In today's Europe we all love to travel, to get to know new places we have never visited before. Part of the planning of a trip should always be to collect information about the city/country where we travel to. If we are well prepared, the trip will be a greater success and we will enjoy it esp., if we then see famous buildings we have read about before. You can choose from the following sections:
Five students of the AULIIIa/b (2004/05) and one student of the AIVb (2005/06) volunteered to collect information about famous buildings in all EU member states and candidate countries. Follow them on their journey around Europe!
Isabella, Andrea, Claudia, Kristof and Engin
Isabella shows you the landmarks of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany and Greece.
Andrea invites you to come with her to Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
If you follow Claudia, you will see some fascinating buidings in Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Slovakia.
Kristof shows you around in Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg.
Engin makes you familiar with the landmarks of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and the Czech Republic.
Aferdita takes us along to her home country Macedonia, the youngest EU candidate country.
First the landmark team found a German and English definition for buildings etc. which are classified as landmarks.
WIKIPEDIA once more proved to be a very valuable source. It offers a long list of landmarks of European cites in German. The English list is a lot shorter, but will certainly grow. The German links in the list below take you directly to the list of famous buildings in the country you are interested in.
The Index of Art Historical Sites created by a team from Bluffton University (Ohio) is also a very good source if you are looking for landmarks worldwide.
As Macedonia only became a candidate country in November 2005, this country was not part of the project. In 2005 I interviewed Aferdita, a student from the AIVb (2004/05). She was born in Macedonia, and she helped me find the necessary information about landmarks in her home country.
Kronborg Castle near Helsingřr, located on the Danish island called Zealand. It is a fortress, and from April 1582 onwards it was the home of the Danish kings and queens. Between 1785 and 1922 the castle was used as a prison.
Many tourists or visitors come to see the old town of Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, which is a very interesting place. You can see it like a museum of architecture. So let us start a trip to this old city.
Around the city you can see the city wall, which was built in former times to defeat the town. Originally, the town wall was 3m thick, 16m high, and 4km long, completely encircling the city with 46 defense towers. The portion of the wall that has survived is 2km long, encompassing 26 of the original towers. Three towers and a section of the town wall surrounding the Old Town are open to the public – and can be visited by anyone with a sense of adventure.
The next stop of our tour is the Holy Ghost Church. From the tower you have a beautiful view of Tallinn.
The Church of the Holy Ghost is the only sacred building from the 14th century in Tallinn that has preserved its original form. This rather simple church was completed in the 1360’s and, for the exception of the baroque spire, has retained its original medieval exterior. The Church of the Holy Ghost holds an important place in Estonian cultural history: the first Estonian sermons were preached here, and the Livonian chronicler Balthasar Russow worked here as a teacher in the late 16th century.
The next place is Kadriorg Palace, a baroque castle, was named Kadriorg (Catherine’s Valley) after the tsarina Catherine I. Since 1921 it has mainly served as a museum, from 1929 to 1938 it also was the home of the president of Estonia.
Now we visit Toompea Castle, the seat of the Parliament of Estonia. The castle dates back as far as the 9th century AD. Click on the link above and you can even enjoy a virtual tour of the castle.
Our last stop is the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. The large, richly decorated Orthodox church, in mixed historicist style, was built on Toompea Hill in 1900, when Estonia was part of the Russian tsarist empire. The church is dedicated to the Prince of Novgorod, Alexander Yaroslavitz Nevsky, who led the famous Ice Battle on the banks of Lake Peipsi on 5 April, 1242 and halted the Germans' eastward advance. The well-maintained cathedral is the grandest sacred Orthodox structure in Tallinn.
Suomenlinna is a fortress on an island off the coast of Helsinki. The Swedish people started to build it in 1748, at this time Finland was part of Sweden. Today 850 persons live on this island, and it is the workplace for 300 persons.
In the 18th centruy, the military shipyard here was one of the biggest dry docks in the world and centres of know-how at that time. In 1991 the 250-year-old fortress was included in UNESCO World Heritage List.
Another landmark is the Helsinki Cathedral, was built in 1830-1852 to replace an earlier church from 1727. The church is Greek cruciform in shape, and was designed in the neoclassical style. It was called St. Nicholas Church until the independence of Finland in 1917. In 1959 it became a cathedral, and since then has been called Helsinki Cathedral or Lutheran Cathedral.
You can find many landmarks in France. We can only cover some important buildings of Paris here.
