The Mediterranean 

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The Mediterranean

Journey through the Mediterranean into the roots of European history. To the west, flora and fauna abounds on picturesque islands such as Menorca or Corsica, while to the east, the landscapes are filled with the ancient legacy of the Greeks and the Romans.

Greece

Island-hopping has always been the best way to explore Greece and there really is no better way than on a cruise.

With a cultural heritage of Venetian, British and French rule, Corfu is not a typical Greek island, but this idyllic place of refuge for the shipwrecked Odysseus still enchants its visitors, as does the desert-like landscapes of Cyprus, where ancient secrets may still lie buried deep within the Tombs of Paphos.

The Dodecanese

Patmos is one of the smallest islands in the Dodecanese, but it compensates for its size with a wealth of beauty and history. Called the “Jerusalem of the Aegean,” this island has long been a site of Christian pilgrimage.

The Cyclades

For thousands of years poets have extolled the virtues of Santorini. The famous blue domes and whitewashed walls of Fira and Oia nestle majestically on the steep volcanic coastline providing breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea. Another gem of the Cyclades is Mykonos, one of the most popular islands in Greece, where fun-seekers mingle along the picturesque waterfront of the capital, to the backdrop of its distinctive windmills.

The Ancient World

The Greeks considered the tiny island of Delos sacred and in 1990 it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The gleaming white ruins of a lost civilisation that once existed here remain a wonder to behold in the bright Mediterranean sunlight.

At the height of its wealth and influence, the Cretan city of Knossos must have been an awe-inspiring sight. The capital of Minoan Crete and the centre of an advanced Bronze Age civilisation, this was one of the greatest settlements in all of antiquity.

At the ancient site of Olympia stood the Temple of Zeus, housing a famed 40ft-high gold and ivory statue of the sky and thunder god made by the Athenian sculptor Phidias, which was acclaimed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was also here that the inaugural Olympic Games took place.

The town of Rhodes is said to have been the location of another lost wonder, the mighty Colossus. It is also forever associated with the powerful Knights of Saint John, whose Grand Master’s Palace may have been built on the foundations of the huge statue.

Mainland Marvels

Athens

Greece’s capital is an unparalleled treasure-trove of ancient wonders, from the imposing Acropolis and Parthenon to many other temples, stadia and theatres. Gritty and edgy, yet warm and welcoming, modern-day Athens is sure to captivate.

Peloponnese

Situated in the eastern Peloponnese, Nafplion’s Italianesque charm is reminiscent of a Greek island more than a mainland city. This picturesque destination is also the gateway to the significant archaeological sites of Mycenae and Epidaurus.

Known globally for its distinctive olives, Kalamata offers beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife and museums to explore, despite its modest size. 

Macedonia

It’s a testament to the sheer size of the legendary Mount Olympus that it can be seen from Thessaloniki some eighty kilometres in the distance. Greece’s second city is also the gateway to the ruins of Pella, former capital of ancient Macedoni.

Turkey

Bodrum

On the southwest coast of Turkey, Bodrum was once known as Halicarnassus and famously home to the Mausoleum of Mausolus, an architectural marvel and another lost Wonder of the Ancient World, although some ruins remain and can be seen when visiting the city.

Istanbul

Constantinople has been known locally as Istanbul for centuries, but the moniker wasn’t officially adopted until 1930. Strategically located at the meeting point of Asia and Europe, this historic city is built upon seven hills, each one filled with distinctive landmarks, such as the Topkapı Palace, the iconic Hagia Sophia and the labyrinthine Grand Bazaar, a thrilling place to enjoy some good-natured haggling.

Kuşadası

Not far from the beach resort of Kuşadası lie the magnificent UNESCO World Heritage ruins of Ephesus, an ancient Greco-Roman city where the façade of the Library of Celsus has survived the ravages of time in a remarkable state of preservation, as has the theatre and the temple dedicated to Hadrian.

Malta

Entering the Grand Harbour of Valletta by ship is a spectacular way to arrive on one of the friendliness islands in the Mediterranean. The Maltese capital was founded in 1566 by Jean Parisot de Vallette, the 48th Grand Master of the Knights of St John, who was captured at the siege of Rhodes in 1522 at the age of 28, became a slave on a Turkish galley, and fought during the 1565 siege of Malta.

Egypt

Cairo

Situated at the apex of the Nile delta, for thousands of years the cosmopolitan city of Memphis was the capital of the Old Kingdom of Egypt. This was a place that must have staggered out-of-town visitors with its huge scale. Modern day Cairo is only a short distance away from its ruins and it is also close to the iconic Sphinx and the Great Pyramids of Giza, the last surviving complex acclaimed as one the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Built for the pharaohs of the fourth dynasty, until recently historians believed that tens of thousands of slaves were used in the construction of these monumental pyramids, but modern theory now suggests those who worked on them actually laboured for wages or to pay off their taxes.

Luxor

The ancient pharaohs were obsessed with the afterlife, and the magnificence of their tombs and temples has been a source of marvel to tourists ever since the era of the Greek historian, Herodotus.

Thebes, the city of the god Amon, was the capital of Egypt during the Middle and New Kingdoms. On the opposite bank of the Nile is the necropolis known as the Valley of the Kings, burial place of the New Kingdom pharaohs.

Italy

Rome

Italy’s ‘Eternal City’ of Rome is filled with some of the greatest wonders in the Western world, including the 65,000-seat Flavian ‘Colosseum’, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps and the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican, where Michelangelo’s extraordinary ceiling frescoes remaining as breathtaking today as the day they were completed.

Sicily & Southern Italy

An historical town and seaside resort, sun-drenched in summer and fragrant with the scent of orange and lemon trees in season, Sorrento is a true delight. Taormina is another spectacularly situated ancient town, with magical views of Mount Etna, making it a true highlight of Italy and its islands. Then there is the wonderful historic centre of Olbia, which is crammed with café-lined piazzas, boutiques and wine bars, as well as the old town of Sicily’s second largest city, Catania, a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring superb examples of baroque architecture.

Florence & Pisa

Considered the most beautiful Renaissance city, the buildings, museums and art galleries of Florence are world-class, as is its oldest bridge, The Ponte Vecchio, which dates back to 1345. In Pisa, you really must visit the legendary 56-metre-high leaning tower, built from pure Carrara marble, which is in fact the bell tower of the cathedral.

Napoleonic Islands

The island of Elba is famously where Napoleon lived following his exile from 1814, but on the island of Corsica his connections go back even further. Here, the capital of Ajaccio was the Bonaparte family’s ancestral seat, and the Maison Bonaparte is now a museum displaying historic heirlooms.

The Riviera

To the French it will always be the Côte d’Azur, but whatever its name, there is no doubting this is one of the most glamorous stretches of coastline in the world. In Cannes, the Promenade de la Croisette stretches the length of the town, passing sandy beaches and outstanding architecture. The former fishing village of Saint Tropez is another destination where it’s not uncommon to spot international film stars. In Nice, Neoclassical architecture mingles with blooming botanical gardens and outstanding Belle Epoque buildings such as the Hotel Le Negresco.

The Riviera isn’t just for the French, however. We also offer the chance for another unforgettable experience on a cruise along the Italian Cinque Terre to enchanting Lucca, bustling Milan and “The Superb” city of Genoa.

Call our Reservations Team on

01223 568907

or email

sales@lightbluetravel.co.uk

 

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