Warsaw is notable among Europe’s capital cities not for its size, its age, or its beauty but for its indestructibility. It is a phoenix that has risen repeatedly from the ashes of war. Having suffered fearful damage during the Swedish and Prussian occupation of 1655–56, it was again assaulted in 1794, when the Russian army massacred the population of the right-bank suburb of Praga. In 1944, after the Warsaw Uprising failed, by Adolf Hitler’s order the city was razed; the left-bank suburbs, controlled by the Germans, were emptied of their remaining population; and the buildings were systematically reduced to rubble by fire and dynamite. In 1945, however, the people of Warsaw, the Varsovians, returned, and the city resumed its role as the capital of Poland and the country’s centre of social, political, economic, scientific, and cultural life. Many of the historical streets, buildings, and churches have been restored exactly according to their original forms.
Richmond, the capital of Virginia, is among America’s oldest major cities. Patrick Henry, a U.S. Founding Father, famously declared “Give me liberty or give me death” at its St. John’s Church in 1775, leading to the Revolutionary War. The White House of the Confederacy, home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis during the Civil War, is now a museum in Court End, a neighborhood known for Federal-style mansions.
Norfolk is a waterfront city in southeastern Virginia. It’s home to Naval Station Norfolk, a massive naval base on Chesapeake Bay. Nauticus is a maritime museum that features the Battleship Wisconsin, a huge WWII warship. The Chrysler Museum of Art showcases a vast collection of glass art, plus European and American paintings and sculpture. The riverside Virginia Zoo is home to bears, birds, lions and farm animals.
Hartford is the capital of Connecticut. It’s home to the Mark Twain House & Museum. The 1874 mansion contains thousands of artifacts, including the desk at which Twain wrote his best-known works. The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center includes the author’s Victorian house and many period furnishings, plus a garden. The broad collection of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art includes Renaissance and impressionist works.
Jakarta, Indonesia’s massive capital, sits on the northwest coast of the island of Java. A historic mix of cultures – Javanese, Malay, Chinese, Arab, Indian and European – has influenced its architecture, language and cuisine. The old town, Kota Tua, is home to Dutch colonial buildings, Glodok (Jakarta’s Chinatown) and the old port of Sunda Kelapa, where traditional wooden schooners dock.
Montgomery is the capital city of Alabama. The black granite Civil Rights Memorial and adjacent exhibition center commemorate the Civil Rights Movement. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, a hub for the Montgomery bus boycott. Close by is the domed, 1850s Alabama State Capitol. East of downtown, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts displays porcelain and American and African art.
Washington, DC, the U.S. capital, is a compact city on the Potomac River, bordering the states of Maryland and Virginia. It’s defined by imposing neoclassical monuments and buildings – including the iconic ones that house the federal government’s 3 branches: the Capitol, White House and Supreme Court. It’s also home to iconic museums and performing-arts venues such as the Kennedy Center.
Prague, capital city of the Czech Republic, is bisected by the Vltava River. Nicknamed “the City of a Hundred Spires,” it’s known for its Old Town Square, the heart of its historic core, with colorful baroque buildings, Gothic churches and the medieval Astronomical Clock, which gives an animated hourly show. Completed in 1402, pedestrian Charles Bridge is lined with statues of Catholic saints.
Mississippi is a southern U.S. state with the Mississippi River to its west, the state of Alabama to its east, and the Gulf of Mexico to the south. Its Mississippi Delta region is considered the birthplace of blues music, honored at the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale. Also in the region is the Vicksburg National Military Park, preserving the site of a critical Civil War battle.
Jackson is the capital city of Mississippi. The statewide Mississippi Freedom Trail runs through the city, encompassing a number of historic sites that were significant in the civil rights movement. These include the Medgar Evers Home Museum and the landmark Mississippi State Capitol building. In leafy LeFleur’s Bluff State Park, the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science includes an aquarium and nature trails.
Tallinn, Estonia’s capital on the Baltic Sea, is the country’s cultural hub. It retains its walled, cobblestoned Old Town, home to cafes and shops, as well as Kiek in de Kök, a 15th-century defensive tower. Its Gothic Town Hall, built in the 13th century and with a 64m-high tower, sits in historic Tallinn’s main square. St. Nicholas Church is a 13th-century landmark exhibiting ecclesiastical art.
Estonia, a country in Northern Europe, borders the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Finland. Including more than 1,500 islands, its diverse terrain spans rocky beaches, old-growth forest and many lakes. Formerly part of the Soviet Union, it’s dotted with castles, churches and hilltop fortresses. The capital, Tallinn, is known for its preserved Old Town, museums and the 314m-high Tallinn TV Tower, which has an observation deck.
Athens is the capital of Greece. It was also at the heart of Ancient Greece, a powerful civilization and empire. The city is still dominated by 5th-century BC landmarks, including the Acropolis, a hilltop citadel topped with ancient buildings like the colonnaded Parthenon temple. The Acropolis Museum, along with the National Archaeological Museum, preserves sculptures, vases, jewelry and more from Ancient Greece.