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Europe's most beautiful buildings listed by the UNESCO

Europe is blessed with an amazing array of historical monuments. A small selection among them has been listed as World Heritage Sites by the UNESCO. These sites were chosen mainly for their historical significance and universal value, not merely for their beauty or popularity.

On this page Eupedia attempts to shortlist the most gorgeous and stunning isolated monuments that have been awarded World Heritage status. The list excludes whole towns or cities, but can includes clusters of buildings known under a single denomination, like the Acropolis, Mont Saint-Michel, the Palace of Versailles, or the Grand Place in Brussels. Most of the buildings have achieved UNESCO recognition on their own, although a few are listed as part of a wider category. For example the Louvre belongs to the 'Banks of the Seine in Paris' World Heritage Site.

The ranking is approximate and of course subjective. Keep in mind that it is not the pictures that are ranked but the actual places. The Palace of Caserta or Versailles are absolutely huge places that impress by their size, interior decoration and gardens more than by their façades. Likewise the breathtaking dimensions of Cologne Cathedral or El Escorial cannot be properly grasped from a picture.

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21. Acropolis in Athens, Greece

Listed by the UNESCO as Acropolis, Athens since 1987.

Acropolis in Athens (© sborisov - Fotolia.com)

20. Colosseum in Rome, Latium, Italy

Listed by the UNESCO as Historic Centre of Rome since 1980.

Colosseum in Rome, Latium, Italy (© Iakov Kalinin - Fotolia.com)

19. Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, Andalusia, Spain

Listed by the UNESCO as Historic Centre of Cordoba (originally listed as the Great Mosque of Córdoba) since 1984.

Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba (© akulamatiau - Fotolia.com)

18. Würzburg Residence in Würzburg, Bavaria, Germany

Listed by the UNESCO as Würzburg Residence with the Court Gardens and Residence Square since 1981.

Würzburg Residence, Bavaria, Germany (© WernerHilpert - Fotolia.com)

17. New Palace in Potsdam, Brandenburg, Germany

Listed by the UNESCO as Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin since 1990.

New Palace in Potsdam (photo by Wolfgang Staudt - Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license)

16. Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Listed by the UNESCO as Works of Antoni Gaudí since 1984.

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona (© MasterLu - Fotolia.com)

15. Saint Basil's Cathedral (Kremlin), Moscow, Russia

Listed by the UNESCO as Kremlin and Red Square, Moscow since 1990.

Saint Basil's Cathedral (Kremlin), Moscow, Russia (© serjek - Fotolia.com)

14. Cologne Cathedral, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Listed by the UNESCO as Cologne Cathedral since 1996.

Cologne Cathedral, North Rhine-Westphalen, Germany (© arsdigital - Fotolia.com)

13. Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa, Tuscany, Italy

Listed by the UNESCO as Piazza del Duomo, Pisa since 1987.

Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa, Tuscany, Italy (© MasterLu - Fotolia.com)

12. El Escorial Palace & Monastery, Community of Madrid, Spain

Listed by the UNESCO as Monastery and Site of the Escurial, Madrid since 1984.

El Escorial Palace & Monastery, Community of Madrid, Spain (© Tupungato - Fotolia.com)

11. Palace of Caserta, Campania, Italy

Listed by the UNESCO as 18th-Century Royal Palace at Caserta with the Park, the Aqueduct of Vanvitelli, and the San Leucio Complex since 1997.

Caserta Royal Palace, Campania, Italy (© Salvatore Pandolfi - Fotolia.com)

10. Château de Chambord, Loire Valley, France

Listed by the UNESCO as The Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes (previously inscribed as Chateau and Estate of Chambord) since 1981.

Chambord Castle, Centre, France (© Jose Ignacio Soto - Fotolia.com)


9. Pena National Palace in Sintra, Portugal

Listed by the UNESCO as Cultural Landscape of Sintra since 1995.

Pena National Palace in Sintra, Portugal (© Frédéric Prochasson - Fotolia.com)

8. Mont Saint-Michel, Lower Normandy, France

Listed by the UNESCO as Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay since 1979.

Mont Saint-Michel, Lower Normandy, France (© kevin14 - Fotolia.com)

7. Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium

Listed by the UNESCO as La Grand-Place, Brussels since 1998.

Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium (© ANADEL - Fotolia.com)

6. Alhambra in Granada, Andalusia, Spain

Listed by the UNESCO as Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín, Granada since 1994.

Court of the Lions in the Alhambra, Granada (© Rafael Ramirez - Fotolia.com)

5. The Louvre in Paris, Île-de-France, France

Listed by the UNESCO as Paris, Banks of the Seine since 1991.

Palais du Louvre, Île-de-France, France (© kanonsky - Fotolia.com)

4. Westminster Palace in London, United Kingdom

Listed by the UNESCO as Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey including Saint Margaret?s Church since 1987.

Westminster Palace & Big Ben at night, London (© Gary - Fotolia.com)

3. Duomo in Florence, Tuscany, Italy

Listed by the UNESCO as Historic Centre of Florence since 1982.

Duomo in Florence, Tuscany, Italy (© MasterLu - Fotolia.com)

2. Palace of Versailles, Île-de-France, France

Listed by the UNESCO as Palace and Park of Versailles since 1979.

Palais de Versailles, Île-de-France, France (© Claude Coquilleau - Fotolia.com)

1. Winter Palace, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Listed by the UNESCO as Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments since 1990.

Winter Palace, Saint Petersburg (© Vitas - Fotolia.com)

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