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Sights in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland and has a rich seafaring history and several historic sites that recount its long history in addition to fun museums for families to enjoy.

  • Botanic Gardens—a beautiful attraction with grass, trees, flowers, curving paths, and wrought-iron benches that was laid out in 1827 on land that slopes down to the Lagan River and includes the curved-iron and glass Palm House that is a conservatory designed in 1839 which has exotic plants such as the bird of paradise flower and the scented frangipani; the Tropical Ravine House; an arboretum; a tree trail that leads visitors around 20 trees such as the Tree-of-Heaven and Japanese red cedar; located on Stranmillis Road
  • City Hall—built between 1898 and 1906 and modeled on St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, this building was designed by Brumwell Thomas and is in the midst of Donegall Square which has statues of Queen Victoria and a column that honors the US Expeditionary Force, the first contingent of the US Army to arrive in Europe during World War II; inside is the 173-foot-high Great Dome with a magnificent view upwards from the entrance hall, beautiful stained-glass windows and arches, a café, an exhibition that describes the history of Belfast’s industrial development, and a photographic exhibition that celebrates 68 inspirational people of the past 100 years; Donegall Square
  • Crumlin Road Gaol—a major tourist attraction that formerly was a prison that opened in 1846 and had over 500 prisoners at its peak and held some of Northern Ireland’s most infamous murderers between 1969 and 1996 when the prison closed; tours of the jail are 75 minutes long and show the holding, punishment, and condemned prisoner cells as well as the execution chamber which is behind a moving bookcase and a museum with exhibits such as handcuffs, uniforms, a flogging rack, photographs, and maps; 53-55 Crumlin Road
  • Custom House—a creation of the 19th century architect Charles Lanyon that is not open to the public but features a pediment of Britannia, Mercury, and Neptune on the front and a blue plaque recording the fact that the 19th century novelist Anthony Trollope worked in the building as a post-office surveyor as well as a life-size bronze statue with arms raised commemorating the orator Jim Larkin who addressed crowds during the Dockers’ Strike of 1907 from the steps of the Custom House; Donegall Quay
  • Grand Opera House—Belfast’s opera house that is Victorian in design with ornamentation, opulent gilt moldings, and intricate plasterwork and was designed by the well-known theater architect Frank Matcham in 1894 featuring bars on all floors, a café on the ground floor, a party room, and an angel-and-cherub fresco over the auditorium ceiling; 2 Great Victoria Street
  • Knockbreda Parish Church—the oldest house of worship in Belfast that is dark and has large 18th century tombs in the churchyard; Church Road off A24
  • Lagan Boat Company N.I. Ltd.—a boat company that takes passengers on a 75-minute Titanic harbor tour of the shipyard where the liner was built; 66 Donegall Quay
  • Linen Hall Library—a distinctive gray-yellow brick library that is the oldest subscription library in Ireland with a huge collection of 80,000 documents and books relating to the Troubles regarded as the most definitive archive that attracts scholars from around the world and the original document recording the first ever acts passed by the American Congress in New York on March 4, 1789; 17 Donegall Square North
  • Metropolitan Arts Centre—Northern Ireland’s flagship home for the arts and an energetic fixture of the Cathedral Quarter’s creative scene that is six stories tall with two theaters, three art galleries, and artists’ studios along with a café, bar, and restaurant and galleries presenting current Northern Irish artists; St. Anne’s Square, Exchange Street
  • Northern Ireland War Memorial—a memorial building that has an interactive exhibition about World War II as the area was bombed by the Luftwaffe in April 1941 resulting in more than a thousand deaths and features the American Wall of Friendship that contains a copper frieze expressing the wartime bonds created between Northern Ireland and the United States; 21 Talbot Street
  • Queen’s University Belfast—a historic university with its main buildings modeled on Oxford University’s Magdalen College and designed by Charles Lanyon in 1849 in the Tudor Revival style with a redbrick and sandstone façade for the main building; the Seamus Heaney Library named after the Ulster-born 1997 Nobel Prize-winning poet who died in 2013; the McClay library in College Park with a multi-story open atrium, 1.5 million volumes, and the Brian Friel Theatre named in honor of one of Ireland’s most famous playwrights; and the C.S. Lewis reading room on the first floor that has a replica of the wardrobe door used in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; University Road
  • Sinclair Seamen’s Church—another Charles Lanyon building that has served seafarers since 1857 with a pulpit shaped like a ship’s prow, the bell from the HMS Hood sunk in 1916, and collection plates shaped like lifeboats; Corporation Square off Donegall Quay
  • Titanic Belfast Visitor Centre—a major attraction that is the headliner for the “Titanic Experience” exhibition with nine linked interpretive galleries that illustrate the Titanic’s history as well as Belfast’s seafaring and industrial heritage; a bow-shaped façade for the six-story building reflecting the lines of the Titanic; a ride through the reconstruction of the shipyard with the sounds and sensations of the past century; and a current view of the Titanic’s story with the discovery of its wreckage and live links to contemporary undersea exploration; Olympic Way, 6 Queen’s Road, Titanic Quarter
  • Titanic’s Dock and Pump-House Tour—one of the top attractions in Northern Ireland that has been accessible to visitors since 2012 and allows visitors to take steps down to the floor of the Titanic’s dock otherwise known as the Thompson Dry Dock which is a relic of the ship’s legacy and its physical footprint and taking a guided walk will allow visitors to reflect on the ship’s history and the importance of shipbuilding to Belfast’s history; Queen’s Road
  • Ulster Museum—a renovated museum that is popular with visitors for its light-filled atrium and polished steel and inside features exhibitions that trace the rise of Belfast’s crafts, trade, and industry and offers a photographic archive of the Troubles as well as a large natural history section with a famous skeleton of the extinct Irish giant deer, jewelry and gold ornaments recovered from the Spanish Armada vessel Girona; a great collection of 19th and 20th century art from Europe, Britain, and America; a modern history gallery which tells the story of Ulster from 1500 to 1968; and art, history, and nature discovery zones with hands-on activities for children; Stranmillis Road
  • W5: whowhatwherewhenwhy: a science discovery center with a high-tech focus that interprets science and creativity for adults and children with video displays and flashing lights that add to the futuristic atmosphere, Discovery exhibits for children under eight covering subjects such as spying and forensics, and a huge multistory climbing structure in the atrium which provides a great view of the city and beyond from the top; 2 Queen’s Quay
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Sights in Dublin

Dublin is a lively capital with many noteworthy sights such as Trinity College, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Phoenix Park, and Merrion Square. It is an old city that is certainly worth taking a trip to although you may need a week to see everything the city has to offer its visitors.