One of the best known it the Tour Eiffel or Eiffel Tower. The tower is sometimes called the most popular landmark in the world. Every year 6 million people come to visit it. The tower got his name from its constructor Gustave Eiffel. It was built 1887-1889, for the World Exhibition which was held in Paris in 1889 in order to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. The Eiffel Tower is 317m high, has a weight of 10000 tonnes, and you can climb 1792 steps to go to the top. The people of Paris nicknamed the tower “iron lady”.
You also can find other landmarks in Paris, such as the Nôtre Dame Cathedral (one of the oldest gothic cathedrals in France), the Chateau de Versaille (which was enlarged from a small hunting castle into a huge and marvellous palace by Louis XIV), the Arc de Triomph (built in 1806 to celebrate the many victories of Emperor Napoleon's Grande Armée), the Basilique du Sacré Coeur (Basilica of the Sacred Heart) and the Louvre, which dates back as far as the 12th century and today is one of the biggest and most important museums in the world.
One of the most important landmarks of Germany in Berlin is the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenbruger Tor). It is 26m high, 63,5 wide and 11m deep. It was built between 1788 and 1791. On the top of the door you find the so-called “Quadriga”, a statue of the flying deity of victory.
The capital of Greece is Athens. Its most important and significant landmark is the Acropolis. This is a 10 hectare big hill in the centre of the city, which is 270m long, 156m wide and 156m high. On the Acropolis you can find a number of famous buildings.
The Parthenon, a temple for the goddess Hera (31m wide, 70m long and 10,5m high. It is the most important and characteristic monument of the ancient Greek civilization and still remains its international symbol. It was dedicated to Athena Parthenos, the patron goddess of Athens. It was built between 447 and 438 B.C. and its sculptural decoration was completed in 432 B.C.
The Erechtheion was built around 420 B.C. in the Ionic order. It has a prostasis on the east side, a monumental propylon on the north, and the famous porch of the Caryatids (columns in the shape of girls) on the south.
You can also find the Nike Temple on the Acropolis. This temple got its name from Athena Nike, the deity of victory It was built in 424 BC. The relief frieze on the upper section of the walls depicts the conference of gods on the east side, and scenes from battles on the other three.
Mount Kriváň is a 2494m high mountain in the Tatra mountain range, and is seen as a landmark of the country of Slovakia.
Bratislava Castle, looking over the historic core of the capital of the Slovak Republic, is a landmark of the town and a National Cultural Monument which attracts the looks not only of the inhabitants of Bratislava, but also of the large amount of visitors from all parts of Slovakia, Europe and the whole world.
Ljubljana Castle was built on a prehistoric site on top of a hill overlooking the city. It was never explicity mentioned until medieval times. In the Middle Ages the castle was used as a fortress and later it served various purposes, but the present quintagonal irregular layout of the castle is of later origin.
Santiago de Compostela is the final destination of the legendary medieval way of pilgrimship, the Camino de Santiago (Way of Saint James), now considered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Until today it attracts visitors from all over the world thanks to its fantastic monuments. The town of Santiago is named after the Apostle Saint James who is said to be buried here.
In Seville you must not miss the Alcazar Palace which was built for King Pedro the Cruel of Castile in the 1360's who, with his mistress Maria de Padilla, lived in and ruled from the Alcazar.
In Stockholm, the National Museum is a famous landmark. The building is in itself a striking feature of the Stockholm cityscape. Its architectural design, modelled on that of Florentine and Venetian Renaissance buildings, evokes Italy - the home of the fine arts - in the far north of Europe.
Storkyrkan, the cathedral of Stockholm was first mentioned in 1279 and became a Lutheran Protestant church in 1527. Today it is the cathedral of Stockholm. The most famous statue in the cathedral is that of St. George and the Dragon made in wood by Bernt Notke in 1489.
One of the most spectacular landmarks of Istanbul, the capital of Turkey, is the Hagia Sophia, which dates back to the 6th century AD. At the beginning it was a church, later it became a mosque. Nowadays it is a museum.
The Topkapi Serail was built as a palace and is also a museum today.
The ancient theatre of Aspendos is the best conserved Roman theatre in the Mediterranean. It was built in the 2nd century AD and had space for 15.000 people.
Buckingham Palace was originally built as Buckingham House for John Sheffield, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Normanbd, in 1703, and was purchased from his descendant Sir Charles Sheffield in 1762 by King George III. Since then the British kings and queens have had their residence there.
Westminster Abbey is not only the church where British kings are crowned, it is also the burying place for the British kings and a number of other very famous and important people. Furthermore the church is an architectural masterpiece of the 13th to 16th centuries.
St. John's is called the "co-cathedral" because the original Cathedral was in Mdina, and when this church was erected, it was given joint status, along with the one in Mdina.
