5 Additional European Cities To Visit If You Love Architecture

Previously I wrote about 5 European cities to visit if you love architecture, but as expected, 5 cities are not nearly enough to do justice to all the Europeans cities that are filled with architectural masterpieces.  So, here are 5 more cities that every architecture aficionado should visit.

Notre Dame of Paris, France

Paris

Since Paris is one of the world’s best-preserved cities, history is a walk around the monument filled blocks.  Paris houses many of history’s more stunning spiritual relics that include cathedrals and churches that stand today as evidence of the complex heritage of Christianity that dominated in Paris from the fall of the Roman Empire to the French Revolution.

Paris is considered one of the best-planned cities in the world after Baron Georges-Eugene Haussmann renovated it between 1853 and 1870, under Napoleon III commissions.  What’s known as the Haussmann Plan, modernized Paris with new building facades, public parks, sewers and water works, city facilities, and public monuments, among other urban planning aspects.

While Paris’ modern architecture (20th century, forward) can be considered somewhat poor, there are still a few hidden modern jewels that speak of the evolution of this city.  Among those are the Portzamparc’s Cité de la Musique or its Café Beaubourg; the renovation of the Louvre, Yohji Yamamoto’s showroom, the Le Corbusier’s foundation.

Best building examples: Eiffel Tower, Versailles Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, Louvre Museum.


Coliseum in Rome, Italy

Rome

Architects and artists have always acknowledged over the centuries that Rome is rightly called the eternal city. Roman buildings defined how the West would develop over more than 2000 years, thus becoming the corner-stone of western architecture.

Artistic works like the old St. Peter’s Basilica, the first medieval basilica, the new St. Peter’s, the building in which Bramante and Michelangelo developed the High Renaissance, and the various works by Bernini and Borromini, whose rich and lucid spatial forms were to shape Baroque as far as Vienna, are some of the architectural jewels that can be found well integrated between the city’s urban fabric.  Here history breathes through every stone and artistic expressions are hold through aging frescos.

Best building examples: St. Peter’s Basilica, The Coliseum, The Pantheon, Roman Forum, many more.


Plaza Mayor in Madrid, Spain

Madrid

Madrid is one of Spain’s most popular destinations, and its well known for the quantity of cultural related attractions and monuments that the city has embraced.

One of the most characteristic features of Madrid’s architecture is that as Spain’s monarchical dynasties shifted from Flanders to Austria to France, so did the principal styles that shaped every period.  In the end, Madrid’s architecture merged the influences rather than developing an original style. Still to this day, you can see the unique impression each dynasty left on the city’s architectural patterns. Don’t forget to visit the world renowned museums.

Best building examples: El Escorial, Plaza Mayor, Gran Via, most Mudejar architecture.


Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic

Prague

Known as the “golden city of spires”, Prague has architectural splendors that span a thousand years, including Medieval, Baroque, and Renaissance buildings.

Thanks to this, the city of Prague is able to showcase a myriad of architectural styles coexisting side by side.  The city is truly a pleasure for historians, tourists, and especially architecture enthusiasts.  Most of these architectural gems have been meticulously renovated and restored with high attention to detail. These buildings, after all, are a visual history of Prague. The city is famous for its magnificent castles, palaces, and gothic cathedrals.  Spend at least a day in Prague and walk through its cobblestone streets to admire its history, architecture, and bohemian style.

Best building examples: Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Town Square.


Canals in Venice, Italy

Venice

Venice, known as the “Queen of the Adriatic”, is one of the most remarkable and extraordinary cities in Europe.

Because of its long and glorious past, Venice’s architecture is varied and fascinating. From the Byzantine, the Baroque, and the Gothic to the Neo-Classical, many of Venice’s most distinct facades carry a Byzantine or near-Eastern influence, as seen in the shape of the windows on one of Venice’s best known palazze, Ca’ d’Oro, and the Doge’s Palace in San Marco. A trip down Venice’s Grand Canal -by gondola or vaporetto- is one of the best ways to see the facades of these renowned palaces in all their glory. In the end, no matter which canal you take, a Venice gondola ride will show a great selection of architectural styles.

Many palaces are accessible to the public, and worth checking out for their lavish interiors.

Best building examples: Basilica San Marco, Basilica di Santa Maria dell’Assunta, Church of San Salvatore, any of Andrea Palladio’s buildings.