  • Baily Lighthouse—a lighthouse built in 1814 that provides great views across the Irish Sea and the parking lot above the lighthouse looks out over the bay and Dublin; Howth Summit
  • Bank of Ireland—located across the street from the west façade of Trinity College is this striking building that was formerly the home of the Irish Parliament and has a pedimented portico; inside is the original House of Lords with an oak-panel nave, a 1,233 drop Waterford glass chandelier, and tapestries that depict the battle of the Boyne and the Siege of Derry; 2 College Green
  • Chester Beatty Library—deemed a library but actually more like a museum, this collection assembled by Sir Alfred Chester Beatty is considered to be one of the most significant collections of Islamic, Early Christian, and Far Eastern art in the Western world with exhibits including clay tablets from Babylon that date back to 2700 BC, Japanese wood-block prints, Chinese jade books, early papyrus bibles, and Turkish and Persian paintings with a second floor dedicated to the major world religions that includes 250 manuscripts of the Koran from across the Muslim world and an early Gospel; Castle Street
  • Christ Church Cathedral—a Dublin landmark that was first built in 1172 by Strongbow, a Norman baron and conqueror of Dublin from England and finished constructed in 1222; major reconstruction occurred in the late 19th century due to the deterioration of the church and added a bridge that connected the cathedral to the old Synod Hall which is now home to a Viking multimedia exhibition called Dublinia; the crypt has 12th and 13th century vaults and is Dublin’s oldest surviving structure and the most noteworthy feature of the cathedral with an exhibition called “The Treasures of Christ Church” that has manuscripts, various historic artifacts, and a tabernacle used when King James II was a worshipper; Christ Church Place and Winetavern Street
  • City Hall—this building that was once the Royal Exchange is at the southwestern corner of Temple Bar and is now the seat of Dublin Corporation, the governing body of the city, that was designed by Thomas Cooley with 12 columns that encircle a central rotunda and 12 frescoes that show Dublin legends and ancient Irish historical scenes and inside is a multimedia exhibition that features artifacts, kiosks, graphics, and audiovisual presentations that trace the evolution of Dublin; Dame Street
  • Custom House—a beautiful Georgian building that was built by James Gandon, an English architect, between 1781 and 1791 with a statue of Commerce atop the copper dome and statues based on allegories on the main façade and a visitor center that recounts the history of the building and the life of Gandon; Custom House Quay
  • Dublin Castle—the seat and symbol of British rule of Ireland for over 700 years and is used today for Irish and European Union governmental purposes with a large Great Courtyard that allegedly is the site of the Black Pool (Dubh Linn) from which Dublin got its name; the Record Tower which is the largest remaining relic of the original Norman buildings built by King John between 1208 and 1220; the clock tower building that houses the Chester Beatty Library; and the State Apartments which are now used by the president of Ireland to host visiting heads of state and EU ministers; Castle Street
  • Dublin City Gallery the Hugh Lane—Francis Bacon’s studio that was reconstructed exactly as the artist left it upon his death and has a beautiful façade with two half-moon arcades and was built as a town house for the Earl of Charlemont in 1762 and is now an art gallery named after sir Hugh Lane, a nephew of Lady Gregory, W.B Yeats’s aristocratic patron, who collected impressionist and 19th century Irish and Anglo-Irish works; Parnell Square North
  • Dublin Writers Museum—a museum situated within a restored 18th century town house on the north side of Parnell Square that features the Gallery of Writers which includes rare manuscripts, diaries, posters, letters, limited and first editions, photographs, and other mementos and a room dedicated to children’s literature; 18 Parnell Square North
  • Dublin Zoo—founded in 1830 and the third-oldest public zoo in the world that went through a major renovation completed in 2007 and is home to animals from tropical climates, Arctic species that swim in lakes near the Reptile House, lions, an African Plains section, a safari, and a primate area; Phoenix Park
  • Farmleigh—a 78-acre Edwardian estate located northwest of Phoenix Park that includes Farmleigh House which has antique furnishings and historic art and accommodates visiting dignitaries; a working farm; walled and sunken gardens; picnic grounds; an organic food market; and a restaurant in the boathouse; Castleknock
  • GAA Museum—the main stadium and headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association as well as a museum that explains the four Gaelic games (hurling, football, camogie, and handball) and has high-tech displays that allow visitors to learn about the history and highlights of the games; St. Joseph’s Avenue, Croke Park Stadium
  • Gallery of Photography—the premier photography gallery in Dublin with a permanent collection of early 20th century Irish photography and monthly exhibitions of works by modern Irish and international photographers; Meeting House Square South
  • Garden of Remembrance—a garden in Parnell Square that honors those who died fighting for Ireland’s freedom and at the entrance has a large plaza with steps that lead down to the fountain area where there is a swan sculpture; Parnell Square
  • General Post Office—a rebuilt post office building with a long history that dates back to the early 19th century when it was built by the British as a communications center and was used by Irish rebels in 1916 during the Easter Rising when Irish Republican forces stormed the building and issued the Proclamation of the Irish Republic; it was rebuilt and reopened in 1929 becoming a working post office in 1929; O’Connell Street
  • Glasnevin Cemetery and Museum—the most well-known burial ground in Dublin that is the site of the graves of many Irish leaders including Eamon de Valera and Michael Collins as well as the late 19th century poet Gerard Manley Hopkins and Daniel O’Connell who helped fight for Catholic emancipation which was achieved in 1829 and also includes a museum with a “City of the Dead” permanent exhibition that delves into the burial practices and religious beliefs of the 1.5 million people buried in Glasnevin and a gallery with exhibits on significant historical figures buried there; Glasnevin
  • Guinness Storehouse—Ireland’s top brewery founded by Arthur Guinness in 1759 and once the largest stout-producing brewery in the world that covers a 60-acre area west of Christ Church Cathedral and is the most popular tourist destination in Dublin with a museum housed in a 1904 cast-iron and brick warehouse spread out over six floors built around a central glass atrium shaped like a giant pint glass; under the glass floor of the lobby is Arthur Guinness’s original lease for the site for 9,000 years and the exhibition in the museum explains the brewing process and its history with antique presses and vats; a glimpse into bottle and can design over the years; a history of the Guinness family; an archive of Guinness advertisements; and a chance to pull a perfect pint with the main attraction being the top-floor Gravity Bar with 360-degree floor to ceiling glass walls that provide a great view out over the city; St. James’ Gate
  • Irish Jewish Museum—a museum opened in 1985 by Israeli president Chaim Herzog and dedicated to the European Jews who fled pogroms of Eastern Europe to Ireland in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that features a restored synagogue and a display of photographs, letters, and personal memorabilia from Dublin’s most prominent Jewish families as well as exhibits that explore the Jewish presence in Ireland dating back to 1067 and references to Jews in Ulysses; 3-4 Walworth Road
  • Irish Museum of Modern Art—situated within the Royal Hospital Kilmainham this art museum focuses on the work of modern Irish artists, has international exhibitions, displays works by non-Irish artists such as Picasso and Miro in addition to more current artists like Damian Hirst, and hosts touring shows from major European museums; Kilmainham La
  • Iveagh Gardens—a garden designed in 1865 by Ninian Niven in an “English landscape” style that has a rustic grotto and cascade, sunken lawns with fountains, a blooming rosarium, and wooded areas as well as a waterfall with rocks from each of Ireland’s 32 counties; Clonmel Street
  • James Joyce Centre—a center devoted to James Joyce housed in a restored 18th century Georgian townhouse that was once the dancing academy of Professor Denis J. Maginni (a figure in Ulysses, just one of Joyce’s celebrated novels), and features an extensive library and archives, exhibition rooms, a bookstore, and a café with the collection including letters from Beckett, Joyce’s guitar and cane, and an edition of Ulysses illustrated by Matisse; 35 North Great George’s Street
  • Little Museum of Dublin—an eclectic museum with a singular purpose to tell the history of Dublin in the last hundred years through objects and stories from residents with a collection including art, photography, ads, letters, objects, and other items relating to life in Dublin since 1900; 15 Stephen’s Green
