21 Photographs That Capture the Best of Europe

From a couple kissing in Paris to the shining reflection of Big Ben, these photos, taken by Instagram sensation Qorz, capture the essence of 10 European cities.

by Caroline McCoy

Photographer JB Qorz has a talent for capturing unique perspectives on iconic landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower.

JB Qorz has spent his career creating beautiful images, acting as a special-effects artist for international brands such as Saint Laurent and Renault, and stepping behind the camera lens for the likes of Coca-Cola and Sony. The French-born photographer and perennial traveller has also earned acclaim through his Instagram feed, where nearly half a million followers admire his dreamy, atmospheric images.

He shoots without a filter and often in the early morning hours, capturing rays of sunlight breaking through a pine forest or a streak of pink sky illuminating city streets. His aesthetic transcends language; he rarely titles or captions his work in great detail, preferring that his images communicate the essence of the places he visits.

“For me, photography is sharing emotions or even ideas that words cannot express,” Qorz says. Despite his serious talent, Qorz doesn’t take himself too seriously. “Creation is about living the moment,” he says. “It is all about revealing [a feeling] rather than trying to intellectualize it.”

The artist recently returned from a 10-city tour of Europe, during which he captured quiet corners and iconic landmarks with the nuanced perspective that continues to draw fans. We asked him to share some of his favourite shots, from the banks of the Bosphorus to the narrow streets of Florence. Here, he reveals the best of Europe through his lens.

Starlight at sunrise in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France

“If hundreds of people walk through [a place],” Qorz says, “what would they have in common?” With this image, the photographer attempted to capture both the fantasy and the reality of a stroll through the gardens.

On a quiet peninsula between Nice and Monaco, the historic Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel, fronts the Mediterranean Sea. Qorz captured this image of the Hotel’s fragrant gardens just before daybreak. “I can see both the sun and the stars!” he remembers.

Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel

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Ancient meets modern in Istanbul

At 160 years old, the Ortaköy Mosque is one of Istanbul’s newer landmarks. The ornate structure replaced the mosque that was destroyed during a civic uprising at the end of the Tulip Period in 1730.

The 19th-century Ortaköy Mosque stands at the water’s edge very near Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus. The photographer was compelled by the juxtaposition between the neo-Baroque architecture of the mosque and the modern bridge that stretches behind it. “Istanbul is a city of many contrasts,” he says. “Sports cars and carriages, ultramodern bridges and old streets and mosques . . . it is a rich blend.”

Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus

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Streetcar scenes in Lisbon

Lisbon’s early streetcars were crafted in Philadelphia by J.G. Brill Company. Its newer cars maintain the Brill aesthetic, which you can still see today.

Lisbon’s streetcars are iconic. For Qorz, capturing one in motion required a quick eye and some daredevil collaboration. “Here’s the tip,” he says. “Travel with your partner. Once you have found the right angle . . . [your partner] crosses the street and drops an item in the road to block traffic. Then you only have to take the picture and check that your partner is all right!” Our tip: Snap your streetcar photos from the safety of a sidewalk.

Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon

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Famed landmarks in London

“We cannot see the face of the character in the photo,” says Qorz. “I always try to make it possible for everyone to identify with the person featured in a picture.”

Qorz’s many fans admire his ability to find a new perspective on oft-photographed destinations. “My goal is not to achieve a completely realistic photo,” he says, “but rather to . . . amplify travel through [a sense of timelessness].” The layered perspective of this image lures the viewer into the scene, which is, of course, London’s famous Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster.

Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane

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A winter morning in Moscow

Qorz calls this photo “emblematic of Four Seasons. Having such a view,” he says, “is not ordinary.”

Breakfast is served with views of the Kremlin and Red Square at Four Seasons Hotel Moscow, which Qorz described as a “Hotel in the middle of a city and its history.” On this snowy winter morning, the photographer captured the bustle of pedestrians amid the city’s famous buildings from a cosy perch.