So there you have it… wait, no, no, let’s add one more…

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest

Budapest has had its share of rough times during its over 1000-year-old history, so the blocks of buildings and districts are not always uniform in style.  But, this is what gives Budapest its unique eclectic architecture and character.

To appreciate Budapest’s present appearance, special attention should be paid to the year 1896, the 1000th anniversary of the arrival of the Magyars to Hungary. Many buildings in Budapest were commissioned to celebrate the millennium, such as the Underground Railway, Heroes’ Square, Parliament Building, Liberty Bridge and the Museum of Fine Arts.

Some of the best architectural examples are the Roman amphitheaters, Gothic-styled cathedrals, traditional Turkish baths, and many more.  In many of its buildings, there is a wealth of beautiful architectural detail, even when most of them are covered in grime or scarred by bullet holes.

Best building examples: Parliament Building, Liberty Bridge, Turkish baths.

Which other European city you consider is full of architectural jewels?

Images 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 from Flick’s Creative Commons.

Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for these suggestions. I’m taking my first real trip through Europe this summer so I’m forward to learning more about the history, culture, food and architecture. I’m especially looking forward to seeing the buildings in Rome and Venice.

    - Lily

    • says

      You’re welcome Lily! History, culture, food, and architecture… you’re going to have so much of each while traveling through Europe. I’m sure you’re going to enjoy them! :)

  2. says

    Awesome list Norbert! My top two on this list would be Paris and Budapest. I am not a big fan of Venice or Madrid but I do love the Prado! Budapest is one of my favorite and most underrated cities in Europe!

    • says

      Thanks Jeremy! Haha… I know you’re not fond of Venice… :)
      Museo El Prado in Madrid is a great museum. I love it!

      I agree, Budapest is one of the most underrated cities in Europe.

    • says

      Jaime, you are so going to enjoy them! I love Europe since it has a lot of historical architecture that is worth seeing… Plus so many other things! :)

  3. says

    Flying into Madrid in a week and a half and hopefully visiting Paris in a few months! We’ll see if I can make it to Prague too. Great list!

    • says

      Thanks Matt! I definitely recommend you to make it to Prague if you can. That city has a bohemian character that is pretty unique to it. I love Prague.

  4. says

    I’d add Dresden to the list – not only is it beautiful but also special, because all of its architecture was re-built after WWII because it was bombed by the Allies.

    • says

      Abhijit, you’re right about adding Dresden! I’ve never been there, but from the pictures I’ve seen and the little information I know, it does look like a great city to look for architecture… especially since it has a rich WWII history behind it.

  5. says

    Hi Norbert,
    Wow, I love that photo of Budapest! I don’t know anything about architecture but I love seeing old and historic buildings. They have a certain charm that speaks out to me.
    The only European country I’ve visited so far is Switzerland. I’ve seen some old buildings in Zurich but I haven’t seen anything as spectacular as those in Paris or Rome.
    I would love to visit Budapest and I’m going to add it to my wish list.

    • says

      Hey Theresa! I believe you don’t need to know about architecture to appreciate a real work of art. Like you said, they speak to you! :)
      If you love old and historic buildings, then you’re going to have an amazing time in Rome, Paris, and Budapest, among many other European cities.

  6. says

    I’ve visited all of them except Prague & Budapest, spent a summer in Rome and LOVED it. Are these your photos? They are stellar!

    • says

      Charu, you will LOVE Prague! And Budapest too! I wish the pictures were mine… mines didn’t come out as good as these one, but I’m making an effort to improve my photography! :)

  7. says

    Great post. You mentioned three of my favorites, Rome, Prague and Venice. Rome is just at the top of my list. I also love Barcelona and all the Gaudi buildings! excellent photos!

    • says

      Thanks Lisa! Ah, Barcelona and its Gaudi buildings! BTW, I wrote a post specifically on Gaudi buildings to visit in Barcelona. I think it is one of the unique and most characteristic features of the city.

  8. says

    Good picks! I have Madrid and Prague to check off to complete the list. I adored Venice for its architecture. The vibe was too strange though, eerie and like a ghost town.

  9. says

    Well, no one can deny those cities. I love that you included Prague because the architecture there really is amazing. It spans so many periods and is so colorful.

    • says

      Oh definitely! Prague is a city that cannot be missed if you love architecture. It is so well preserved that it contains some of the best “old buildings” in Europe.

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