  • Malahide Castle—a castle that was occupied by the Talbot family from 1185 to 1976 when it was sold to the County Council and has a large expanse of parkland around the castle with over 5,000 different species of trees and shrubs clearly labeled, a three-story tower house dating back to the 12th century, walled gardens, and the only medieval great hall in Ireland kept in its original form; an addition includes a visitor center, Avoca restaurant, and a shop; 6 miles north of Howth on Coast Road, Malahide
  • Marino Casino—an architectural landmark built between 1762 and 1771 from a plan by Sir William Chambers that has a china-closet boudoir, a huge golden sunset in the ceiling of the main drawing room, and the signs of the zodiac in the ceiling of the bijou library, and a mysterious amount of rooms; Malahide Road, Marino
  • Marsh’s Library—Ireland’s first public library with a collection of 250 manuscripts and 25,000 books from the 15th to the 18th centuries that has been restored with attention to its original architectural details; St. Patrick’s Close off Patrick Street
  • Merrion Square—a beautiful square lined on three sides by well-preserved Georgian townhouses and on the west side are Leinster House, the National Museum of Natural History, and the National Gallery; also, in the square are flower gardens, evergreen grounds with sculptures and winding paths, and the south side which has the Church of Ireland St. Stephen’s Church
  • National Botanic Gardens—this botanic garden dates back to 1795 and has more than 20,000 varieties of plants, a rose garden, and a vegetable garden as well as the Curvilinear Range that are 400-foot-long greenhouses designed and built by a Dublin ironmaster, Richard Turner, between 1843 and 1869; Glasnevin Road
  • National Gallery of Ireland—an art museum that has over 2,500 paintings and 10,000 other works including pieces by Caravaggio, Van Gogh, and Vermeer with highlights that include a major collection of paintings by Irish artists from the 17th to 20th centuries with works by Roderic O’Conor, Sir William Orpen, and William Leech and a Yeats Museum section with works by members of the Yeats family including pieces by Jack B. Yeats, brother of W.B. Yeats, and the most well-known Irish painter of the 20th century; Merrion Square West
  • National Library—a library that includes works by W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, and Seamus Heaney and features first editions of every major Irish writer including works by Jonathan Swift, Oliver Goldsmith, and James Joyce, and almost every book ever published in Ireland housed within the library along with a great selection of old maps and a large collection of Irish newspapers and magazines; Kildare Street
  • National Library Photographic Archive—a significant photographic resource with regular exhibitions and a collection that has 600,000 photographs many of which are Irish and provide a visual history of Ireland; Meeting House Square
  • National Museum of Archaeology—this museum which is one of four branches of the National Museum of Ireland has a vast collection of Irish artifacts dating from 7000 BC to the present with the largest collection of Celtic antiquities in the world including gold jewelry, carved stones, bronze tools, and weapons; the Treasury permanent collection with the 8th century Ardagh Chalice, a two-handled silver cup with gold filigree decoration, the bronze St. Patrick’s Bell, the oldest surviving example of Irish metalwork (5th-8th century), the 8th century Tara Brooch made of white bronze, amber, and glass, and the 12th century jewel-encrusted Cross of Cong; an exhibit on Vikings with a life-size Viking skeleton, swords, leather works recovered in Dublin and surrounding areas, and a replica Viking boat; location: Kildare St. Annex 7-9, Merrion Row
  • National Museum of Decorative Arts and History—the National Museum’s large collection of glass, silver, furniture, and other decorative arts located within the Collins Barracks named after the assassinated Irish Republican leader, Michael Collins, and featuring one of the best collections of Irish silver in the world and Irish period furniture; Benburb Street
  • National Museum of Natural History—one of the four branches of the National Museum that is Victorian in nature with an Irish room that features skeletons of the extinct giant Irish elk; the International Animals collection with a 65-foot whale skeleton suspended from the roof; and the Blaschka Collection with detailed glass models of marine creatures; Merrion Street
  • National Transport Museum of Ireland—a museum that houses a tram that once traveled from the railway station in Howth over Howth Summit and back to the station and other vehicles such as horse-drawn bakery vans; Heritage Depot, Howth Demense
  • National Wax Museum—an engaging museum with famous figures from Irish history and literature in wax form, figures from children’s cartoons, and movie characters as well as a green-screen room where music videos can be recorded; The Amoury, Foster Place
  • Newbridge House and Farm—a stately Irish home built between 1740 and 1760 for Charles Cobbe, archbishop of Dublin, that is still home to the Cobbe family although the municipal government took over the house in 1985 and features the Red Drawing Room which is Ireland’s most luxurious 18th-century salon with Old Master paintings, Corinthian columns, and a rococo-style plaster ceiling and 366 acres of parkland, a restored 18th century animal farm, and a well-regarded coffee shop; Donabate, 5 miles north of Malahide, signposted from N1
  • 29—a refurbished home dating back to 1794 that is in line with the lifestyle of the middle class in Dublin between 1790 and 1820 with period furniture, paintings, carpets, curtains, paint, wallpapers, and bell pulls; 29 Fitzwilliam Street
  • Phoenix Park—Europe’s largest public park that extends about 3 miles along the Liffey’s north bank and has 1,752 acres of green lawns, woods, lakes, and playing fields with old-fashioned gas lamps lining both sides of Chesterfield Avenue, the main artery of the park, Victorian-era tea rooms, a flower garden, a visitor center, a café, and a walled garden
  • Royal Hospital Kilmainham—the most important 17th century building in Ireland that was commissioned as a hospice for disabled and veteran soldiers and completed in 1684 surviving into the 1920s as a hospital but then falling into disrepair until its renovation and includes a beautiful Baroque chapel with unique plasterwork ceiling and wood carvings and the Irish Museum of Modern Art; Kilmainham Lane
  • Science Gallery—a family-friendly museum/gallery with rotating exhibitions that allow art and science to interact with hands-on experiments and a sister shop on a neighboring street with a walk-in area where visitors can join in workshops on a variety of topics from robotics to clockmaking; Pearse Street
  • Patrick’s Cathedral—the largest cathedral in Dublin and the national cathedral of the Church of Ireland which was built in honor of Ireland’s patron saint and dedicated in 1192 in an early English Gothic style; it is the longest church in the country at 305 feet and has the Choir of St. Patrick’s with medieval banners and the tomb of Jonathan Swift, the most famous of St. Patrick’s deans, who held office from 1713 to 1745, the 17th century Boyle Monument with many painted figures of family members, and the monument to Turlough O’Carolan, one of the country’s finest harpists; located on Patrick Street
  • Stephen’s Green—a year-round 27-acre square that was once a private park and renovated in 1880 under the patronage of Sir Arthur Guinness and includes flower gardens; formal lawns; a Victorian bandstand; an ornamental lake with waterfowl; and winding paths with many statues throughout the park including a memorial to W.B. Yeats and another to James Joyce
  • The Ark—a children’s cultural center with creative activities such as music, poetry readings, film, dance, painting, interactive exhibitions, and other activities; 11a Eustace Street
  • The Old Library and the Book of Kells—home to Ireland’s largest collection of books and manuscripts with its most treasured work, the Book of Kells, which is considered to be one of the greatest masterpieces of early Christian art dating back to the 9th century and bound in four volumes in 1953; other treasures in the library are the Long Room which is the main room of the library with 200,000 of the 3 million volumes in Trinity College’s collection, a series of marble busts including one of Jonathan Swift, and the carved Royal Arms of Queen Elizabeth I (the only surviving relic of the original college buildings; Front Square, Trinity College
  • Trinity College—Ireland’s oldest and most well-known college founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I that has had a host of famous alumni including Jonathan Swift; Oscar Wilde; Bram Stoker; and Samuel Beckett and is spread out over 40 acres with many of the buildings built in the 18th and early 19th centuries including the West Front which has a classical pedimented portico in the Corinthian style, faces College Green, and is across from the Bank of Ireland; a cobblestone quadrangle called Parliament Square usually referred to as Front Square; Examination Hall which dates back to the mid-1780s and has an interior designed by Michael Stapleton and an organ recovered from an 18th century Spanish ship and an oak chandelier from the old House of Commons; and a bell tower erected in 1853 that is at the center of the square
  • Wall of Fame—the front wall of the Button Factory music venue that has a huge mural dedicated to major Irish rock musicians such as U2, Sinead O’Connor, and Shane McGowan; Curved Street

