What I love most about European architecture is the variety you can discover, with buildings inspired by a range of styles from Romanesque and Gothic through to Renaissance and Baroque design. The architecture of a city represents much more than just how the buildings look, but is intrinsically linked to the history of the area, the artistic passion of the people that lived there and mankind’s desire to make its mark on the planet. For me one of the most astonishing things is that most of the buildings I mention in this guide weren’t even built using modern machinery! So if you’re a fan of architecture here are my top 7 European destinations you have to visit:
Hop across the channel and explore the city which is well-known as being the birthplace of the Gothic style. You don’t have to walk far to see some magnificent works of art; one of my favourites is the Gothic Cathedral, Notre-Dame de Paris which started construction in 1163. Located on the Ile de la Cite, it’s one of the first Cathedrals to have arched exterior supports and is also famous for its Gargoyles and Chimeras. Obviously the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and Arc de Triomphe are must sees, but some of the less well known buildings are also well worth a visit. I’d recommend the Sacré-Coeur Basilica which marks the highest point in the city and also Paris’ own Pantheon which was modelled after the original in Rome. If you don’t want to drive in to Paris why not stay at La Croix du Vieux Pont, where you can take an organised coach trip into the centre.
[responsive-image id=’5628′ align=’center’ caption=” alt=’Notre Dame’]
Whenever I think of ancient temples, Greece always comes to mind and particularly the Greek architecture in Athens. The whole city is just jam packed full of monuments and stadiums that have such recognisable and characteristic designs, using tall pillars to support large stone beams. Some of the highlights are definitely the Parthenon which was built in 438BC and dedicated to the goddess Athena, the Temple of Olympian Zeus and of course, the Theatre of Dionysus which was the first stone theatre ever built and could seat 17,000 people.
Roman architecture is famous for being some of the best in the world and they certainly picked up where the Greeks left off. Everywhere you turn there are ancient Romanesque ruins, Renaissance basilicas and large Baroque squares known as Piazzas. Top highlights include the Colosseum, Pantheon and St Peter’s Basilica in The Vatican but the list goes on! If you’re a sculpture enthusiast you have to visit the Trevi Fountain which is the largest Baroque fountain in the world. Carved by the renowned Nicola Salvi it’s based around “Taming of the Waters” and depicts the mythical Oceanus surrounded by 2 Tritons. Camping Village Fabulous is only 40 minutes from the centre of Rome and makes the perfect base for anyone looking to explore the Eternal City.
[responsive-image id=’5630′ align=’center’ caption=” alt=’Rome, Trevi Fountain’]
If you’re a fan of medieval buildings then Strasbourg, in the Alsace region of Eastern France, is where you need to go. Discover beautiful streets lined with classic black and white timber-framed buildings and shops. The Grande Île is the historic centre of the city and was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in the 1980’s. Within the city you’ll also find the stunning Cathedral of Our Lady that’s made from sandstone, which is what creates its characteristic pink hue.
Barcelona is a city that has been defined over the years by its weird and wonderful architecture. From the intertwining roof arches on the Catalan Gothic cathedral of Santa Maria del Mar to the Modernista buildings designed by Gaudi. The most popular of these has to be La Sagrada Familia which Gaudi began work on in 1882 and to this day still hasn’t been finished. The beauty of this building comes from its sheer height and verticality, with the tallest tower reaching 170m! Hop on the bus from Vilanova Park and prepare to be awe-inspired by this fantastic city.
[responsive-image id=’5631′ align=’center’ caption=” alt=’La Sagrada Familia’]
It’s hard not to fall in love with the charming and vibrant city of Amsterdam. During the 17th Century, Amsterdam was one of the major ports in the entire world and this is when its historic canal systems were designed. With all these waterways came some beautiful bridges, now totalling over 1,200, with the most famous being the Magere Brug (or skinny bridge in English). When strolling along the canals you can’t miss the stepped gable facades of the buildings, characteristic of the Dutch Renaissance period. Also don’t forget to visit one of the 8 iconic windmills within the city, the oldest of which is 385 years old. If you fancy going Dutch for your next holiday, stay at Duinrell which is under an hour’s drive from Amsterdam.
[responsive-image id=’5632′ align=’center’ caption=” alt=’Holland, Amsterdam’]