La Sagrada Familia in Madrid, Spain. Picture: Supplied
La Sagrada Familia in Madrid, Spain. Picture: Supplied

10 things about Europe that may just surprise you

By Staff Reporter Time of article published May 30, 2019

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Home to some of the most-visited countries in the world, fascinating history, spectacular art and towering feats of nature, Europe boasts some truly amazing facts.

1) Barcelona's Sagrada Familia is taking longer to build than the pyramids.
The pyramids of Egypt took 85 years to construct. Antoni Gaudi's masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia, began construction in 1882, and has remained under construction every day since then.  Barcelona aims to have it completed by 2026, the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death, 144 years after construction began.

2) Nearly every city in France has a street named Victor Hugo.
France has honoured its most famous poet and writer, Victor Hugo, with a street named after him in nearly every city.  Hugo wrote "Les Miserables" and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" as part of the Romantic movement, and also served as a political advocate.

3) There are more than 200 languages spoken in Europe.
Of the 200 languages spoken in Europe, only 24 are recognized by the European Union.  The most common language on the continent is English, with 38 percent of the population able to speak it.

4) 1 in 10 Europeans are conceived in an IKEA bed.
IKEA beds are so wildly in Europe that it's estimated one in 10 babies in Europe are conceived in its beds.  Though this figure has been widely reported in reputable outlets, it's unclear exactly where the stat came from.  

5) There is a rainforest in Europe.
 One of the last remaining rainforests is Perucica in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The 3,500-acre forest is a reserve on UNESCO's World Heritage list.

6) It Is illegal to name your pig Napoleon in France.
This law was originally legislated during Napoleon's rule so he wouldn't have to share his name with pig and it has never been repealed.

7) Only 1% of the British museum's collection is on display.
The British Museum's collection of 8 million items of art and antiquities cannot all be showcased. With room for 80,000 objects to be displayed, you are only seeing one percent of the collection when you visit the London museum.

8) In Switzerland it's illegal to mow your lawn, hang clothes or wash your car on Sundays.
The Swiss believe Sundays really are a day for rest and have banned mowing your lawn, washing your car or hanging clothes out to dry.

9) Red wine flows from a fountain in Italy.
In the town of Caldari di Ortona in northern Italy, a local vineyard installed a fountain that spouts red wine instead of water 24 hours a day. 
The fountain is actually meant for the pilgrims following the Cammino di San Tommaso, a 300km route from Rome to Ortona to follow in the footsteps of St. Thomas the Apostle. 

10) There are more bicycles than people in the Netherlands.
Cycling is so popular in the Netherlands, 84 percent of all Dutch people own at least one bicycle. The country boasts 22.3 million bicycles for its 17 million residents.

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