Discover Shakespeare in Europe

Perpignan has a more refined feel, and is a charming city.

Shakespeare Day is 23rd April, and being a lover of literature, I've been looking at some of the best locations to visit that inspired some of his written masterpieces. It's a great time to remember one of the finest playwrights in the English language, so take a look at the best way to travel Shakespeare's Europe.

All's Well That Ends Well - Roussillon, Southern France

Over time, this play has become known as one of Shakespeare's problem comedies, as it blurs the line between tragedy and comedy. Helena, the ward of a Countess and the daughter of a physician, falls in love with the Countess' son, Count Bertram. The play begins in the pretty area of Roussillon, in Southern France. Roussillon shares ties and traditions with the region of Spanish Catalonia across the border, which I love for its rural feel.

I adore trying out the area's famous wine (the Languedoc-Roussillon region is the largest producer of wine in Europe), and taking the family for a coastal walk along the rocky Roussillon shores. Be sure to visit Perpignan, a beautiful collection of tangerine-topped buildings sitting at the base of the Pyrenees mountains. The influences from Spain here are easy to see, and you'll love the multicultural feel of this authentic city.

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Roussillon boasts stunning red-washed buildings and a rural feel.

Love's Labour's Lost - Navarre, Northern Spain

One of Shakespeare's early comedies, this play is set in the Navarre region of Northern Spain, near to the historic Basque Country. It focuses around the King of Navarre and three of his lords, who all swear a solemn oath to scholarship, and vow to avoid women for three years. Many people visit Navarre to see the stark contrast of the area's natural landscape, which varies from lush forests to barren cliffs.

When visiting, I often go to Bardenas Reales Natural Park, in the Southeast, which is famous for its weathered rock formations. For fans of culture like me, Navarre is a treasure trove of sights to explore. Take the family to see the town of Olite, which has a beautiful castle, built between the 13th and 14th centuries. I also love Navarre's second largest city, Tudela. This city has its own Romanesque cathedral as well as a beautiful stone bridge, which crosses the Ebro River.

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Bardenas Reales Natural Park

Measure for Measure - Vienna, Austria

Shakespeare's tale of double identities, morals, and justice is one that I've always enjoyed, and it's set in the stunning city of Vienna. In the play, Claudio is sentenced to death by Angelo, a Deputy and temporary leader of Vienna, whose hypocritical justice is secretly overlooked by the Duke, Vincentio. The city portrayed in Shakespeare's play is one of depravity, but luckily Vienna today is a place overflowing with history and culture. Grand Imperial architecture can be found at every turn, and the city has given the world some of its most famous composers, like Brahms and Mozart.

You can spend hours exploring Vienna's famous Ringstraße (Ring Road), which is lined with beautiful structures like the Parliament Building and the Rathaus (Town Hall). If you're like me and love green spaces, the city is famous for its main park, the Stadtpark. This is a stunning area dotted with statues of famous writers and composers, and it even has its own children's park. The city is great for exploring by bike, and there are plenty of bike rental shops.

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Vienna's Parliament Building

The Two Gentlemen of Verona - Northern Italy

One of Shakespeare's earliest plays, The Two Gentlemen of Verona depicts two friends, Valentine and Proteus, and their changing friendship as they both fall in and out of love. The play starts in Verona, Italy, and moves to other parts of Northern Italy such as Milan and Padua, when the character Valentine leaves Verona to travel. Verona is a fantastic place to visit, and boasts a stunning Roman arena, an old Roman forum (Piazza delle Erbe), and several churches, with San Zeno standing out as my favourite.

Milan has its own share of enticing attractions, too. It has a beautiful Gothic cathedral, the Duomo, and boasts one of the best shopping spots in Europe. I love the huge theatre, the Teatro alla Scala, and the red bricks of the Castello Sforzesco. If you can, a visit to Padua is a must. Often forgotten by tourists travelling to Venice, this beautiful city is just an hour away by car. Here you'll find columns lining the streets, canals dotted with Venetian statues, and markets serving up fresh local produce.

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Padua is a stunning city, with canals and Venetian statues

Travel Europe this Shakespeare Day

Are you inspired to explore Shakespeare's Europe? Eurotunnel Le Shuttle takes you from Folkestone to Calais in just 35 minutes, so book now in time for 23rd April!

Photo Credits:
Roussillon boasts stunning red-washed buildings and a rural feel © decar66 on Flickr
Perpignan has a more refined feel, and is a charming city © Alex Allshevskikh
Bardenas Reales Natural Park © Miguel Ángel García
Vienna's Parliament Building © Kosala Bandara
Padua is a stunning city, with canals and Venetian statues © Ivan PC

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