The Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord fjords in southwestern Norway are two of the longest and deepest in the world. They are characterised by crystalline rock walls rising 1400m from the Norwegian Sea and plunging to a depth of 500m below sea level.
Their steep cliffs are home to coniferous forests, glaciers, rivers and waterfalls, and sprinkled with old and largely abandoned transhumant farms. They’re considered to be among the world’s most scenic fjords, harbouring an array of terrestrial and marine life including native deer, arctic foxes, brown bears, otters, porpoises, sperm whales and Atlantic salmon.
© Dmitry Naumov/Shutterstock
Founded by the Celts, the university town of Salamanca became a Roman settlement and commercial hub in the third century BC, it was later ruled by the Moors. But it wasn’t until the thirteenth century that it gained importance when Alfonso IX of León granted a royal charter to the university, which became one of Europe’s most prestigious centres for learning.
The city’s historical centre is home to Romanesque, Gothic, Moorish, Renaissance and Baroque constructions, such as the magnificent eighteenth century Plaza Mayor, which lies at the heart of the Golden City.
Plaza Mayor © Tupungato/Shutterstock
Nicknamed ”The Venice of the North”, the port city of St Petersburg was built in the eighteenth century under Tsar Peter the Great in a bid to modernise Russia and rival the most beautiful European cities. He commissioned French and Italian architects to build its elegant core.
St Petersburg’s picturesque canals are lined with pastel-coloured baroque and Neo-classical buildings, the most notable of which is the magnificent Winter Palace, the former residence of the Russian tsars until the Russian Revolution of 1917. Today it houses the Hermitage, one of the largest and oldest museums in the world.
9. Białowieża Forest, Poland
Straddling the Polish-Belarus border, the Białowieża Forest is a vast primary woodland offering excellent biodiversity conservation, thanks to its old-growth forests and diverse range of ecosystems – including wet meadows, wetlands and valleys.
It is home to the largest population of European bison, with a number of breeding reserves located in Białowieża National Park. The forest was once the hunting reserve of Polish monarchs and later of Russian tsars.
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