As the kids go back to school for another year, you may find yourself getting nostalgic and wondering where on earth the time went. But your education does not stop when you step out of the classroom for the last time! There’s always an opportunity to educate yourself further, so make September into your very own version of ‘Back to School’ by checking out one of these excellent museums in Europe.
1. The British Museum, London
It’s one of the best museums in the world, and you don’t even have to leave the country to see it. With eight million works from all over the world in its permanent collection, this museum tells the entire story of human culture from its earliest days.
Highlights of the museum include:
- the Olduvai stone chopping tool which, at 1.8 million years old, is the oldest human object to be found in the collection.
- the gold hoard from Sutton Hoo, one of the most impressive in the world.
- the Vindolanda tablets, which are the oldest handwritten documents in Britain and date to before the building of Hadrian’s Wall.
- And of course, don’t miss the fabulous and controversial Elgin Marbles, which may not be in the museum’s collection for ever if Greece has its way.
2. Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland
Auschwitz-Birkenau is one of the most haunting museums you will ever visit. The two concentration camps here are the most famous of them all, and the museum provides an emotional historical record of the mass murder which was carried out on a scale never seem before or since.
The exhibits are horrifying and fascinating, but perhaps the most evocative experience is simply wandering around the camp itself. It has been left exactly as it was found so that the true horror of what took place here suddenly becomes very real indeed.
3. The Vatican Museums, Rome
Found inside the Vatican City, the museums here display the wonders that have been collected by the Catholic Church over the centuries, and together they comprise one of the most awe-inspiring collections in the world. With 54 galleries in total, you could spend days exploring them.
Founded in the 16th century by Pope Julius II, the collection has steadily grown, and now you will be able to find such works of art as the Apoxyomenos sculpture in Museo Pio Clementino, exquisite Roman mosaic floors, the Stanze della Segnatura which is decorated by Rafael, and of course the Sistine Chapel with Michelangelo’s masterpiece, The Last Judgement.
4. The Louvre, Paris
This art museum is the best in France and many would argue is the best in Europe. It is by far the most visited museum in the world, although this may have something to do with a certain book by Dan Brown.
The highlight for many is the Mona Lisa, but after seeing it many are left wishing that they could get closer or spend some more time near to it. It is a very small painting and the crowd has to keep moving, so many visitors find that other works end up being their highlights.
These include Venus de Milo, one of the most famous statues in the world, and another masterpiece by da Vinci, Madonna on the Rocks.
5. Anne Frank House, Amsterdam
Located on the Prinsengracht Canal, this small, unassuming building was the place where the most famous diarist in the world lived out her last years. Anne Frank hid here with her family and others as the Nazis scoured the land for Jews. Everyone knows her tragic story, but visiting the house which has now been turned into a museum brings it vividly to life.
Her hiding place has been preserved, and many are shocked by just how small it was, especially seeing as she stayed hidden here for two years and a month before she was betrayed and taken away to her death in the concentration camps.