The Best World Heritage Sites You Can Reach by Ferry

July 31, 2017

Europe is home to a wealth of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the most of any continent. While the UK boasts many of its own World Heritage Sites, there are some fantastic locations just a stone’s throw away on mainland Europe.

 

France

Mont-Saint-Michel

Rising out of its vast and misty bay, Mont-Saint-Michel has long been shrouded in legend and mystery. Beginning life as an abbey perched high on the natural mount, it grew into a snapshot of medieval society, with the soaring abbey at the top, grand halls beneath, and the village nestling inside the walls.

Amiens Cathedral

This stunning cathedral was added to UNESCO’s list as one of the best examples of religious Gothic architecture. It’s one of Europe’s largest Gothic cathedrals, showing off an array of sculptures and stone-carvings, as well as a beautifully laid-out floor plan.

Versailles

One of the most famous palaces in the world, Versailles was the centre of the French royal court until the revolution began in 1789. Built by Louis IV, expanding an existing hunting lodge, the palace became a symbol of French power and wealth. Within the vast gardens you can find Marie Antoinette’s private village, designed to look like a typical country scene complete with villagers and farm animals.

 

Belgium

Bruges

The historic centre of Bruges was awarded World Heritage status thanks to its perfectly preserved medieval buildings and layout. Peaceful canals and cobbled streets create a uniquely magical atmosphere, along with towering belfries and medieval guildhalls. Visitors staying after sundown can also see the beautiful city fantastically lit up.

La Grand-Place

Belgium’s capital is home to one of Europe’s best urban treasures: the Grand-Place. This city square shows off a stunning collection of 17th century architecture, including the imposing Hotel de Ville (town hall) and the Maison du Roi, home of the Museum of the City of Brussels. Most of the square is surrounded by richly decorated guildhalls built the city’s merchants, each designed to outdo their neighbour.

 

Netherlands

Canals of Amsterdam

Amsterdam’s canals are famous the world over, and the city is known for its distinct character and look. This is largely thanks to careful planning in the 16th and 17th centuries, when the city was extended with rings of canals and neatly arranged streets in between. Amsterdam’s famous gabled houses were erected in these spaces, along with new churches and public buildings, creating the city’s trademark look.

Mills of Kinderdijk-Elshout

It’s impossible to think of the Netherlands without thinking of windmills. The Kinderdijk-Elshout area provides the perfect example, with a whole series of windmills, dykes, reservoirs, and other buildings around water and agriculture, with its origins stretching back to the Middle Ages. Today it makes an enchanting and fascinating area to explore, especially by bicycle, another national Dutch favourite.

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