Planning to go on a trip to Europe? Europe, as written in history books, is the birthplace of Western civilization. Although much smaller than its neighboring continents, it was the center stage of a number of historical periods that made a great impact in the world. This is the main reason why many people consider it as the most interesting place to see, aside from its physical beauty and diversity. When on a European trip, it is a great idea to visit these top 10 Unesco World Heritage Sites in Europe that truly showcase the continent’s splendid history, rich cultural heritage, and natural splendor.
Stonehenge and Avebury, United Kingdom
The UNESCO World Heritage website describes the Stonehenge as the most architecturally sophisticated prehistoric circle in the world, while Avebury is the largest. The site contains standing stone formations believed to have astrological significance, but the real purpose remains obscure up to this day.
Venice and its Lagoon, Italy
The city of Venice, famously known for its lagoon and gondolas, was founded in the 5th century AD when Venetian settlers sought refuge in its islands after fleeing the Barbarian Invasion. It became a major maritime power in the 10th century which brought architectural development and spawned considerable influence by some of the world’s greatest artists. These timeless works could be seen throughout the city’s structures consisting of impressive bridges, palaces, piazzas, and cafes. The city in itself is an astonishing cultural and architectural masterpiece.
Piazza del Duomo, Italy
Of the many UNESCO heritage sites in Tuscany, the Piazza del Duomo understandably stands out. Located in the city of Florence where the Renaissance was born, this exciting place teems with resplendent cultural and historical masterpieces. Here you will be enthralled by the artistic genius of Brunelleschi’s great dome in Florence’s cathedral; Giotto’s marble-faced tower; the baptistery with Ghiberti’s works; and the bronze doors of the Gates of Paradise, among others.
The Acropolis of Athens is probably the greatest memento of the legacy that Ancient Greece bestowed upon the world when it built the structure during the establishment of democracy in the city-state. After emerging victorious over the Persians, Athenian artists and sculptors built the Acropolis and its monuments atop the rocky hill to commemorate thought and the arts. The Parthenon, the Erechtheon, the Propylaea, and the small temple Athena Nike are all part of this architectural and artistic creation that serves as a reminder of Athens’ major contribution to culture and civilization.
Vatican City, Holy See
At the center of Christendom is St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest sacred building in the world, founded by Constantine in the 4th century, is found. It is concrete testimony of the combined mastery and genius of Raphael, Bramante, Bernini, Michelangelo, and Maderno. Ruins of the circus of Caligula and Nero, and a 1st century AD Roman necropolis, where St. Peter’s tomb is located, exist beneath the basilica. Within the confines of the Vatican City lies a unique collection of artistic and architectural works of art intertwined with the history of Christianity.
Pont du Gard (Roman Aqueduct), France
This ancient bridge, which consists of three levels and stands at almost 50 meters high, was created even before the Christian era with the purpose of bringing the 50-kilometer aqueduct of Nîmes to cross the Gard River. The knowledge and technical expertise employed by Roman engineers and architects in the design and construction of this bridge brought about the creation of this architectural engineering marvel.
Kremlin and Red Square, Russia
At the heart of Moscow is the Kremlin, the official residence of the President of Russia. It is a walled complex of palaces, museums, and churches sitting on a hill rising above the Moscow River. The site looms over Red Square, which hosts the colorful domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Lenin Mausoleum. Going further ahead, one can find the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the New Maiden’s Convent, and the Moscow State University, among others. The Moska River embankment provides breathtaking views of the Kremlin, which was long ago a residence of tsars, and which now symbolizes the Russian nation.
Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg, Russia
Lying on the Neva River and at the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea, Saint Petersburg is home to more than two thousand well-preserved palaces and Baroque/neo-classical buildings. A must-see when visiting Russia is the Peter and Paul Fortress and Cathedral in Zayachy Island. Abound with more than 200 museums and galleries and more than 2000 libraries and theaters, it is surely the epicenter of Russia’s artistic and cultural heritage.
Historic Centre of Prague, Czech Republic
Situated in one of the most beautiful cities of Europe, the historic center boasts of its richness in architectural expression through its magnificent monuments built throughout all periods of its history. Significant structures include the Prague Castle, the Cathedral of St. Vitus, the Gothic Charles Bridge, the Romanesque Rotunda of the Holy Rood, and the medieval church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, to name a few.
Ancient City of Nessebar, Bulgaria
The ancient city of Nessebar sits on a rocky span of land in the Black Sea and has withstood the ravages of time for the past 3,000 years. It is a place where the Greeks built an acropolis, a temple of Apollo, an agora and walled fortifications. The surviving remains provide testimony of Bulgarian cultural and historical heritage.