14 Secret Architectural Wonders in Europe to Explore in Your Lifetime

Europe is full of architectural delights that few travelers ever hear about. This post reveals 14 of the most historic and aesthetically attractive examples.

Europe’s architecture is one of the main reasons tourists flock there. Across the continent, you find towns and cities built up over centuries (sometimes even millennia), resulting in a cornucopia of architectural delights.

Understandably, a handful of these man-made landmarks get the most attention – places like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Colosseum in Rome, or Big Ben in London. However, for every architectural wonder people know about, dozens never get the appreciation they deserve!

Today, I’m highlighting 14 lesser-known architectural charms in Europe that everyone should seek out if they get the chance.

1. Stari Most, Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Mostar’s iconic Old Bridge is one of the most famous attractions in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Sadly, the original construction was destroyed in the conflict in the 1990s, along with much of the town. What you see today is a reconstruction, but it’s still a remarkable site that dates to the 16th century.

2. Narikala Fort, Tbilisi, Georgia

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This storied fortress overlooking Georgia’s ancient capital, Tbilisi, dates way back to the 4th century. Only its mighty walls remain intact these days, as well as St. Nicholas Church, which was rebuilt in the nineties. Still, the history, ruins, and striking cliffside location make Narikala a must for any Georgia itinerary.

3. Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

when to go to Scotland
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Perched atop a rocky outcrop in the city, Edinburgh Castle dominates the Scottish capital’s skyline. It was built in stages over almost 1000 years, with the oldest section (St. Margeret’s Chapel) dating to the early 12th century. Other famous parts, like the Great Hall and the Half Moon Battery, were built in the 16th century.

4. Belogradchik Fortress, Bulgaria

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This spectacular fortress in the Balkan Mountains has the twin draw of boasting incredible history in a beautiful location.

The Romans built the initial site, relying on the natural protection granted by the rocky terrain. It was added to in the 14th century and altered again in the 1800s, turning Belogradchik Fortress into the iconic site it is today.

5. Dover Castle, Dover, England

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Located above the famous White Cliffs of Dover, the eponymous castle is one of the most impressive fortifications in the United Kingdom.

Its current form dates to the 12th century, although the site itself has been significant since pre-Roman times. Dover Castle has played a starring role in many notorious events in English history, including the famed evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk in World War II.

6. Walls of Albarracin, Spain

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Albarracin is a breathtaking town in east-central Spain. It has a scenic location in mountainous terrain above the Guadalaviar River, but its biggest claim to fame are the medieval walls and defensive towers that once encircled the city. Even photos of them transport you to the Middle Ages.

7. Parliament of Budapest, Hungary

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Welcome to Hungary’s most famous building. Located on the banks of the Danube River, this vast, awe-inspiring edifice is 268 meters long, 123 meters wide, and almost 100 meters high.

A symbol of the city, construction began in 1885 and lasted nine years. It showcases Neo-Gothic, Neo-Baroque, and Neo-Renaissance architecture.

8. Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy

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Bel Paese is home to countless architectural wonders, but one that often flies under the radar is the village of Civita di Bagnoregio in central Italy.

Located roughly 75 miles north of Rome, a footbridge leads to a place founded over 2,500 years ago by the Etruscans. Its hilltop location, ancient cobblestone streets, and medieval buildings will blow you away.

9. Carcassonne, France

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Carcassonne is a dreamy destination for history buffs headed to France. An inimitable fortified town, its mighty curtain walls connect dozens of towers, behind which lie winding cobbled streets full of character and charm.

An ancient town stuck in a time warp, Carcassonne is as close as it gets to seeing the Middle Ages with your own eyes.

10. Skellig Michael, Ireland

Skellig Michael, Ireland
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One of just two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Ireland, Skellig Michael is a remote island located seven miles off the coast of the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry. The summit of this harsh, windswept place is home to St. Fionan’s monastery. Irish monks lived in its iconic beehive stone huts from the 7th until the 18th centuries.

11. Valletta, Malta

Valletta, Malta
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Malta is another European destination that history lovers will adore. A tiny archipelago in the Mediterranean, empires have fought for centuries over its three sun-kissed islands.

That turbulent past is on full display around the country, but it’s at its most striking in the capital, Valletta. This stunning fortified city has colossal walls and cobbled streets that transport you back in time.

12. Pena National Palace, Sintra, Portugal

Pena National Palace in Sintra, Portugal
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This vibrant palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Portugal’s most visited tourist attractions. It’s easy to see why.

Once the summer residence of the Portuguese royal family, the site has hundreds of years of history, an epic hilltop location with stunning views, and eye-catching architectural styles.

13. Plaza de Espana, Seville, Spain

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Seville is a bustling Spanish city with a history that dates to Roman times. The Plaza de Espana was only built in 1928, but what it lacks in age, it makes up for in aesthetic appeal.

This incredible building is shaped in a half-circle with a hodgepodge of architectural styles, including Art Deco and Spanish Renaissance Revival.

14. Chapel Bridge, Lucerne, Switzerland

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The Kapellbrücke, as it’s called in Switzerland, is an iconic covered footbridge bridge that runs diagonally more than 200 meters over the river Reuss in Lucerne. It’s a symbol of the city and officially the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe. The original bridge dates to the 14th century.


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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.