A Tour of The Old World: Europe Photo Gallery

 
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Francois I and King Henri II were once owners of the Loire Valley's Chateau Chenonceau. But it was Catherine de Medici who built the gallery across the water—and established a reputation for throwing great parties there.  
Credit: Jupiterimages/Thinkstock 
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The cupola of the Duomo virtually defines the Florentine skyline. One of the Renaissance's greatest engineering accomplishments, it was the highest and largest dome ever built, and the first constructed without a wooden supporting frame.  
Credit: PhotoDisc 
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Scotland's Loch Ness owns bragging rights to more than just its monster, Nessie. The lake holds more water than any other in Britain, due to its great depth—about 132 meters.  
Credit: Thinkstock 
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Santorini is rumored to be the legendary island of Atlantis. In 1650 BC, most of the island—once a seaport of the Minoan civilization—was devastated by a volcanic eruption, just as Atlantis was allegedly destroyed by a catastrophic event.  
Credit: Gay Vanderelst/Photographer's Choice 
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When Prague's 14th-century Charles Bridge first spanned the Vltava River, its only adornment was a simple crucifix. Some 75 sculptures now decorate the bridge. Legend has it that touching the original crucifix makes a wish come true.  
Credit: Czech Tourism 
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Since the 14th century, Lisbon's Torre de Belem has served as a military fort, customs checkpoint, telegraph station, political prison, and lighthouse. UNESCO designated the grand tower a World Heritage Site in 1983.  
Credit: Thinkstock 
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From 1961 to 1989, a bricked-up Brandenburg Gate stood between East and West Berlin, representing the city's political divide. The open gate of today has naturally become a symbol of Germany's reunification.  
Credit: Alexander Hassenstein/Thinkstock 
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In parts of Norway's north, the summer sun remains above the horizon from May to July. But all good things have their downside; in winter these Arctic reaches don't even see the sun rise.  
Credit: Frank Krahmer/Photographer’s Choice 
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Vatican City is the world's smallest state, stretching just .27 square miles, but its hand reaches much further than that. Established as home to the Pope in 1929, it is the spiritual head of the Catholic religion, where business is conducted, prayers are said under Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel, and an estimated 4.2 million tourists (Catholic or not) visit each year.  
Credit: BriYYZ/Flickr 
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You don't have to be Irish to drink in the Emerald Isle's electrified scenery—or to shoulder up to one if its many country pubs. We suggest a tour from Belfast to Londonderry for 12th-century castles, seabirds at the Cliffs of Moher, emerald gardens, glen upon glen, charming villages, windswept beaches, a completely walled city, and, most importantly, the world's oldest whiskey distillery.  
Credit: Tourism Ireland 
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Skip through the cities and villages of Poland that we try in vain to pronounce, like Częstochowa, the site of the Black Madonna. If you want to skip the repentance lines, head to Bieszczady, a must for the traveler who prefers the more rugged side of life. The Carpathians rise high out of the ground, poking at God, and the pastures are expansive, losing land to dense tree forests and fields of wildflowers.  
Credit: Leszek.Leszczynski/Flickr 
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Visitors often arrive in Croatia and make a beeline for the coast, skipping the inner workings of one of the world's newest independent nations (it just cut its teeth in 1991). Stay inland and explore the cities of Zagreb and Pula, where Roman ruins and Austro-Hungarian architecture frame a community of people keen on their beer halls and outdoor summer concerts.  
Credit: Thinkstock 
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Icelanders live in quite the fairytale land—rainbows, barn-size icebergs, turf-topped houses, wild horses, volcanoes, the northern lights, and the exaggerated contrast of green grass contiguous to blue waters.  
Credit: Arctic-Images/Photodisc 
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Straddle the continents of Asia and Europe with a cruise down the 20-mile-long Bosphorus Strait, which cuts through the heart of mysterious Istanbul. Contemplate the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire along these fault lines as you sail past the historic splendor of the Blue Mosque and the Topkapi Palace, home to the royals for almost four centuries.  
Credit: Richard Nowitz/National Geographic 
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The tiny country of Monaco is but an ant in comparison to surrounding France. Central Park alone nearly doubles its acreage. Yet even with such little landmass, this pint-sized country still boasts an exceptionally high GDP and some of the wealthiest residents in the world.  
Credit: Robert Harding/Digital Vision 
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There's arguably no occasion more romantic than a trip to the City of Light, and the amorous activities are nearly limitless. Cruise the Seine, promenade along the Champs-Elysees, catch a dinner show at The Moulin Rouge, stroll Giverny and Versailles, picnic on fresh baguettes and brie, or just stand atop the Eiffel Tower and wait for the sun to set on the city.  
Credit: Frederick Schussler 
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Dominated by the cloud-scraping peaks of the Alps, Austria often gets the cold shoulder from anyone not on skis. But the flawless expanse of polished-smooth alpine lakes and charming villages in Austria's Lake District play a tranquil summer foil to the winter chaos of chairlifts and mega-resorts.  
Credit: Manchan/Digital Vision 
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Leave it to the Scandinavians to engineer one of the world's greatest railway experiences in the frigid north of the Arctic Circle. The route from Stockholm to Kiruna will put you more than 100 miles above the Arctic Circle, climbing nearly 3,000 feet into the fjords and mountains of southern Norway and then slowly descending into a yet another set of fjords on the other side.  
Credit: Thinkstock 
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Millions of years ago, lava erupted out of cracks in the earth's crust, cooling from both the top and bottom; it shrunk, cracked, and formed crystallized basalt columns. You’ll find these famous formations in Giant's Causeway off the northern coast of Ireland.  
Credit: Keenpress/National Geographic 
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Flanked by more than 2,000 miles of Baltic Sea coastline on the east and the Scandinavian mountain range to the west, the interior of Sweden is a landscape of snowcapped peaks, rolling valleys, and a plethora of ski areas open for the midnight sun.  
Credit: Roine Magnusson/Photodisc 
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Visit Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, to see one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe. It was first developed in the 13th century, when knights of the Teutonic Order built a castle. Today you can walk the cobblestone streets of Old Town, the medieval square on UNESCO's World Heritage List since 1997, and take in the rich history, Gothic architecture, and historic marketplaces.  
Credit: Thinkstock 
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Created from the shells of creatures that lived millions of years ago, the white cliffs of Mons Klint, Denmark, are now a popular spot for tourists. Framed with the Baltic Sea, the cliffs can be explored by one of the many paths built for walkers or bicyclists. Due to the area's history as a once active seabed, fossils are abundant and make for a relaxing search and stroll along the cliff walls. Opposite the sea are deep woodlands, ponds, and fields of wild flowers that create an array of colors when blooming in the summertime.  
Credit: Thinkstock 
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While Belgrade is not Europe's most beautiful city, it ranks right up there with Ibiza and Amsterdam on the cool factor. Belgrade is quickly growing into its newfound popularity, replacing stark Soviet-era architecture with underground raves and floating bars. Backpackers have discovered the appeal as well, with a cobweb of hostel lounges and Turkish coffee houses lining the streets that connect the banks of the Danube and Sava rivers.  
Credit: Thinkstock 
 
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