Top 5 Most Famous Landmarks of Europe

January 22, 2013| Italy | Rome| Cities


Top 5 Most Famous Landmarks of Europe

Europe has a wonderful collection of cities for culture and history. Many places are immediately recognizable by their one iconic landmark. Here are five of the most famous landmarks in Europe which should be on every traveller’s wish-list.

Eiffel Tower, Paris

Known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, the Eiffel Tower is synonymous with Paris. Built on the Champ de Mars beside the Seine River, this iron tower was built as a temporary structure in 1889 for the World Fair by its namesake, Gustave Eiffel. At 325m (1,063 feet) tall, it remains the tallest structure in Paris and is the most visited paid monument in the world! It attracts 5 million tourists every year, and to date 200 million visitors have admired the views of Paris from its viewing platforms.

There are three stages to ascending the Tour Eiffel.

Level 1 is 58 metres above the ground accessed by open air lift or 300 steps

Level 2 is 115 metres high, accessed via the lift or 300 steps

Level 3 is 276 meters above the ground and can only be reached by lift.

Taking the stairs saves money and has shorter lines, but is not suitable for the unfit or those who suffer from vertigo.

Adult prices in early 2013 are:

Stairs to second level         €5

Lift to second level            €8.50

Lift all the way to the top   €14

A picnic-style lunch pre-booked at the 58 Tour Eiffel Restaurant costs €29.50 per person including a lift ticket to the first floor.

The Jules Verne restaurant serves contemporary cuisine on the second floor under Chef Alain Ducasse and costs around €210 for a 3-course lunch for two.

The quietest time to visit is when it opens at 9am (get there beforehand) or 10pm at night (it closes at 11pm). If you visit as part of a city tour you will avoid the lines.

Best value is at dusk when you get to see the city in daylight and all lit up after dark. Fabulous!

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Another country and another tower, this time much older. The Leaning Tower of Pisa was started in 1173. It is not only a Wonder of the World, but a sheer miracle as it leans almost 3.9 metres (over 12 feet) from the perpendicular and has survived countless earth tremors over the last eight centuries. It has been stabilized many times and visitors can still climb up the 296 steps and gaze out over the neighbouring attractions. The Tower was built as the campanile or bell tower of the even older Cathedral. The Leaning Tower of Pisa has experienced some strange uses. It is said that Galileo Galilei dropped two cannonballs to illustrate that speed was independent from mass, and during World War II the Nazis used it as an observation post.

Like most major landmarks, waiting times to climb the monument are a problem but by booking online you can reserve a time, print a voucher and just turn up, avoiding a long wait. In summer the tour is open from 08:30 to 23:00 and in winter from 09:00 to 18:00.

Tickets cost €15 (€17 to reserve a time online)

While you are visiting the Leaning Tower you might want to visit the neighbouring Cathedral (just €2) and the Baptistery (€6). From November through March entrance to the Cathedral is actually FREE!

Big Ben, London

Big Ben is actually the name of the bell housed within what is correctly the Clock Tower of Big Ben. Whatever you choose to call it, this is the world’s biggest four-faced chiming clock. The 61 metre (200 feet) high Tower of Big Ben stands at the northeastern end of the Houses of Parliament. It was built in 1859 to a design by Augustus Pugin who worked under the famous architect Charles Barry.

Renamed Elizabeth Tower in 2012 in honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, tours can be taken up the 334 spiral steps to the top of the tower to hear the deafening sound of Big Ben strike the hour. Go behind the opaque clock faces, see the giant mechanism and enjoy wonderful city views. Tours take place Monday through Friday and are FREE; however the catch is that they are only available to UK residents who must contact their local MP to arrange a tour. The waiting list is about four months.

Colosseum, Rome

Set amidst a host of other fabulous monuments, Rome’s Colosseum was commissioned in AD72 by Emperor Vespasian and completed by his son Titus. It is the iconic symbol of Imperial Rome. It had 80 arched entranceways and could accommodate 55,000 spectators around its 188m long arena, which hosted such bloodthirsty sports as gladiator contests, mock sea battles, animal fights, public executions and theatrical dramas.

Admission includes entrance to the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill and is valid for two days. The Colosseum inevitably has long lines for tickets, so buy them online or from the Palatine Hill entrance and walk right in without a wait!

You cannot enter the Roman Forum through the gate nearest to the Colosseum; the gate is exit-only so visit the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill first and then exit through the gate closest to the Colosseum to see this last.

Adult tours with an English speaking guide start from €52.

Adult tours including the underground chambers and third tier of the Colosseum start from €92.

Parthenon, Athens

The Parthenon is the oldest of our selected top five landmark structures, built on top of the Acropolis almost 2,500 years ago. The word Parthenon means “Virgin” in Greek, a shortened version of the monument’s official title as the Temple of Athena the Virgin. Built as a Greek temple, it has been a treasury, fortress, a church and a mosque, but throughout it all it has remained one of the most recognisable and popular tourist attractions in the world.

Entrance to the Acropolis site, which includes the Parthenon, is €12 for adults, but entrance is FREE on Sundays from November through March. In summer it is open from 08:00 to 19:30 daily except Mondays when it opens at 11:00. Winter hours are 08:30 to 15:00.

Best times to visit may be around 5pm when the crowds are thinning and the heat is subsiding. Photo ops are best in early morning or late afternoon.