Sights in Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland and is a city with interesting attractions, museums, historic buildings, and landmarks such as Mt. Esja. My cousin and her husband went to Iceland and loved it and I think I could see  myself liking it as well.

  • Alpingishus (Parliament House)—one of the country’s oldest stone buildings built from 1880-1881 and home to the oldest representative parliament in the world with its first session in AD 930 with a visitor’s gallery to view parliamentary proceedings; Austurovollur Square
  • Aurora Reykjavik—a local attraction with technological simulations of the intensity and color spectrum of the auroras, a high-definition movie of the northern lights in action, and a practice booth with detailed instructions on how to successfully photograph the northern lights; Grandagaur 2
  • Fjolskyldugardurinn Family Park (Family Park)—located next to Laugardalur Park, this amusement park has rides and games such as Crazy Bikes, a driving school with miniature traffic lights, and a scale model of a Viking ship; Fjolskyldugardurinn
  • Grasagardur Botanic Garden—a botanic garden in Laugardalur Park with a large collection of native and exotic plants; Laugardalur
  • Guido Van Helten Mural—the works of Australian-born artist, Guido Van Helten, can be seen throughout Iceland but his most noteworthy are those painted on the walls of an old theater building in the Grandi Harbor area of the city featuring characters from a 1961 production of Sartre’s play No Exit; Seljavegur 2
  • Hallgrimskirkja (Hallgrimur’s Church)—a church built over the course of forty years and completed in 1986 that was named after the 17th century hymn writer, Hallgrimur Petursson, and has a concrete façade that reminds viewers of organ pipes and basalt formations seen throughout Iceland and in front has a statue of Leifur Eiriksson (Leif Erikson) who discovered Iceland; at top of Skolavoraustigur
  • Kjarvalsstadir—a modern building that has a large permanent collection dedicated to the life and works of Johannes Sveinsson Kjarval, a well-regarded Icelandic landscape painter, and rotating temporary exhibitions with works by local and international artists; Flokagata
  • Listasafn—the Reykjavik Art Museum—a former warehouse of the Port of Reykjavik that is now the city’s art museum with six galleries on two floors with a permanent collection with a large number of pieces donated by modern Icelandic artist Erro and regular temporary exhibitions; Tryggvagata 17
  • Esja—one of the most recognizable landmarks in Reykjavik with a network of winding trails and a great view from the top of the mountain
  • Reykjavik Maritime Museum—housed in an old fish factory, this museum has an exhibition on Icelandic fisheries, trading vessels, and a Coastal Guard vessel to explore; Grandargarai 8
  • Whales of Iceland—an exhibition opened in spring 2015 that features 23 different species of whales in a great pod of life-size models including blue whales, fin whales, humpbacks, and belugas and provides information on supporting whale tourism instead of whale hunting; Fiskisloa 23-25
  • Arbaejarsafn—an outdoor municipal museum that includes 19th and 20th century houses furnished with old-fashioned furnishings and displayed inside are authentic household utensils and tools for cottage industries and farming; Artunsblettur, Kistuhyl 4
  • Asmundur Sveinsson Sculpture Museum—a gallery, studio, and garden that has the original sculptures of Asmundur Sveinsson that depict working people, myths, and folktale episodes; Sigtun 105
  • Pjodminjasafn (National Museum)—a museum with Viking artifacts, silverwork, wood carvings, whalebone carvings, maritime objects, historic textiles, jewelry, and crafts; Suaurgata 41

Sights in Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is the capital city of Hungary and like many European cities is steeped in history with a Communist and royal past. It has interesting sights to explore and unique attractions.

  • Aquincum—a complex that consists of the reconstructed remains of a Roman settlement that can be dated back to the first century AD with excavations uncovering artifacts such as a gymnasium and central heating system along with ruins of two baths and a shrine once run by the cult of Mithras; a museum on the site has notable archaeological discoveries such as ceramics, a red marble sarcophagus showing a triton and flying Eros on one side and Telesphorus, the angel of death, on the other, Roman board games, interactive videogames, and a reconstructed Roman musical organ in the basement level; District III, Szentendrei ut 135
  • Budapesti Allat-Es-Novenykert (Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden)—a renovated zoo and botanical garden that began renovations in the late 1990s and is still undergoing renovations but the upgrades add to its appeal; the zoo has a monkey house, elephant pavilion decorated with Zsolnay majolica and glazed ceramic animals, and other animals; District XIV, Varosliget, Allatkerti korut 6-12
  • Citadella—a fortress atop a hill that has great views of Budapest and has a graphic exhibition with relics of Budapest’s 2,000-year-old history and a WWII bunker exhibition; District XI, Citadella setany
  • Gozsdu Udvar (Gozsdu Courtyard)—a series of connected courtyards filled with restaurants, cafes, and bars that has painters selling their works on Tuesday and Thursday and on weekends is home to a bustling marketplace with jewelry, textiles, and other unique items for sale; District VII, Kiraly utca 13
  • Gyermekvasut (Children’s Railway)—a 7-mile-long railway operated mainly by children runs from Szechnyi-hegy to Huvosvolgy with great views along the route; District XII, Szilagyi Erzsebet fasor and Pasareti ut
  • Hadtorteneti Muzeum (Museum of Military History)—a museum situated in the former barracks on the northwestern corner of Kapisztran ter that has cannonballs lodged in its walls and exhibits that include collections of uniforms and military regalia that trace Hungary’s history from the Magyar conquest in the 9th century through Ottoman rule to the mid-20th century; District I, Toth Arpad setany 40
  • Halaszbastya (Fishermen’s Bastion)—a neo-Romanesque porch that looks out over the Danube and Pest rivers and is a cluster of white stone towers, arches, and columns above a bronze statue of St. Stephen, Hungary’s first king, and has merchants selling souvenirs and crafts and musicians; District I, East of Szentharomsag ter
  • Holocaust Emlekkozpont (Holocaust Memorial Center)—Hungary’s first major center for Holocaust research with a stone façade and two tall massive iron doors as an entrance into a courtyard where the names of Hungarian Jewish and Roma (Gypsy) victims are listed and inside a cellar has family and individual stories told through photos, films, original documents, personal objects, and touch-screen computers; District IX, Pava utca 39
  • Hosok Tere (Heroes’ Square)—Budapest’s version of the Brandenburg Gate that is a semi-circular twin colonnade with statues of Hungary’s kings and leaders between its pillars and in the center is a 118-foot stone column crowned by a statue of the archangel Gabriel bearing the ancient emblems of Hungary; District VI, Hosok tere
  • Janosjegy (Janos Hill)—the highest point in Budapest at 1,729 feet that provides the best view of the city; District XII, Zugligeti ut 97
  • Kiralyi Palota (Royal Palace)—a site with a long history that was a palace in the 13th century for the kings of Hungary and was reconstructed in Renaissance style under King Matthias’s supervision during the 15th century before being demolished when Buda was recaptured from Turks in 1686; it was rebuilt under the direction of Habsburg empress Maria Theresa in the 1700s before being damaged during an attack by revolutionaries in 1849 and completed in 1905; District I, Szent Gyorgy ter 2
  • Magyar Nemzeti Galeria (Hungarian National Gallery)—the national gallery that is in the center block of the Royal Palace and showcases Hungarian fine art from medieval ecclesiastical paintings and statues through Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque art to 19th and 20th century works; District I, Kiralyi Palota (entrance in Wing C), Disz ter 17
  • Magyar Nemzeti Muzeum (Hungarian National Museum)—a museum that describes the everyday experiences of Hungarians from the past to the present with a 20th century exhibit featuring an early cinema with films from the period, an old schoolroom, a 1960s apartment interior, and historical posters and masterpieces of cabinetmaking and woodcarving; District IX, Muzeum korut 14-16
  • Memento Park—a park with statues and memorials to former Communist leaders and souvenirs for sale as well as a tiny speaker system that plays songs from the Hungarian and Russian workers’ movements; District XXII, Balatoni ut, corner of Szabadkai utca
  • Miniversum—an attraction with miniature dioramas of Budapest and Hungary’s major sights and landmarks with moving trains and pedestrians and interactive screens that provide historical context on highlights; District VI, Andrassy ut 12
  • Matyas-Templom (Matthias Church)—known as the Matthias Church since the 15th century, this church’s ornate white steeple is the highest point on Castle Hill and has been renovated once into a mosque and rebuilt in 1686 with a fine Gothic stone carving of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Trinity Chapel which is home to an enameled casket containing a miniature copy of the Gospel to be worn on the chest of the 12th century king Bela III and his wife Anne of Chatillon; District I, Szentharomsag ter 2
  • Nagy Zsinagoga (Great Synagogue)—Europe’s largest synagogue that seats 3,000 and was built between 1844 and 1859 in a Byzantine-Moorish style but was desecrated by German and Hungarian Nazis and donations facilitated its reconstruction; it reopened in 1996 and is used for regular services during much of the year but not generally used in midwinter due to the heating space and also includes a courtyard behind the synagogue that has a metal weeping willow honoring victims of the Holocaust; District VII, Dohany utca 2-8
  • Neprajzi Muzeum (Museum of Ethnography)—formerly the home of the Supreme Court, this 1890s neoclassical building is now home to a permanent exhibition entitled “The Folk Culture of the Hungarian People” which explains aspects of peasant life from the end of the 18th century until WWI and features artifacts such as embroideries, pottery, carvings, farming tools, furniture, and traditional costumes; District V, Kossuth ter 12
  • Szechenyi Furdo (Szenchenyi Baths)—the largest medicinal bathing complex in Europe located within a neo-Baroque building in the middle of City Park with several indoor thermal pools, two outdoor pools, medical and underwater massage treatments, carbonated bath treatments, and mud wraps; District XIV, Varosliget, Allatkerti korut 9-11

 

Sights in Athens, Greece

Athens was a pivotal city in the birth of civilization and is filled with archaeological sites, museums, and landmarks such as the Acropolis and Hadrian’s Arch. If you’re a history buff like I am, Athens seems like it would be a perfect place to visit.

