In this article, I will introduce to you some of the most important historical places I have traveled in Europe and some European cities which attract many visitors. Another important point of this article is that I make a small flashback a few years ago and refresh my memory.
And I have to say that I owe a great thank to the Erasmus Program because it provided the greatest benefits in getting the opportunity to visit these places I will introduce in this article. That’s why I chose to write some of my experiences in my past travels. I am sure you will be fascinated when you see the unique structures and old towns of many historical cities from Portugal to Italy or from Hungary to Poland! 🙂
*By the way, the photos were taken during autumn and winter because of the term when I studied abroad. (2013-14 & 2017-18) 🙂
Serra de Estrela, the highest point in Portugal, is a great place for those interested in winter sports and holidays. This mountain, which is at an altitude of 1993 meters, is perhaps one of the rarest places in snow in Portugal.
This royal palace, built in Baroque style, is open to visitors and its ceilings are filled with paintings symbolizing the size of the former Spanish Empire. The Royal Palace of Madrid is the residence of the Spanish Royal Family in Madrid and is only used for state ceremonies. The king and his family prefer to live at the more modest Zarzuela Palace outside Madrid.
The Arc de Triomf was built by architect Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas for the 1888 Barcelona World Fair in Neo-Mudéjar style with red bricks. Today, the Arc is located in a central location at the intersection of many of the city’s main streets.
The Reichstag, officially known as the Deutscher Bundestag, was opened in 1894 as the Imperial Diet and served until 1933. This historic building, which was damaged and abandoned during the Second World War and Cold War periods, was re-used in 1990 and became the symbol of German Reunification. You can visit the German parliament today by having an online rendezvous. On the other hand, one of the city’s most important buildings, the Brandenburg Gate, completed in 1791, is a symbolic monument at the center of many European wars. It was reopened in 1989.
The Széchenyi Chain Bridge, opened in 1894, is a suspension bridge connecting the Buda and Pest, the Hungarian capital Budapest, with a unique view over the Danube. The bridge was designed by British engineer William Tierney Clark and built by Scottish engineer Adam Clark.
The Colosseum is an oval amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome and it is the largest amphitheatre ever built. It is built in AD 70-80 during Roman period. It was used for gladiatorial contests, public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology. Today it attracts a lot of domestic and foreign tourists.
Wroclaw‘s old town square, Rynek, contains many historical buildings. There are many restaurants, souvenir shops, cafes, bars and many places where you can socialize and meet your needs in this beautiful square. In the meantime, don’t forget to visit Muzeum Sztuki Mieszczańskej and Hala Targowa, take photos of Wroclaw dwarfs, and eat pierogi at Pierogarnia!
St. Mary’s Church, whose the full name is Bazylika Mariacka Wniebowzięcia Najświ Marytszej Maryi Panny w Gdańsku is one of Gdansk‘s most famous buildings. This masterpiece from the 14th century is an example of Gothic architecture made of bricks. The church was severely damaged during World War II and restoration work was completed in 1955. Moreover, The Long Market (Długi Targ) in Gdansk, Poland, is one of the city’s most remarkable tourist attractions. It is located between the end of Long Lane (Ulica Długa, Langgasse) and the Green Gate (Brama Zielona, Koggentor). It also serves as the city’s old town.
Stary Rynek, the old town square in Poznan, is home to many old buildings and museums. Poznan Town Hall (Ratusz), Poznan Royal Castle, Museum of the Wielkopolska Uprising of 1918-1919, Archeological Museum in Poznan, Pomnik Koziołków w Poznaniu, Chopin Park and The Museum of the History can be counted between the places to see. You can also enjoy the tranquility of the city during your entire trip.
The Dom Luís I Bridge, built in 1886, is 85 meters high and 8 meters wide and is one of the city’s symbolic structures connecting the cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. The largest two-hinged double-deck arch bridge on the Duoro River. There is a light rail line and pedestrians in the upper deck and general traffic and pedestrians in the lower deck. You can taste the city’s famous wines or enjoy an espresso in the view of this city at the last stop of the Duoro River, which originated from Catalonia.
The Eiffel Tower, built by architect Gustave Eiffel in memory of the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution, has become a symbolic structure of Paris and even France. With this feature and popularity, it attracts millions of tourists every year.
