European countries are
well known to be inspiring travel destinations for architects and architecture
lovers alike. They have some of the best recorded architectural history,
a great variety of styles and a dynamic history that has seen countless rises
and falls as well as world changing wars – all these events in turn influencing
the architectural character of each place. Here are seven countries you
should visit if you love architecture.
Paris is considered one
of the best-planned cities in the world after Baron Georges-Eugene Haussmann
renovated it between 1853 and 1870. Paris was completely modernized with
what is known as the Haussmann Plan, which implanted new building facades,
public parks, sewers and water works, city facilities and public monuments,
among other urban planning aspects into the already developed city.
In addition, Paris is
one of the world's best-preserved cities, showcasing many of history's stunning
spiritual relics like cathedrals and churches that span from the fall of the
Roman Empire to the French Revolution.
examples: Eiffel Tower, Versailles Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, Louvre Museum.
Amsterdam has one of the
largest historic city centers in Europe, consisting of 90 islands linked by 400
bridges. Most of its historic buildings and streets have remained
unchanged since the 19th century due to the fact that there was no major
bombing in the city during World War II.
As a result, Amsterdam
became one of Europe's treasure troves for architecture lovers since it houses
more historic buildings and sights than any other city in the world, in
addition to holding an international importance in terms of modern design.
examples: Rijksmuseum, Royal Palace, Oude Kerk.
Barcelona has a
well-balanced mix of historic architecture, concentrated in the Barri Gòtic (the
old city); and modern architecture, developed during and after the city’s
expansion. Many of the buildings in the Barri Gòtic date back to the medieval
times and even farther back to the Roman settlement.
Barcelona is also the
proud host of many Antoni Gaudi buildings, including the famous and still
unfinished Sagrada Familia.
examples: La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona Pavilion, Casa Battló, Torre Agbar.
Rome is the eternal
city, as rightly acknowledged by architects and artists over the centuries.
Roman buildings defined the precedent to how the Western world would develop,
thus becoming the cornerstone of Western architecture and civilization.
Here history breathes
through every stone and aging frescoes. Rome counts with the old St. Peter’s
Basilica, which is the first medieval basilica; as well as the new St. Peter's
Basilica, the building in which Bramante and Michelangelo developed the High
Renaissance. In addition, there are various works by Bernini and Borromini,
whose rich and lucid spatial forms shaped Baroque as far as Vienna.
Best building examples:
St. Peter's Basilica, The Coliseum, The Pantheon, Roman Forum, many more.
When it comes to
architecture, Berlin should not be missed.
It is an architectural heaven for anyone interested in a good
architectural mix of old and new, combined with an interesting yet complex
The city has no definite
center and pockets of attractions are dispersed all over the urban fabric, so be sure to plan your day accordingly.
It is also interesting to
see how Berlin has drastically changed in the last 100 years, a period where it
experienced Imperial architecture; Nazi and WWII related architecture,
communist architecture and modern architecture.
examples: Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate, Jewish Museum, Berlin Wall.
London is not
characterized by any particular architectural style. Instead, it has a
conglomerate of styles that it has accumulated over a long period of time. Only
a few structures predate the Great Fire of 1666, with the exception of
important sites like the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Banqueting House,
London's palaces hold
great importance in the development of Great Britain’s history.
examples: Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Palace, Tower of London,
Also known as the
“golden city of spires”, Prague has architectural splendors that span a
thousand years, including Medieval, Baroque and Renaissance buildings.
The city is famous for
its magnificent castles, palaces, and Gothic cathedrals – part of what makes it
a visual pleasure for historians, tourists and architecture enthusiasts. Most
of Prague's building have been restored and kept with their original design,
setting the city's landscape to an environment that feels like it belongs to a
examples: Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Town Square.
Seven cities are not
nearly enough to do justice to all the Europeans destinations that are filled
with architectural masterpieces, but these are great for a start if you're
looking to learn more about European architecture.
Which other European cities do you think should be included on the list?
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Norbert Figueroa is an architect who hit the pause button on his career in 2011 to do a round the world trip. He's been blogging for over three years at globotreks.com, where he shares his travel experiences, budget travel tips, and a good dose of world architecture. From hiking Mount Kilimanjaro to diving with great white sharks, he is always on the search of adrenaline and adventure. Norbert is originally from Puerto Rico and he is currently based in Milan, Italy... when not roaming around the world, that is. He has traveled to more than 80 countries in 5 continents and his goal is to travel to all 193 U.N. recognized countries. Follow Norbert on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.
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