Most of Europe’s most popular tourist attractions are on dry land. However, that does not mean that we should forget the wonders of the sea. Here are the five best aquariums in Europe that allow you to discover the mysterious depths of the Pacific, Atlantic and other oceans without getting your feet wet.
1. Oceanário de Lisboa – Lisbon, Portugal
The Oceanário de Lisboa is not just one of the best in Europe. It is, in fact, the largest aquarium as well. Its central reservoir is a 1,000-square-metre tank with four gigantic acrylic windows to peer through. Four smaller containers surrounding the main exhibit also contain inhabitants of the Pacific, Atlantic, Arctic and Antarctic waters. There are more than 8 thousand sea creatures and 500 species of plants for visitors to marvel at. On the first floor of the oceanarium, there are an additional 25 thematic aquariums. Major highlights include two spider crabs, two sea otters, Tropical Indian coral reefs, and a rare sunfish.
the Oceanário de Lisboa's prized sunfish
2. l’Oceanogràfic – Valencia, Spain
The largest open-air aquarium in Europe is actually located in Valencia, Spain. It is l’Oceanogràfic, within the state-of-the-art City of Arts and Sciences. The futuristic compound features more than 110 thousand square metres of aquatic exhibits—and even the architecture was inspired by water! The main building was designed by Felix Candela to resemble water lilies. L’Oceanogràfic is home to 4,5000 fish and marine animals from the ecosystem of the Mediterranean Sea, the Arctic and Antarctic, and even tropical seas.
3. The AquaDom – Berlin, Germany
Housed within the 5-star Radisson Blu Hotel Berlin, AquaDom may not be the largest in Europe—but it is certainly one of the most impressive. Rising up from the floor of the hotel’s atrium, the eye-catching cylinder towers more than 25 metres. With a diameter of 11 metres, the tank holds nearly a million litres of water. Within it are over 2,600 species of fish. However, what makes the AquaDom so incredible is the fact that there is a transparent two-story elevator inside of it! Up to 30 tourists can travel at once right through the water, from the ground floor of the hotel to the upper observation platform.
4. Deep Sea World – Fife, UK
One of the most popular tourist attractions in the Scottish village of North Queensferry is the Deep Sea World aquarium. It is perhaps most famous for its collection of large sand tiger sharks (also known as ragged toothed sharks or grey nurse sharks) and other species. Another premier attraction is the 112-metre-long transparent acrylic underwater viewing tunnel, which is one of the longest of its kind in the world. The tunnel runs through a tank that contains 1,000,000 gallons of seawater pumped in from the River Forth. Because of the water’s low temperature, most of the animals on display are from around Britain. However, the aquarium also has rock pools containing exotic fish and a new seal enclosure among other attractions.
5. Sea Life London Aquarium – London, UK
Right on the ground floor of County Hall on the South Bank of the River Thames, you will find the largest collection of aquatic species in London. Sea Life attracts about a million visitors each year, and it is easy to see why it remains so popular. Along with the requisite displays of fish and mammals, the aquarium is also home to eight gentoo penguins that were transferred from the Edinburgh Zoo earlier this year. Other unique attractions include the underwater Shark Walk tunnel and an exhibit of three robotic fish. Additionally, the centre offers classes and is involved in multiple breeding programs (including seahorses, jellyfish, butterfly goodeids, and the Cuban crocodile.)
Lisbon is a fantastic holiday destination for any lover of art. The vibrant Portuguese city is filled with galleries and museums that celebrate genres, themes and mediums from around the world. Of particular note is Lisbon’s collection of modern art museums. Spread out across the colorful city centre, these museums offer insight into the city’s rich culture and point of view. Easily reached from the Corinthia Hotel Lisbon, America Diamond’s Hotel and other wonderful Lisbon hotels, here are five modern art museums worth including in your tour:
1. Modern Art Center
Situated near the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation headquarters and Museum, the Modern Art Center commands a central address in Lisbon. Upon entering the large white building, you will discover an incredible collection of modern Portuguese art and contemporary art. The Modern Art Center (officially known as the Centro de Arte Moderna Jose de Azeredo Perdigão) also features a sizeable collection of 20th-century British art. Among the highlights are works by Almada Negreiros, Paula Rego (arguably Portugal’s most influential contemporary artist) and Amadeo Souza Cardoso. You can also find pieces by David Hockney and Bill Woodrow, and even a Henry Moore sculpture in the garden.
