Architecture Around Europe

In the summer of 2015, my family and I took a trip to Europe where I got to see so many amazing and inspirational buildings. All the photos/sketches are mine unless otherwise noted.

Paris Opera House


I made a sketch of the interior because there wasn't any photography allowed.

Notre Dame

 We waited in the super long line to see inside Notre Dame. My memory of all the churches is fading together a little.

There's a marker right in front of Notre Dame that marks the center of Paris.

City Camping Exhibit on La Seine River

This section of La Seine river was one of our favorite places to hang out in Paris. They had lots of sculptural exhibits as well as places to eat, play games, and even a sparkling water water fountain. When we were there, they had a architecture exhibit called City Camping where groups designed structures that could be disassembled and moved around.

The Eiffel Tower

Of course, when in Paris, we visited the Eiffel Tower. We went in the evening and took the elevator all the way up to the top and then took the stairs down.

Arc de Triumph

 It was so much fun to watch the traffic patterns from the top of the Arc de Triumph.

Sketch from under the archway.

 Paris Museum of Architecture

Technically the Cite de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine, this was hands down my favorite museum in Paris (sorry, Louvre!) It had replicas of Roman sculptures, a breathtaking view of the Eiffel Tower, models of famous French landmark buildings, and a LIFE SIZE MODEL of an apartment from Le Corbusier's Unite d'Habitation that you could GO INSIDE! Needless to say, I was a bit excited.

Inside the Unite d'Habitation apartment model:


 This cathedral had the most amazing stained glass.

 Musee d'Orsay

My second favorite museum in Paris was the Musee d'Orsay. (Sorry again, Louvre. We did visit the Louvre while in Paris, but just ran in to see the Mona Lisa and a few others and then ran back out without taking many pictures.) First of all, the building is an incredible old train station that was converted into a museum and secondly, it has a lot of amazing artwork inside, including my favorite sculpture ever, the Little Dancer of Fourteen Years by Edgar Degas.


Fondation Louis Vuitton

 We went to the Fondation Louis Vuitton on our last night in Paris. It's on the outskirts of the city so we took the Metro all the way out and then walked a few blocks through a residential area and a park. My family had no clue where I was taking them and it started to sprinkle a little but it was definitely worth the adventure to see this masterpiece by Frank Gehry. 

Exploring Paris

Apart from the famous buildings, just walking around Paris can be an architectural treat. The entire city has such a distinctive style. Most of the buildings are a beautiful light tan color and they have a grey roof that often houses many more rows of windows inside.

The Metro system under Paris had some very interesting architecture as well. I loved how each station had a feeling all its own.

The Colosseum and Forum

We said goodbye to Paris and traveled to Rome where we were sure not to miss the Roman Colosseum and Forum. It was incredible to see the scale that the Romans built at and to think about all the time that has passed since their time and what has and hasn't changed.

This was my favorite building in the Forum. The green door near the center is where the street level was in the time of Michelangelo. It was incredible to think that this structure has survived so many changes in the world around it, including the street level, which we often think of as a constant.


I was also really excited to see the Pantheon and its famous ceiling after reading about it so much.

St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City

 While in Rome, we visited Vatican City and go to see St. Peter's Basilica. It was an enormous church. So enormous in fact, that inside the church there are markings on the floor of how small other famous churches would be if they were placed inside St. Peter's.


In Florence, Italy, we got to see many things, including the Ponte Vecchio bridge, the David sculpture by Michelangelo, and Il Duomo cathedral. At Il Duomo, we explored all the way from the Roman ruins in the basement to the top of the spires overlooking the city.

Photo credit to my dad.

Tile floor from the Roman times.

Floor plan of the cathedral basement color coded by time period of the ruins.

On our way up to the top.

Photo credit to my dad.

Venice, Italy

In Venice, every building was a masterpiece. We loved exploring the city by water bus or by foot.


We took a day trip to Amsterdam when we were staying in Germany. Like Venice, everywhere you look there are beautiful buildings all around. I loved how they had a distinctive style to them as well, tall with white-framed windows and interesting geometry at the top of the facade by the roof line. I also loved the floating flower markets there. We went to the Anne Frank House as well, which was incredible to see how tiny a space they all lived in, but there was no photography allowed inside.

If walls could dream... they'd dream of being built all over the world!