Many European cities are known for their cosmopolitan air, beautiful architecture and excellent night-life. In addition, they’re known for their long and storied histories. Here, we’ll discuss some of the lesser-known European cities which are prized for their outstanding historical sites and museums. If you’re planning on traveling to Europe and are very interested in history or culture, you should definitely consider visiting some of these cities.
1. Aarhus in Denmark
First on our list is Aarhus. This city has a long history, dating back to when it was founded by Vikings sometime in the 700’s. Located on the eastern half of the Jutland Peninsula, Aarhus has been named the European Capital of Culture for 2017, and for good reason! Denmark is known for its beautiful architecture, and the city of Aarhus is no exception. The Aarhus Cathedral is of particular interest to history buffs, known for being the tallest church in the country and dating back to the 12th century. Museums abound in the city are plenty. Among the most popular are ARoS Aarhus Art Museum and the unique Old Town Museum. It is an open air museum where you’ll encounter actors playing late 19th-century residents of Aarhus.
2. Graz in Austria
Graz is the second-largest city in Austria after the capital, Vienna. For centuries the city was more important for Slovenes than for Germans. This is reflected in the etymology of the name which comes from a Slavic word for “small castle”. If you visit Graz, you’ll certainly want to check out the Schlossberg. It is a fortification which rises above the city, famous for fending off several of Napoleon’s attacks in the late 18th-century. You’ll see many red rooftops, inspired partly by the proximity of renaissance Italy. You’ll notice this Italian-inspired architecture especially in the Old Town, a recommended site for anyone interested in history. In addition, Eggenberg Palace is fascinating for its structure which is based on the outmoded Gregorian Calendar.
3. Antwerp in Belgium
Antwerp is Belgium’s most populated city and is known for its nightlife and fashion. Besides that, though, it has a long and rich history. Back in the 1500’s, it was one of Europe’s most important trading cities and remained so due to its strategic location on the water. The famous Baroque painter Pieter Paul Rubens lived here, and you’ll have many opportunities to see examples of his work scattered across the city. The most well-known museum in Antwerp is probably the Museum Plantin-Moretus, which preserves early 17th-century life with its beautiful rooms and furniture. Also, you should visit St. Paul’s Church, a large and beautiful Gothic-style cathedral completed in 1639. And lastly the Grote Markt, where you’ll witness old trading guild houses and the gorgeous Brabo Fountain.
4. Patras in Greece
Patras is Greece’s third-largest city, located to the west of Athens and overlooking the beautiful Gulf of Patras. This city has a very long history, going back thousands of years. It was conquered by the Romans and become an important eastern Mediterranean center. It is believed by Christians that Patras is where Saint Andrew was martyred. During the Middle Ages, it was an important part of the Byzantine Empire and was eventually conquered by the Ottomans. Furthermore, from the Roman period, you will find the Roman Odeum, a theater which is in remarkably good shape for its age. As for Byzantine period, there’s the Medieval Castle which was built by the emperor Justinian on the site of the city’s ancient acropolis. The Saint Andrew Church (Agios Andreas) is a beautiful Greek Orthodox church, one of the biggest of its kind in the Balkans.
5. Rijeka in Croatia
And finally on our list, we have city of Rijeka in Croatia. Known as “The City that Flows,” Rijeka is home to Croatia’s largest port. So naturally, the city has great Maritime and History Museum. Originally the museum was home of the Austro-Hungarian governor back in the days of the Dual Monarchy. St. Vitus Cathedral is a very unique, round church built in 1638. Illustration of the cathedral can be seen on the back-side of some older Croatian Kuna banknotes. Our Lady of Trsat Church is believed to be built on the site where, in the 13th-century, seraphs moved the home of Mary from Nazareth. For this reason, many pilgrims are still frequenting this place. Above the city, you’ll find Trsat Castle, constructed in the 13th-century. Since castle is actually quite far off, you’ll have to either use car rental or bus tour to see it.
Thus, here is a list of the European cities, which are known for outstanding history and culture. Though, these cities are lesser known, they are very beautiful and you will definitely enjoy paying visit to these European cities once in a lifetime.