1944 The Warsaw Uprising Museum is dedicated to the great resistance of the Polish Underground State, the largest underground organization against the Nazi forces in World War II. If you travel to Warsaw, I strongly recommend you to visit there. On the other hand, the old town of Warsaw (Stare Miasto or Starówka), built on the Vistula River, came to a point of annihilation during World War II. However, the city was carefully rebuilt after the war, and in 1980, Warsaw’s Old Town was placed on the UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites as “an outstanding example of a near-total reconstruction of a span of history covering a 13th to 20th century”.
The Belém Tower is a historic tower in the Belém district of Lisbon, the Portuguese capital. The tower, which is a continuation of the Gothic style, was built in memory of the Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama in the early 16th century. The tower, which has preserved its elegant architecture until today, has become one of the symbols of the city.
Braga is an important center in the north of Portugal with its unique architecture and medieval historic fabric. The University of Minho, on the other hand, is home to many foreign students. Braga’s proximity to other cities such as Porto and Guimarães, as well as the Galicia region of Spain, makes it an important point in terms of its location. Braga was the first place where I experienced as a foreign student abroad. Welcome to the city of Bom Jesus!
Bom Jesus do Monte (Good Jesus of the Mount) is a Portuguese sanctuary in Tenões, outside the city of Braga. The 116-meters-altitude sanctuary is a perfect example of pilgrimage site. This sanctuary which includes a Baroque style stairs and a Neoclassical church completed in 1834 attracts a good number of tourists per year. The sanctuary was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 7 July 2019. Also, you can take the oldest funicular of the world (Bom Jesus do Monte Funicular) which began to construct in the 19th century to reach at Bom Jesus.
Florence Cathedral, also known as the Duomo or Santa Maria del Fiore, is the cathedral built in 1296-1436 in the city of Florence in Italy. This dome with its bright lighthouse at the top is not only one of the most important elements determining Florence’s silhouette, but also the first example of similar dome, which is an integral part of all Renaissance cities. I suggest you add this iconic work of Florence to your bucket list!
The construction of the Charles Bridge on the Vltava River in Prague was started in 1357 by Charles IV and was completed in the early fifteenth century. Throughout history, the bridge has survived important breaking points (such as floods, wars, riots), today is one of the most important tourist centers of the city.
St. Mark’s Basilica is one of the best-known examples of Roman art on St. Mark’s Square and a cathedral, one of the city’s most famous buildings. Since 1807 he was the residence of the Roman Catholic Archbishop. In addition, the rich artistic design of the structure was supported by Byzantine and Islamic mosaics.
This world-famous Cathedral, located on the banks of the River Seine in Paris, was built in the name of the Virgin Mary. This structure, which started to be built in the twelfth century and passed through various stages, is one of the most important works of Gothic architecture. Besides being a tourist attraction, it is still used as a Roman Catholic cathedral and is home to the Archbishopric of Paris. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Paris and the Cathedral in February 2014 before the Cathedral suffered major damage with a fire on April 15, 2019. But I hope it’ll be back to his old glory very soon!
This wonderful structure, located in Milan, the capital of the Lombardy Region in Italy, is the fourth largest cathedral in Europe, after the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the St. Paulus in London and Seville Cathedrals. It is located in Piazza Del Duomo square, named after by it in the center of Milan. The construction of the Milan Cathedral, which began in 1386, was completed in 1965. Although the cathedral is a Renaissance work, it is beautifully harmonized with Gothic style.
The factory in Krakow, which was occupied by the Nazis in the Second World War, was placed under the administration of Oskar Schindler. In this factory, which produced metal goods, the Jews brought from the labor camp were employed and thus the lives of many people were saved. The factory, which is currently used as a museum, is located on 4 Lipowa Street in Krakow. At the same time, the factory inspired the film Schinler’s List (1993). I recommend you to visit the factory which is an important address for those who want to feel the Second World War in Krakow.
Now, we can get to the place that affects me the most -in a horrible way- in Europe.. The Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps in Oswiecim, Poland, were built by Nazi Germany. It is the largest concentration, forced labor and systematic massacre and extermination camp established during World War II. Millions of people from different parts of Europe, mostly Jews, were forced to work in the camps, and were also murdered in gas chambers and burned in crematoriums. The concentration camps, about 1.5 hours from Krakow, show the plight of war and genocide to visitors from all over the world. The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum was founded in 1947 and registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.