Guest blogger Anita Dykstra is a travel writer from New Zealand. You can read her great blog on her website.
Europe is the best place in the world to be if you’re an art-lover. It’s just bursting with beautiful museums which are often as incredible as the paintings within them. Here are six of the top European cities that must be visited if you’re a lover of beautiful masterpieces old and new.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Amsterdam has a museum which features one of the greatest artists in history—Van Gogh. His work is celebrated at the fantastic Van Gogh Museum on Museumplein. Here you can find some of his most famous paintings and get a glimpse into his troubled personal life. The other two museums that are not to be missed are the Rijksmuseum (home to Rembrandt’s luminous ‘Nightwatch’) and of course, The Stedelijk Museum, which is home to one of the richest collections of contemporary art in the world. There are thousands of modern paintings, sculptures, photographs and graphics that you have to see to believe.
Rome has many museums including the Vatican Museum, housed in what has to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the world! You can also enjoy places such as the Galleria Doria Pamphilj, which holds a truly sumptuous private collection of art from some of the great Italian masters. Galleria Borghese has some very famous pieces of art and has been dubbed the ‘Queen of all private art collections’. Roman buildings and structures are to be admired as pieces of art, too; turn almost any corner in Rome and you’ll find some hidden sculpture or architectural feat from the pages of history.
The city of love should also be named the city of art-lovers because there are more than 70,000 pieces in Paris alone. In fact, everything in this city is artistically stimulating, from paintings to architecture to fashion. It really needs no introduction, as everybody knows Paris is one big piece of beautiful art. The most famous museum would have to be The Louvre —did you know it’s the biggest museum in the world? It boasts some very famous masterpieces including The Mona Lisa and Winged Victory of Samothrace. If you only have 24 hours here then make sure you make The Louvre your first stop; it will not disappoint and neither will the architecture surrounding it. Staying longer and longing for a taste of fin de siècle Paris? Visit the Musée d’Orsay, hosting a permanent collection of some of the 19th century’s most iconic works from Manet, Renoir, Degas, Gauguin and more. Afterwards, head to the charming neighbourhood of Montmartre, where you can catch the artists in action, it’s the neighbourhood for all things artistic!
London, United Kingdom
London’s art collection is vast, with collections ranging from modern to traditional; and with over 200 galleries in the city, you could say your choice is not at all limited. The British Museum holds inspirational pieces from the likes of Van Gogh and da Vinci, as well as the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles and two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Meanwhile, if you explore the Tate Modern you can explore cubist greats, Lichtenstein and their ever-fascinating temporary exhibits. Prefer street art? Make your way down to Shoreditch where you can catch a glimpse of the eye-opening art of the streets of East London. Sometimes you might be lucky enough to catch the artists in the middle of making their work of art. Other museums that may interest you might be the Victoria and Albert Museums which has an extensive collection of decorative arts and design, while the Tate Britain has some of the UK’s own artworks.
Vienna has to be the classiest European city of them all. It’s said to be the top destination for the art-lover because of its array of museums that hold famous pieces such as Gustav Klimt’s ‘The Kiss’ and art by Picasso, which can be seen at the Belvedere Museum. You can witness incredible collections including artwork from Egypt and Ancient Greece at The Kunsthistorisches Museum which were collected throughout Europe over centuries. Of course, you can’t talk about Vienna without mentioning the music which the city is famous for, another form of art you may enjoy! You must see at least one classical performance while you’re in this elegant city.
Berlin has an exceptional art collection which has rightfully made it famous around the world. It even has a whole island called the Museumsinsel dedicated just to museums; in fact, the entire island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site! There are five museums on the island including Gemaldegalerie which has a very impressive collection of art from the 13th- 18th centuries. There’s also the Old National Gallery (Alte Nationalgalerie), home to Neoclassical, Romantic and Impressionist works. Elsewhere on the island you can find ancient Egyptian, Greek and Byzantine art. If you’re a lover of street art you need to visit the East Side Gallery where the largest outdoor mural stands on a long, preserved section of the Berlin Wall. Berlin has become a hub for young and upcoming artists and holds regular art festivals and fairs.
With so many options in Europe the only hard decision you will have to make is which city will you visit first?!