The continent of Europe is a boiling pot of diverse cultures that date back to different chapters of its history. Each civilization that has thrived in this region has left an indelible mark on the traditional heritage, in the form of art, architecture, and music. The cities and towns of Europe still display the majestic monuments from the ancient times and the art galleries are brimming with creations of the talented masterminds from the yesteryears. Even though the top tourist spots of Europe beautifully represent the rich culture of this region, it is the hidden cultural hotspots that offer a glance at the rare gems from the past. Here are some lesser known destinations of the continent that provide a perfect tribute to the glorious history of Europe.

Bilbao, Spain

Hidden behind the curtain of industrial wastelands and skyscrapers is the magical Spanish city of Bilbao. The mesmerizing riverfront landscapes and unique architecture of this city often go unnoticed, owing to the attention given to the commercial areas of the region. However, if you dig deeper, this city holds several cultural treasures. The futuristic design of the Museo Guggenheim Bilbao is brought to life by the titanium structures that stand out against the scenery. The Museo de Bellas Artes is an eclectic mix of ancient and contemporary art forms while the Puente Colgante is famous as the world’s oldest transporter bridge. You can also head over to Casco Viejo to enjoy the old world charm of the winding streets and quirky cafes.

Essen, Germany

The city of Essen in Germany used to be a small town before the onset of industrialization that made it one of the most important coal and steel centers of the country. However, Essen has managed to preserve some wonderful relics from the olden times in the face of urbanization. Once a coal washing plant, The Ruhr Museum offers a tour of the dark interiors of the building, replete with aluminum ducts, steel ladders, and conveyor belts. Museum Folkwang has a more traditional setting and displays the works of some of the finest European artists. The Dom Cathedral holds a breathtaking chapel while the Alte Synagoge still displays its medieval grandeur after surviving the Second World War. Essen perfectly captures the beauty of the bygone era.

Split, Croatia

The city of Split in Croatia is a flawless depiction of the diverse and intriguing culture of the country. The heartbeat of this city is the massive Diocletian’s Palace, an imperial building made with limestone and marble that houses shops, restaurants, and cafes. The Marjan Hill offers a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of the lively main town. Carved into the caves of the hill are some churches that have witnessed several centuries. The imposing structure of the Klis Fortress stands guard at the outskirts of the city and the Temple of Jupiter that now serves as a cathedral’s baptistery was once a Roman Temple. Accessed from the airport, the city itself is quite easy to navigate, and agile Split taxi services will help you even further. The whole landscape is dotted with remnants of the past that still add to the allure of this Croatian city.

Wroclaw, Poland

Wroclaw is one of the most fascinating cities of Poland and displays Bohemian, Prussian, and Austrian influences. Nestled on the banks of the Odra River, this beautiful city holds verdant parks and picturesque bridges; however, the stunning monuments steal the show. The Old Town Hall exhibits some amazing Gothic and Renaissance architecture while the Church of St. Mary Magdalene possesses a serene aura. The grand gates and sprawling campus of the University of Wroclaw date back to the 18th century and offer some marvelous sights. Other remarkable spots include the two enchanting houses connected by a Baroque archway. Known as Hansel & Gretel, these houses add to the rustic elegance of Wroclaw and make it the perfect destination for a journey to the medieval ages.

These cultural hubs of Europe are not too crowded and therefore allow the travelers to explore the continent at a leisurely pace. They bear several marvels of architecture that reveal the culture of the forefathers of the region. A visit to any of these cities will shed a new light on the history of Europe, and the tranquil environment will definitely win you over.