  • Acropolis—a landmark monument that pays homage to ancient Greek history with newly restored temples, the Parthenon, and the Propylaea that has played various roles over the years including as a Florentine palace, an Islamic mosque, a Turkish harem, and a landing site for British paratroopers during WWII; Dionyssiou Areopagitou
  • Acropolis Museum—a modernly designed museum that features glass walkways, high ceilings, and panoramic views of the Acropolis with exhibits about the artifacts around the Acropolis, statues from the Archaic period, and many marble decorations; Dionyssiou Areopagitou 15
  • Ancient Agora—the ancient side of the commercial center of Athens that was once filled with statues and expensive stores with long colonnades and arches under which Socrates and Zeno convened and home to the Museum of Agora Excavations, a two-story museum, that contains well-known sculptures of historic and mythological figures, as well as more about the history of the agora
  • Benaki Museum—Greece’s oldest museum that was recently expanded with a very modern new addition that adds to the architectural appeal of the main complex which is a large neoclassical mansion and traces the history of Greece from prehistoric times to the present with artifacts such as a 5,000-year-old hammered bowl, Lord Byron’s pistols, and costumed mannequins among several others; Koumbari 1
  • Benaki Museum of Islamic Art—home to a large and significant Islamic art collection, this museum has 8,000 pieces of art from a wide variety of geographic regions including ceramics, gold, metalwork, weaponry, and textiles; Dipilou 12
  • Byzantine and Christian Museum—a museum that displays Byzantine and Christian icons, mosaics, tapestries, and sculptural fragments from Byzantine times (4th-15th century AD) to the present; Vasilissis Sofias 22
  • Greek Folk Art Museum—a four building museum that has folk art from the 1650s to the present with embroideries, stone and wood carvings, costumes, and shadow player figures among others; Kidathineon 17
  • Hadrian’s Arch—an Athenian landmark that is one of the most significant surviving Roman monuments built in AD 131 with Corinthian details that was designed to honor Hadrian, a Hellenic emperor; Vasilissis Amalias at Dionyssiou Areopagitou
  • Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum—a museum featuring the vast creations of world-renowned artist and jeweler, Ilias Lalaounis, with fifty collections that include pieces inspired by diverse subjects such as Greek wildflowers and the Treasure of Priam of Troy; Kallisperi 12
  • Lycabettus—Athens’s highest hill that offers one ride every half hour on what is known as the teleferique (funicular) to the summit where Ayios Georgios chapel and bell tower is located along with coin-operated telescopes that allow you to view Aegina Island; there is also a small shrine to Ayios Isidoros, an 1859 site where students prayed for Greeks fighting against Austrians, French, and Sardinians that King Otho supported
  • Museum of Cycladic Art—a museum home to 350 Cycladic artifacts that date back to the Bronze Age, Cypriot art, art from other eras dating from the Bronze Age to the 6th century AD, and an exhibition on scenes from the past along with a skylit café in a courtyard, an art shop, and children’s activities; Neofitou Douka 4
  • Museum of Greek Popular Musical Instruments—a museum dedicated to the history of Greek music with three floors of instruments and headphones so you can listen to their diverse sounds; Diogenous 1-3
  • National Archaeological Museum—Greece’s most significant museum that displays major ancient Greek sculptures and paintings and has been recently renovated so that works previously left unseen are now publicly viewable and displays have English translations; the most noteworthy pieces are the Mycenaean Antiquities found in 1876 during an excavation of Mycenaean royal tombs; 28 Oktovriou 44
  • National Garden—a beautiful garden built in 1860 that has 500 species of trees and plants, a café and open-air theater, track area, playgrounds, a duck pond, and small zoo
  • National Historical Museum—a museum that traces Greek history from the mid-16th century through WWII with paintings, costumes, and artifacts that include arms to flags and ships’ figureheads; Stadiou 13
  • New Municipal Gallery of Athens—one of Athens’s oldest classical buildings housed in a former silk factory designed in 1833 by a Danish architect that has almost 3,000 art works from 19th and 20th century Greek artists; Leonidou and Myllerou
  • Numismatic Museum Iliou Melathron—a coin museum in the former home of Heinrich Schliemann who excavated Troy and Mycenae in the 19th century with artifacts such as colored marbles, wall paintings, over 600,000 coins from the archaeologist’s personal collection to 4th century BC coins used as measures against forgers; Panepistimiou 12
  • Roman Agora—Athens’s commercial center from the 1st century BC to the 4th century AD that now includes the Gate of Athena Archegetis completed around 2 AD, the late 15th century Fethiye Mosque, and the world-renowned Tower of the Winds that has kept time since the 1st century BC and has eight sides that face the direction of the eight winds that the compass was divided into; Pelopidas and Aiolou
  • Technopolis—a 19th century gasworks complex transformed into an arts complex that is home to the Industrial Gas Museum, exhibition spaces, and a large courtyard with a coffee shop; Pireos 100
  • Temple of Olympian Zeus—a sprawling temple completed in AD 132 by Hadrian that has a large gold-and-ivory statue of Zeus; Vasilissis Olgas 1

 

Sights in Berlin, Germany

Berlin is the capital of Germany and is very industrial in nature but does have some landmarks such as the Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate) and a large complex of museums, galleries, and a performance hall known as Kulturforum. A visit there could yield some surprises and it has a history worth exploring.

