Best of the EU

10 magnificent pieces of architecture to visit in Europe

From Roman greats to modern masterpieces, Oliver Bennett takes a closer look at some of the continent’s most awe-inspiring works

Wednesday 05 February 2020 14:20
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The Field of Miracles in Pisa, Italy
The Field of Miracles in Pisa, Italy

Is there such a thing as European architecture? It’s a thorny question at the best of times – and obviously, our current political era can hardly be described in glowing terms.

But as Nikolaus Pevsner’s Outline of European Architecture (1943) noted, there are great architectural threads through time, and his “changing spirits of the changing ages” drew the evolution of European building from Romanesque basilicas through Gothic cathedrals, Renaissance villas and Baroque churches. Much was drawn from the well of Roman and Greek classicism. To which we could add a host of styles and types that crossed borders: Classicism, Gothic, Art Nouveau, Modernism through to the “icon” urinating contests of the last two decades.

There were always tower-height contests and different forces, from Moorish Andalucia to the Renaissance, through the grandiloquent works of Albert Speer, architect of the Third Reich, to Victor Horta, the great Belgian Art Nouveau architect.

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