As a college student studying abroad, I’m always on the look out for free opportunities, and one fell right into my lap during London’s Architectural Open House Weekend which took place from 19th September to 21st September. Approximately 800 buildings were opened to the public in order to show off their architectural wonders. The famous Gherkin was at the top of the list and was a “must see” for me. A friend and I woke up at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning to stand in line to get to the tip of the Gherkin. The view of the city was breath taking, and it inspired me to write about some of the greatest views that you can find from above in European cities.
1. The Gherkin
Of course, I had to make the Gherkin number one on the list. After all, it was the great inspiration for this blog in the first place. The Gherkin, a domed glass skyscraper, stands in the borough of the City of London at 30 St. Mary Axe right next to the Leaden Hall. Normally, a visitor won’t be able to make his or her way to the top for free except on the Architectural Open House Weekend in London. However, guests can visit the plaza of the Gherkin, and there are restaurants within the skyscraper that offer a remarkable view to enjoy while dining. If anything, the skyscraper makes for a beautiful photograph as one of London’s most iconic buildings.
View of London and Leaden Hall from the top of the Gherkin. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen.
2. The Fernsehturm
The Fernsehturm, also known as the Berlin TV Tower, is the tallest and one of the most prominent structures in Germany at 368 meters high. The tower dominates the Berlin skyline and gives a vast view of the city and surrounding areas. Adults can venture up to the top of the tower for €13 and children between the ages of 4 and 16 for €8.50. The tower also offers a restaurant and a bar in the sphere of the tower, so you can enjoy the gorgeous Berlin skyline for an entire evening.
Photo Credit: Avda@Wikipedia.
3. St. Stephen’s Basilica Rooftop
St. Stephen’s is Budapest‘s largest church topped with a massive dome. The rooftop of the the church offers a stunning, panoramic view of the Budapest that would be very difficult to find anywhere else. You’ll have to pay a small charge to climb up to the roof and there are a number of stairs involved, but the view will be worth the effort.
Photo Credit: Adam Kliczek@Wikipedia.
4. The Piazzale Michelangelo
The Piazzale Michelangelo is known as the best place to get remarkable views of Florence. The famous site is located at the top of a hill by the Arno River. You can either take public transportation to the top or make the trek yourself. Once there, you’ll see Florence sprawling before you, including an incredible view of the Cathedral of Santa Maria dei Fiore. The Piazzale has a replica of Michelangelo’s David statue, food stalls, souvenir vendors and space for parking, so there is plenty beside the view to keep you busy.
Photo Credit: ElmHoo@Wikipedia.
5. Circulo de Bellas Artes Rooftop
Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid is a Protection Centre for Fine Arts and serves as a venue for conferences and art classes. It was originally founded by a group of artists in 1888. Since then, famous artists such as Picasso and Ramón José Simón Valle Peña have attended classes there. Today, there are four floors of art exhibits featuring paintings, drawing, sculptures and photography. However, one of the main draws of the building is its rooftop view. The rooftop also referred to as the “Tartan Roof” gives a 360 degree panoramic view of Madrid’s skyline with the mountains in the distance. You’ll get an especially good view of Madrid’s Metropolis Building, Plaza de le Cibeles and the City Hall.
Photo Credit: felipe_gabaldon@Flickr.
6. Tour Montparnasse
Sure, everyone knows that the Eiffel Tower gives a great view of Paris from above. But what about a place in which you can get a view that includes the Eiffel Tower in the skyline? The Tour Montparnasse, an office skyscraper, provides that unique skyline scene. The skyscraper’s view rivals the Eiffel Tower’s, and you won’t have to wait hours in line to see it. The tower itself isn’t pretty; but when viewing the city from its top, you won’t have to worry about it ruining the skyline, right? You’ll be able to take as many photos and enjoy the beauty of Parisian monuments, gardens and streets from the 56th floor.
Photo Credit: y.caradec@Flickr.
7. Janiculum Hill
Janiculum Hill, located in western Rome, provides one of the most awe inspiring views of the ancient city. If you climb up to the hill’s terrace, a broad view of Rome’s countless domes, monuments and churches will be waiting for you. After you’ve properly admired Rome from above, take the chance to visit the San Pietro Montorio church and the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola, a baroque fountain built by Pope Paul V, on the hill as well.
Photo Credit: Dark Rome Tours & Walks@Flickr.
Dana Wolthuizen is studying English and non-profit business at Central College with a passion for travel writing.