Europe boasts a treasure-trove of world-famous monuments, iconic landmarks that celebrate the culture of the place and era in which they were built. While it's easy to view these places in media, there’s nothing like seeing them in person. If you are planning a European vacation, be sure to add these monuments to your travel itinerary. Most are near a myriad of hotels and transportation stops, making them easy to visit.
The Acropolis of Athens is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to at least the Bronze Age, but it's best known for its Golden Age splendor in the form of its most-famous structures that include: the Parthenon, a Doric temple; the Temple of Athena-Nike, an Ionic temple; the Propylaea, a huge entryway to the Acropolis; and the Erechtheion, a sacred marble temple. The ancient citadel boasts magnificent views of the city of Athens and is easily one of the world’s most recognizable monuments. Some of the city's best restaurants, galleries, and other cultural attractions are situated conveniently distance from the Acropolis.
Perhaps the most iconic monument in all of France, the Eiffel Tower is located in Paris where it is visited by nearly 7 million people each year. The tower features three platforms and is adorned with more than 20,000 light bulbs, which may be one reason why Paris is famously known as the 'City of Lights.' Visitors enjoy dining at the tower or simply enjoying the arresting views of the city from its platforms. There are also many exciting attractions like the Champs-Elysees, Trocadero Gardens, and the Museum of Wine.
At the time it was completed in 80 CE, the Roman Colosseum was the largest amphitheater of its kind in the ancient world and could hold as many as 80,000 spectators. Today, it’s one of Rome’s most popular attractions. One of Italy's most iconic historic attractions, the Colosseum is a must-visit site with its subterranean catacombs, museum, and guided tours. Visitors enjoy stepping onto the arena's main floor where gladiators once battled for the pleasure of Emperors and Roman crowds.
London’s Houses of Parliament, known officially as the Palace of Westminster is located on the north bank of the River Thames and is the iconic meeting place for the UK’s House of Commons and House of Lords. Perhaps the most famous part of the palace is its Elizabeth Tower, which is better known to the world as Big Ben. Constructed in the Gothic Revival style, the palace encompasses more than 1,210,680 square feet and boasts more than 1,100 sumptuously decorated rooms.
Easily one of the most recognizable cathedrals in the world, Moscow's Saint Basil’s was constructed during the reign of Ivan the Terrible during the middle of the 16th century to commemorate the ousting of the last Mongols from European lands. The Red Square cathedral is famous for its swirling colors, onion-shaped spires, and complex construction. The church was converted into a state museum in 1928 and displays more than 400 icons that were made between the 14th and 19th centuries. There are 12 distinct chapels located within the cathedral that are located around the 156-foot nave. Although essentially a secular building today, the cathedral does host periodic services to commemorate special events.
A medieval cathedral consecrated to the Virgin Mary, Notre-Dame is one of the most celebrated cathedrals in the world. Located in Paris’s 14th Arrondissement, the cathedral is an example of French Gothic architecture and is especially revered for its dazzling rose stained glass windows. In April of 2019, the cathedral experienced a fire and its renovation is currently in the works. The cathedral is planned to be repaired to appear exactly as it did before the fire took place.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a freestanding bell tower that is famous for its tilt. Completed in 1372, the 183-foot tower showed signs of leaning, a condition that would gradually worsen over the centuries. Although modern engineers have stepped in to prevent the iconic tower from toppling, it retains its tell-tale tilt. Within the tower is a 297-step staircase as well as a chamber of bells. Travelers can visit the tower, which is located in the Italian city of Pisa where it sits behind the Pisa Cathedral. Although the interior tower was closed for many years, it has reopened and tourists can climb its steps and experience its incredible views.
Located in the Spanish city of Grenada in the autonomous region of Andalusia, the Alhambra is a palace and fortress complex that was constructed primarily between 1238 and 1358. Constructed during the reign of the last Moorish rulers, the palace complex is famed for its exquisite decorations and enchanting fountains, gardens, and courtyards. The structure is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Spain.
Located on Castle Hill in the city of Budapest, Buda Castle was completed in 1769. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the castle houses the Budapest History Museum and the Hungarian National Gallery. The Neo-Baroque castle features an arresting view of the Danube River and contains more than 200 rooms. No visit to Budapest is complete without a visit to the castle and the Castle district that surrounds it where visitors can explore the winding cobblestone streets, shop in nearby galleries, and enjoy the area's cafe culture.
The Brandenburg Gate is constructed is a Neoclassical monument that has come to symbolize the continent’s tumultuous history as well as its desire for peace and unity. The gate is located in Berlin’s city center along the Unter den Linden and is frequently at the center of important Berlin events. The monument is near other important attractions like the Reichstag Building and Pariser Platz. The gate is also the famous site of Berlin's New Year's Eve celebrations.