Top 10 Best Architectural Cities to Visit in Europe


1. Brussels

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Brussels is rightly famed for its Art Nouveau architecture – this was the home of architects Victor Horta and Paul Hankar, after all, who is credited with designing the two first Art Nouveau Building in the World.

More than 1000 buildings, from private homes to schools, cafes, and shops, were built in the Art Nouveau style in Brussels at the turn of the 19th century, using materials usually associated with an industrial building, such as iron, glass, and exposed brick – and around 500 remain intact.

2. Barcelona


In Barcelona, the cradle of contemporary urbanism, the landscape is enriched with endless layers of history. Since its first settlers, Roman colonists, generation after generation built here, one on top of another.

Romans, Visigoths, and a brief Islamic period are still embedded within the city’s prettiest streets. These old architectural stories are delightfully present nowadays. At first glimpse, the traveler can spot a 14th-century stone cathedral coexisting with a computer-generated undulating structure – in harmony. Not many cities manage temporary tension as good as Barcelona.

3. Amsterdam/Rotterdam


Amsterdam is the capital city of the Netherlands and one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Amsterdam’s name derives from Amstelredamme, indicative of the city’s origin around a dam in the river Amstel. Its origins lie in the 12th century.

Amsterdam is a fascinating architectural mixture of 17th-century canals with UNESCO status, works of Dutch architect Berlage and the architectural movement Amsterdam School and innovative new projects in the business district The Zuidas and the neighborhood Eastern Docklands.

4. Prague


Prague is one of the best-preserved cities in all of Europe. It miraculously survived the bombs of WWII that were prevalent throughout the continent, and much of its historic center looks the same way it did hundreds of years ago. Today Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic and is home to over 1.3 million people. Prague is also one of those rare examples of a city that contains buildings from every major age in architecture.

Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo architecture can be found throughout the city. There are even spots within Prague, such as the Old Town Square, where you can see several different styles of architecture directly next to one another. Although the city is sometimes overlooked, Prague is one of Europe’s architectural highlights and is worth a visit for anyone looking to see some incredible buildings.

5. Berlin


Berlin’s history has left the city with an eclectic assortment of architecture. The city’s appearance in the 21st century has been shaped by the key role the city played in Germany’s 20th-century history. Each of the governments based in Berlin—the Kingdom of Prussia, the 1871 German Empire, the Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany, East Germany, and the reunified Federal Republic of Germany—initiated ambitious construction programs, with each adding its distinct flavor to the city’s architecture.

6. Rome


The architecture of Rome over the centuries has greatly developed from Ancient Roman architecture to Italian modern and contemporary architecture. Rome was once the world’s main epicenter of Classical architecture, developing new forms such as the arch, the dome, and the vault. The Romanesque style in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries were also widely used in Roman architecture, and later the city became one of the main centers of Renaissance and Baroque architecture.[1] Rome’s cityscape is also widely Neoclassical and Fascist in style.

7. Paris


The city of Paris has notable examples of architecture of every period, from the Middle Ages to the 21st century. It was the birthplace of the Gothic style, and has important monuments of the French Renaissance, Classical revival, the Flamboyant style of the reign of Napoleon III, the Belle Époque, and the Art Nouveau style.

The great Exposition Universelle (1889) and 1900 added Paris landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower and Grand Palais. In the 20th century, the Art Deco style of architecture first appeared in Paris, and Paris architects also influenced the postmodern architecture of the second half of the century.

8. Athens


Athens, the capital of Greece, is named after Athena, the goddess of wisdom. it is believed that there was a competition between Athena and Poseidon to decide who would become the protector of the city. The myth says that the people of Athens chose Athena as their protector, and hence the city was named after her.

Athens incorporates architectural styles ranging from Greco-Roman and Neoclassical to Modern. They are often to be found in the same areas, as Athens is not marked by a uniformity of architectural style. A visitor will quickly notice the absence of tall buildings: Athens has very strict height restriction laws in order to ensure the Acropolis hill is visible throughout the city. Despite the variety in styles, there is evidence of continuity in elements of the architectural environment through the city’s history.

9. Venice


Venice is a city famous for both its canals and its incredible architecture. Venice started out as a cluster of islands that grew into a small fishing village in the early Middle Ages. Over time Venice transformed into one of Italy’s leading powers thanks to its vast trade network within the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Republic of Venice was established at the end of the 7th century, and at its peak, it controlled a large territory stretching from Northern Italy to other areas in modern-day Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, and Cyprus. Venice peaked during the Gothic and Renaissance periods at which point the wealthy mercantile class commissioned incredible works of architecture throughout the city. Today Venice is one of the most popular tourist destinations on earth and visitors are constantly amazed by the former glory of the Venetian Republic.

10. Budapest


Budapest’s diverse architecture spans from Roman ruins to award-winning contemporary buildings, with plenty of treasures in between. I’ve assembled the below list with the help of local architects; the buildings are grouped chronologically, and this map will help you find them.

If you’re interested in a thematic architecture tour of Budapest, the Center of Contemporary Architecture (KÉK) offers various walking tours led by competent local architects. Also, Budapest has an excellent architecture center, Fuga, where English-language books about Hungarian and regional architecture are available.

Image courtesy A+R and Pixabay

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