  • Aquadom and Sea Life Berlin—a commercial aquarium with indoor tanks that feature native marine life with waterfront urban scenes, starfish petting tanks, overhead tanks, and a submarine room with a glass elevator that takes visitors through a fish tank to the exit; Spandauer Str. 3
  • Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral)—a large cathedral originally built in 1905 that is the largest 20th century Protestant church in Germany with a wide stairwell that leads up to the dome, historic photos and models, and sarcophagi of Prussian royals; Am Lustgarten 1
  • Berliner Fernsehtrum (TV Tower)—a 1,207-feet-high tower that is higher than western Berlin’s broadcasting tower and the Eiffel Tower with an observation level where you can see for 25 miles and a rotating restaurant; Panoramastr. 1a
  • Berlinische Galerie—a Berlin-centric museum with modern art, photography, architectural models and plans, and artists’ archives; Alte Jakobstr. 124-128
  • Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate)—a top landmark in Berlin that is a gateway to Berlin since the dismantling of the Berlin Wall where the Unification Day and New Year’s Eve parties are held—only one gate remains out of the 14 built between 1788 and 1791 by Carl Langhans and faces an historic square, Pariser Platz that houses bank headquarters, the French embassy, and the federal parliament offices; Pariser Platz
  • Britzer Garten—named after its surrounding neighborhood (Britz), this is a large park where seasonal floral exhibitions are held and home to small brooks, streams, and other waterways; Buckower Damm 146
  • Brunnenplatz—a sprawling castle with turrets and gables inspired by a real castle that is the district courthouse and a local park with mosaics, decorative flower beds, and a central fountain
  • Contemporary Fine Arts—a modern art museum housed in a very modern building that highlights Berlin-based artists and other major artists; Am Kupfergraben 10
  • DDR Museum—a museum that highlights life in socialist East Germany with a recreation of an East German kitchen, a simulated ride in a Trabi (the only car average East Germans were allowed to own), and a walk inside an interrogation cell; Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 1
  • Denkmal Fur Die Ermordeten Juden Europas (Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe) —a memorial for the Jews killed during the reign of the Nazis during the Holocaust designed by an American architect with more than 2700 concrete slabs and an underground information center about the Holocaust; Cora-Berliner Str. 1
  • Deutsches Historiches Museum (German History Museum)—a combination of a theater that shows German and international films and a museum that provides an overview of German history since the early Middle Ages; Unter den Linden 2
  • Deutsches Technikmuseum (German Museum of Technology)—a museum with several floors of machinery including two airplane rooms, train sheds, and an historical brewery; Trebbiner Str. 9
  • Ehemalige Judische Madchenschule—a brick building that once was a Jewish girls’ school and a military hospital during WWII that is now after some neglect a multiplex with art galleries, restaurants, a bar, and a Jewish deli that serves Jewish delicacies; Auguststr. 11-13
  • Galeria Plan B—an art gallery that showcases unique Eastern European art; Potsdamerstr. 77-87, Building G, 2nd courtyard
  • Gedenkstatte Berliner Mauer (Berlin Wall Memorial Site)—memorials as well as a museum and research center on the Berlin Wall along with the Reconciliation Chapel; Bernauer Str. 111
  • Gemaldegalerie (Picture Gallery)—one of Germany’s top art galleries with a large collection of European paintings from the 13th to 18th centuries with seven rooms dedicated to paintings by German artists, a special collection showcasing Italian artists, and the world’s second largest Rembrandt collection; Kulturforum, Matthaikirchpl
  • Hamburger Banhof-Museum fur Gegenwart (Museum of Contemporary Art)—a remodeled train station that has post-1960 modern Western art with a permanent collection including installations by German artists Joseph Beuys and Anselm Kiefer as well as paintings by Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, and others along with the largest and most valuable collection of contemporary art in the world; Invalidenstr 50-51
  • Heilandskirche Sacrow—a lakeside church with a bell tower and colonnade that was closed from 1961 to 1989 by the East German government due to the fact that it was perceived as a possible hiding place for those trying to flee; Fahrstr, Potsdam
  • Kulturforum—a collection of museums, galleries, and the Philharmonic Hall that includes the Gemaldegalerie (Picture Gallery), the Kunstbibliotek (Art Library), the Kupferstichkabinett (Print Cabinet), the Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts), the Philharmonie, the Muskinstrumenten Museum (Musical Instruments Museum), and the Staatsbibliotek (National Library)
  • Mauermuseum—Museum Haus AM Checkpoint Charlie—a museum that depicts the history of the Berlin Wall and those who tried to escape through, under, and over it with human rights exhibits and paintings included as well; Friedrichstr. 43-45
  • Museuminsel (Museum Island)—located on the site of Berlin’s two original settlements, this complex of five state museums is a UNESCO World Heritage site with the Alte Nationalgalerie, the Altes Museum (Old Museum), the Bode-Museum, the Pergamonmuseum, and the Neues Museum (New Museum)
  • Spy Museum—a newer museum opened in September 2015 that has interactive exhibits from Biblical times to the present that provide overviews of military interrogation techniques and the secret services as well as fictional spies; Leipziger Pl. 9

Sights in Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki is the capital of Finland and is home to historic sites and museums as well as one of the world’s most northern zoos. It is even home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It seems like an interesting place to see and explore.

  • Ateneumin Taidemuseo (Ateneum Art Museum of the Finnish National Gallery)—one of three museums in Finland’s National Gallery is home to major European works but its specialty is traditional and contemporary Finnish art; Kaivok 2
  • Designmuseo (Design Museum)—a collection of Finnish designs including furniture, jewelry, ceramics, and more; Korkeavuorenk 23
  • Ehrensvard Museo—a museum named in memory of Augustin Ehrensvard, a military architect who orchestrated the fortification of the islands of Suomenlinna from 1748-1772, with exhibits such as a model ship collection and officers’ quarters from the 18th century; Suomenlinna B 40
  • Helsingin Taidehall (Helsinki Art Gallery)—home to contemporary Finnish art including paintings, sculptures, architecture, and industrial art and design; Nervanderink 3
  • Korkeasaari Elaintarha (Helsinki Zoo)—one of the world’s most northern zoos with snow leopards and reindeer among other animals with outdoor play equipment for children; Korkea Island
  • Mannerheim Museo (Mannerheim Museum)—a museum located in the former family home of Finland’s president that features his letters and personal belongings, European furniture, Asian art, and military medals and weapons; Kalliolinnantie 14
  • Nyktaiteenmuseo (Kiasma) (Museum of Contemporary Art)—a boldly designed art museum featuring Finnish and foreign art from the 1960s to the present; Mannerheiminaukio 2
  • Seurasaaren Ulkomeseo—an outdoor museum featuring old farmhouses, barns, log buildings, a church boat, and a gabled church
  • Sinebrychoffin Taidemuseo (Sinebrychoff Museum of Foreign Art)—an 1840 neo-Renaissance mansion owned by the wealthy Sinebrychoff family includes Dutch and Swedish 17th and 18th century portraits, landscapes, miniatures, and porcelain along with period decorative furniture; Bulevardi 40
  • Suomen Kansallismuseo (National Museum of Finland)—a uniquely designed museum that features archaeological, cultural, and ethnological artifacts from Finland’s past; Mannerheimintie 34
  • Suomenlinna (Finland’s Castle)—a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is a collection of museums, parks, and gardens with its heart being a fortress and three islands; Suomenlinna C 74
  • Suomenlinna Museo (Suomenlinna Museum)—located in the same building as the visitor center of Suomenlinna, this museum has exhibits about the fortress, its fleet, and early life on the islands of Finland; Suomenlinna C 74
  • Tahtitorninvuori (Observatory Tower Hill)—named after the observatory within, this park features sculptures, winding walkways, and a view of the South Harbor
  • Tuomiokirkko (Lutheran Cathedral of Finland)—this church designed by famed architect Carl Ludvig Engel has steep steps and green domes and a blue-gray interior with white moldings and statues of German reformers Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon as well as Finnish bishop Mikael Agricola; Unioninkatu 29
  • Urho Kekkonen Museum Tamminiemi—the grand former home of the now deceased Finnish president Urho Kekkonen who lived here from 1956 to 1986 and the interior is filled with gifts given to Finland’s longest serving president including a gift from the US—a cupboard of National Geographic maps of the world; Seurasaarentie 15

Sights in London

London has been a city that has enticed me since I was younger and remains a place I am definitely interested in visiting someday. Many of the attractions in London are world renowned and there is a wealth of history to learn about during a trip there.

