15 Architectural Wonders in Europe to See Before You Die

Want to see some of the best architecture Europe has to offer? Here are 15 incredible architectural wonders from across the continent.

Europe is famous for its architectural wonders. From outrageous ancient ruins and medieval marvels to modern constructions that seem plucked from a sci-fi writer’s wildest dreams, the continent is saturated with diverse architectural delights.

It’s one of the joys of traveling there. You don’t even need to be an architecture aficionado to appreciate it. Whether you’re visiting Portugal, England, Poland, Italy, or anywhere else, the history, aesthetics, and scale of some European buildings make you gawp.

In no particular order, here are 15 of the most impressive examples…

1. La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain

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La Sagrada Familia is arguably the best-known building in Spain – and it’s up there with the most remarkable in Europe. Designed by Antoni Gaudi, this Catholic church is famously unfinished.

Construction started in March 1882 and continues to this day. Regardless, the aesthetics inside and out will blow you away. It’s intricate, ornate, and otherworldly.

2. Palais des Papes, Avignon, France

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Located in Avignon, southern France, the Palais des Papes is an enormous medieval Gothic building that dates to the early 14th century.

For a time, this extravagant fortified palace was the papal residence (its French name translates to Palace of the Popes). It’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the area’s biggest tourist attractions.

3. Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France

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Speaking of medieval Catholic constructions, Notre Dame Cathedral is another of France’s most famous architectural wonders. This magnificent Parisian building has been a place of worship since the 12th century.

Its age, size, and grand façade (including two giant Gothic towers) have made it a national treasure. Tragically, a fire caused immense damage to it in 2019, making international headlines. It’s since been restored and is due to reopen in December 2024.

4. Segovia Aqueduct, Segovia, Spain

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One of Europe’s finest examples of ancient architecture is in Segovia, central Spain. The city’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with an incredible Roman aqueduct running through its center. This jaw-dropping construction dates to the 1st century AD and, despite having no mortar between its stones, has sections that are said to be operational to this day.

5. The Colosseum, Rome, Italy

Colosseum on first day of 3 Days in Rome
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Roman buildings don’t get more impressive than the Colosseum. This huge, 2,000-year-old amphitheater is the pride of Italy’s ancient offerings. It was the largest amphitheater in the Roman Empire. An elliptical design, it’s 189 meters long, 156 meters wide, and has an outer wall that’s 48 meters tall. Exploring the Colosseum is one of the best things to do in Italy.

6. Bran Castle, Bran, Romania

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This 14th-century fortress built by the Saxons in Bran, Transylvania, could be Romania’s most famous castle. You might know it as “Dracula’s Castle.” The story (or at least the one told to tourists) goes that this was the home of Bram Stoker’s legendary vampire. Built atop a rocky outcrop with turrets, towers, and spires galore, it’s a quintessential fairytale fortress.

7. St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow, Russia

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Otherwise called the Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed, this former Orthodox church (now a museum) in Moscow’s Red Square is an iconic Russian attraction. It dates to the mid-16th century and is notorious for its mishmash of patterns, shapes, and colorful domes. Ivan the Terrible ordered its construction to commemorate certain military victories.

8. Acropolis, Athens, Greece

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While Greece is full of ancient architecture, the Acropolis of Athens is hard to beat. That rocky outcrop overlooking the city is home to a suite of iconic ruins, including the Parthenon and Temple of Athena Nike.

The sense of history is palpable as you stroll past giant marble columns that have stood resplendent for almost 2,500 years.

9. St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City

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Welcome to one of the largest churches on earth, which happens to be located in the world’s smallest country. An unbelievable work of Renaissance architecture that took 120 years to complete, St. Peter’s Basilica is so vast and ornate it takes your breath away. You can also climb the dome for incredible views over St. Peter’s Square and Rome beyond it.

10. Big Ben and Houses of Parliament, London, England

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London is another European city that boasts a litany of architectural delights. Chief among them is Big Ben (i.e., Elizabeth Tower) and the Houses of Parliament. Built in the Gothic Revival style of architecture, these symbols of the city cut a striking silhouette next to the River Thames. The best place to snap a photo is on the other side of Westminster Bridge.

11. Alhambra, Granada, Spain

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Located in Granada, a storied city in Andalusia, southern Spain, the Alhambra is considered one of the greatest man-made structures on the planet. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the country’s most famous attractions, this hilltop palace and fortress complex is as historic and culturally significant as it is visually stunning.

12. Il Duomo, Florence, Italy

Florence cathedral in Italy
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As the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is no stranger to medieval architecture. With its covered bridges, piazzas, and cobbled streets, the whole city transports you to the Middle Ages. The Duomo is the star of the show, though. Intricate brickwork and an enormous terracotta-tiled dome make it an arresting and unforgettable sight.

13. Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic

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Prague is another enviable destination for architecture lovers. Its UNESCO-listed Old Town has effectively been untouched since medieval times. Chief among its historic attractions is the eponymous castle. This vast complex of palaces, courtyards, and churches dates to the 9th century AD and is one of the most important buildings in the country.

14. Parliament Building, Budapest, Hungary

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Budapest is home to one of the most impressive places in Europe: The Hungarian Parliament building. This giant neo-Gothic construction dominates the eastern bank of the Danube. It’s officially the largest building in Hungary. Roughly 40 million bricks, 500,000 precious stones, and 40 kilograms of gold were used in its construction.

15. Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain

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Bored of medieval buildings? Head to Bilbao. Sitting on the banks of the Nervion River is the iconoclastic Guggenheim Museum.

A celebrated example of contemporary architecture, it’s notorious for its interconnected tangle of lines and curves clad in limestone, titanium, and glass. Construction took four years and finished to high praise in 1997.



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Author: Danny Newman

Title: Writer and Content Creator

Expertise: Travel, Digital Nomadry, Outdoors, Blogging

Danny Newman is a writer, content creator, and digital nomad from the UK. He founded the travel and lifestyle blog What’s Danny Doing, a popular resource for people seeking more adventure, self-discovery, and purpose. A nationally syndicated writer, Danny’s work features in dozens of online publications, including MSN.com and news sites across the US.