This Cathedral was built for the Templar Knights in the 16th century.
St. John's Co-Cathedral, once the conventual’s church of the Order, is historically and artistically one of the most important monuments on the island of Malta. The ceiling painting shows 18 scenes from the life St. John the Baptist. The floor of the church is unusual. There are more than 300 grave plates. And under the plates, knights are buried. It is very mystical, because there are some grave plates with death's heads. This cathedral is one of the great attractions Malta, presuming that you do not only want to see folklore nights.
It reaches back to the Middle Ages. It was the ancient residence of the Polish Kings. After Poland had regained independence, it became the residence of the President of the Republic. The Castle is a prime monument of national history and culture. Each year hundreds of thousands of visitors enrich their knowledge of history here.
The Castle provides the setting for cultural events and official state ceremonies, as well as visits by personalities of the international political life.
The Royal Castle is open for visitors and has also a museum called the National Art Collection. There you can see a lot of Polish art from the sixteenth century.
The Palacio da Pena was built in 1839 when King Fernando II acquired the ruin and made it his palace. Before this happened, it was inhabited by monks. The fascination of the building is the front. From the far you can see the yellow and rosé façade. But the façade was not always so beautiful. It looked gray and ugly. After it had been renovated, the inhabitants of Sintra were shocked when they saw the colorful front. But what they didn’t know was, that this was the original style of the front.
From the verandas the visitors have a wonderful view of the surroundings.
The Palácio da Pena keeps the 4th rank among the most frequently visited buildings in Portugal.
The Palace of Parliament in Romania is spectacular, and a real landmark. It is said to be the third biggest building in the world. No wonder, that it is easily visible from the space.
The biggest room, Sala Unirii, has a sliding ceiling wide enough for a helicopter to land. With a total surface of 330,000 sqm it is a perfect area for music events and other meetings.
Hungary: One of the most beautiful bridges of Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is the Széchenyi Lánchíd (Chain Bridge/Kettenbrücke), which was the first permanent bridge crossing the Danube in Budapest (built between 1840 and 1849).
The bridge was named after count Széchenyi, who took the initiative to build the bridge. In 1836 he hired the British bridge builders William Clark and Adam Clark.
The 375m long and 16m wide bridge, a superb engineering feat, was opened on November 20, 1849. In 1857 Adam Clark dug a 350m long tunnel through the Castle Hill to connect the bridge with the Buda hinterland. The bridge ignited the economic revival that lead to the golden century and it was one of the factors that made the provincial towns of Pest and Buda into a fast-growing metropolitan area.
In 1989 people demonstrated on the chain bridge for freedom and independence. Since then, the bridge has become a symbol of Hungarian liberty.
On his journey through Ireland Saint Patrick reportedly also came to Dublin. Legend has it, that he baptised converts from paganism to Christianity in a well close to where the cathedral now stands. To commemorate his visit, a small wooden church was built on this site, one of the four Celtic parish churches in Dublin.
In 1191, under John Comyn, the first Anglo-Norman archbishop of Dublin, Saint Patrick's was raised to the status of a cathedral and the present building, the largest church in the country, was erected between 1200 and 1270. Over the centuries as the elements, religious reformation and persecution took their toll, the cathedral fell into serious disrepair, despite many attempts to restore it. Eventually between 1860 and 1900 a full-scale restoration based on the original design, was carried out by the Guinness family.
The cathedral has contributed much to Irish life throughout its long history. The writer and satirist Jonathan Swift was dean of the cathedral from 1713 to 1745. His grave and epitaph are situated near the entrance of the cathedral. The massive west tower dates from 1370 and houses one of the largest peal of bells in Ireland. The choir school was founded in 1432 and the cathedral choir took part in the first performance of Handel's Messiah in 1742. The Huguenots worshipped here from 1666 to 1816.
Italy: The Leaning Tower of Pisa is the bell tower of the Cathedral. Its construction began in the August of 1173 and continued (with two long interruptions) for about two hundred years. The architect is unknown.
Both because of its inclination, and its beauty, from 1173 up to the present the Tower has been the object of very special attention. During its construction, efforts were made to halt the incipient inclination through the use of special construction devices; later columns and other damaged parts were substituted in more than one occasion; today, interventions are being carried out within the sub-soil in order to significantly reduce the inclination and to make sure that the Tower will have a long life.
Another very famous Italian landmark ist the Colosseum in Rome. It was originally called the Flavian Ampitheatre after its builders, the emperors Vespasian and Titus, both of the Flavian family. Construction began around 70 BC in a low lying area between the Palatine, Esquiline, and Caelian Hills that had once formed the pond of Nero's Domus Aureus. The ampitheatre probably came to be called the "Coliseum" because a colossal statue of Nero once stood near it. Its opening was celebrated with 100 days of games in which thousands of animals and gladiators were killed.
