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Piraeus, is a port city within the Athens urban area, in the Attica region of Greece. It is located in the Athens Riviera, 8 kilometres southwest of Athens’ city centre, along the east coast of the Saronic Gulf.
Of all the Cyclades Islands, Santorini is often considered the most dramatic. Once an active volcano, in approximately 1620 BC, the volcano erupted with such force that the center of the island literally exploded, leaving a submerged crater. The island’s small villages were preserved in the ashes giving a fascinating view of everyday life from 3,600 years ago.
Santorini’s landscape offsets its simple buildings, which shine in the brilliant sunlight. The rich volcanic soil is ideal for grapes and the local vines produce a crop known for its “special volcanic taste.”
Enter Souda Bay to land on Greece’s largest island, and explore the sun-soaked charms of this fascinating land of legends, landscapes and luxuries. Packed with beautiful beaches and rich maritime history, Souda Bay’s huge natural harbour is a spectacular entrance, opening up the treasures of Crete’s many well-stocked museums, rich archaeological sites, and charming Venetian fishing towns. View less
The massive natural harbour of Souda Bay also makes the site an interesting spot for military history – with a huge NATO base here, as well as the Souda Bay War Cemetery, which honours Allied soldiers of World War II. Soak up some Mediterranean sunshine by heading straight to one of the luxurious white sand beaches – where you can recline to a soundtrack of fizzing waves, and dine with sparkling sea views stretching out before you. Explore olive groves producing golden oil, and savour the deep, fruity flavours. The island’s renowned wineries, also invite you to sample lovingly-crafted Vilana grape wines. Rethymnon’s old town and star-shaped, seafront fortress are impressive sites to explore, or you can head to Akrotiri to discover the Arkadi Monastery’s role in the Cretan resistance – and visit the site where the Greek flag was hoisted high into the sky by rebels in 1897. Crete retains its independent spirit but has gathered countless influences over its history. The island’s most beautiful Venetian port – Chania – is close by, and its picturesque old town and collage of historical influences are a highlight of any trip.
The tiny port of Katakolon serves primarily as the starting point for an excursion to the archaeological site of ancient Olympia. Adjacent to the port is the small village of Katakolon with a few souvenir shops and typical local restaurants. Ancient Olympia, the great Panhellenic sanctuary, is located 21 miles from the port.
The site of ancient Olympia spreads out at the foot of wooded Mount Kronos. Excavations began in 1875; they are considered one of archaeology’s great achievements. A direct consequence was the revival of the Olympic Games by Baron Pierre de Coubertin.
Today’s visitors walk among the ruins and reflect on their significance. Don’t miss the site where the Olympic flame is lit even today for the modern games.
This sickle-shaped island of Mediterranean bliss flaunts its sun-kissed sophistication with effortless grace – having cherry-picked the best influences from Venetian, French and British occupiers. With over 3,000 years of history, The Grand Lady of the Ionian has played a starring role in Greek history and mythology, and legendary tales swirl around you, as you explore sparkling beaches, mountains splashed with wildflowers, and historical, perched fortresses.
The soft hues of Corfu’s UNESCO World Heritage List Old Town brings together Corfu’s mesh of European influences, with its romantic stone floors and vine-clad cafes. Find somewhere to settle in for a morning coffee ritual like a true Corfiat, and sip at the laid-back pace of the locals – allowing the thick bitter concoction to settle before indulging. The oddly out-of-place sound of leather on willow can be heard in Spianada Square – the largest city square in the Balkan region – where a manicured cricket pitch spreads out incongruously below the Mediterranean sun. Take the hike up to the 13th-century Paleokastritsa Monastery, where you’ll be escorted by the resident goats, and have to step over cats contentedly rolling around your feet on arrival. This beautiful, daffodil-yellow building is splashed with a fresco of vivid purple fuchsias, and a crowning triad of bells. Inside, explore gold-framed frescoes, and watch as monks squeeze oil from the monastery’s trees’ bounty. Wander out among the groves to views of Corfu’s never-ending sea reaching out to the horison below you. Corfu’s sweeping sand beaches and hidden coves display the full spectrum of vivid Mediterranean seaside colours – which shift from turquoise greens to cobalt blues. The famous Canal d’Amour is a gorgeous inlet, and island legend says couples who swim together in this narrow channel of water stay together forever. Enjoy an afternoon sit-down and drink of ginger tea, or something a little stronger in the form of Corfu’s famous, radiant orange, kumquat liqueur.
