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City Planning (Middle School) 17:18

Created by Rick Steves' Europe Staff Featured Playlist

Published by: Gabe (Rick Steves' Europe)

Europe is filled with impressive buildings that have long histories and carefully calibrated appearances. Join Rick as he explores different types of buildings throughout Europe. Ask yourself why each building is important to the people who lived in the city in the past and the people who live there now.

Refer to the "Notes to Viewers" below for a list of comprehension questions, discussion prompts, and project ideas to guide you through the playlist and further your learning.
Notes to Viewers

1. While you watch this playlist, make a list of the five buildings that Rick visits. Then, next to each building, write why that building was built or what it is used for.

2. What was the purpose of the stained glass windows in Chartres Cathedral? What do the windows communicate?

3. How does Coimbra University affect the city of Coimbra? Does your city have a college or university? If so, how does it affect your city?

4. What is a city hall? What does the art in Oslo's City Hall represent?

5. Who lived in Madrid's Royal Palace? What seemed most important to the people who lived there? How do you know?

6. What are some of the most impressive artifacts in the British Museum? What do they tell you about Great Britain's relationship with the rest of the world?


7. If city planners said that they wanted to name one building in your city after you, which type of building would you choose? Why? 

8. How were the different buildings in this playlist decorated? What do these decorations say about the use or importance of the building?

9. How expensive was it to construct the buildings in this playlist? How did cities pay for the construction of these buildings? What does this say about the city's values and what matters to its people?

10. What types of people did you think visited each type of building? Do you think these people would be friends? What kinds of people didn't go to these buildings? Why?

11. If you could only put one building in the middle of your city, which one would it be? Why did you choose this building? What do you think this decision would say to travelers who visit your city?


12. Use a piece of poster board to draw your own imaginary city. Think about where people would live, where they would shop, and where they would exercise. Then, think about the types of buildings in this playlist. Which ones do you want to put in your city, and where do you want to put them? Choose carefully.

13. You have been asked by the mayor to build a new museum in your city. Write a brief proposal telling the mayor what type of museum you want to build, where you want to build it, and how you will decorate it. Explain your reasons for these decisions.

14. Imagine that you have chosen to attend Coimbra University in Portugal. Write a letter to your parents telling them what it's like to live in Coimbra and to study at the university. Tell them how your life in Portugal is the same as your life in the United States and how it is different. Do you want to keep living in Portugal after you graduate or not? Why?


15. Watch Rick's episode on Ancient Rome. Make a list of all the buildings and structures Rick visits. What do these buildings and how they are arranged tell us about ancient Roman culture and values? What do the ruins and how they are maintained tell us about the culture and value of Romans today?

WA SOCIAL STUDIES LEARNING STANDARDS: C3.6-8.1, E1.6-8.1, G1.6-8.1, G1.6-8.5