A landmark is a recognizable natural or man-made feature used for navigation.
Originally, a landmark literally meant a geographic feature used by explorers and others to find their way back or through an area. For example the Table Mountain near Cape Town, South Africa, is used as the landmark to help sailors to navigate around southern tip of Africa during the Age of Exploration. Other than natural geographic feature, man-made structures are sometimes built to assist sailors in naval navigation. The Lighthouse of Alexandria and Colossus of Rhodes for example are ancient structures from antiquities built for this purpose, to lead ships to the port.
In modern usage, a landmark includes anything that is easily recognizable, such as a monument, building, or other structure. In American English 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 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. Landmarks are often used in verbal route instructions and as such an object of study by linguists as well as in other fields of study.
Types of landmarks
Landmarks are usually classified under natural landmarks or man-made landmarks, both are originally used to help navigation on finding direction. A variant is a seamark or daymark, a structure usually built intentionally to aid sailors navigating featureless coasts. An example is the tower at Walton-on-the-Naze in England. In modern sense, landmarks are usually refer to monuments or distinctive buildings, used as the symbol of the certain area, city, or nation.
- Lynch, Kevin. "The image of the city". MIT Press, 1960, p. 48
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