Latvia: The House of the Blackheads (Melngalvju) in Riga, the capital of Latvia, was built in 1334 and has repeatedly been re-fashioned between 1552 and the 19th century. Already in the 15th century it was used as a meeting place for social events and festivities for different communities in Riga. In the 17th century, the Brotherhood of Black Heads, a fraternity of unmarried foreign merchants, who worshipped the St. Mauricius, a Roman general, as their patron saint, began using the house as their headquarters.
The building was constructed in Gothic style. The steep, stepped pediment adorned with Gothic bays was hiding several storage floors. The end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th century carried out the extensive reconstruction works. The main facade gained the Mannerism style decoration such as stone volutes, scrolls, small obelisks, sculptures. The bas-relief of King Arthur was installed in the upper part of the façade. The pediment ended in artistically made metal forging and a weathercock. The clock of the façade showed not only hours but also days, months, lunar phases etc. In the 19th century the façade as a whole maintained harmony and special charm enhanced with vitality and dynamic motion.
The ancient building was destroyed during the Second World War. The reconstruction of the Black Head House was completed in 1999. Today it hosts international conferences, concerts and exhibitions.
Lithuania: St. Anne's Church in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania is a gothic masterpiece (dating back to the 16th century) and the most beautiful church of Lithuania. Lying on the outskirts of the Old Town centre, St. Anne's church definitely deserves a place on any walking tour through the city. Its very explicit Gothic architecture, its bricks in a colour which gives it a natural look - by the way, there are 33 different types of brick colours^q used! - and its gracious interior all are reasons for a visit.
Luxembourg: The Pont Adolphe in the city of Luxembourg, is a really beautiful bridge! It is an arch bridge crossing the river Pétrusse and was opened in 1904, during the reign of Grand-Duc Adolphe. The bridge is also called New Bridge. Foreign countries observed this construction with great interest, as it was, at the time, the biggest stone arch-bridge in the world. The big double-arch has a spread of 85m and crosses the Petrusse valley at a hight of 42m. The total length of the bridge is 153m.
Belgium: The Grand Place of Brussels, the capital of Belgium, the central market square, is often called one of the most beautiful town squares in Europe, if not in the world. Since 1998 it is also a World Heritage Site.
Bulgaria: The Troyan Monastery is known above all for the creative work of Zahari Zograph who painted both the exterior and the interior (a rare practice for the time) of the main church, which was built in 1835, 7km from the town of Troyan.
Croatia: The city of Dubrovnik has a remarkable history. An independent, merchant republic for 700 years (abolished by Napoleon in 1806), it traded with Turkey and India in the East (with a consul in Goa, India) and had trade representatives in Africa (Cape Verde Islands).
The old town was completed in the 13th century and remained virtually unchanged to the present day. Tall ramparts surround it and there are only two entrances to the old town which lead to the Stradun, the city's promenade. In 1991/1992, the city suffered considerable damage during the war in former Yugoslavia, but thanks to local effort and international aid, the old town has been restored to its former beauty.
Cyprus: Aphrodite's Rock off the coast of Cyprus is the legendary place of the birth of Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of beauty. The legend tells us, that Aphrodite was born here from the foam of the Mediterranean Sea.
Czech Republic: The Castle of Prague (Hradcany Castle) was built around 850 AD by the Premyslid family. Its history has been long and rich, from its very origin to present day it has been the seat of administration of the country. The rules of the country moved to this strategic location, a rocky ridge above the Moldava River, and the future city of Prague grew on the mountain below the castle.
The city of Ohrid is like a live museum. It has a very rich history dating back to ancient times. There are wonderful orthodox churches and monasteries like St. Kaneo, St. Kliment, and St. Sofija. The cathedral church of Sveta Sofija (The Holy Wisdom), which was the seat of the Archbishopric of Ohrid for several centuries is the oldest surviving church in Ohrid.
The city centre, Stara carsija, is an architectural mixture of Orient and Occident. The landmark of the city is the old Samuel's Fortress high above the town, which is alos a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The German/French TV station ARTE collected some reports about unusual places and sights in Europe and in February 2007 broadcast a series which was called
The Secret Landmarks of Europe
Click on the links below and learn more about them:
And for those among you who would like to explore also other places worldwide for landmarks, the National Historic Landmarks of the US might also be of interest.
© Dr. Susanne Pratscher
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