Books have the power to transport readers into exciting journeys through different cities, cultures and times. They take us on adventures, teach us new things and make us see the world in a different light. Today, we’re taking you on an adventure of our own. Whether you’re planning a trip through Europe, or simply craving a taste of some of the iconic cities, these five books will transport you into the culture and charm of five of our favourite European cities.
Barcelona: Marina written by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Barcelona is a city known for its art, culture and mystery. Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s novel Marina captures the essence of the city perfectly. Published in 1999, the story follows 15-years-old Óscar Drai who one day discovers an abandoned mansion in Barcelona and becomes fascinated by its past. While exploring the city, he meets Marina, a girl with a troubled family history who shares his curiosity for the mansion. Together, they explore the dark corners of Barcelona and uncover a dark secret hidden beneath its streets. Marina is full of twists and turns, and the city of Barcelona serves as the perfect backdrop for the story.
Athens: Antigone written by Sophocles
Sophocles’ Antigone is a Greek tragedy that revolves around the conflict between Antigone and her uncle Creon, the king of Thebes. Antigone defies Creon’s order that her brother Polyneices should not receive a proper burial, as he was deemed a traitor to the city. While Antigone believes in the moral obligation to honour her family, Creon believes in the rule of law and the importance of obedience to the state. Although the play itself is set in Thebes, the city of Athens is an integral part of the story, with characters frequently referencing it as a symbol of democratic values and the rule of law. Antigone is a play that explores themes of power, justice, and loyalty, making it a timeless classic.
Bucharest: The Forbidden Forest written by Mircea Eliade
The Forbidden Forest is a novel set majorly in Bucharest during the period between 1936 and 1948. The story revolves around Stefan, a handsome man who works for the Romanian Ministry. Stefan is on a spiritual quest to rediscover a time that transcends history and is not susceptible to the terror and destructive nature of World War II. He is torn between his love for two women, his wife Ioana and his mistress Illeana. The novel is split into two parts, with the first dealing with Stefan’s developing friendships, conflicting romantic feelings, and his imprisonment. The second part of the novel is focussed on Stefan’s quest to find his true love after the bombing of Bucharest in 1944. The novel highlights the anxiety that permeated society during and after World War II and provides a fictional representation of Eliade’s scholarly work on religion and mythology.
Seville: The Silent and the Damned written by Robert Wilson
Set in Seville, The Silent and the Damned is a psychological thriller that follows the detective Javier Falcon as he investigates the apparent suicide of a couple, leaving their son, Mario Vega, an orphan. Falcon suspects foul play and delves into the life of the boy’s father, Rafael Vega, uncovering links to the Russian mafia and a creative American couple with a dark history. As Falcon’s investigation progresses, more suicides occur, including that of a senior policeman, and he must navigate the dangerous web of corruption and deceit to uncover the truth. Meanwhile, a forest fire threatens to engulf the city, adding to the tension of the investigation. Wilson’s novel explores the complex and disturbing aspects of human nature while keeping the reader on edge with its fast-paced plot and unexpected twists.
Lisbon: Night Train to Lisbon written by Pascal Mercier
Night Train to Lisbon is a novel about a Swiss teacher named Raimund Gregorius, who after a chance encounter with an enigmatic Portuguese woman embarks on a journey to Lisbon. Gregorius becomes fascinated with the life of Amadeu de Prado, a doctor who fought against Salazar’s dictatorship in Portugal. In this novel, Pascal Mercier delves into themes of identity, memory and the search for meaning in life. Filled with contrasts and history, the city of Lisbon is the perfect scenario for this existential journey.
Whether you’re an avid reader, a seasoned traveller or simply someone looking for a little inspiration, these five books will transport you to some of Europe’s most enchanting cities. And when the time comes to book your next trip, be sure to check out Olala Homes. With our selection of stylish and modern accommodations located across Europe’s most interesting destinations, you’ll experience the magic of these cities for yourself.