In the nearly 30 years since the fall of the Iron Curtain and subsequent collapse of communism and the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe has really opened up to the world. Over the past few decades, this once-mysterious region of the world has become a leader in tourism. There is an abundance of sights and attractions spread throughout Eastern Europe, in Russia, Ukraine, and Poland, but other countries as well. If are you planning to take a vacation to Eastern Europe next year, here are the top 10 places to visit.
There’s nothing quite as uniquely beautiful as Tallinn, the picturesque capital of Estonia, one of three members of the ‘Baltic States’ of the former Soviet Union. Heritage and history are the main buzzwords in Tallinn. Breathe in both as you walk through narrow streets, cobbled alleyways and the dozens of castles that dot the urban landscape. Tallinn is over 850 years old and is one of the most historic cities in all of Europe.
The Kremlin and Red Square, Moscow
You can easily spend an entire day in Red Square exploring the local sights such as St. Basil’s Cathedral, Lenin’s Tomb, Tretyakov Gallery. Nearby is the Old Arbat, a tourist street lined with shops and restaurants that is still a gathering place for the city’s artsy crowd. Though you in all likelihood you won’t be able to get a tour of the Kremlin, you can walk around the legislative building for photography opportunities.
Throughout Eastern Europe, you will find many living history lessons, and Prague Castle is one of the best examples. This fortress was built in the 9th Century in the Roman and Gothic style. It was once home to the kings of Bohemia and Holy Roman emperors. These days, the President of the Czech Republic lives here. See also: a quick guide to Prague.
Located in Budapest, this sprawling palace has been home to generations of Hungarian kings and rulers. The massive Baroque palace you will visit today was completed in 1769.
Do vampires exist or are they merely a product of folklore? Bran Castle is the supposed home of the legendary vampire Dracula. Though you probably won’t get to meet any vampires or see black bats flying out this medieval fortress int eh Transylvania region of Romania, it is nevertheless a place that should be on your to-do list.
Saint Petersburg is one of the finest cities in Eastern Europe and undoubtedly one of the most popular in Russia to visit. Czar Peter the Great had Peterhof Palace built in the 18th Century. It is really a series of palaces and gardens that have been referred to as the ‘Russian Versailles.” Oh, and it has also been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Saint Sophia Cathedral
Eastern Europe is rife with amazing old churches, and Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev is without a doubt one of the most prolific. In fact, this cathedral is one of Kiev’s most recognizable landmarks. Take a tour and admire the stunning architecture and icons of Jesus Christ, Mary and other Biblical figures that dot the interior.
Many folks when they travel want to experience some of what local nature has to offer. Khortytsia is the largest island in the Dnieper River. This island is 12.5 kilometers long and has walking trails through the forests as well as protected wetland and wildlife areas.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum
This Polish museum is a somber reminder of that genocide that took place here during the Second World II. As grim as it may be, this memorial to the victims of the Nazi concentration camps of Auschwitz Birkenau attracts large crowds each year.
Main Square, Kraków
The Main Square is a popular gathering place for both tourists and locals alike. It is located within the Old Town of Krakow, Poland and has a rich history dating back to the 13th Century. It’s worth exploring the rustic brick and stone buildings in the vicinity of the square.
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