Europe's World Heritage Sites

Europe's World Heritage Sites

Get inspired to visit Europe's World Heritage sites.

Sights

From Germany to Italy, here's our European list

In 1945, UNESCO established World Heritage in order to preserve and protect some of the world's most outstanding sites. Europe has many UNESCO approved World Heritage sites, which capture the fascinating culture and history of the continent. To get you inspired for your next trip across the Channel, we've put together a list of some of Europe's most beautiful and enchanting World Heritage sites, from stunning parks to historical monuments.

Germany

Cologne Cathedral

The Cologne Cathedral is the largest gothic church in Northern Europe, and the focal point of one of Germany's largest cities, Cologne. The construction of this church began in 1248, was halted in 1473, and then resumed in the 19th century, eventually completing in 1880.

Today, the cathedral is the country's most visited landmark, with over 20,000 people exploring the church every day. With its two towering spires and gothic design, it's a truly magnificent architectural wonder. Inside, you can admire the sky-high ceilings, and stained glass windows; one of which was created by artist Gerhard Richter, and looks as if it's been made of multi-coloured confetti. Not only that, but the church is also home to plenty of treasures and iconic sculptures, including the Shrine of the Three Kings, a stone carving of St. Christopher, and the oldest large crucifix, the Crucifix of Bishop Gero.

Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe

This landscape park is located at the foot of the Habichtswald mountain range, and covers 590 acres with vast beauty and unique features. Construction of the park began in 1696, and took 150 years to complete, making it a true labour of love.

The park is known for its amazing sculptures and water features, with one of its most famous being the Hercules monument, where a bronze sculpture of this Greek legend stands proudly at the top of the hill. The building on top of which Hercules stands is known as the Octagon, and running water cascades down the steps from the top, creating a stunning view.

France

Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave

The Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc cave is home to some of the earliest known and best-preserved cave paintings in the world, dating back around 32,000 years to the Aurignacian period. Discovered in 1994, on a limestone cliff above the old riverbed of the Ardéche River, it contains paintings of around 13 species of animals, as well as baby hand prints, which are said to be of the latter Gravettian period. Intricate portraits of horses, bears and panthers cover the walls of this enchanting place of history.

As a way of preserving the cave, and protecting it from damage, it is sadly no longer available for tours. But, an exact replica of the cave, which will include prints of all the paintings, will be open to the public in April 2015.

Take yourself back in time with prehistoric cave art

Take yourself back in time with prehistoric cave art

Théâtre Antique d'Orange

One of the best preserved ancient Roman Theatres in Europe, the Théâtre Antique d'Orange is an amazing example of 1st century AD architecture that's definitely worth exploring during a trip to the South of France. As well as the theatre, you can also explore the Triumphal Arch and the remains of the onsite temple, which was excavated in the 1920s.

After exploring each of the buildings, make your way to the Orange Museum, where collections of ancient art, sculptures, mosaics and pottery are on display. Or pay a visit to the theatre during the summer, where the famous opera festival, Chorégies d'Orange, is held.

Visit the theatre during the summer for entertaining operatic performances

Visit the theatre during the summer for entertaining operatic performances

Spain

The works of Antoni Gaudí

Wherever you turn in Barcelona, you're likely to come across an example of Gaudí's work, from the Casa Milà to the beautiful Park Güell, where picturesque views of the city below can be enjoyed.

Although Park Güell, Palau Güell and Casa Milà have been on the UNESCO World Heritage sites' list for some time, one of the recent additions from the 2005 list extension is Casa Batlló. Located in the centre of the city, this enchanting Modernista piece of architecture has an exterior of skeletal joints and the roof of a reptile, as well as an interior of curves and colourful tiles. During your visit to Barcelona, be sure to enjoy a tour of this mesmerising building, as well as the other inspiring works of Gaudí that are dotted across the city.

Italy

Historic Centre of Siena

Situated amongst the rolling hills of Tuscany's countryside, the beautiful historic centre of Siena is so breathtaking that it has been given UNESCO World Heritage status. The medieval and gothic architecture of the city's centre, Piazza del Campo, has been so well-preserved that you'll be forgiven for thinking that time stopped many moons ago.

For truly spectacular views, climb to the top of Torre del Mangia, the city's 345-foot tall bell tower that was built between 1338 and 1348. Once you reach the tower's peak, you'll be able to admire the captivating views of the bustling city below.

Wander around the historic centre of Siena

Wander around the historic centre of Siena

The Trulli of Alberobello

Nestled in the small town of Alberobello, in the region of Puglia, you'll find the small Tulli dwellings that line the winding roads. These unusual but charming structures are examples of successful prehistoric building techniques, which are still used in this region today.

The exterior of the Tulli include a conical roof, limestone slabs and whitewashed walls, and the interior of each structure features one room, which usually has a fireplace and room for furniture. These unusual buildings are still used today, and some are even decorated with modern décor.

The Netherlands

The Mill Network of Kinderdijk

For a taste of Dutch culture and its past, enjoy a day out at the Mill Network in the village of Kinderdijk. Built in the Middle Ages, the 19 windmills were constructed to drain the Alblasserwaard polder, which is connected to the Lek and Noord Rivers. And, despite being built so long ago, the windmills still work today as successful hydraulic structures.

Learn more about mills in the village of Kinderdijk

Learn more about mills in the village of Kinderdijk

During your visit, you'll be able explore the mills for yourself, and even learn about their history in greater depth at the museum. There's also the chance to take part in a windmill workshop, where you'll get to learn how the mills are built and maintained, and even how to become a miller.

Getting there and around

If you're inspired to tour Europe's World Heritage sites, make sure you set off on holiday with our list in hand.

With Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, the journey across the Channel only takes 35-minutes, so you'll soon be discovering a whole continent of iconic sites for yourself.

Book your journey

Europe’s World Heritage Sites Europe's World Heritage Sites
  • Europe’s World Heritage Sites
    Europe's World Heritage Sites
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Photo Credits:
Watch out for the Hercules monument in Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe
Take yourself back in time with prehistoric cave art
Visit the theatre during the summer for entertaining operatic performances
Enjoy views of Barcelona from Park Güell
Tour the beautiful Casa Batlló
Wander around the historic centre of Siena
Explore the unusual world of Tulli
Learn more about mills in the village of Kinderdijk

All pictures licensed for commercial use at time of publication.

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