  • Apsley House—a historic landmark that was formerly the home of the Duke of Wellington in the 1770s that has remained within his family until the 7th Duke of Wellington gave the house to his country; the home has weapons and military weapons as well as a great art collection with works by artists such as Brueghel, Van Dyck, and Rubens; 149 Piccadilly, Hyde Park Corner
  • British Museum—one of the signature museums in the world with countless marvels on display including the Rosetta Stone; Elgin Marbles; pieces of the Mausoleum of Halikarnassos; Mildenhall Treasure; and Sutton Hoo treasure with helmets and jewelry; also included are Egyptian mummies, an exhibit on living and dying, and other artifacts to admire; Great Russell Street
  • Buckingham Palace—the Queen’s main home open to the public only in August and September with a tour that includes 19 state rooms with gilt moldings and artistic masterpieces, a throne room with the 1953 coronation throne, the state dining room, and the sword in the ballroom used to bequeath knighthoods and other honors; Buckingham Palace Road
  • Chiswick House—a beautiful mansion finished in 1729 by the 3rd Earl of Burlington with gorgeous rooms including the Blue Velvet room with elegant décor and an intricately painted ceiling set amidst sprawling grounds with classical temples, statues, obelisks, a café, and a children’s play area; Burlington Lane
  • Dulwich Picture Gallery—the world’s first specifically designated art museum opened in 1811 with a permanent exhibition including works by Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Poussin, and Gainsborough along with major temporary exhibitions annually; Gallery Road
  • Eltham Palace—a former favorite home of Henry VIII that has been renovated twice, once during the 15th and 16th centuries and once during the 1930s that is a combination of medieval grandeur and art deco with a map room and walk-in wardrobe with 1930s dresses; Court Road
  • Geffrye Museum of the Home—a museum dedicated to the lives of London’s middle class that has 11 rooms that show home interiors from the Elizabethan period to the present day with a series of gardens outside that shows how the town garden evolved over the years and 20th century galleries, a café by the gardens, and a shop; 136 Kingsland Road
  • Houses of Parliament—referred to as the Palace of Westminster, this is where members of Parliament (MPs) debate one another and pose questions to the Prime Minister; St. Stephen’s Entrance, St. Margaret Street
  • Hyde Park—the renowned 350-acre park that originally was used as Henry VIII’s hunting grounds now used by the Household Cavalry who reside in the Hyde Park barracks that is great for walking, biking, or relaxing by the Serpentine, its body of water near its southern border
  • Kew Gardens—also known as the Royal Botanic Gardens, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to more than 30,000 species of plants from around the world with temples, a conservatory that houses 10 climate zones, and a treetop walkway; Kew Road at Lichfield Road
  • London Eye—built in the late 1990s to celebrate the new millennium, this giant Ferris wheel was the largest cantilevered observation wheel at the time of its construction and is one of London’s tallest structures and allows riders to see 25 miles of scenery; Jubilee Gardens
  • Museum of London—a museum that houses more than 7,000 objects ranging from Oliver Cromwell’s death mask to an original door from Newgate Prison with great gems and galleries that depict the history of London from ancient times to the present; London Wall
  • National Gallery—one of the world’s signature art museums with more than 2,300 masterpieces on display including works by Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Turner, Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, and others with special exhibitions every year; Trafalgar Square
  • National Portrait Gallery—founded in 1885, this gallery consists of more than 150 years of British photographs and 160,000 portraits of famous and infamous British citizens arranged chronologically from Tudor times to modern Britain with temporary exhibitions on the first three floors and the Portrait Restaurant on the top floor that provides a great view of London below; St. Martin’s Place
  • Natural History Museum—one of the world’s most famous museums of natural history and earth sciences with more than 70 million specimens and exhibits including a Dinosaur Gallery, Earth Galleries, Volcanoes and Earthquake Gallery, and more to admire and learn about; Cromwell Road
  • Science Museum—an illuminating science museum with educational exhibits where children can do hands-on science experiments and explore six floors that delve into physics, astronomy, aeronautics, the Internet, and robotics; Exhibition Road
  • Paul’s Cathedral—the architectural masterpiece of a cathedral built over a 35-year span in the late 16th century with a Whispering Gallery where you can whisper something to one wall and hear it clearly from 107 feet away and the Stone and Golden Galleries which offer great views of London; St. Paul’s Churchyard
  • Strawberry Hill—a hodge-podge of architecture with a medieval exterior and Gothic cathedral-like interior that was recently restored in 2011 after being abandoned for years with gardens restored to their original 18th century design; 268 Waldegrave Road
  • Tower of London—the classic former prison with 20 towers that has private secrets of royalty etched into its walls home to beheadings, murders, the Armouries (a collection of arms and armor), and the Crown Jewels in the Waterloo Barracks; Tower Hill
  • Victoria and Albert Museum—a museum dedicated to practical arts with many collections arranged by category including textiles, sculpture, jewelry, and fashion as well as galleries such as the British Galleries devoted to art and design from 1500 to 1900, the Asian Galleries home to a great collection of samurai armor, and Medieval and Renaissance Galleries; Cromwell Road
  • V&A Museum of Childhood—home to one of the world’s largest toy collections with dollhouses, board games, puzzles, teddy bears, train sets, and others in this outpost of the Victoria and Albert Museum; Cambridge Heath Road
  • Wallace Collection—an art museum with a great collection of old master paintings with works by artists such as Rubens, Rembrandt, and Van Dyck as well as collections of furniture, porcelain, and pottery; Hertford House, Manchester Square
  • Westminster Abbey—the iconic abbey that is a London landmark that has been the site of 38 coronations and 16 royal weddings with chapels, tombs, shrines, poets’ tombs, and memorials; Broad Sanctuary
  • ZSL London Zoo—a zoo with a focus on education, wildlife conservation, and breeding of endangered species with diverse animals from tigers to millipedes and a children’s zoo with mongooses, llamas, sheep, and goats; Outer Circle

Sights in Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is another historic city with a number of palaces, great museums, parks, vibrant neighborhoods, and memorials. It seems to be a very interesting city worth visiting.

