In cities where you can’t see the dawn in winter. this is how a well-known song sings about the shortcomings of urban civilization. You can’t know the morning, as the roofs obscure the horizon, but it won’t hurt to have a great weekend, relax and have fun in one of the best romantic European cities.
The main thing is to find a city for a trip that will appeal to you. It is considered a “showcase” of the whole country or, conversely, a small state within a state, unlike even its closest neighbors. Each locality has its face – you choose where to go for the weekend.
1. Milan, Italy
The capital of the Italian province of Lombardy is ideal for those who wish to fully satisfy their material needs in a few days and immerse themselves in the culture. For shopaholics in the homeland of the Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, and Versace brands, the primary temptation is the shops.
After all, it is not for nothing that the saying goes that fashion is born in Milan to grow up on the catwalks of Paris, make a career in New York and return to the windows of the famous Via Montenapoleone. No less tasty bait for music lovers is La Scala.
Even if you fail to get to the evening performance, you can look into the theatre’s museum, where there are very original exhibits. For example, the alcoholic throat of Maria Callas is a spectacle for opera fans with solid nerves. Another treasure of Milan is the Church of Santa Maria del le Grazie, with the fresco of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. Faithful, you are unlikely to be able to see it: the queues of those wishing to see the masterpiece are huge, and tickets are sold out in advance.
But no one misses the Milan Cathedral: it is the world’s fourth-largest church. It took almost 500 years to build! During this time, architects’ ideas about how the cathedral should look changed several times because of an insane jumble of spires, towers, columns, and sculptures. The building is impressive, but the view of the city from its roof is no less striking.
2. Port Marseille, France
Fans of adventure books should come here – they should not be stopped even by such a problem as the lack of direct flights from Moscow (usually you have to make a change in Paris or fly to Nice, and then get by land). This largest Mediterranean port in France became the setting for one of the most popular novels by Alexandre Dumas,
The Count of Monte Cristo. Here, his hero Edmond Dante’s lived, made a career, and prepared for the wedding. And 30 miles from the coast, on the rocky island of If, the castle of the same name still flaunts, where you will also see the “Dante’s cell” and another place of imprisonment of another legendary personality – the Nick is an iron mask (however, this mysterious gentleman spent much less time here than in the Bastille).
The Chateau was built in the 16th century to defend the city from the sea, but for almost 300 years, it was “reclassified” as a prison, thanks to a successful “PR” in Dumas’s Dumas’s work, the former casemate became a museum. Here you can have a bite to eat in the “prison” restaurant and buy a postcard as a keepsake. Of course, in the city, founded by the Greeks as far back as 600 BC, there are other, not-so-well-known sights:
the remains of ancient buildings, the medieval churches of Saint-Victor and Saint-Ferreol, forts – and much more ancient things. But the most important thing is the romantic atmosphere: sailors with tattoos, the Arab quarter, taverns, and a market in the port, where you can try freshly caught and freshly prepared seafood delicacies.
3. Amsterdam, Holland
The capital of the Netherlands has gained a reputation as the most cheerful city in continental Europe. And the reason is not at all that the Dutch like to have fun more than their neighbors. It’s just that residents and guests of Amsterdam can always cheer themselves up in ways prohibited in other European countries but legalized here – by getting hold of marijuana or hashish in a cafe.
According to the legend, the first establishment where you could buy and try soft drugs appeared in the city in the 70s of the last century and was called Russia. Go and understand these Dutch. However, Amsterdam is fascinating to see not only when high. It is located on numerous canals, with more than one and a half thousand bridges.
Tourists are also attracted by local flower markets, where you can buy bulbs of the famous Dutch tulips. Among the city’s exhibition halls, not only museums of sex, torture and hashish are curious, but also the Vincent Van Gogh Museum with the most extensive collection of his works.
4. Geneva, Switzerland
The second largest city in Switzerland will appeal to those who are used to relaxing on a grand scale – some local attractions impress with their rather big size, for example, the giant chess pieces waiting for players at the entrance to the park of Geneva. By the way, they are not only for beauty – anyone can play a game.
True, unlike chess from the Harry Potter book, these figures do not move around the cells themselves and do not fight with each other for real. Another central decoration here is the tallest fountain in Europe. It is located on Lake Geneva and is visible anywhere in the city. Although you can’t call this creation pretty: it’s just a jet of water flying up to 140 meters.
On the other hand, another local feature — a five-meter miracle watch — looks non-standard. The most impressive thing is that the clock is floral – their “details” are made of 6000 plants! And although the winters in Geneva are pretty remarkable, this measuring device does not stop – in the cold season, evergreens are chosen for it.
5. Veliky Novgorod, Russia
A trip to Veliky Novgorod is a great occasion to refresh the memory of paragraphs from school textbooks. The course of national history begins from this place: more than 1000 years ago, Rurik moved from Ladoga to New City, called to restore order in the surrounding lands. And in Veliky Novgorod, epics from an anthology on literature come to life. In the Kremlin, you will see the Church of St. Andrew Stratilates,
which stands on the foundations of the older church of Boris and Gleb, built-in 1167, not by anyone but by the epic merchant Sadko. Or rather, its actual prototype – a certain Sadko Sitnich. The most curious “revived” legend is about the lead dove on the cross of the central dome of St. Sophia Cathedral. Residents assured that during the time of Ivan the Terrible, the unlucky bird sat down on the cross to rest and was petrified with horror when he saw the atrocities of the guardsmen.
The second part of the story read: “When the dove flies from the St. Sophia cross, Novegrad will be empty.” And the cross was indeed shot down in 1942 during shelling, and soon the whole city turned into ruins. A historical relic was found in a museum near Madrid only in 2002, so now the lead bird again keeps order on the Novgorod streets.
6. Dubrovnik, Croatia
Russian tourists wishing to feel the spirit of the European Middle Ages most often go to Prague or Krakow. But the Croatian Dubrovnik is less famous, although this ancient settlement is considered one of the pearls of the Adriatic – on a par with Amsterdam and Venice.
The town, named after the oak forests that once surrounded it, was founded in the 6th century, and the traditions of the past are treated very carefully here. For example, in the Old Town, at the Franciscan monastery, there is a pharmacy that has been operating since 1317 — the wars and earthquakes that occurred during this time did not interfere with the pharmaceutical business.
The main thing, of course, is not the pharmacy but the perfectly preserved Old Town with its unique walls, the princely palace, the large fountain of Onufry, the oldest synagogue in Europe, and much more exciting stuff. Almost every house in this fortress has a historical value — few European cities can boast such a unique historical and architectural ensemble. So the door to the Middle Ages is worth looking for in Dubrovnik.
7. Budapest, Hungary
This city on the Danube appeared due to the addition of several independent settlements: Pest, Buda, and Obuda – only in 1873. But the “terms” themselves are very ancient. So, Pest was founded in the XII century. Therefore, as in any self-respecting European capital, Budapest has many historical monuments: the Royal Palace, the Gothic church (Matyas Cathedral), etc.
There are also unusual sights, for example, the miraculous labyrinth under the Castle Hill of Buda. Among other things, Budapest is the only metropolis in the world that is also a resort with thermal springs. There are many baths here, both private and public. The most popular Szechenyi, built almost 100 years ago, is located in the very center of the city.
The water in them comes from an artesian well, already heated to 76 ° C, but for pools, it is cooled, so you still don’t have to swim in boiling water. By the way, the Budapest Zoo is supplied with water from the baths. Curiously, the couple of hippos living in it regularly acquires heirs; although hippos do not usually breed in captivity, visual proof splashing around in the Széchenyi is very useful!