Inside from £2,123pp
Outside from £2,323pp
Balcony from £2,722pp
Suite from £5,078pp
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Dynamic Barcelona is all about architecture, from the magnificent medieval buildings of the Gothic Quarter to the Modernist movement typified by the work of Antoni Gaudi. Though his materials were stone and metal, his forms were organic, awash in curves, swirls, and colors. His masterpiece is the amazing Church of the Sagrada Familia, colossal and as yet unfinished, though construction began in 1882. A contemporary contribution to the scene is Ricardo Bofill’s post modernist National Theater of Catalonia, an imaginative combination of classical and modern design, with a greenhouse-like lobby.
The original city of Palma dates back to Roman times, and modern day residents of the old quarter are still digging up artifacts in their gardens. Balanced on a seawall above the marina is the amazing gothic Cathedral, icon of the city, with some of the world’s largest stained glass windows. Also high on the artistic scale is the Museum of Contemporary Spanish Art featuring works by masters including Picasso, Miró, Gris, and Dali. Mother Nature’s aesthetic achievements can be found in the Caves of Drach – mystical caverns where the play of shadow and light on the rock formations stimulates the imagination.
Dating back to the 16th century, the fortified port town of Porto Vecchio is now a Corsican resort destination. The Old Town district—with its cobblestone streets, charming buildings, and ruins of the ancient citadel—features fashionable shops, boutiques, and cafés, while Porto Vecchio’s modern marina offers ferry rides to Bonifacio and the Lavezzi Islands nature reserve, plus a variety of places to enjoy a local beverage harborside.
Olbia has been inhabited since 8th Century B.C, but a recent archaeological discovery of 24 shipwrecks – two of them from the age of Nero, has put Olbia in the recent spotlight. In addition to its desirable location on Costa Smeralda, one of the most stunning stretches of coast on the Mediterranean, Olbia offers history enthusiasts quite a treat. The Carthaginians, the Romans, and the Genoans have all left evidence of their time here.
Few reminders still exist of Trapani’s ancient history, but from Phoenician days it was a trading port, well positioned for commerce with Africa, Naples, and the western Mediterranean. The Middle Ages is the era most evident in its old town, now a pedestrian zone. Aging palaces, some imposing and others in various stages of decay, cluster along a peninsula stretching into the bay. Worthy of note is the ominously named Chiesa del Purgatorio, home to wooden statues known as Misteri, that are paraded through the streets on Good Friday. Further out are saltpans, and plains punctuated by medieval windmills, home to some 170 species of birds.
Tiny Malta, smack dab in the middle of the Mediterranean and on everyone’s route since ships began to ply the seas, is packed with history from top to bottom. Over time it was ruled by a variety of empires, all of which contributed to the look and culture of the islands. Valetta is living museum of baroque architecture, constructed by the Knights of St. John five centuries ago. Today the city is also a dynamic hub of cultural and commercial activity, its harbor now welcoming luxury yachts and cruise ships.
Siracusa is known for the archaeological and historical sights that define its grand past, as one of the major powers of the Mediterranean world in the 5th century BC. They include a Greek theater, still in use, where Aeschylus produced some of his plays; a dramatic necropolis with burial niches cut into the rock that include the tomb of Archimedes, famous mathematician, engineer, and inventor; and the Ear of Dionysus, a cave with amazing acoustical properties. The “modern” city was rebuilt in Sicilian Baroque style after the devastating earthquake of 1693.
History is very much alive in Iraklion. The Fountain of the Lions, built by Morozini in 1628 during the Venetian occupation of Crete, dominates the central square. Today, the city’s Town Hall is located in the Venetian Loggia, a building from the same era. Stroll among the shops and cafes surrounding the central square, or follow the old Venetian walls to Koules, a bastion overlooking the old harbor. Explore the archaeological site at Knossos and walk among Minoan findings displayed in the Archaeological Museum of Iraklion. Don’t miss the Historical Museum of Iraklion, which houses findings from the early era of the Christian religion.
Athens has quite a reputation to live up to. Named for Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, the city is credited with being the cradle of European civilization and birthplace of democracy. Ruins and relics of its glory days are scattered throughout the modern city, popping up where you least expect them. Its crowning glory is the Acropolis, perched atop a hillside, and covered in carved and columned temples of varying degrees of antiquity. Not quite so old is the Plaka, an appealing neighborhood for a stroll down cobblestone streets, past old mansions and a plethora of outdoor tavernas ideal for watching the world go by, while munching tasty Greek snacks.
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