysia.
The elegant, neoclassical Petit Trianon at Versailles achieved most of its notoriety when young Louis XVI gifted it to his bride, Marie Antoinette—who wasn't exactly known for her gratitude.
Courtesy Christian Milet
Marie Antoinette used Petit Trianon as an escape from the formality of court life. And here she let her imagination run wild: Notable touches included a table carved with images of her pets, a lantern adorned with paste diamonds and symbols of Cupid, and mirrored shutters in her private quarters to deflect prying eyes.
Medieval noblewoman Devorgilla of Galloway's response to her husband's death was to embalm his heart and place it in an ivory casket, which she carried around with her at all times. She also founded a Cistercian monastery near Dumfries, Scotland, and named it Dulce Cor, Latin for "Sweet Heart.
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Visitors to Sweetheart Abbey roam the elegant, well-kept ruins, which include the red-sandstone shell of the church and its lovely arch-lined nave, and a stone effigy of Lady Devorgilla clutching her beloved's heart.
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Douglas Chandor, who painted portraits of luminaries like Winston Churchill, fell for Ina Kuteman Hill, a young lady from Weatherford, Texas. After they married in the 1930s, the couple moved to her hometown, where Douglas channeled his artistic talents into creating the 3.5-acre Chandor Gardens in her honor.
Work continued for about 20 years on the Chandor Gardens, which were carved out of cow pastures and once-rocky terrain, and then filled with a series of walkways, tiered fountains, a grotto, labyrinths and Chinese- and English-style arrangements.
Chandor Gardens went into some decline in the 1970s, until a local couple bought and restored it to its former glory. These days, the gardens and Chandor family home are open for tours and for weddings.
When his wife expressed a desire for a castle of their own, early-20th-century millionaire Chester Thorne didn't need to think twice. He commissioned the Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm (of Central Park fame), which designed a formal English garden for Thornewood Castle in Lakewood, Wash.
Courtesy Thornewood Castle
Heartbroken when his fiancée called off their wedding, Ed Leedskalnin fled his native Latvia for Florida, where he began construction of Coral Castle, a monument to his lost gal. From about 1923 until his death in 1951, Ed spent his nights single-handedly carving, sculpting, and moving more than 1,100 tons of coral rock under cover of darkness.
Asad Gilani/iCamPix

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