Kraków, a southern Poland city near the border of the Czech Republic, is known for its well-preserved medieval core and Jewish quarter. Its old town – ringed by Planty Park and remnants of the city’s medieval walls – is centered on the stately, expansive Rynek Glówny (market square). This plaza is the site of the Cloth Hall, a Renaissance-era trading outpost, and St. Mary’s Basilica, a 14th-century Gothic church.
Milwaukee is a city in the U.S. state of Wisconsin on Lake Michigan’s western shore. It’s known for its breweries, many of which offer tours chronicling its role in the beer industry. Overlooking the Menomonee River, the Harley-Davidson Museum displays classic motorcycles, including one of Elvis Presley’s. Nearby is the Milwaukee Public Museum, with its large-scale European Village and a recreation of old Milwaukee.
Riga, Latvia’s capital, is set on the Baltic Sea at the mouth of the River Daugava. It’s considered a cultural center and is home to many museums and concert halls. The city is also known for its wooden buildings, art nouveau architecture and medieval Old Town. The pedestrian-only Old Town has many shops and restaurants and is home to busy Livu Square, with bars and nightclubs.
Orléans is a city on the banks of the Loire River in north-central France, and it’s the capital of the Centre-Val de Loire region. Joan of Arc famously saved the city from English siege in 1429, an event celebrated with an annual festival. A re-creation of the house where she stayed during the battle, the Maison de Jeanne d’Arc, features multimedia exhibits on her life.
Chicago, on Lake Michigan in Illinois, is among the largest cities in the U.S. Famed for its bold architecture, it has a skyline punctuated by skyscrapers such as the iconic John Hancock Center, 1,451-ft. Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) and the neo-Gothic Tribune Tower. The city is also renowned for its museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago with its noted Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works.
Edinburgh is Scotland’s compact, hilly capital. It has a medieval Old Town and elegant Georgian New Town with gardens and neoclassical buildings. Looming over the city is Edinburgh Castle, home to Scotland’s crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny, used in the coronation of Scottish rulers. Arthur’s Seat is an imposing peak in Holyrood Park with sweeping views, and Calton Hill is topped with monuments and memorials.
Dhaka is the capital city of Bangladesh, in southern Asia. Set beside the Buriganga River, it’s at the center of national government, trade and culture. The 17th-century old city was the Mughal capital of Bengal, and many palaces and mosques remain. American architect Louis Khan’s National Parliament House complex typifies the huge, fast-growing modern metropolis.
Grodno is a city in western Belarus, near the Polish and Lithuanian borders. By the Neman River, the Old Castle is a Renaissance palace on the site of an 11th-century fort. Nearby, the New Castle was built in the 18th century as a royal residence. The 12th-century Kalozha Church of Sts. Boris and Gleb is adorned with polished stones and majolica tiles. The St. Francis Xavier Cathedral features an ornate carved altar.
The Louvre museum, home to the “Mona Lisa,” is the heart of this lively district that features Hausmann-era boulevards and parks such as the Tuileries and the 17th-century Palais Royal. Fashionistas troop to the designer boutiques and luxury jewelers along chic Rue Saint Honoré and Place Vendôme. Les Halles shopping district has international fashion chains along Rue de Rivoli and in a vast underground mall.
Tokyo, Japan’s busy capital, mixes the ultramodern and the traditional, from neon-lit skyscrapers to historic temples. The opulent Meiji Shinto Shrine is known for its towering gate and surrounding woods. The Imperial Palace sits amid large public gardens. The city’s many museums offer exhibits ranging from classical art (in the Tokyo National Museum) to a reconstructed kabuki theater (in the Edo-Tokyo Museum).