Castles, palaces and libraries – oh my!
Take a virtual tour of some of some of Europe's most awe-inspiring and intriguing landmarks, from mysterious ancient ruins to elaborate golden palaces.
Palace of Sintra, Portugal
Not far outside of Lisbon, the twin conical chimneys of the ornate National Palace of Sintra rise up from the hills. The lavishly-decorated royal residence dates back to Moorish times, and has been expanded and renovated by many a ruler since, giving it a unique mix of Gothic, Manueline, Moorish, and Mudéjar styles.
Casa Batlló, Spain
A masterpiece of celebrated Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, Casa Batlló is known locally in Barcelona as the Casa dels ossos, or House of Bones, for the skeletal quality of its sculpted stone exterior. The roof is said to resemble the back of a dragon, due to it's arched shape and colorful scale-like tiles.
Skokloster Castle, Sweden
The baroque Skokloster Castle was built by Carl Gustaf Wrangel, a high-ranking Swedish nobleman and military commander. Unfortunately, Wrangel passed away in 1676 before the interior was fully completed, so part of the castle - known as the Unfinished Hall - remains in the same state that the builders left it in when they vacated after their employer's death.
Sanssouci, in Potsdam, East Germany, was the summer palace of King Frederick the Great of Prussia. It was built as place of rest relaxation, with its name being formed from the french term "san souci", meaning without worries. Completed in 1747, the palace is a single-storey Roccoco-style villa on a terraced hill above a vineyard.
Believed to have been constructed somewhere between 2000 and 3000 BCE, Stonehenge is a ring of standing stones, all about 13 feet high, located in Wiltshire, England. How it was built and what it was used for still remain much of a mystery: theories range from it being a site for healing the ill, to a burial ground or a place of worship.
Warsaw Old Town, Poland
Established in the 13th century, Warsaw Old Town is the oldest part of Poland's capital. Unfortunately the cluster of pretty pastel buildings was destroyed during WWII, but was painstakingly reconstructed from drawings of the area, using the original brickwork from the rubble where possible.
Austrian National Library, Austria
Containing over 7.4 million items, including literature, maps of the world, and globes, the Austrian National Library is a bookworm's paradise. The library obtains copies of everything that is published in Austria, as well as anything published abroad that concerns Austria. Its beautiful baroque main hall, the Prunksaal, was built between 1723 and 1726.
Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy
The unintended tilt of the gravity-defying Leaning Tower of Pisa is due to the ground being too soft on one side to support the weight of the structure. It took 199 years to complete construction. Many attempts have been made to straighten the tower, most have either failed, or worsened the tilt.
Ħal-Saflieni Hypogeum, Malta
Built underground around 3300-3000 BCE, the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum is assumed to have been a Maltese necropolis, with the remains of around 7,000 people having been found in its subterranean labyrinth. It was discovered by accident in 1902, when workers digging cisterns for a new housing development cut through its roof.
Palace of Versailles, France
Built during the rein of Louis XIV, Versailles was once the seat of France's political powers and the epicenter of court life, before the royal family returned to Paris upon the start of the French Revolution. It took 30,000 workers and soldiers to build the magnificent structure and its elaborate landscaped gardens.