From the end of the Middle Ages until the 17th century, the area of Belgium was a prosperous and cosmopolitan center of commerce and culture. Between the 16th and early 19th centuries, Belgium served as the battleground between many European powers, earning the moniker the “Battlefield of Europe”, a reputation strengthened by both world wars. The country emerged in 1830 following the Belgian Revolution when it seceded from the Netherlands.
We visited Brussels, Ghent, Antwerp, and Bruges in 2015 as part of Ireland, Belgium and Luxembourg trip, and Ypres in 2016 as part of the northern France trip.
France became Europe’s dominant cultural, political, and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, established one of modern history’s earliest republics, and saw the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation’s ideals to this day.
We visited Paris, Nice, and Cannes in 1984 , northern France (Lille, Honfleur, Amiens, D-day beaches, Mont St Michel, St. Malo, Chartres, and Giverny) in 2016, and Strasburg & Colmar in 2018.
In 1704, Anglo-Dutch forces captured Gibraltar from Spain during the War of the Spanish Succession on behalf of the Habsburg claim to the Spanish throne. The territory was ceded to Great Britain in perpetuity under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. During World War II it was an important base for the Royal Navy as it controlled the entrance and exit to the Mediterranean Sea, which is only 8 miles (13 km) wide at this naval choke point. It remains strategically important, with half the world’s seaborne trade passing through the strait.
We visited Gibraltar in 2013 as part of our Spain, Portugal and Morocco trip.
In 1871, Germany became a nation state when most of the German states unified into the Prussian-dominated German Empire. After World War I and the revolution of 1918–19, the Empire was replaced by the parliamentary Weimar Republic. The Nazi seizure of power in 1933 led to the establishment of a dictatorship, World War II and the Holocaust. After the end of World War II in Europe and a period of Allied occupation, two German states were founded: West Germany, formed from the American, British, and French occupation zones, and East Germany, formed from the Soviet occupation zone. Following the Revolutions of 1989 that ended communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe, the country was reunified on 3 October 1990.
We visited Munich, Dachau, Weisbaden, Koblenz, and cities along the Romantic Road in 1984, Berlin in 2009, and Frankfurt, Freiburg, Baden-Baden, Heidelburg and Dresden in 2018
Due to its central geographic location in Europe and the Mediterranean, Italy has historically been home to a myriad of peoples and cultures. In the first century BC, the Roman Empire emerged as the dominant power in the Mediterranean Basin and became the leading cultural, political and religious centre of Western civilization. The legacy of the Roman Empire is widespread and can be observed in the global distribution of civilian law, republican governments, Christianity and the Latin script.
We visited Rome and Venice in 1984, Milan in 2009, Bolzano, Dolomites, and Lake Como in 2015, Trieste in 2016, and Bologna, Florence, Siena, Pisa, Ompeii, Cinque Terre, Sorrento, Naples, and Sicily in 2017.
Liechtenstein is a doubly landlocked German-speaking microstate in western Europe. The country is a constitutional monarchy headed by the Prince of Liechtenstein. It is also the smallest country to border two countries.
We visited Vaduz in 2015 as part of our Dolomites & Greece trip.
The history of Luxembourg is considered to begin in 963, when count Siegfried I acquired a rocky promontory and its Roman-era fortifications known as Lucilinburhuc, ′little castle′, and the surrounding area from the Imperial Abbey of St. Maximin in nearby Trier. The present-day state of Luxembourg first emerged at the Congress of Vienna in 1815. The Grand-Duchy, with its powerful fortress, became an independent state under the personal possession of William I of the Netherlands with a Prussian garrison to guard the city against another invasion from France.
We visited Luxembourg City in 2015 as part of our Ireland, Belgium & Luxembourg trip.
Malta has been inhabited since approximately 5900 BC. Its location in the centre of the Mediterranean has historically given it great strategic importance as a naval base, with a succession of powers having contested and ruled the islands, including the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Greeks, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Sicilians, Spanish, Knights of St. John, French, and British. The country became a republic in 1974.
We visited Valletta, Gozo, Mdina, and Marsaxlokk in 2017 as part of our Italy, Sicily & Tunisia trip.
Monaco has an area of 2 km2 , making it the second-smallest country in the world after the Vatican. With 19,009 inhabitants per km², it is the most densely-populated sovereign state in the world.
We visited Monte Carlo in 1984 as part of our 9-country whirlwind European trip.
Portugal as a country was established during the Christian Reconquista against the Moors who had invaded the Iberian Peninsula in 711 AD. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal established the first global empire, becoming one of the world’s major economic, political and military powers.
We visited Lisbon, Belem, Sintra, Lagos, Cape Sagres, and Faro in 2013 as part of our Spain, Portugal and Morocco trip.
The country derives its name literally from Saint Marinus, a stonemason originating from the Roman colony on the island of Rab, in modern-day Croatia. In AD 257, Marinus, according to legend, participated in the reconstruction of Rimini’s city walls after their destruction by Liburnian pirates. Marinus then went on to found an independent monastic community on Monte Titano in AD 301; thus, San Marino lays claim to be the oldest extant sovereign state as well as the oldest constitutional republic.
We visited San Marino in 2017 as part of our Italy, Sicily, Tunisia and Malta trip.
In the early modern period, Spain became the world’s first global empire and the most powerful country in the world, leaving a large cultural and linguistic legacy that includes +570 million Hispanophones, making Spanish the world’s second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.
We visited Barcelona in 1984, Madrid, and Valdelavilla in 2007, and Seville, Granada, Malaga, Ronda, Algeciras, and Tarifa in 2013 as part of our Spain, Portugal and Morocco trip.
Swiss independence from the Holy Roman Empire was formally recognized in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. The country has a history of armed neutrality going back to the Reformation; it has not been in a state of war internationally since 1815 and did not join the United Nations until 2002.
We visited Lucerne, Zurich, Zermatt, and Interlaken in 1984 as part of our 9-country whirlwind European trip, and Chur in 2015 while driving from Liechtenstein to Italy.
The Kingdom of the Netherlands originated in the aftermath of French Emperor Napoleon I’s defeat in 1815, awarding rule to William, Prince of Orange and Nassau. The Kingdom of the Netherlands currently consists of four constituent countries: the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten. Three other Caribbean islands (Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba) are special municipalities within the country of the Netherlands.
We visited Amsterdam, Zaanse Schans, and Alkmaar in 1984 as part of our 9-country whirlwind European trip.
Vatican City is an independent city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy. Established with the Lateran Treaty (1929), it is distinct from yet under “full ownership, exclusive dominion, and sovereign authority and jurisdiction” of the Holy See. With an area of 44 hectares, and a population of about 1,000, it is the smallest state in the world by both area and population.
We visited Vatican City in 1984 as part of our 9-country whirlwind European trip.
See Next – Northern Europe Countries