8 of the best places to go in Europe for art lovers

Europe is packed with artistic delights, so Art historian Dr Janina Ramirez recommends some of the more unusual sights.

As a continent, Europe is a cultural melting pot full of rich history.

With so many interesting things to see and do, we caught up with co-host of BBC Four’s An Art Lovers’ Guide and Art historian to find out the best spots to see.

1. NDSM, Amsterdam


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Whether it's robots that dance, large-scale installations, or provocative performance art, the new innovators and creatives of Amsterdam are being drawn to the warehouses and cafes of NDSM.

A tonic to 'old Dutch art' - the enormous ships that carried art and ideas across the world were once made here - this is where the future of Amsterdam's artists lies.

2. Misericords in Oude Kerk, Amsterdam


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Misericords are carved scenes on the bottom of seats in churches, often featuring comedic portrayals of daily life or moral messages.

The ones in Amsterdam's oldest church are something special. There is a clear obsession with defecation, with one scene showing a lady carefully pulling a turd out from a man. The message is instructive - basically, don't rush - but the treatment is unique.

3. Anna Akhmatova's Literary and Memorial Museum, St Petersburg

One of the 20th century's finest poets, Anna Akhmatova lived, loved and wrote in her apartment, part of The Sheremetev Palace.

Everything from the chair she sat in, to the ashtray she burned her inflammatory poetry in, is in its original location. An eerie, yet deeply moving destination off the beaten track that truly connects the visitor with the reality of St Petersburg's turbulent history.

4. Avtovo Metro Station, St Petersburg


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The Metro stations of St Petersburg are perhaps the clearest display of the Communist reworking of the city; luxurious declarations of beautiful architecture were created to show how power had devolved to the masses.

The most stunning is Avtovo Metro station, featuring columns cased in carved glass, chandeliers and an enormous mosaic of Mother Russia triumphant.

Propaganda or public art, it remains visually stunning.

5. Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines, St Petersburg


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Inside this time capsule museum is one of the largest collections of surviving Soviet Arcade Machines. From 1975 onwards the USSR commissioned computer games, following the example of America and Europe.

However, they had a staunchly Communist message - the games had to aid physical development or encourage Communist ideals.

6. Museu Frederic Mares, Barcelona

Part of the palace of the Counts of Barcelona, and one-time seat of the Spanish Inquisition, a plethora of curiosities lie concealed in the winding galleries of this museum. Sculptor Frederic Mares was a hoarder, but a hoarder who understood what items come to exemplify a time and a place.

Here you can see keys, fans and toy-soldiers (in the Museu Sentinel section), alongside stunning works of religious art, and pieces salvaged from Catalonia's turbulent cultural landscape.

7. Torre de Bellesguard, Barcelona


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One of Gaudi's lesser-known masterpieces, this modernist mansion is known as Casa Figueres after the family that commissioned it.

The site itself has great historical significance, as it had been the location for the palace of King Martin, Count of Barcelona in the late 14th century. As such, Gaudi created a hybrid, suggesting the power of Catalonia's medieval past, combined with a renewed confidence going into the 20th century.

8. Frieze by Pablo Picasso, Barcelona

Opposite Barcelona's Cathedral is the Collegi d'Arquitectes building. In 1960, Pablo Picasso designed a frieze that runs around the outside of the structure. Playful, celebratory and exuberant, the images have a graffiti-like quality that contrasts with some of Picasso's more sombre public artworks.

On the left-hand side he has depicted people dancing the Sardana, Catalonia's national dance. A declaration of national pride, it's a powerful rallying point for Catalonian independence.

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