Any destination or landmark can take on a special significance if it’s the site of a proposal, honeymoon, anniversary, or some other romantic milestone. But visits to certain places can give you a walk-on part in the story of someone else’s love. Here’s where to go if you’re keen to find some of the most romantic landmarks around the world.
The Taj Mahal - Agra, India
After the death of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan set out to create a fitting tribute to her memory. We know it as the Taj Mahal. Worthy of the World Heritage Status bestowed by UNESCO in 1983, this extraordinary mausoleum was painstakingly crafted from white marble inlaid with precious and semi-precious stones. It took 16 years to build and to this day remains one of the most impressive romantic landmarks in the world. It’s a sentiment echoed by Nobel Prize-winning poet Rabindranath Tagore, who famously wrote, “let this one teardrop, this Taj Mahal, glisten spotlessly bright on the cheek of time, forever and ever.”
Juliet’s Balcony - Verona, Italy
The Casa di Giulietta in Verona once belonged to the del Cappello family, who some say were the inspiration for the Capulets in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The connection is mostly due to the similarity between their names, as there’s no evidence the bard ever visited Italy, let alone the city of Verona. The mansion dates back to the 13th century, so it did exist at the time Romeo and Juliet was penned, but the balcony that’s the focus of attention today was a 20th-century addition. However, historical inaccuracies don't seem to bother the many thousands of people who visit each year, leaving love letters to the starstruck couple and reliving one of literature's most romantic moments.
Magere Brug - Amsterdam, Netherlands
It’s become common practice for couples to commemorate their love by attaching an engraved padlock to a bridge. So popular, in fact, that many city authorities have called for a ban because of the damage such extra weight can do to the structure, as happened with the Pont des Arts in Paris. Magere Brug in Amsterdam approaches things a little differently. The structure, which has several nicknames including “the kissing bridge,” is at its most magical after dark, when it is lit by more than a thousand bulbs that reflect in the water. Tradition dictates that if a couple should kiss beneath it, their love will endure forever — no padlock required.
Kōdai-ji Temple - Kyoto, Japan
Kōdai-ji Temple is often overlooked by tourists to Kyoto who flock instead to Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) and Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion). Nevertheless, of the many temples you might visit in this historic city, this one has the best claim to being a romantic landmark. Toyotomi Hideyoshi was a powerful Samurai, and when he died in 1598, he left a wife, Kōdai-in (also known as Nene). She became a nun and built a temple in his honor in the hills overlooking the Gion district of Kyoto, selecting the top architects, designers, and craftsmen of the day to create a fitting memorial. The elaborate interior featured a technique called Maki-e, where powdered gold and silver are set in lacquer. When she herself died, she was laid to rest beside her husband in a mausoleum above the temple.
Petit Trianon - Versailles, France
Known the world over for its twinkling lights, elegant beauty, and gastronomic delights, Paris makes a strong case for being the City of Love. Yet, the place with the strongest claim to be a romantic landmark isn’t the Eiffel Tower or River Seine. It’s not even in the city center. To see a place that truly embodies l’amour, you need to head out to Versailles and visit the Petit Trianon. The French monarch Louis XV commissioned it for his beloved mistress, Madame de Pompadour, though she didn’t live long enough to see it finished. Instead, it became the home of her successor, Madame du Barry, and later, during the reign of Louis XVI, the property of Marie Antoinette. Smaller and more intimate than the larger palace, this testament to love sits surrounded by the famed gardens of Versailles, and includes a view of the garden's aptly-named Temple of Love from the main apartment.
The Albert Memorial - London, UK
There are monuments to love all over London. The statue of Eros – the Greek God of Love –in Piccadilly Circus and the bronze lovers that embrace at St Pancras Station’s The Meeting Place are just two that immediately spring to mind. However, nothing symbolizes true love more than the Albert Memorial, located in Kensington Gardens opposite the Royal Albert Hall. At first glance, it simply depicts the seated figure of a man, albeit one covered in dazzling gold leaf and surrounded by embellishments typical of the 19th century. But that man was Prince Albert, the love of Queen Victoria’s life. When she lost the husband she adored to typhoid fever at the age of just 42, she was bereft, wearing mourning clothes for the rest of her life.