A new study was set to evaluate the value of the most popular monuments around Europe. Conducted by Italy’s Monza and Brianza Chamber of Commerce, it outlined the monetary value of monuments according to their image, branding and aesthetic qualities. Parameters included a “tourist index” which highlighted “the economic value of the location, the fame of the monument, the flux of visitors to the territory and monument.” Also included was an “economic attractiveness index,” which comprised factors like the number of jobs a monument creates and its export value. The material and property value of any structure was not included. Here’s the line-up:
1. Eiffel Tower, Paris: US $544 billion
The study has found that the Eiffel Tower is Europe’s number one most valuable monument, worth US$544 billion to the French economy, nearly a fifth of the country’s gross domestic product, and worth more than its competitors combined.
The 324-meter iron tower built in 1889, originally as the entrance arch to the World’s Fair, it was named after Gustave Eiffel, the head of the company that designed and constructed the monument. Today it is the most visited paid-for attraction in the world. 7.1 million people climbed up to one of its platforms during 2011, while an estimated total of 200 million tourists have visited since it was built.
2. The Colosseum, Rome: US $114 billion
The Colosseum is probably the most famous landmark in Rome. Built in the 1st century AD, this great arena could seat 45,000 spectators and was the largest Roman amphitheater in the world. It receives around 4 million tourists annually and is ranked as the 39th most visited place in the world.
3. The Sagrada Familia Cathedral, Barcelona: US $112 billion
The Sagrada Família, Antoni Gaudí’s unfinished masterpiece, is one of Barcelona’s most popular tourist attractions. Construction on this church will continue for at least another decade, but it has already become Barcelona’s most important landmark. It has been under construction since 1882! Yet brings to Barcelona 2.5 million visitors every year.
4. The Duomo Cathedral, Milan: US $103 billion
The Duomo di Milano, Milan’s magnificent Gothic cathedral, is the second largest Catholic cathedral in the world, only the Seville Cathedral is larger (St. Peter’s Basilica doesn’t count because it’s not a cathedral). Its dazzling white front façade, arguably the world’s most beautiful, dominates the cathedral square. It receives 5 million total visitors per year.
5. The Tower of London: US $89 billion
It was built on the Thames by William the Conqueror to protect London and assert his power in 1066 A.D. Today the Tower of London houses the Crown Jewels and is open to the public as a museum. As of 2010 the Tower gets just over 2.55 million visitors annually.
6. The Prado Museum, Madrid: US $73 billion
An 18th-century Neo-Classical building that opened in 1819 to be one of the world’s greatest art galleries. The Spanish queen at the time had been impressed with the Louvre in Paris and wanted to showcase an enormous collection in her own country. The sheer scale of the collection can make it daunting, so it is important to arrive with a few of the highlights in mind and concentrate on those. The Museo del Prado ended 2011 with almost 3 million visitors.
7. Stonehenge, England: US $13 billion
One of the oldest and most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of a circular setting of large standing stones set within earthworks. While we can’t say with any degree of certainty what it was for, we can say that it wasn’t constructed for any casual purpose. The ancient monument receives around 800,000 visitors annually.