“Form is temporary; class is permanent,” said the legendary Liverpool FC manager Mr Bill Shankly, introducing an adage that would swiftly become an iron-clad sporting axiom. It survived, like all enduring clichés, because it is rooted in truth.
Class is permanent outside the beautiful game, too. And nowhere is this more apparent than in the avenues, architecture and aesthetics of the world’s capital cities, those time-honoured flag-bearers of any nation’s finest qualities.
But, as anyone from Winchester, Kilkenny or Scone will tell you, not all today’s capitals were the first flag-bearers, nor do they exhibit the most class, that air of unconsidered nonchalance that, as travellers, we all seek. What of their noble predecessors, those once fêted metropolises that geography, politics or business (or all three) cheated from their crowns? There are dozens of former capitals scattered across Europe, full of faded grandeur and fascinating charm, that are quietly waiting to be explored. And all without the stressful crowds, airport delays and price hikes of their frenetic municipal successors. If you’re looking for a different holiday this summer, check out Europe’s classiest forgotten capitals.