Today marks the 450th birthday of one of the most famous British writers in recent centuries: William Shakespeare. The world renowned playwright has inspired countless authors, film writers, and musicians, along with producing some of the most recognisable quotations in modern history. In homage to Shakespeare Day – which is also the United Nations World Book and Copyright Day (plagiarists take note!) – we have compiled a list of the most Shakespeare-related locations in Europe.
“Something wicked this way comes.” These are the much-quoted words from the three witches before their second meeting with tragic and twisted Macbeth. We’re sure no one would say anything so harsh before your own visit, so those interested in exploring settings for “the Scottish play” should head, unsurprisingly, to Scotland. Although there are no sites directly connected to the real-life Macbeth, the 11th century King of Scots, the fictional character’s titles of Thane of Glamis and Thane of Cawdor point to popular attractions Glamis and Cawdor Castles. Glamis Castle’s history is as extensive and captivating as its numerous surrounding gardens, which are listed in an inventory of Scotland’s grandest gardens. The building itself is a Grade I listed site, highlighting its historic and cultural significance. Cawdor Castle makes for just as an intriguing day out, with a number of nature trails amidst its surrounding grounds.
Romeo and Juliet, Verona, Northern Italy
“I do remember an apothecary, – And hereabouts he dwells.” Upon hearing of the death of his beloved Juliet, Romeo seeks out poison so that he may join his lover in death. This poison is sought in the same city in which much of the story is set, the sufficiently romantic Verona in northern Italy. Boasting beautiful historic architecture, the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and although the story of the ill-fated lovers is likely entirely fictitious, visitors can explore the actual previous abodes of the Capulet and Montague families: Via Capello (Juliet’s House), Romeo’s House which is viewable from the outside only, and finally the sombre location of Juliet’s Tomb, among others. Nobody is sure if Shakespeare himself ever actually left the British Isles, arguing that he may merely have got his descriptions of foreign lands from visitors to London. However, if he travelled to anywhere in the world it is arguably Verona that left the most lasting impression, having been the setting for two of his other plays, the Two Gentlemen of Verona and The Taming of the Shrew.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Athens, Greece
“Out of this wood, do not desire to go“. Tatiana’s command to her lover in A Midsummer Night’s Dream is spoken in a wood just outside Athens, the city in which much of the story takes place. There is not a great deal in Athens which actually commemorates The Bard or his use of Athens as a setting for his plays, which also includes Timon of Athens. Along with numerous cultural attractions, the area is blessed by incredible weather all year-round, making it the ultimate spot to relax on a beach with a good book. Shakespeare, anyone?
Shakespeare’s Globe, London
Opened in 1997, the structure is an approximation of how the original Globe Theatre – owned by Shakespeare’s playing company, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men – would have looked in the 17th century. Shakespeare’s Globe lies less than 250 metres from the site of the original theatre, which was demolished in 1644. Performances of Shakespeare’s works take place daily, and as the theatre receives no government subsidies, they rely heavily on donations and income from ticket sales. What better date to support them than on the birthday of The Bard?