Andy and I have been together for nearly eight years now, and during that time we’ve taken some amazing holidays, both by land and sea. Most of our holidays have enabled us to see some fantastic monuments, both old and new, but for this blog post we both thought we’d love to share with you some of the stunning historic master pieces we’ve enjoyed visiting.
Ephesus, the ancient city in Turkey dates from around the 10th century BC and was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League. We visited in 2013 during a beach holiday in Kusadasi, which is also a cruise port featured on some Mediterranean itineraries .
The imposing library building and HUGE amphitheatre are a real sight to behold, and don’t miss the first public loos known to exist!
Most day trips will also feature a trip to the site of the Temple of Artemis, one of the classical Wonders of the Ancient World, however we found it to be little more than an overgrown field with a single column pieced together from various other columns!
Below: depiction of Nike, public conveniences and a sign for a brothel
It’s impossible to cover off Ancient Egypt in just a few sentences as there is so much to see. We’ve been so lucky to have completed three cruises on the River Nile and also had a stay in the fascinating city of Cairo which gave us the opportunity to visit the Egyptian Museum as well as the pyramids.
Our top sites in Egypt would have to be:
Abu Simbel Temple
The Workers Village at Deir El Medina
And of course the River Nile itself – beautiful sunsets every night!
Jerusalem and Bethlehem
In the run up to Christmas 2015 we took a cruise on the stunning MSC Fantasia and had a two day stay in the port of Haifa, from where we took an excursion to Jerusalem and Bethlehem. This was somewhat a pilgrimage and a truly beautiful occasion – what a way to mark Christmas by being in such a place.
Where would any mention of Ancient Empires be without mentioning the place that was the heart of the most famous Ancient Empire! Rome, Italy is the highlight of many cruises in the Mediterranean with ships calling at Civitavecchia which is just over an hour from the Eternal City. With great flight connections to Roma Fiumicino airport Rome makes the ideal place for a pre cruise stay.
It’s technically possible to visit two countries in one go with a trip to Vatican City which is the world’s smallest country! Inside the Vatican there are so many treasures to be seen, including Michaelangelo’s masterpiece of the Sistine Chapel (no photography allowed so i don’t have a photo!).
The most famous sites in all Rome have to be the Spanish Steps, Colloseum and the Trevi Fountain.
Rome is truly breathtaking and well worth a visit! The many piazzas in Rome also play host to numerous obelisks taken from the temples of Ancient Egypt, as well as Ancient Roman obelisks built in the Egyptian style.
Pompeii and Herculaneum
These iconic settlements on the outskirts of Naples and within spitting distance of Vesuvius – which unfortunately for the residents of these once great places was the cause of their demise.
Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD79, with devastating effects to the local area. Herculaneum, which was once an upmarket sea port was hit first with an immense lava flow and toxic clouds. Local residents took shelter in the boat sheds on what would have been the sea front – this ultimately resulted in the worst possible outcome. The shear heat of the eruption caused (sorry to be graphic) their brains to boil.
Lava encased the city and preserved remains. Visiting the site of Ercolana Scavi is a must-do when in Naples. We found it really grounding and somewhat upsetting.
Pompeii, further along the coast from Herculaneum survived the violent eruptions for some days. It wasn’t until a mighty ash cloud brought a deluge of toxic gases and almost constant night to the city as the sky rained ash down on Pompeii that Pompeii really started to suffer.
The most famous images of Pompeii are the plaster casts of the victims, frozen in time for almost 2000 years.
Pompeii’s scale is almost out of this world.
When walking around the city, aside from the obvious ruin, you get the feeling that life could resume there in an instant such is the order with well laid out streets, public amenities, shops, places of worship and bath houses.