Top 11 Must See Historical Buildings in Europe

Updated at : 03 Oct, 2023

Europe is full of delights, from food and nightlife to incredible natural landscapes. But what really distinguishes Europe is its history. The Old Continent is home to some of the most incredible historical sites in the world; from the Greeks, Romans, ancient Britons and Moors to ancient sites, medieval architecture and the world wars of the 20th century.

This rich history has given rise to a wealth of historical sites and in this article we will present 45 important historical sites in Europe (one for each country) that everyone should see at least once in their life.

1. Stonehenge, Wiltshire, United Kingdom

Stonehenge - Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Stonehenge is one of the most famous and mysterious historic sites in Europe. No one really knows why and how the ancient British Druids built these stones more than 4,000 years ago. It is believed that it was a sacred place of prayer or a tomb, but no one knows for sure. However, we know that these gigantic sarsen stones were transported from a quarry more than 40 kilometers away and placed right there to capture the sun's rays during the summer and winter solstices.

Today you can visit the site in Wiltshire, UK, and be inspired by these huge and impressive stones as you wonder about the people who built them and why. You can't walk between the stones or touch them as they are protected, but you can see them from a nearby viewing platform, which is more than enough to be truly impressed by their construction.

2. Kronborg Castle, Helsingør, Denmark

Kronborg Castle (Elsinore) – Helsingør, Denmark - Atlas Obscura

Built in the early 1420s, Kronborg Castle is one of the oldest buildings in Denmark. The castle was built during the reign of King Eric VII, but it was Frederick II who transformed the castle into a Renaissance masterpiece. Kronborg Castle was burned in 1629, rebuilt and then destroyed by the Swedes in 1650. Today the castle has been restored, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is one of the most famous castles in Northern Europe and is also called "Elsinore", l The setting of Hamlet, by William Shakespeare.

3. Tonsberg Fortress, Tonsberg, Norway

Castle Rock Tower | Cultural Heritage | Tønsberg | Norway

If you don't know Tonsberg, know that it was the capital of Norway for a long time. Additionally, Tonsberg is Norway's oldest town and is home to what was once the country's oldest fortified structure. Although much of this fortress is now gone, Tonsberg Fortress remains one of the most important historical sites in Norway and this part of Europe. According to various sources, Tonsberg Castle dates back to the 13th century (ruled by King Hakon IV) and in its heyday was one of the largest castles in Scandinavia.

4. Eketorp, Öland, Sweden

Eketorps Borg | Öland

Most lists of historic sites in Europe include Kalmar Castle or the "Swedish Versailles" - Drottningholm Palace, but we decided to present something different. Eketorp is an Iron Age fortress. The excavations have uncovered more than 24,000 artefacts from different eras and have provided evidence that the fortress was expanded and improved during the Middle Ages. Recently restored and renovated, the site is now a popular tourist attraction and an ideal location for filming medieval battle re-enactments.

5. Suomenlinna, Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki and Suomenlinna Sightseeing Tour 2023 - Viator

Although Finland contains numerous older sites, we had to include Suomenlina in this list of the best historic sites in Europe. This fascinating fortress is perhaps the most advanced maritime fortification complex of the 18th century. The fortress spans eight different islands and has had several owners over the years. Today the site has been transformed into a series of museums and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you are interested in military history, you should definitely not miss this place.

6. State Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia

State Hermitage Museum and Winter Palace in St. Petersburg City Centre |

Selecting just one historical site in a country as large as Russia would be unfair to so many fascinating sites across the country. It is for this reason that we have chosen to present the museum that has the largest number of historical objects. The Hermitage is not only the largest collection of art, culture and history in Russia, but also the second largest museum in the world. Founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great, the collections of paintings, works of art and other historical pieces have been open to the public since 1852.

Visitors can admire the collections of From Antiquity to Modern Russia and with works by masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, Raphael, Rubens and Picasso.

7. Pirita Monastery Ruins, Tallinn, Estonia

Pirita convent - Wikipedia

Pirita Monastery was once the most important monastery in Estonia and today this medieval site is one of the most picturesque ruins in the Baltics. The monastery dates back to the early 15th century and for around 150 years was one of the largest in Northern Europe. At the end of the 16th century the monastery was destroyed during the Russian invasion of 1575.

8. Rundale Palace, Rundale, Latvia

Private day trip to Rundale Palace, Hill of Crosses & more 2023

If you thought you wouldn't find luxurious baroque palaces in the former Soviet Latvia, you're wrong. Rundale is a palace near the town of Rundale, built in the 18th century by the Duke of Courland Ernst Johann von Biron and is one of only two Baroque palaces in Latvia. Over the years the palace has hosted many influential people. It was the home of Catherine the Great's lovers, the Shuvalov family, and also served as a hospital for the French army during Napoleon's invasion.

The palace was seriously damaged. Damaged during the Latvian War of Independence (1919) and the Second World War, it was completely restored between 1974 and 2014. The total cost of the intervention was approximately 8.5 million euros.

9. Gediminas Tower, Vilnius, Lithuania

Gediminas' Tower - Wikipedia

Gediminas Tower is the last remnant of the ancient Great Upper Castle of Vilnius. The Upper Castle was one of three castles in Vilnius, but they were all destroyed during numerous attacks in the 13th and 14th centuries. Today, Gediminas Tower is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vilnius and Lithuania. Inside the tower is the Vilnius Castle Museum; An interesting site with many interesting artefacts, including a model showing what the castle looked like.

10. Mir Castle, Mir, Belarus

Mir Castle, Mir, Belarus - SpottingHistory

Mir Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most impressive historical sites in Eastern Europe. The castle was built in the 16th century and originally belonged to the Ilyinich dynasty. However, it was Mikołaj Krzysztof who gave the castle its imposing Renaissance appearance.

The castle was seriously damaged during the Battle of Mir (1812). After a century of peace, the Poles took control of the castle between 1921 and 1939. During World War II, the castle was a Jewish ghetto where many people lived before being sent to concentration camps. Today Mir Castle is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Belarus. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.

11. Guaita Tower, San Marino

Guaita Tower, San Marino, San Marino

For such a microscopic country, San Marino certainly has many wonderful landscapes to offer. One of these is the Guaita Tower, the oldest fortified monument in San Marino. The tower is located at the top of Mount Guaita and dominates the capital San Marino. Torre Guaita was originally a prison in the 11th century, but over the years it has become a popular tourist attraction thanks to its spectacular views. Today the tower appears on the state flag and national coat of arms.