LEGO Architecture 21056 Taj Mahal: third time’s a charm [Review]

Here at TBB, we all were caught by surprise when the Taj Mahal showed up in the review box last week. This jewel of Muslim architecture had been previously depicted in LEGO form back in 2008 (10189) and in 2017 as a rerelease (10256 Taj Mahal, read our review). The newest rendition of the Taj Mahal is scaled down in size, so how does it compare to what was once the second-largest LEGO set of all time? 21056 Taj Mahal has 2,022 pieces and will retail for US $119.99 | CAN $169.99 | UK £89.99. It will be available June 1 in Europe and the rest of the world, and will be available from August 1 in the Americas. Read our hands-on review to learn more.

The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

The packaging & instructions

Unlike most other large sets, the Taj Mahal didn’t come with any inner boxes to open. All ten bags are with the instructions, making it seem like this wouldn’t take too long to put together (I was wrong). The box was different from other sets I’ve reviewed, in that it opened more like a shoebox than it did a normal LEGO set, though many previous Architecture sets have featured similar boxes.  Because of that, the main opening is along the bottom instead of the sides. You can choose to build the entire set in the box that way if you wanted to. There are no stickers and only a single printed element. There are no new elements, but there are a few that appear in new colors here for the first time, such as the window lattices for 1x2x2 windows in white, or the minifigure wands which appear here in gold (though they’ll show up soon in this summer’s 20th Anniversary Harry Potter sets).

The instructions that come with advanced building sets like the Taj Mahal often include a few pages dedicated to the history of the building, those who designed it, and those who designed the LEGO set. I highly suggest reading these pages before jumping in. Understanding the purpose of the Taj Mahal definitely enhanced my building experience.

For one, the Taj Mahal is not a castle or even a palace. It is a mausoleum that holds the tombs of one of India’s former rulers and his favorite wife. He built it for her in the 1600s in memory of his love for her, taking nearly 20 years and almost a billion dollars in today’s money (USD) to complete. That dedication to detail was revealed to me as I built it, as well as some potential easter eggs from the designers.

The build

The first few bags are for the base of the building. It’s built in a swirl pattern, with bricks overlapping each other in a clockwise motion. I feel like there’s a Muslim symbolic easter egg in there, but I don’t know enough about Islam to point it out.

It’s at this stage I discovered the only printed brick in the entire set: a 1×8 labeled “Taj Mahal.” There’s no reason why this set couldn’t have had all of the unseen interior bricks be the same color. But it’s great to have a wide variety (not seen here are a layer of orange and green bricks used in other parts of the foundation). The brighter colors put a little more joy into building it, plus it makes following the instructions easier.

Once the base is completed, work begins on the structure itself. This is where the design began to get tedious. There were a lot of 1×1 tiles that needed to be put in place with alternating patterns. It helps to just build all of the repetitive designs at the same time.

The walls are more like towers, with windows and doors being a focal point of each side. These were fun to build. I enjoyed learning a few new detail and structural support techniques from this part of the design.

Once I got through the tile placement and walls, it was on to the tombs. There are actually two sets of tombs in this build: one in the basement and one on the ground level inside a protected structure, which is accurate to the real Taj Mahal.

Building the inner chamber felt like I was putting together a temple, and was almost a sacred experience. You can’t access the interior of this chamber without taking it apart (though the sections are tiled to facilitate this). That means you can’t see the tombs unless you peek through the window. Meanwhile, the Shah Jahan and his beloved wife sleep undisturbed.

Moving on to the final parts of the build, I discovered that I had made a mistake in building. I hadn’t properly aligned all the parts for the central rotunda, resulting in bricks that didn’t fit. I had to take apart a lot of the roof in order to fix my error. So here’s a pro tip: Some really tricky building techniques are utilized in the central rotunda. Pay careful attention that you have everything aligned just right, or it will mess things up later. I also realized later that I put on backwards the white droid arms that form the base of the four smaller domes.

And with the rooftop in place, the Taj Mahal was finally completed.

The finished model

I believe this the most beautiful LEGO set I’ve ever built. The Taj Mahal is majestic, solemn, and glorious. Looking at this set, you clearly know what it is. I actually prefer this version to the original 2008 build because of the black base, which contrasts so well with the white marble. The four sides are nearly identical except for the small protrusion along the base at the front, and the nameplate tile.

As with all Architecture sets, there’s a lot of repetition, meaning you end up with tons of the same bricks. It’s great if you have plans to use the pieces of this set in your own custom creation, but the Taj Mahal is so beautiful that I don’t think I’ll take this one apart. It took me about six hours to put together, making this one of the longer builds I’ve completed, due to the delicate design full of small pieces. 

Conclusions & recommendation

I loved building the Taj Mahal. As I said before, taking time to read the historical remarks in the instructions from the set designer really helped me have a unique experience. Make sure you do that before beginning your build.

If you are into the Architecture line of LEGO sets, you’ll definitely want to pick this up. I’d also highly recommend it if you’re a fan of world travel or just really like UNESCO World Heritage sites. The Taj Mahal is a big set–the second-largest Architecture set, in fact, closely following the 21010 Robie House from 2011. At more than 2,000 pieces it has a bit of weight to it, but it could easily fit on a bookshelf, which makes it a great display model.

21056 Taj Mahal features 2,022 pieces and will come in at US $119.99 | CAN $169.99 | UK £89.99. The set will be available starting June 1 in Europe and the rest of the world, but won’t be available until August 1 in the Americas. It may also be available from third-party sellers on Amazon and eBay.

The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.


7 comments on “LEGO Architecture 21056 Taj Mahal: third time’s a charm [Review]

  1. lol

    Don’t you mean:

    “[…] so how does it compare to what was once the largest LEGO set of all time?”

  2. Jimmy

    Thanks for this review. It must not be that common for Lego to use minifig hands that aren’t part of a minifig, right? (your pic of the wall corner with the hands clipped to the top of the candlestick parts).

  3. Jimmy

    ‘doh! you are totally right, thanks for the correction! I blame work-from-home and my monitor being right in the sun.

Comments are closed.