Places with photo galleries in Europe
If you should mention one national icon for Belarus, the Brest Fortress should be it. The grey concrete main entrance with the star-shaped opening is on the 50 BYR note, while the other side of the bill has the south entrance depicted. The fortress was originally built in the 19th century in what was then part of the Russian Empire. It was one of largest of the Russian fortresses, but became even bigger with every modernizing and upgrade it went through. During WWII, the Soviet soldiers defended the fortress so hard against the Nazis that Brest became one of the 11 "Hero Cities" in the Soviet Union along with Leningrad and Stalingrad. Today there isn't much left of the fortress besides the outer wall, which is riddled with bullet holes, and some buildings including a gorgeous Byzantine church. But, considering how heavily it was bombarded, it's impressive that there is anything left at all. The main sights are a towering obelisk and a giant stone face. The internal fame at the base is occasionally guarded by teenage soldiers with guns, who put on a show at the guard shift.
Mir Castle is a real 16th-century castle with towers, spires, courtyard and everything. It's one of the few UNESCO sites in Belarus and a must-do day trip from Minsk. The castle has recently been through a total makeover, so it once again is complete. The interior has been cleverly rebuilt so the new modern exhibition rooms morph together with the original structure. Existing castle rooms are set up as dining room, meeting hall, etc. like in the old days, with antique furnitures and paintings. Information is only in Belarusian, but you can make sense of most of the stuff without.
Another great sight in Mir is Mir village itself across the road. Colourful wooden cottages make up most of the village and there are some pretty churches too. It might be your only change to have a peek at rural Belarus.
Dubrovnik is the iconic Adriatic medieval walled city. In the Middle Ages it flourished in maritime trading as the city-state of Ragusa and was rivaling Venice. During the Yugoslavian war, in the beginning of the 90's, it was sieged for seven month and got severe damaged by artillery attacks. Today Dubrovnik is again insane pretty and manicured to limit that it's almost too much. Just to top it off, there are beaches (pebbles though, not sand) with the most crystal-clear water you can imagine, but screamingly cold. All this makes of course Dubrovnik to the perfect tourist magnet and the stream of tourist buses also seems never-ending, but it is still possible to find adorable corners, without being run over by sunburned tour group.
Zagreb is low on major sights, but this just mean you can enjoy the charm of the city without the hordes of tourists. The city is split into two parts, the handsome upper part and the ordinary lower part. The upper part is for sightseeing and pleasure, while the lower end is where life is lived. The few must-see places include Zagreb Cathedral, St. Mark's church (picture) and the vegetable market, but else Zagreb is best enjoyed by strolling aimlessly around. As with any capital in Eastern Europe the nightlife is good. Bar-lined Tkalciceva street turns into a public catwalk at nighttime with outdoor couches and affordable drinks - what more do you wish for.
Nicosia is the only divided capital left in the world. The city is divided right in the middle from east to west into two very distinct parts, which feel like they don't belong in the same century. The south side is Greek Cypriot and is as modern and western as the rest of Western Europe. There are lots of cosy cafes, art shops, and cute restaurants down the narrow lanes. The north side is Turkish Cypriot and resemble more like Istanbul with its oriental bazaar, mosques, and dilapidated houses. It's easy to cross the border at Ledra Street, so there is no reason not to explore both sides.
The Agios Loannis lambadistis Monastery is considered one of the best of Cyprus' painted church – ten of which have been designated by UNESCO as World Heritage sites. From the outside the small monastery doesn't look like much, but when entering the dark interior, it's a different story. The whole ceiling is covered in vivid frescos from the 11th to the 15th century. Like ancient cartoons, each illustrates an episode from the bible. Getting to Agios Loannis lambadistis Monastery is almost half the fun. First by navigating the winding roads through Troodos Mountains, and then wriggle your way through the narrow lanes of the small villages of Kalopanagiotis, where the monastery lies at the bottom across the river. The villages itself could easily be a candidate for the cutest villages in Cyprus.
The splendid Roman Ruins at Salamis is one of Cyprus's best archaeological site. An extensive area which once was a prosperous Roman city about 2000 years ago. Though most of the structures have been reduced to crumbling walls and columns, making it hard to figure out what they once were, some have been restored to some degree, making it possible to get an idea of how grand the city of Salamis once were. The whole area is kept wild with bushes and high grass covering the ruins, making a visit rather adventurous.
Flanked by the sea on one side and resorts on the others lies this gem of an open-air museum. A collection of underground tombs and chambers dating all the way back to the 4th century BC. Despite the name, Tombs of the Kings, no kings were buried here, just wealthy residents of ancient Paphos. There are seven excavated tombs scattered over the rather large site. Some are cut into small hills, while others are underground, imitated the houses of the living. Not much is fenced off and there are staircases so you can descend into the tombs, which all are empty. Tombs of the Kings is, along with Paphos Archaeological Site closer to the harbour, an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Christiania started as a free-spirited hippie community in an squatted military area in the 1970s right in the middle of Copenhagen. They were never kicked out and the small community slowly grew to a self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood with experimental theatres, shops, bars, workshops, imaginative homemade houses and a lot of drugs. In the beginning, all kinds of drugs were sold, which attracted a lot of trouble. But Christiania got its act together and cleaned up so only soft drugs, like hashish and marijuana are sold in the street that has become known as "Pusher Street" - a name that sticks today on official maps. Though drugs (including soft drugs) are illegal in Denmark, the street is still lined with dealers showing their merchandise just like any other flea market, but police raids are not uncommon. Christiania has become the third most popular tourist attraction in Copenhagen after Tivoli and the Little Mermaid.
The urban landscape in Copenhagen is filled with art and cool design. It is an old tradition that ending of buildings have been used for painted advertising or murals done by famous and less-famous artists. As old buildings get replaced by new bright architecture with lots of windows, the big murals are slowly disappearing, but there are still quite a few left. So go hunting for wall painting in the streets of Copenhagen.