For history buffs, a city break can be a great learning experience as well as a holiday. Europe is home to approximately 370 cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites, more than any other continent in the world. In addition to these sites, Europe also contains some of the world’s best museums where you can learn about the history of almost anything. Here’s our list of Europe’s top historical cities.
Rome of course had to be in our list, a city that embodies history itself. The very name – Rome conjures up images of gladiator fights, Roman battle scenes, grand architecture, temples and elegant baths. Today, lingering ghosts of Rome’s historical past lay scattered all over the city. There are so many important historical sites in this city that the whole city centre has been in fact declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Some of the most important and interesting historical sites in Rome include the Forums, the Mausoleum of Augustus, the Mausoleum of Hadrian, the Pantheon, Trajan’s Column and the Column of Marcus Aurelius, as well as the religious and public buildings of the Vatican City, which lie inside Rome. And don't forget the Colosseum, now one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Athens too is a city that could not be left out, a great city in its time, the capital of the Greek Empire and the ancient world. It is also one of the oldest cities in the world, having been around for around 3,400 years - what more could history lovers want? Athens has many remnants from its glory days; one of the most important is the sprawling site of the Acropolis which includes the Parthenon, the Erechtheon and the Propylaea, all very important historical buildings. There are also a few UNESCO World Heritage sites nearby which can be seen on day trips. These include the monasteries of Daphni, Hosios and Loukas; the archaeological site of Delphi; the archaeological sites of Mycenae and Tiryns, and the Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus.
You don’t have to travel far if you’re after history as our own capital has heaps of it, and every time you come here, there’s more to discover. London is home to no less than four UNESCO World Heritage sites and countless numbers of world-class museums on every single subject imaginable. The UNESCO World Heritage Sites include, Westminster Abbey, Palace and St Margaret’s Church, Kew Gardens, Greenwich and the Tower of London. You can learn about the history of the city at the Museum of London and world history at British Museum or the Victoria and Albert.
Russia’s proud historic capital definitely has enough to quench your thirst for history with its grand old buildings, historic soviet monuments, the iconic Red Square, the infamous Kremlin and impressive yet beautiful St. Basil’s Cathedral. Numerous museums tell the tale of this city which has had an interesting, glorified and turbulent past. Learn about the horrors in the camps at the Gulag History Museum, relive the glory of the Russian space age at the Cosmonautic Museum or get the whole story at the All-Russia Exhibition Centre.
So why not take the opportunity on your next city break to learn something new about our world’s fascinating history? We can guarantee that you’ll remember more than reading a book and find it much more stimulating than a history class or course.