In Europe, 76 destinations off the beaten path
Looking beyond Rome, Paris or London? Consider Europe's lesser-known destinations, such as Monschau, Germany, a town so quaint you can hardly believe it isn't a theme park or San Marino, one of Europe's oldest and smallest countries (drive through it slowly).
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Hvar, Croatia( Rachel Thurston )
In the last 1,500 years, the island has been ruled by the Illyrians, Greeks, Romans, Turks, Slavs, Venetians, Austrians and French. Surprisingly, despite the ravages of invaders and war, the Dalmatians have managed to absorb the best of these cultures into their architecture and cuisine. Hvar was a prominent port for the Venetian republic, and the Italians trained Hvar's residents in stone carving, which they have used to ornament the town's buildings to extraordinary effect.
Vestiges of the past abound here: the 16th century loggia in front of the Palace Hotel, the 16th-to-17th century St. Stephen's Cathedral at the eastern end of the plaza, and a 17th century arsenal along the waterfront, which was once used as a repairing and refitting station for Venetian ships. Adjoining it is one of the oldest public theaters in Europe, built in 1612, where plays are still performed to small audiences.
-- Rachel S. Thurston
Pictured: Hvar's Venetian-style harbor.