10 Tourist Attractions Worth the Trip
Globetrotters unite! Here are the world’s most exciting and distinct tourist attractions you need to visit at least once.
1. St. Peter's Basilica, Rome
Catholicism's most sacred shrine, the sumptuous marble-clad St. Peter's Basilica draws pilgrims and tourists from all over the world. It holds hundreds of precious works of art, some salvaged from the original 4th-century basilica built by Emperor Constantine, others commissioned from Renaissance and Baroque artists. The dominant tone is set by Bernini, who created the baldacchino twisting up below Michelangelo's huge dome. He also created the cathedral in the apse, with four saints supporting a throne that contains fragments once thought to be relics of the chair from which St. Peter delivered his first sermon.
2. Arc de Triomphe, Paris
After his greatest victory at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805, Napoleon promised his men, "You shall go home beneath the triumphal arches." The first stone of what was to become the world's most famous and largest triumphal arch was laid the following year. However, disruptions to architect Jean Chalgrin's plans, and the demise of Napoleonic power, delayed the completion of this monumental building until 1836. Standing 164 ft. high, the arch is now the customary starting point for victory celebrations and parades.
3. Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Standing on the basalt core of an extinct volcano, Edinburgh Castle is a remarkable assemblage of buildings from the 12th to the 20th centuries, reflecting its changing role as fortress, royal palace, military garrison, and state prison. There is evidence of Bronze Age occupation of the site, which takes its name from Dun Eidin, a Celtic fortress captured by King Oswald of Northumbria in the 7th century. The castle was a favourite royal residence until the Union of the Crowns in 1603, after which the king resided in England. After the Union of Parliaments in 1707, the Scottish regalia (Crown Jewels) were walled up in the palace for more than 100 years. The castle is now the zealous possessor of the so-called Stone of Destiny, a relic of ancient Scottish kings that was seized by the English and not returned until 1996.
4. Campo dei Miracoli, Pisa
Pisa's world-famous Leaning Tower is just one of the splendid buildings rising from the lawns of the "Field of Miracles." It is joined by the Duomo, a triumph of marble decoration; Italy's largest baptistery, with an acoustically perfect interior and the Campo Santo cemetery, containing Roman sarcophagi and sculptures. The buildings combine Moorish elements, such as inlaid marble in geometric patterns (arabesques), with delicate Romanesque colonnading and spiked Gothic niches and pinnacles.
5. Krak des Chevaliers, Syria
One of the greatest castles in the world, Krak des Chevaliers was built by the Crusaders. Having captured Jerusalem and the Holy Land from the Muslims, they required strong bases from which to defend their newly won territories. The largest of a string of such fortresses, Krak des Chevaliers withstood countless attacks and sieges, but the crusaders abandoned it after their defeat at the hands of the Arabs in 1271. Villagers settled within the walls and remained there until the 1930s, when the castle was cleared and restored.
6. Potala Palace, Lhasa
Perched on Lhasa's highest point, the Potala Palace is arguably the greatest monumental structure in Tibet. Thirteen stories high, with more than 1,000 rooms, it was once the residence of Tibet's chief monk and leader, the Dalai Lama, and therefore the centre for both spiritual and temporal power. After the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959, the palace became a museum, serving as a reminder of Tibet's rich and devoutly religious Buddhist culture. The first palace on the site was built by Songtsen Gampo in 641, and this was incorporated into the larger building that stands today. There are two main sections - the White Palace, built by the 5th Dalai Lama in 1645, and the Red Palace, which was completed in 1693.
7. Notre-Dame, Paris
No other building is so strongly associated with the history of Paris as the cathedral of Notre-Dame. It stands majestically on the Ile de la Cite, in the heart of the city. When the first stone was laid in 1163, it marked the start of 170 years of toil by armies of medieval architects and craftsmen. Since then, a succession of coronations and royal marriages has taken place within its walls. Built on the site of a Roman temple, the cathedral is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. When it was completed, in about 1330, it was 430 ft. long and featured flying buttresses, a large transept, a deep choir, and 228 ft. high towers.
8. Westminster Abbey, London
Since the 13th century, Westminster Abbey has been the burial place of Britain's monarchs and the setting for many coronations and royal weddings. It is one of the most beautiful buildings in London, with an exceptionally diverse array of architectural styles, ranging from the austere French Gothic of the nave to the astonishing complexity of the Lady Chapel. Half national church, half national museum, the abbey's aisles and transepts are crammed with an extraordinary collection of tombs and monuments honouring some of Britain's greatest public figures, from politicians to poets.
9. Trinity College, Dublin
Queen Elizabeth 1 founded Trinity College, Dublin's oldest and most famous educational institution, in 1592. Originally a Protestant college, it only began to take Catholics in large numbers after 1970, when the Catholic Church relaxed its opposition to them attending. Among Trinity's many famous students were the playwrights Oliver Goldsmith and Samuel Beckett, and the political writer Edmund Burke. The college's lawns and cobbled quads provide a pleasant haven in the heart of the city. The major attractions are the Old Library and the Book of Kells, housed in its treasury.
10. Chateau du Versailles, France
A magnificent palace with sumptuous interiors and splendid gardens, Versailles represents the glory of Louis XIV's reign. Starting in 1668 with his father's modest hunting lodge, the king commissioned the largest palace in Europe, with 700 rooms, 67 staircases, and 1,800 acres of landscaped parkland. Architect Louis Le Vau built a series of wings that expanded into an enlarged courtyard. They were decorated with marble busts, antique trophies and gilded roofs. Jules Hardouin-Mansart took over in 1678 and added the two immense north and south wings. He also designed the chapel, which was finished in 1710. Charles le Brun planned the interiors and Andre Le Notre redesigned the gardens.