Tower of London
It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988, recognized for its significant efforts in preserving the culture and heritage of Britain. The same structure that now houses England’s Crown Jewels was also the place where its former owners, members of the Royal Family, were imprisoned or executed. Not surprisingly, stories abound of the headless ghosts of Sir Walter Raleigh and Anne Boleyn (one of Henry VIIIs wives) walking the premises.
The Louvre Museum
If you see only one museum in Europe, this should be it. The Mona Lisa and The Venus de Milo alone are enough reasons to brave the crowds here but the Louvre is houses priceless Oriental, Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan, and Roman artifacts.
It was constructed in 1889 for the International Exposition of Paris and named after Gustav Eiffel, the same engineer who built the Statue of Liberty. The Eiffel Tower stands at 317 meters and was the tallest building in the world at the time of its opening. There are three observation platforms open to the public and each with stunning views of Paris.
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Acropolis (loosely translated as high city) was where Grecian civilization once thrived. Today, the ruins of four structures the Parthenon, the Erectheion, the Temple of Nike, and the Propylaea provide equally arresting glimpses into Greeces past. Located at the center of Athens, the Acropolis is accessible through any form of transport or on foot.
Situated at the center Denmark’s capital city Copenhagen, Tivoli Gardens is known to be one of the world’s first amusement parks. The best time to visit is at night when all the parks lights are lit giving the place an even more magical feel.
Anne Frank House
After the discovery of their hiding place, Nazis took Anne Frank and her family from their secret quarters in the attic of an office building in Amsterdam. They were immediately sent off to concentration camps where Anne would later die of typhus. Back at the house, a friend of the family found the now famous diary Anne had kept while they hid. In it was written the thoughts and aspirations of the young girl, filled with courage and optimism despite their living conditions. Now restored and well-preserved, the house showcases the family’s secret annex with photos and multimedia exhibits running all throughout. The site never fails to grip the hearts of its visitors from all corners of the world.
The Sistine Chapel
Golden stars on a blue sky is what you would see on the Sistine Chapel ceiling if Michelangelo had not agreed to take on the task Pope Julius II appointed to him in 1508. He hesitated initially, not being as confident in his painting skills since he generally sculpted. But he proved himself wrong, eventually creating an elaborate illustration of the whole Bible while on his back. Most recently, it was the focus of the world’s attention as the College of Cardinals voted Pope Benedict XVI to be the new leader of the Catholic Church.
No European holiday will be complete without a visit to a castle. Deemed as the loveliest castle in the world, Leeds Castle was built in the year 1119 on a lake surrounded by lush green parkland. It has been home to many of British Royalties most famous names, most notably, Henry VIII whose portrait hangs on the wall of the Banqueting Room named after him. Leeds Castle today is a venue for conferences, weddings, and other social gatherings. One unique attraction is the Dog Collar Museum with almost a hundred antique collars dating as far back as the 15th century.
The universal theme one will realize from going around Europe’s many attractions is that modern advancements can and do complement the classic and traditional. Since technology is ever changing, it’s exciting to ponder the future it will provide to the treasures of the past.