With a past dating back to prehistoric times, it’s not only history buffs that can enjoy the ancient monuments of the Mediterranean. The variety of historic sights you can see are spectacular and much more exciting than dusty museums. With that in mind, here are four ancient sites you need to add to your bucket list.
Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Archaeological Park of Kato. Within day trip distance to the picturesque Paphos resort, you are plenty of places to stay and explore. Paphos was once the capital of Cyprus between the 2nd and 4th centuries BC. Explore the ancient site to discover the remains dating back past the Middle Ages to prehistoric times.
Visit the Roman villas with their delicate mosaic floors and interesting household pottery on display. Walk between the dramatic entrance of the Saranta Kolones, 40 columns before visiting the Limeniotissa ruins. This is one of the early Christian Basilicas and houses the famous Tomb of the Kings.
Learn more about the catastrophic natural disaster that turned an important Roman city into arguably the most famous archaeological site in the world. Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79AD, causing molten lava to rapidly cover the city, resulting in approximately 2,000 deaths. What’s interesting about Pompeii is that once the lava cooled and dried, it preserved the many bodies, artefacts and buildings.
The site was discovered in 1748 and archaeologists are still finding new artefacts each year. Before the city was destroyed it was a significant inland trading port with the fertile soil producing wine, amongst other things. Today you can visit the city to see the mummified bodies, the unearthed jewellery, pottery and mosaics – there’s even a preserved loaf of bread.
Enveloped in 16th century fortified walls, this UNESCO World Heritage city is brimming with a rich history to explore. From a cable car, you can see the old town as a sea of terracotta rooftops and Baroque churches. But take a walk through the limestone streets and you’ll find the atmosphere is much more unique.
The peculiar Sponza Palace is a Gothic and Renaissance treasure with over 100,000 manuscripts preserved inside its archives. Built between 1516 and 1522, the building opens up to arched courtyards where events and weddings regularly take place.
Opposite the Church of Holy Salvation near the main city gates is the ancient Onofrio’s Fountain. Built between 1438 and 1440, this ingenious invention flowed water over 12km away for the city to drink from its 16 water taps. The domed roof of the Onofrio’s Fountain is one of the only parts that are visible to the public but still works today.
For well-preserved ancient temples, statues and artefacts visit the birthplace of democracy in the historical city of Athens. The history books state that the first inhabitants settled in the region near the rock of Acropolis in 3000 BC. You can see this for miles with the impressive marble Parthenon looking over the city. Following along with Greek mythology, the first temples were built for the goddess Athena. With lavish bronze, gold and marble statues carved in her honour.
The ancient archaeological has seen many invasions including the Battle of Salamis which brought down most of the fortified city in 480BC. It was later rebuilt to working order with amazing monuments such as the Temple of Olympian Zeus with the original Corinthian columns still standing.