Texas + Europe–sound like a strange combination?
It may feel that way today–as much as I dearly love each of them, no one would accuse Texas of having much in common with anywhere on the continent of Europe–but jump back in history a century or two, and suddenly, the differences melt away.
A flurry of European settlers hailing from modern-day Germany, Czechia, France, England, and of course Spain, all left their mark on the Lone Star State, as did many others.
And–if you know where to look–you can find vestiges of Europe in Texas to this day.
Sure, sometimes that’s limited to a roadside stop or town name reminiscent of the Old World–but tucked down two-lane Farm-to-Market roads and off of interstates alike, you can find samples of Texas’ European heritage in the Lone Star State.
Here’s where to look.
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The Best Places to Find Europe in Texas
One of the most beloved towns in the Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg is extremely proud of its German heritage, and you can find it on display all over town!
Boasting a replica of its Vereins Kirche in the town’s Marienplatz, a half dozen or more excellent German restaurants, and plenty of festive German traditions (including an Oktoberfest celebration in the fall and plenty of mulled wine and a traditional German Christmas pyramid on display in winter), you can’t miss Fredericksburg’s heritage when you visit.
Roughly 10% of the residents in town also speak Texas German, a dialect of German that has survived in Texas since the town was originally settled in the mid-19th century.
Known as the “Czech Heritage Capital of Texas”, the small town of West, Texas (not to be confused with the region of West Texas) is known across the state for its delicious kolaches and klobasneks.
Roughly 75% of the town’s population are of Czech heritage and everything from murals in town to the town’s annual Westfest festival celebrating its Czech heritage (polka mass included) make sure to keep the heritage front and center.
Non-residents mostly know West’s heritage through its food, though–if you’re driving along I-35 and pass West, Texans know to stop for kolaches and klobasneks at one of the many competing bakeries in town for a delicious snack.
Designated the official Irish Capital of Texas (seriously, the governor signed a bill stating so in 2005), Dublin bears the distinction of creating European heritage out of a name. Because, here’s the thing–it’s not even clear if Dublin, Texas was named after Dublin, Ireland in the first place!
Regardless of the name’s origin, though, Dublin, Texas has leaned into its European namesake–you’ll drive past a four-leaf clover as you enter the town, and of course, Dublin throws a raucous St. Patrick’s Day Festival each year.
While many of these European Texas towns have a distinct heritage tying them to the places they are named for or the people they were settled by, Paris is simply a name… that inspired the second-largest Eiffel Tower replica in the world (the largest is in Las Vegas)!
Texas’ version wears a red cowboy hat and is one of the quirkiest roadside attractions in the Lone Star State.
If you happen to be driving through northeast Texas, consider a short detour to snap photos in Paris!
In the mid-19th century, Castroville was founded primarily by German-speaking Alsatian immigrants (Alsace is located in today’s northeast France, and has cultural ties to both France and Germany).
Alsatian-inspired architecture is common in Castroville, but nowhere is it as prominently on display than at Steinbach Haus, which is a genuine, 17th-century Alsatian home that was relocated to Castroville in 1998.
Castroville’s Romanesque cathedral and Alsatian-style bakeries also cannot be missed when exploring this corner of Europe in Texas.
The tiny town of Ingram itself has no distinct claims to European heritage–but for a taste of England in Texas, consider visiting the town’s most bizarre roadside attraction, Stonehenge II.
Built in the late 1980s/early 1990s, Stonehenge II is 90% as wide as England’s original, and 60% as tall.
It’s free to visit, and inexplicably also includes replicas of the famous Easter Island heads.
Like Cadillac Ranch and many other Texas roadside attractions, Stonehenge II tends to make people ask “why would someone do this?”–to which the odd monument seems to respond, “why not?”.
With its charming Riverwalk and compact La Villita neighborhood, San Antonio is one of the most European-esque cities in Texas. In parts of its downtown center, it feels far more historic than places like Austin or Dallas, which is unsurprising–San Antonio was home to the largest concentration of Spanish colonial efforts in Texas.
The vestiges of Spanish colonialism are most obviously seen in the city’s missions, which make up Texas’ only UNESCO World Heritage Site.
While the Alamo is the most famous, Mission Concepción, Mission San José, Mission Espada, and Mission San Juan Capistrano are arguably even more beautiful, and will easily make you feel transported outside of Texas.
When looking for parts of Spain’s heritage in San Antonio, you also can’t miss the 18th-century San Fernando Cathedral.
The flat plains of Nederland, Texas likely reminded the original Dutch settlers of their homeland when they first arrived in town in 1897, and today, the town bears the distinct mark of its Dutch heritage.
Most obviously, the Dutch Windmill Museum–built as a replica of the Dutch windmills the immigrants left behind–will immediately transport visitors to the Netherlands.
Like Dublin, Florence, Texas was not named for its better-known European counterpart–but has leaned into the name since.
Located in Williamson County, within day-tripping distance of Austin, Florence boasts a typical Texas downtown, all limestone buildings and small-town vibes.
Florence is, however, located in Texas wine country, and nearby vineyards have made sure to capitalize on being named for the capital of Tuscany.
Not much remains of the original Swedish settlement of New Sweden (known as Manor until 1877, when the town took on the name of its residents homeland)–the New Sweden of today is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it unincorporated community near Austin.
Today, the most prominent reminder of New Sweden’s Swedish heritage (other than its name) is the New Sweden Lutheran Church, built in a Swedish style in the late 19th century. Some descendants of the original congregation still attend church there today!
When German and Czech immigrants came to Texas in the 19th century, they didn’t just bring the tradition of smoked meats that would become Texas barbecue or their languages–they brought artistry.
A sprawling collection of churches was built by these immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and while many of them have typical white wood or Texas limestone exteriors, they were intricately painted on the inside, in the style of central Europe at the time.
Many of these gorgeous works of art can still be visited today, and the densest collection of them can be found near the small town of Schulenberg, Texas.
Other European Town Names in Texas
Not every town in Texas with a name borrowed from across the pond has much–if any–European heritage or Europe-inspired quirky roadside attractions to display. Frankly, some of these towns just make you wonder if 19th-century Texans weren’t very creative with their naming strategies!
However, when road-tripping Texas, you may also spot names like Athens, Moscow, Italy, New London, Geneva, Liverpool, and Naples.
Fun Fact: How Big is Texas Compared to Europe?
Texas is known for being gigantic–and for telling tales tall enough to match.
While Texas isn’t as big as all of Europe (not that Texans haven’t tried saying so a time or two in the past, often when trying to impress upon European friends just how long it takes to drive across it), it does dwarf many countries on the continent.
Very roughly speaking, Texas is slightly larger than France, about twice the size of Italy, Norway, or Germany, and roughly 10x the size of Ireland.
Map of Texas’ Europe-Inspired Towns