Europe is full of history and captivating culture – and in honour of #NationalMuseumDay, we thought we’d give you the low down on some of the most enriching museums in Europe! Take a look at some of our fantastic favourites below, and make sure to take note for your next cruise…
The Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia
St. Petersburg’s most popular visitor attraction, and one of the world’s largest and most prestigious museums, the Hermitage Museum is a must-see for all first-time visitors to the city. With over 3 million items in its collection, it definitely rewards repeat visits – new-comers can only hope to get a brief taste of the riches on offer here, from Impressionist masterpieces to fascinating Oriental treasures. One estimate has it that you would need eleven years to view each exhibit on display for just one minute – so many visitors prefer to organise a guided tour to ensure they have time to catch all the collection’s highlights. If you’re an art enthusiast however, you may find it more rewarding to seek out the works you’re particularly interested in.
The Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain
Designed by American architect Frank Gehry, the museum building itself represents a magnificent example of groundbreaking 20th-century architecture. Committed to innovation, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation collects, preserves, and interprets modern and contemporary art, and explores ideas across cultures through dynamic curatorial and educational initiatives and collaborations. With its constellation of architecturally and culturally distinct museums, exhibitions, publications, and digital platforms, the foundation engages both local and global audiences. Being 24,000 m2, of which 11,000 are dedicated to exhibition space, the Museum represents an architectural landmark of audacious configuration and innovating design, providing a seductive backdrop for the art exhibited in it. Altogether, Gehry’s design creates a spectacular sculpture-like structure, perfectly integrated within Bilbao’s urban pattern and the surrounding area.
The Vatican Museums, Vatican City
The Vatican Museums are an enormous complex composed of more than two dozen distinct collections, any of which could be a self-sustaining gallery in themselves. You do need to plan your time in the museums well. Here you’ll find the Sistine Chapel, one of the most famous tourist attractions in the world. Additionally, the Vatican Museums house many priceless works of art including the ‘Raphael Rooms’, and many galleries of sculpture, tapestries and frescos. For most first time visitors, the climax of the visit is of course the famous Sistine Chapel. Although the walls of the Sistine Chapel are covered with paintings by a number of Renaissance masters, including Botticelli and Ghirlandaio, they become secondary in the company of Michelangelo’s extraordinary fresco covering the great vaulted ceiling.
The Louvre Museum, Paris, France
The Louvre is the world’s largest museum and houses one of the most impressive art collections in history. The magnificent, baroque-style palace and museum — LeMusée du Louvre in French — sits along the banks of the Seine River in Paris. The Louvre’s collection includes Egyptian antiques, ancient Greek and Roman sculptures, paintings by the Old Masters, and crown jewels and other artifacts from French nobles. Its works span the sixth century B.C. to the 19th century A.D, and more than 35,000 works are on display at any given time.
Without question, The Louvre’s most famous work is Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’, who enchants hordes of visitors with her enigmatic smile. This small, iconic painting is covered with bullet-proof glass and flanked by guards – the result of it being stolen in 1911. It was thankfully recovered in 1913.
The Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy
The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most famous museums in the world, given the rich amount of unique artworks and masterpieces conserved within its walls, the majority from the Renaissance period. The main part of the collections were left by the Medici to the state of Tuscany so that they could ‘adorn the State, be of utility to the Public and attract the curiosity of Foreigners.’
Located in the heart of Florence, the Uffizi Gallery hosts works of art by great Italian artists such as Botticelli, Giotto, Cimabue, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raffaello, just to name a few. Its large collection has works from all centuries but a large part dates back to the periods between the 12th and 17th centuries. The Uffizi Gallery is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Florence, welcoming over a million visitors each year!
La Sagrada Museum, Barcelona, Spain
The architecture of Barcelona has been most influenced by the work of Antoni Gaudí. One of Gaudí’s greatest creations is without a doubt the Sagrada Familia – a giant Basilica that’s been under construction since 1882. This building is the number one most visited attraction in Barcelona catering to over 2,000,000 visitors per year. Once you enter the Sagrada Familia, you can visit the museum which is housed in the semi-basement of the building. The museum details the history and development of the church and also gives fascinating insights into Gaudí himself. There’s also a model of the Sagrada Familia depicting what it will look like once it’s completed – said to be around 2026.
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