Four Seasons Hotel Moscow

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Perspectives in Paris

Qorz says he dealt with the prestige of the landmark by approaching it as he would a nondescript landscape.

Though he was not born in Paris, Qorz spends much of his time there. Seeing the city with the fresh eyes of an artist “is a very interesting exercise,” he says. “Being confronted with a well-known place is like being confronted with oneself.” To capture this image of the Eiffel Tower, he pretended he was seeing it for the first time.

Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris

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A view of Brunelleschi’s Duomo in Florence

The narrow streets of Florence beckon travellers with Old World charm. Qorz urges the guest to set out on foot and wander.

Just a sliver of the city’s most iconic landmark, peeking from beyond a quintessentially Italian street, “illustrates very well the moment I first saw Brunelleschi’s Duomo,” says Qorz.

This view invites a long look at the city’s quieter, more charming side, and conveys the experience of stumbling upon something magical while exploring a new destination.

Four Seasons Hotel Firenze

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Life on the Vltava in Prague

The Charles Bridge, the oldest of the city’s bridges, was constructed in the 14th century, and was the only connection between Prague Castle and Old Town until 1841.

As much as the photographer enjoys the improvisation of his craft, many of his shots require careful research and a lot of walking. To capture this image, he climbed above the city and waited for the boat in the foreground to come into view. The series of bridges that stretch across Prague’s Vltava River emphasize the city’s beauty and historic significance as a trading route between Eastern and Western Europe.

Four Seasons Hotel Prague

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Religious icons in St Petersburg

Though the church is a model of 19th-century Russian aesthetics, its architect, Alfred Parland, was of Scottish descent.

The colourful exterior of the Church of Our Saviour on the Spilled Blood, with its onion domes and ornate stonework, is as magnificent as the interior. Mosaics cover nearly every inch of the cathedral, which is illuminated by golden chandeliers. Construction of the church began in 1883 on the site where Alexander II had been assassinated two years earlier.

Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg

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Building a story in Budapest

The Chain Bridge, which extends from the entrance of Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest, connects the Buda and Pest sides of the city.

During his visit to Budapest in early December, Qorz came upon a father and son feeding a pair of gulls by the Chain Bridge at the bank of the Danube River. “In the morning I . . . discover what I did not see at our arrival by night. I hurry because I know it will be possible to capture the birds and the bridge at the same time. The bridge alone would not be enough. I have to build a story.”

Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest

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Explore more of Europe through Qorz’ eyes

In Budapest, Qorz photographed the Hungarian Parliament Building from a perch across the Danube at the Buda Castle. Photography Courtesy of JB Qorz
During a sunrise stroll on the grounds of Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel, Qorz captured a young man preparing the famous pool for the day. “The pool and the Mediterranean Sea mix up,” says the photographer. “A beautiful memory.” Photography Courtesy of JB Qorz
Of the pool at Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus, Qorz says, “I have seen a lot of pools, [but] you cannot help but be impressed at the sight of this one.” Photography Courtesy of JB Qorz
A tantalizing look inside Pesorco restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel St Petersburg. “This place is unique and has a strong design,” Qorz says Photography Courtesy of JB Qorz
Qorz snapped this perspective of Lisbon’s Bélem Tower during a photography tour, from the sidecar of a vintage motorcycle. Photography Courtesy of JB Qorz
Qorz’ angle on Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour strikes a perfect balance that, he feels, symbolizes the reflection of a dream world. Photography Courtesy of JB Qorz
Breakfast is served with an artful view in a suite at Four Seasons Hotel Firenze.
An aerial view of Prague’s Old Town Square captures the city’s history and charm. Photography Courtesy of JB Qorz
“This couple in front of the Louvre embodies this popular imagery of Paris, the romantic city,” Qorz says. Photography Courtesy of JB Qorz
London’s famous Tower Bridge sparkles as a riverboat tour cruises below. Photography Courtesy of JB Qorz
The Church of Our Saviour on the Spilled Blood stands tall in St Petersburg. Photography Courtesy of JB Qorz