The Pantheon, Rome, Italy
The Pantheon is the best-preserved Roman building in Rome and was built as a temple to all gods in Ancient Rome. The current building is actually a reconstruction of the first temple which existed here. Since the 7th century, the Pantheon has been used as a Roman Catholic church (and yes, masses are still held here on important Catholic holidays).
One of the most interesting features of the building is the central opening called the Great Eye. When the Pantheon was used as a temple, the fire inside the temple would create smoke which escaped through the opening. Today it is the only light source in the building.
Schonbrunn Gardens, Vienna, Austria
is one of the most important cultural monuments in Austria. For decades it has been a very popular tourist destination for those visiting Vienna. Only the Gardens can be visited for free and they are worth some hours of your time.
The gates open at 6 a.m (or 6:30 a.m. during winter) and close between 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., depending on the season. If you arrive by metro you’ll probably enter the grounds via the Zoo gate, while if you come by tram, you can enter the grounds via the main gate.
The Privy Garden is located between the palace and the Gloriette (on top of the hill). In between those, there’s Neptune Fountain. The western parts of the grounds have been turned into an English Garden. On both sides of the Privy Garden there are 32 sculptures. Generally speaking, unless you enter a building, the maze, the Zoo, or climb up to see the views from the Gloriette, you don’t need to pay anything.
It’s pretty much impossible to see all the parts of the Gardens during one day. It gets very hot during summer so make sure to bring enough water (you have to enter to Zoo to get to the mini-shops, so that’s not exactly a good idea) and good walking shoes. It’s pretty easy to climb the hill to the Gloriette and the views are magnificent, even if you don’t go up on the viewing deck.
Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
Paris is filled with incredible places to visit, and Notre Dame is one of those iconic landmarks we all have learned about at some point during our school years.
The beautiful Gothic Cathedral is located on the eastern half of the Île de la Cité. It was the first building in the world to use the flying buttress, although it was not originally designed to use them. The construction began in 1163 and was completed in 1345.
Just like visiting any other Roman Catholic or Orthodox cathedral, make sure to dress accordingly (or how they put it on the official web site “show a respectful attitude, through both their behaviour and their clothing”).
The Berlin Wall, Berlin, Germany
Once the barrier dividing West and East Berlin, the Berlin Wall is an important part of the German history. The wall fell on November 9, 1989 after a series of protests. Right after the fall, the government opened ten new border crossings and visa-free travel was allowed starting on December 23, 1989. In the summer of 1990 the official dismantling of the Wall began.
Today, only some sections of the walls exist as memorials, and nearly all of the original wall is gone. The longest remaining stretch is the East Side Gallery, which is now considered an open-air museum. There are also sections of the wall along with their histories located in the busy Alexanderplatz area.
Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic
The Charles Bridge is one of the most beautiful places and best-known attractions in Prague. And best of all, it’s free. The stone Gothic bridge started its life in 1352. There are towers on each end of the bridge but only one can be climbed. The bridge is lined with 30 statues (most of them are replicas of the originals). Touching the statue of St. John of Nepomuk is believed to bring luck.
The pedestrian bridge is almost always full so if you want to avoid the crowds, plan to walk on the bridge either early in the morning or late at night.
La Rambla and La Boqueria Market, Barcelona, Spain
The most famous street in Barcelona is, without a doubt, La Rambla. During summer it’s awfully crowded with both locals and tourists but it represents a lovely way to do some people watching and window shopping. The middle part of the street is pedestrian only and at any time during the tourist season it comes to life due to the live performances and the flower market. There are interesting buildings on both sides of the street and if you want to relax, go to Placa Reial, just off La Rambla. And for a colorful and exotic meal, check out La Boqueria, the iconic street market filled with pretty much anything you might want to buy or eat.
St. Peter’s Basillica, Vatican City
St. Peter’s Basillica is one of the greatest Roman Catholic churches in the entire world. It is also has the largest interior, capable of holding 60,000 people. Catholic tradition holds that the tomb of Saint Peter, one of the Apostles of Jesus, is under the altar of the basillica. Despite popular misconception, St. Peter’s Basillica is not a cathedral (as it is not the seat of a bishop).
There was an old Constantinian basillica on this site since the 4th century and the present building was completed in 1626. It is associated with Michelangelo (the first chapel on the north aisle contains the famous Pietà) and with papacy. There are over 100 tombs within the Basillica, many located beneath the building (including 91 popes).