an exhibit at the Modern Art Center
2. Chiado Museum
As Portugal’s national gallery of contemporary art, the Chiado Museum is obviously a popular attraction. Its architecture was recently redesigned by Jean-Michel Wilmotte to better accent the collection of 19th- and 20th-century Portuguese art. The permanent collection is displayed in thematic exhibitions; you can easily follow the transition from Romanticism to Modernism. While the collection is heavily Portuguese, there are also a few international pieces. Be sure to see the Rodin masterpieces, like The Bronze Age, and the Art Deco diptychs by Almada Negreiros. The Chiado Museum also hosts temporary exhibitions, and is home to a pleasant café.
3. Arpad Szenes – Vieira da Silva Museum
Founded by a couple of graduates of the Second School of Paris, the Arpad Szenes – Vieira da Silva Museum features a unique and comprehensive collection of Modernist art. Back in the 1930’s, Vieira da Silva was at the vanguard of European art, hailed for her vision and innovative techniques. With her husband—Hungarian artist Arpad Szenes—she eventually founded this focused museum. The collection centers around Expressionist urban themes (da Silva’s specialty) and the luminous landscape paintings of her husband’s. Along with their own work, the couple welcomes temporary exhibitions to the 18th-century silk factory that now houses the museum.
the exterior of the Arpad Szenes – Vieira da Silva Museum
4. Berardo Museum
Home to one of the most acclaimed modern art collections in the world, the Berardo Museum is an important landmark in Lisbon. Within its confines, you will find awe-inspiring pieces by everyone from Picasso and Dali to Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol. Cumulated by Portuguese magnate Joe Berardo over many years, the collection was once sought after by other major cities. However, the Portuguese government has held on—and for good reason. The Berardo Museum was officially opened in June of 2007, and it is located within the Belem Cultural Center. At any given time, you will find about 250 pieces of modern art on display. However, the entire collection is said to have 4,000.
5. MuDe – Design and Fashion Museum
You won’t find the typical paintings or sculptures here. However, the MuDe – Design and Fashion Museum is one of the world’s leading museums of 20th-century design. Hailed by many as the best in Europe, the collection here consists of pieces by 230 designers. It includes 1,000 design objects and at least 1,200 couture pieces! Highlights include the famous Jean Desses gown that Renee Zellweger wore to the 2001 Oscars, Christian Dior’s 1947 New Look, and other masterpieces by Vivienne Westwood, Yves Saint Laurent, Jean Paul Gaultier, Henning Koppel, Charles Eames and Phillipe Starck. The museum is located within the Belem Cultural Center, in the heart of Lisbon.
Those are the best three words to describe a traditional Portugese dish called Bacalhau, which is translated as “dried and salted codfish.”
There are many other words people may use to describe this dish, mainly because it has been said there are over 1,000 recipes in Portugal alone! This is usually the case among most Portuguese dishes, which consists largely of seafood.
This traditional dish became common because of its popularity among the Catholic population. Because devout Roman Catholics generally avoid eating meat on Fridays and during Lent, fish is often times a typical substitute.
Typically the fish come from Iceland or Newfoundland, and are salted heavily. This is because of the ancient ways of preserving the fish, as well as adding flavor to it. If you are planning a trip to Portugal, you will more than likely find many restaurants serving bacalhau, and the possibilities are virtually endless on how it may be served. Whether served with potatoes and wine, or fried and served as appetizers with beer, you’ll appreciate taking part in a 500-year-old tradition in Portugal.