  • Old Town Square—a bustling square surrounded by beautifully designed Baroque buildings, cafes, street entertainers, and craftspeople; 110 00 Praha 1
  • Vitus Cathedral—situated in the Prague Castle, this cathedral is the most significant and largest church in Prague that was the burial site of former Czech kings and home to the Czech Crown Jewels; Prague Castle
  • Prague Zoo—one of the top zoos in the world opened in 1931 with 4,600 animals and 680 species including 12 pavilions and 150 exhibits that include animals such as Asian elephants, giant Chinese salamanders, antelopes, giraffes, gharials, and gorillas; U Trojskeho Zamku 3/120
  • Prague Castle—the largest castle in Europe with over 700 rooms
  • Spanish Synagogue, Jewish Museum—home to permanent exhibitions that deal with the history of Jews in Bohemian lands from the 1780s to the post-WWII era and important Jewish entrepreneurs, scientists, writers, musicians, and artists along with more than 200 valuable silver artifacts; Vezenska 141/1
  • National Memorial to the Heroes of the Heydrich Terror—a museum that tells the story of Czech paratroopers defeated by 700 Nazi soldiers after killing an SS leader during WWII; Resslova 307/9a
  • National Gallery in Prague—an art museum with works from Czech artists and international masters such as Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, and Rodin; Staromestske namesti 12
  • Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul—a beautiful cathedral with an amazing view from the top; Rotunde 10, Vysehrad Fortress
  • Waldstein Palace—the home of the Czech Senate that was once a palace for royalty; Valdshtejnske namesti 17/4
  • Botanicka Zahrada—a public garden near Prague Zoo with a path that first takes you through a desert-like environment, through a tunnel under a rain forest, and into a room where there are plants found in tropical mountains; Trojska 196
  • Charles Bridge—Prague’s signature monument where you have amazing views of the towers and domes of the Lesser Quarter and the spires of St. Vitus’s Cathedral
  • Bazilika Svateho Jiri (St. George’s Basilica)—the best-preserved Romanesque church in the Czech Republic with a 12th-century interior that includes stone walls and small arched windows; Nam. U sv. Jiri
  • Clam-Gallas Palac (Clam-Gallas Palace)—designed by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, a Viennese baroque architect, this palace was constructed during a span of sixteen years and is now a state archive with occasional temporary art exhibitions and concerts; Husova 20
  • Franz Kafka Museum—a museum dedicated to the works of Franz Kafka, author of The Metamorphosis, who was a German author that lived in Prague almost his entire life, and the museum features facsimiles of manuscripts, documents, first editions, photographs, and newspaper obituaries displayed in glass vitrines; Hergetova Cihelna
  • Jan Hus Monument—a monument dedicated in 1915 500 years after Hus was burned at the stake in Germany that has been the subject of some controversy because its style clashes with the other styles of the square in which it is situated but still honors his ability to transform doctrinal disagreements into common language; Staromestske nam
  • Prague Jewish Museum—a museum that consists of six Jewish monuments: the Maisel Synagogue, the Pinkas Synagogue, the Spanish Synagogue, the Klaus Synagogue, the Ceremonial Hall, and the Old Jewish Cemetery; Reservation Centre, Maiselova 15
  • Municipal House—a restored home designed in the Art Nouveau style with a restaurant and café as well as richly decorated halls to explore upstairs; the home was the former site of the Royal Court, the seat of Bohemia’s kings from 1383 to 1483, and has a mosaic above the entrance “Homage to Prague” that is situated between sculptures representing the oppression and rebirth of the Czechs; namesti Republiky 5
  • Strahov Library—the largest monastic library in the Czech Republic that has two baroque halls that date from the 17th and 18th centuries but are no longer open to the public and feature floor to ceiling walnut shelving, ceiling frescoes, and ceiling embellishments; Strahovske nadvori 1
  • Loreta—a pilgrimage site founded by Benigna Katerina Lobkowicz in 1626 and designed as a replica of the Santa Casa (Sacred House, the home of Mary, mother of Jesus) in the holy land with the replica situated in the center of a courtyard complex surrounded by arcades, churches, and cathedrals; Loretanske namesti 7
  • National Monument—a large monument-museum dedicated to Klement Gottwald, the country’s first president, with a central hall home to marble sarcophagi that once were home to the remains of notable Communists and a war memorial with sculptures by Jan Stursa that features exhibits recounting the founding of the Czech Republic in 1918, World War II, the 1948 coup, and the Soviet invasion of 1968; U Pamatniku 1900
  • Convent of St. Agnes—located in the northeastern corner of Stare Mesto, this is the former convent of St. Agnes that is Prague’s oldest surviving Gothic building and now home to the National Gallery’s permanent collection of medieval and early Renaissance art from 1200-1550 from Bohemia and Central Europe; U Milosrdnych 17
  • Petrin—one of Prague’s largest green spaces that is a high hill with a lookout tower and mirror maze on top of the hill and also has the Kinsky Garden where the 18th century Church of St. Michael is situated
  • Mucha Museum—an interesting museum home to the art-nouveau posters, paintings, and decorative panels of Alfons Mucha as well as sketches, photographs, and other memorabilia; Panska 7
  • Nicholas Church—one of Central Europe’s finest baroque structures which has a ceiling fresco by Johann Kracker, Apotheosis of St. Nicholas, that is Europe’s largest fresco; the church itself was completed in 1755 and in 1787 Mozart played the pipe organ there and was honored with a requiem mass in 1791; Malostranske namesti 38
  • Prague City Museum—a great museum opened in 1898 that recounts the history of Prague from prehistory to the 20th century with labels in English and Czech and artifacts such as a scale model of the city as it was between 1826 and 1834 and the Astronomical Clock’s original 1866 calendar wheel; Na Porici 52
  • Museum of Decorative Arts—a museum open since 1900 that has four exhibit halls that feature artifacts such as furniture, tapestries, porcelain, and glasswork; 17 listopadu 2
  • Vysehrad Citadel—a complex of buildings and structures situated on the hilltop of Vysehrad Hill that over the span of 1000 years was a royal residence, religious center, and military fortress; information center at V pevnosti 159/5b
  • Apple Museum—a museum devoted to Apple that claims to have the world’s largest collection of Apple products with everything made by Apple between 1976 and 2012 including computers, laptops, iPods, and iPhones; Husova 21
  • National Museum—a museum built in the 1880s by Josef Schulz as a symbol of the Czech National Revival that inside honors the cultural, intellectual, and scientific history of the Czech Republic; Vaclavske namesti 68
  • National Technical Museum—a family-friendly museum that has halls featuring planes, trains, and cars as well as exhibits on astronomy, photography, printing, and architecture; Kostelni 42
  • Lobkowicz Palace—a 16th-century palace home to the Princely Collections that include paintings, furniture, and musical memorabilia with highlights including paintings by Cranach, Breughel the Elder, Canaletto, and Piranesi and musical scores annotated by Mozart, Beethoven, and Haydn as well as a great collection of musical instruments; Jirska 3
  • Wallenstein Garden—a huge garden that was created for Duke Albrecht of Wallenstein in the 17th century with a loggia decorated with Trojan War scenes and on one side a fake stalactite grotto and bronze statues of Greek gods; Letenska 10
  • Story of Prague Castle—an impressive collection of artifacts that rivals the one at Lobkowicz Palace and depicts 1000 years of Prague Castle’s history from the building of the first wooden palisade to the present with exhibits including the grave of a 9th-century warrior, the helmet and chain possibly worn by St. Wencelas, and replicas of the Bohemian crown jewels
  • Vitus Treasury—a collection of ecclesiastical artifacts founded by Charles IV in the 14th century that includes gold and silver reliquaries encrusted with diamonds, emeralds, and rubies; nadvori II, Prazsky hrad
  • Troja Chateau—a 17th-century Baroque palace that was built for the Sternberk family and has sculptures and frescoes with a permanent exhibition devoted to the interior furniture of the chateau and rotating exhibitions sponsored by the Prague City Gallery; U Trojskeho Zamku 1

Sights in Brussels, Belgium

Brussels like Vienna is another historic city and had the first steam passenger railway in mainland Europe. It is home to great museums, squares, historic structures, and a palace.

  • Grand Place—a medieval square considered one of the most beautiful in Europe with several historic buildings
  • MIM-Musical Instruments Museum—designed in a variety of architectural styles, this museum formerly in the space a department store occupied has 7,000 instruments with 1,500 on display; Rue Montagne de la Cour 2
  • Museum of Natural Sciences—the largest dinosaur gallery in Europe with 30 fossilized Iguanodons and other dinosaurs; Rue Vautier 29
  • Notre Dame du Sablon—a major 14th century Gothic cathedral that highlights the Brabantine Gothic architectural style; Rue de la Regence 3b
  • Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History—located in two historic halls, this museum is home to ten centuries’ worth of military and technological history with suits of armor, antique firearms and swords, and armored vehicles and airplanes along with paintings, sculptures, decorations, and military uniforms; Parc du Cinquantenaire 3
  • Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium—home to a large collection of Flemish School paintings including several by Peter Bruegel; Place Royale 3
  • Atomium—an atom-shaped set of protruding spheres built for the 1958 World’s Fair of Brussels with one sphere that has an exhibit about the history of the building with others devoted to design and architecture exhibits; Avenue de l’Atomium
  • Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinee (Belgian Center for Comic-Strip Art)—the world’s first museum dedicated to comic strips with more than 400 original plates and 25,000 cartoon works and a bookstore that sells graphic novels and comic books in French and Dutch; Rue des Sables 20
  • Mini Europe—a park filled with scale-models of European monuments such as the Eiffel Tower and the bullrings of Granada; Bruparck
  • Musee des Enfants—a children’s museum for ages two to twelve with hands-on educational exhibits and activities such as dressing up in costumes, a hall of mirrors, tunnels, and an oversize camera; Rue de Bourgmestre 15
  • Musee Magritte—opened in 2009, this museum traces Rene Magritte’s life and artwork through letters, sculptures, films, and canvasse; Place Royale 1
  • Oceade—a waterpark with 14 slides, a tropical area, Jacuzzis, geysers, Turkish baths, and an ice bath; Avenue du Football du Championnat 3
  • Cathedrale St-Michel Et Ste-Gudule—the city’s cathedral that pays homage to Saint Michael, the patron saint of Brussels, and Saint Gudule, the daughter of a 7th-century Carolingian noblewoman, whose relics have been preserved at the cathedral for over 1,000 years; inside is a crypt and treasure rooms and painted windows; Parvis Ste-Gudule
  • Hotel de Ville—a 15th-century building that has a belfry topped by a bronze statue of St. Michael crushing the devil and a gateway where statues of the prophets, female figures with lofty virtues, and effigies of dukes and duchesses; inside are Brussels and Mechelen tapestries; Grand’Place
  • Musee Fin-de-Siecle—an art museum dedicated to the innovative period that occurred between 1868 and 1914 when new directions in European art were explored and covers four floors of art from this period; Rue de la Regence 3
  • Musee Horta—the former residence of Victor Horta, one of the major founders of Art Nouveau, who designed the home with this architectural plan and inside are skylights and his studio; Rue Americaine 25
  • Musees du Cinquantenaire—a museum with a wealth of antiquities and treasures from around the world with a great Egyptian and Byzantine section and displays on Belgian archaeology and Brussels tapestries; Parc du Cinquantenaire 10
  • Palais Royal—the official residence of the Belgian royal family that features tapestries, art, and antiques from around the world and a Congo-inspired mirror room; Pl. des Palais
  • Trainworld—a museum that honors the history of Belgium being the first country to establish a steam passenger railway in mainland Europe; this sight is located in the hangars of Belgium’s oldest functioning station and includes 20 full-size locomotives and educational spaces divided according to the history of railroad technology; Pl. Princesse Elisabeth 5

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