Just because you’re backpacking in Europe doesn’t mean that you have to focus all your attention on appreciating all of Europe’s natural wonders and attractions. Europe is known as the center of art and architecture and is also home to several of the world’s greatest masterpieces. It would be a great shame if you miss out on these priceless works of art while you’re there.
Europe is simply oozing with history and culture. You can feel the richness just by walking around the streets. But to really appreciate the wonder of Europe, you have to enter the museums. You don’t have to worry about entering in your rugged attire. Most museums in Europe don’t have a dress code. You may want to check your backpack in though. Can’t risk it knocking down an ancient vase, can we?
There are several museums in Europe. Some are large and some are small. It would be impossible to visit each and every one so, to narrow down your list; here are the 10 best museums in Europe (in no particular order).
The Louvre Museum
The Musée du Louvre, once a royal palace now probably the biggest and most famous museum in the world can be found in heart of Paris, France. This magnificent structure houses equally magnificent sculptures, paintings and artifacts. Its more famous denizens include The Winged Victory of Samothrace, Venus de Milo, and the lady with the mysterious smile, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
Just across the river Seine is the Musée d’Orsay, a former train station that has long been converted into a museum of French art. Built in 1900 by Victor Laloux, the building (once called Gare d’Orsay), was once the first electric rail terminal in the world. In 1978, the building was declared as a historical monument, and in 1986, it was opened as a museum. Today, it houses French art: from paintings, sculptures, and furniture pieces from 1848 to 1914; and impressionist work from artists such as Renoir, Manet, Monet, Degas and Cézanne.
Château de Versailles
While you’re in France, you might as well visit the home of France’s Sun King (Louis XIV), the grandiose Château de Versailles. Versailles is divided into four segments: Le Château; Trianon; Le Parc; and En Ville. Today, what was once the home of France’s royalty is now the resting place of some of their furniture pieces such as Marie Antoinette’s armchair, her vases, Louis XV’s roll-top desk, and the royal carriage used by Charles I during his coronation.
The Vatican Museums
Splendid masterpieces including Raphael’s Transfiguration, Caravaggio’s Deposition, and the breath-taking fresco of Michelangelo which adorns the ceiling of the Sestina’s Chapel can be seen here. While you’re at the world’s smallest city-state in the heart of Rome, you might as well enter the Saint Peter’s Basilica, the home of massive sculptures including the visually moving Pieta.
The Uffizi Galleries
After absorbing the wonders of Rome, drop by the quiet city of Florence and enter the Uffizi Galleries. Though small compared to the other European museums, what it lacks in size, it makes up for in its contents. This modest structure has several rooms that contain the fabulous works of noted artists, such as Botticelli, Raphael, Michelangelo and Leondardo da Vinci.
Since you’re in Florence, might as well drop by the Accademia Gallery. If the Uffizi contains paintings, the Accademia houses sculptures. If you’ve seen the Pieta, and the paintings at Sestina’s Chapel, you might as well see the statue of the 10-foot high marble statue called David. This marvelous sculpture is the main attraction of this museum.
Museo del Prado
Located in Madrid is the Museo del Prado, a treasure that is, unfortunately, not as popular as the Louvre and the Vatican Museum. This museum houses the painting of Spanish artists from Velasquez to Goya and El Greco. Because the Museo del Prado is not as popular as its French and Roman counterparts, visitors can go around without having to deal with annoying crowds or long queues.
The Deutsches Museum
If you’re more interested in modern inventions of man, then the Deutsches Museum in Munich is for you. This museum is the home of the greatest technological inventions known to man. There are fleets of the Mercedes-Benz, historic aircraft, lab benches, and all sorts of equipment and machines that has changed the course of mankind.
The British Museum
Way out in London is the British Museum. This controversial museum houses everything from the Elgin Marbles and vases from Greece, the Rosetta stone, and artifacts of Assyrian Palaces, to Egyptian mummies. Unlike the other museums, entrance to the British Museum is free of charge.
Van Gogh Museum
The Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam is home to a vast collection of Vincent van Gogh’s works. By going the paintings, you’ll be able to see and compare his works at all the stages of his life. Aside from his works, the museum also houses paintings of other artists of the 19th century.
Other museums worth visiting in Europe include the National Gallery and Westminster Abbey in London, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice.