Everybody knows about the landmarks of Paris and Rome. Everybody has heard about the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben or the Parthenon but do you know that there are European landmarks that you’ve never heard of out there? Yes there are sites in Europe that are just as stunning as one of the bigger landmarks but are much less known. So here are our picks of the top 10 European Landmarks that you’ve never heard of.
10. Sedlec Ossuary, Czech Republic
Everybody who’s ever been to Prague knows about Karlovy Most the bridge that is the monumental entrance to the Old Quarter, or the menacing cathedral towering over the city. But how many people have ever heard of the sinister Sedlec Ossuary, a bone chapel located just an hour and a half outside Prague. The small Catholic church is estimated to hold the skeletons of more than 50000 people, most arranged in sinister shapes that form the arches and furnishings of the small establishment. Perhaps it all seems too macabre for tourism but you’ll be surprised to see that this piece of bohemian history attracts over 200000 tourists every year.
9. Janneken Pis, Belgium
Everybody who’s ever been to Brussels literally had to see the Manneken Pis, the statue of a little boy pissing that has long been considered the symbol of the city and is so important that it’s been stolen several times by drunk gentlemen. But did you know that the little boy has a sister? Janneken Pis is the lesser-known female counterpart of the little boy and a lot less obsessed over so if you have to see a young kid pissing you might as well avoid the crowd and see this one.
8. The Sewers of Paris, France
Nowadays the only way to visit a small part of this remarkable feat of engineering is to visit the Paris Sewer Museum which takes you down to the sewers and is well worth your time but until recently you could take a romantic tour of the Paris sewers by boat! Yes, the Parisian street system is exactly mirrored underground, which means that underneath the Champs Elysees a sewer that is just as wide as the avenue runs, and you could visit by boat or walking tour not so long ago. And with over 2100 km of sewer tunnels there was quite a bit to visit too!
7. Newgrange, Ireland
Newgrange is one of the true mysteries of European prehistory. The circular tomb was built from stone, wood and mud bricks m0re than 5000 years ago (centuries before the Pyramids) and was painstakingly lined up to observe the winter solstice, and channel the light of the sunset on that important day so that the inside of the tomb magically lights up. Nowadays the tomb is still weather-proof! Yes, 5 millennia later and it took archaeologists to get into the building.
6. Samaria Gorge, Greece
Most people that go to Crete think of beach, sun and olive oil. The more history-minded traveller might go there hoping to see the Mykonos Palace but there is one truly hidden gem on the largest of Greek Islands: Samaria Gorge. Sometimes referred to as the European Grand Canyon, the Samaria gorge is a 10 mile epic hike through some of the most breath-taking scenery in Europe.
5. Dracula’s Castle, Romania
Well if you’re heading over to Romania you’re probably going there for either the biodiversity of the Danube Delta or the whole Dracula experience. And while the castle that everybody bills as Dracula’s castle was indeed built by Vlad ‘the Impaler’ Tepes, the bloody lord never actually lived there. Not only that but the true inspiration for Stoker’s Dracula wasn’t even under “Dracula’s” rule. The castle, called Colt (appropriately, “Fang”) is a much less known ruin built atop an impressive cliff somewhere in the heart of Transylvania, and it also served as inspiration for Jules Verne’s The Carpathian Castle.
4. Christiania, Denmark
A lot of people know that Amsterdam is a wretched hive of scum and villainy. Anarchic and full of Drugs! All of this is, of course hogwash, as Amsterdam is a tightly policed and strictly controlled city (particularly in regards to the drug and skin trade) and most of the anarchy is courtesy of rowdy tourists. But there is a place where you can find drugs and anarchy in copious amounts, the self-proclaimed republic of Christiania. Christiania is a part of Copenhagen that has become infamous for its libertine spirit. Hashish is sold openly and policed by the inhabitants (who forbid the trafficking of hard drugs), Cannabis is openly harvested by the entire family. There are no building codes, and everybody builds what he or she likes. The police of the otherwise orderly Danish capital don’t necessary like this arrangement but it keeps the anarchy at bay.
3. The Glacier Lagoon, Iceland
People going to Iceland usually take a tour around Helsinki, visiting the so-called Golden Circle, that includes the, yes the Geyser as well as the world famous Golden Falls and the Blue Lagoon thermal spa. But if you rent a car and travel for a day you will see a lot more, includint the awe-inspiring Glacier lagoon. Here, chunks from a millennia old glacier break off and float in a breath-taking lagoon, slowly drifting out to sea. The lagoon is chock full of seals and sea-birds and you can occasionally catch a glimpse of a whale out to sea!
2. Praid Salt Mine, Romania
Romania makes a second appearance on the list with the fantastic tunnels of the Praid Salt Mine, now converted into a fantastic hotel and entertainment area. If you have ever thought about how life in the tunnels after a nuclear war would be this massive mine can give you an impression. And you’re more likely to get agoraphobia than claustrophobia as some of the ‘rooms’ of the salt mine are larger than St. Peter’s in Rome! Plus, the salt-infused air is therapeutic and can help with asthma and other breathing problems.
1. Ronda, Spain
The city of Ronda is a sight to see. Built atop a massive cliff with a sheer drop this less known Spanish attraction is well worth visiting to get the true feel of the country and absorb its history. It is a fabulous vantage point and a place that has been inhabited since Roman times. Don’t miss it!