Europe is an amazing destination with scenic beauty , dazzling artistic and culinary diversity & epic history- the birthplace of democracy in Athens, the graceful canals of Venice, the Renaissance art of Florence, the Napoleonic splendour of Paris, and the multi layered historical and cultural canvas of London. Below are some of the interesting places in Europe.
This is Rome’s great gladiatorial arena and is the most thrilling of the city’s ancient sights. Inaugurated in AD 80, the 50,000-seat Colosseum, originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, was clad in travertine and covered by a huge canvas awning held aloft by 240 masts. Inside, tiered seating encircled the arena, itself built over an underground complex (the hypogeum) where animals were caged and stage sets prepared. Games involved gladiators fighting wild animals or each other.
The Colosseum’s interior was divided into three parts: the arena, cavea and podium. The arena had a wooden floor covered in sand to prevent the combatants from slipping and to soak up the blood. Trapdoors led down to the underground chambers and passageways beneath the arena floor – the hypogeum . Animals in cages and sets for the various battles were hoisted up to the arena by a complicated system of pulleys. The cavea , for spectator seating, was divided into three tiers: magistrates and senior officials sat in the lowest tier, wealthy citizens in the middle and the plebs in the highest tier. Women (except for vestal virgins) were relegated to the cheapest sections at the top. The podium , a broad terrace in front of the tiers of seats, was reserved for emperors, senators and VIPs.
With the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, the Colosseum was abandoned. In the Middle Ages it became a fortress occupied by two of the city’s warrior families: the Frangipani and the Annibaldi. Later, it was plundered of its precious travertine, and marble stripped from it was used to make huge palaces such as Palazzo Venezia, Palazzo Barberini and Palazzo Cancelleria.
The top tier and hypogeum are open to the public by guided tour only. Visits require advance booking.
No one could imagine Paris today without it. But Gustave Eiffel only constructed this elegant, 320m-tall signature spire as a temporary exhibit for the 1889 World Fair. Luckily, the art nouveau tower’s popularity assured its survival. Prebook tickets online to avoid long ticket queues.
Lifts ascend to the tower’s three levels; change lifts on the 2nd level for the final ascent to the top. Energetic visitors can walk as far as the 2nd level using the south pillar’s 704-step stairs.
Refreshment options in the tower include the 1st-floor 58 Tour Eiffel, the sublime 2nd-floor Le Jules Verne, and, at the top, a champagne bar.
La Sagrada Família
If you have time for only one sightseeing outing, this should be it. La Sagrada Família inspires awe by its sheer verticality, and in the manner of the medieval cathedrals it emulates, it’s still under construction after more than 100 years. When completed, the highest tower will be more than half as high again as those that stand today.
Unfinished it may be, but it attracts around 2.8 million visitors a year and is the most visited monument in Spain. The most important recent tourist was Pope Benedict XVI, who consecrated the church in a huge ceremony in November 2010.
Tower of London
The unmissable Tower of London (actually a castle of 22 towers) offers a window into a gruesome and compelling history. This was where two kings and three queens met their death and countless others were imprisoned. Come here to see the colourful Yeoman Warders (or Beefeaters), the spectacular Crown Jewels, the soothsaying ravens and armour fit for a very large king.
To get your bearings, take the entertaining (and free) guided tour with any of the Beefeaters. Hour-long tours leave every 30 minutes from the bridge near the main entrance; the last tour is an hour before closing. Book online for cheaper rates for the Tower.
Our recommended Europe Package