Where to find Europe’s strange and superb architecture
History buffs, art aficionados, and fantasy enthusiasts alike flock to Europe to get a closer look at the intriguing structures that are dotted across the region. From gorgeous cathedrals to ancient castles to stunning modern towers, Europe has plenty of fantastic buildings to explore and admire! If you’re seeking places with unique architecture unlike anywhere else in the world, here are our top recommendations:
Toledo is such a beautifully-preserved medieval town that it officially became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1986. The city is said to represent over 2,000 years of history, and its architecture draws on inspiration from three major religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Some must-see architectural marvels include the Alcázar fortress, which dates back to the 3rd century, Toledo’s Gothic Cathedral, and the Museo de Greco. Visitors are also highly encouraged to wander through the Juderia District to learn about the history of its gorgeous buildings and the people who created them.
This little Polish city is home to one of the strangest buildings in the world—the Krzywy Domek, or “the crooked house.” With its wonky lines and odd features, it almost looks like the reflection of a fun-house mirror! It makes for incredibly peculiar pictures on the outside, but the inside of the Krzywy Domek is actually a bustling mall. It’s full of thriving shops, businesses, clubs, and even doctors’ offices. According to the mall’s website, “This place never sleeps!”
This unassuming French town is home to one man’s 34-year mission to build his “dream palace” in his garden. Despite having no architectural knowledge, this humble postal worker collected stones and rocks along his route and diligently added them to his collection. Although he was initially made fun of by his neighbors, his “Palais Idéal” ended up becoming a major tourist attraction. You’ll be blown away by the intricate details of this palace, the multi-cultural style influences, and the lovely poetry etched into the stones.
Architect Guðjón Samúelsson began designing the Hallgrímskirkja church in 1937 after being inspired by the unique shapes that lava forms when it cools on basalt rocks. This imposing church has a striking tower that can be seen from nearly everywhere in Iceland’s capital city, and the entrance to the church is guarded by an intricate statue of Leifur Eiríksson, who is thought to be the first European to step foot in America. Inside the fascinating structure, you’ll find a massive pipe organ that weighs nearly 25 tons and stands 15 meters high! This gargantuan instrument is definitely capable of filling the enormous church with music thanks to its 5,275 pipes, 102 ranks, and 72 stops.
If you love architecture and have a deep appreciation for nature, the Eden Project in Cornwall could be an awesome destination for your next trip! This fascinating structure features several dome-like buildings that each house plants from various biomes around the world. Here, you’ll find the largest indoor rainforest, exquisite gardens, and all kinds of unique projects to take part in. The Eden Project also has several other attractions, including England’s longest zipline, a quirky building known as the “Giant Bee,” outdoor gardens, and stunning statues.
If fighting your way through tourists on the way to the Eiffel Tower isn’t your thing, head on over to the Centre Pompidou instead! This futuristic building is incredibly unique in the fact that it has color-coded pipes for different utilities, and it utilizes very few load-bearing walls inside the building, which frees up lots of space inside. Inside this fabulous work of modern architecture, you’ll find a huge public library, an art museum, two cinemas, a research library, and an auditorium for live performances. The Centre Pompidou also hosts several temporary exhibits on a wide variety of topics, so no matter what you’re interested in, the center will have something that will pique your curiosity.
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