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Duomo di Siena

In a country overrun with churches, Siena’s 13th-century Romanesque and Gothic Duomo really stands out. This striped marble building is one of the most striking cathedrals I’ve ever seen. The interior pops with bold bands of black and white (the colors of Siena’s coat of arms) and vivid blue vaults. The inlaid-marble floor depicts historical […]

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Santa Maria del Fiore, or Duomo, Florence

I think this is the most magnificent structure in Europe. Every time I return to Florence and lay fresh eyes upon this colorful, patterned exterior, I’m struck by its beauty. The original 6th-century church that stood on this site was deemed inappropriate in the 13th century, the same time that new cathedrals sprung up in […]

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Baptistery of San Giovanni, Florence

This is the oldest building in Florence. It served as the city’s first cathedral as early as 9th century AD. The interior’s ancient granite columns are believed to have come from the city’s old Roman capitol and the pavement mosaic likely belonged to an old Roman bakery. The exterior was embellished in the 11th century […]

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Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence

The Florentine Renaissance is on display inside this 13th-century palace. Sculptures by Michelangelo and his followers and works by Donatello are the most impressive pieces. Since Florence is surrounded by quarries, throughout the years artists have developed incomparable stonecutting skills. The massive applied arts and fine arts collection showcases enamels, silverware, jewelry and artwork. The […]

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Basilica di San Croce, Florence

This neo-Gothic structure is the Franciscans’ principal church and is the largest Franciscan church in the world. Built in the 13th century, it replaced an older church that the congregation had outgrown. The walls and floors contain monuments to 270 notable Italians and tombs of some, including Michelangelo and Machiavelli. 16 chapels are adorned with […]

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Santa Maria Novello, Florence

This 13th-century church was one of the first Florentine basilicas. It was constructed by the Dominican order to replace a 9th-century oratory dedicated to Santa Maria delle Vigne (hence the “Novello”). The old church was gifted to the Dominicans upon their arrival in Florence, but was deemed too small. The new one was designed with […]

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Loggia dei Lanzi or Loggia della Signoria, Florence

Loggia dei Lanzi was built in the 14th century as a dais for public ceremonies and political events. Today, it’s an open-air museum for sculptures and a great place to take a break and revisit over and over again. Tweet

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BMW Museum, Munich

Further out of the city center is the headquarters of Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, along with the BMW Museum, which exhibits motorcycles and cars. In 1917, BMW began producing airplane engines, expanded to motorbikes in 1923 and cars in 1928. The aluminum-clad main office building was designed after a four-cylinder engine. It was completed right […]

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Theatinerkirche, or St Catjan, Munich

This 17th-century Baroque church is a burst of color, with golden towers and a green copper dome. It is modeled after Rome’s Sant’ Andrea della Valle. The façade was completed in Rococo style by François de Cuvilliers, who was credited for bringing Rococo to Germany. The interior is white stucco. The church and monastery were […]

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Frauenkirche or Dom, Munich

The Frauenkirche’s15th-century copper onion-domed towers loom over Munich’s skyline. When the church was built, the 99-meter towers were the tallest in the city; today, no new building is allowed to obstruct the view. The towers were meant to be topped with spires, but lack of funds resulted in Plan B: the domes, which were inspired […]

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