7 Famous Artworks in Europe (and Where to Find Them)
Europe’s art galleries can be overwhelming at the best of times. Some are so large it’s simply impossible to see all the artwork in a single visit. Others are less known and hide true gems that you simply can’t miss. Even if you’re not a huge fan of galleries, keep an eye out for these famous artworks in Europe on your next rail trip.
Famous artworks in Europe
1. Water Lilies, Claude Monet – Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris
Monet may have created hundreds of iconic paintings in his lifetime, but few are as celebrated as his Water Lilies series. These 250 oil paintings depict the changing light and mood in the artist’s garden, and were the culmination of his life’s work. The paintings are on display around the world, but one of the best places to see them in all their glory is the L’Orangerie Museum in Paris.
Museum: Musée de l’Orangerie
Entrance fee: €9 (full rate); €6.50 (reduced rate)
2. The Birth of Venus, Sandro Botticelli – Uffizi Gallery, Florence
Florence, and the Uffizi Gallery, is brimming with world-renowned artworks, but if you must track down one in this incredible city, look for The Birth of Venus. This work by Botticelli depicts Aphrodite emerging from the sea on a shell, and there’s a good chance you’ve seen a variation of this on a t-shirt, postcard or in popular culture already. Though nothing can prepare you for the sheer beauty of the work in real life.
Museum: Uffizi Gallery
Entrance: €8 (full rate); € 4.00 (reduced rate)
3. The Scream, Edvard Munch – The National Gallery of Norway
Most people are familiar with The Scream – this famous painting has popped up in films, literature and even merchandise. A version of this painting was stolen from the Munich Museum back in 2004, only to be recovered two years later, but the original still hangs in the country of its origin, Norway.
Museum: The National Gallery of Norway
Entrance: €11 (full rate); €5.50 (reduced rate)
4. Guernica, Pablo Picasso – Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid
You may be able to find fine examples of Picasso’s works throughout the continent, but if you seek out one his paintings on your next trip make sure it’s Guernica. This massive piece is possibly the artist’s most famous painting, depicting the events surrounding the bombing of the Basque town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.
Museum: Museo Reina Sofía
5. The Creation of Adam, Michelangelo – The Sistine Chapel, Vatican City
The walk through to the Sistine Chapel may be lined with incredible artwork from the ages, but let’s be honest – you’re only here for one thing: the roof of the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo’s masterpiece will take your breath away the moment you set foot inside the otherwise humble room, and if you’re lucky enough to find a seat along the sides, you can easily spend upwards of an hour with your neck craned upwards looking at the hand of God.
Museum: Sistine Chapel
Entrance: €16 (full rate); €8 (reduced rate)
6. The Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci – The Louvre, Paris
The Mona Lisa may well be the most famous artworks in Europe, let alone all time. This unfortunately means that it’s also one of the most visited, and there’s little chance that you’ll get a quiet moment alone with the all-seeing lady. But that won’t detract from the moment – if anything, it’s worth taking a step back to see how the hundreds of tourists interact with this fascinating work of art.
Museum: The Louvre
7. The Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci – Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan
The Last Supper, another famous work by artist da Vinci, is a must-visit when in Milan. This large mural painting covers the back wall of the dining hall in the Santa Maria delle Grazie monastery and depicts the scene of the Last Supper, when Jesus announces that one of his Twelve Apostles would betray him. Religious or not, this impressive artwork will leave you humbled.
Museum: Santa Maria delle Grazie
Entrance: €10 (full rate); €5 (reduced rate)
Museums, famous artwork, and Europe go together so well that you may reach saturation point pretty quickly on a multi-country rail journey. But if you stake out which artworks pique your interest and plan your visit accordingly, there’s a good chance you’ll leave inspired and desperate to seek out more in your next destination.
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