Embedded into the slopes of the steep Lovćen mountain, and overlooking the deep blue Adriatic, the fortified town of Kotor boasts a spectacular, imposing staging that few can match. Squeezing in through the tight Bay of Kotor is a daunting and impressive approach in itself, as you arrive via the waterway of Europe’s most southerly fjord. A pearl of Montenegro and the Adriatic, Kotor’s warren-like streets drip with history and authenticity. View less
Under Venetian influence for four centuries, the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Site old town invites you to wander amid atmospheric stone-clad streets, overlooked by a sea of terracotta roofs and the double towers of the cathedral. Protected by thick stone walls – and the mountains behind – Kotor draws comparisons with another fortified Adriatic wonder in Dubrovnik. Many favour Kotor for its compact layout, smaller crowds, and authenticity, however – having been spared from shelling during Yugoslavia’s breakup. The tightknit streets here are patrolled by a slinking population of feline residents, who were adopted as the town’s mascots, after being left behind by transient trader ships. Learn of the city’s extensive heritage on the waves, in the dedicated maritime museum that is contained within Grgurina Palace. Pick your way through tight alleys of workshops and studios, walking below fresh laundry strung from windows, before settling into shiny, paved piazzas for an afternoon coffee or seafood meal. If you’re up for an aerobic challenge, tackle the 1,350 steps up the steep walls to St John’s fortress. The views over the gorgeous bay make the arduous slog worth it, as you rise past the city’s eye-catching 15th-century church bell tower.
Croatia’s crowning glory rears up vertically from the tranquil waters of the Adriatic, and Dubrovnik’s daunting fortresses town is a truly imposing sight to behold. Encircled by chunky stone walls so thick and dramatic they could have been purpose-built as a film set, this city’s unmatched old town is the setting for countless films and shows – from Star Wars to Robin Hood, Game of Thrones and every production in-between seeking a truly authentic medieval flavour.
This fantasy fortress’s walls – which are no less than 12-metres thick at places – are certainly not just for show, however. They kept Dubrovnik safe when it was a maritime republic and they were besieged as recently as 1991, when Serbian and Montenegrin forces attacked, as Yugoslavia broke apart. Fully restored now, the stone streets of the city take you through a beautiful mosaic of architectural splendour, baroque churches and splashing fountains. Tapering alleys rocket up from the central boulevard of Stradun, offering spectacular views down, but you’ll need to walk the city walls to appreciate the fortress city’s full scale. Banking up sharply to the rear, you can gaze across an ocean of terracotta roofs and church spires, clamouring together before the sparkling Adriatic. Visit the neighbouring fort of Lovrijenac, for another perspective, or swing up to Srd fortress’s glorious panorama on a cable car. Dubrovnik’s streets are crammed with eateries and candlelit tables, where couples splash wine into glasses and enjoy gnocchi mixed with creamy truffle sauces. Nearby beaches like Banje are also close by, and hidden bays reward the intrepid who venture out beyond the old town. Take sunset drinks to sit back and watch as flotillas of sea kayaks roll by, or sail on the pristine waters to explore island gems like Lokrum – where peacocks are the only permanent residents.
Split is a busy port with numerous ferries operating to and from nearby islands. It is also a popular resort with beaches, pleasant promenades and good hotels. Venetian Gothic and Renaissance houses and several medieval churches add architectural interest. As a major cultural center, Split does not lack in museums and art galleries. However, the city’s principal attraction is Diocletian’s Palace. It occupies an area of 34,680 square yards and was constructed to serve as a residence and a fortified military camp. By the Middle Ages, the palace had been enclosed within a strong wall with square corner towers, enclosing a town with narrow house-lined alleys. As the city grew, people gradually moved outside the walls and the city center shifted westward.
The first documented mention of Rovinj was in the 5th century. However, it is very likely that Rovinj is much older, emerging somewhere at the turn of the 3rd and the 4th centuries. During this period, Istria was occupied by the Romans who stayed there until 476. Later came the Ostrogoths, Franks and the Venetians. During the Venetian times, Rovinj was developing into a strong fishing, shipbuilding and maritime center, especially in the 17th and 18th century when they had the precedence over Istria. At the time that the town walls were secured, the town started to expand to the mainland and in 1763 the channel between the mainland and the island was covered up and Rovinj became a peninsula.
In 1797 the Venetian republic lost its power and for a short time and Istria fell under Austrian and then under Napoleon’s rule.
In 1813, Rovinj became part of the Austor-Hungarian Empire and a period of industrial and urban development started.
Rovinj fell to fascist Italy until the end of World War II and in the second half of the 20th century was a part of Yugoslavia, as was all of Croatia, until 1991.
In the past 40 years Rovinj has developed from a fishing village into a real tourist center thanks to its picturesque surroundings, its pleasant Mediterranean climate and its cultural-historical values.
Losing none of its allure over the years, this floating city of canals, bridges and masks is a place of eternal beauty and enduring elegance. The lagoon of more than 100 islands is a heavenly sight, transporting visitors on a journey through time – from its Roman inception, through centuries of trade to the modern face we see today. Navigate Venice’s sparkling waterways by romantic gondola, or on cruises along wide canal boulevards. View less
Span the Grand Canal over its iconic original crossing, the Rialto Bridge, which – with its parade of tiny shops – gives some of the city’s most endearing views. If the crowds unsettle you at any point, take two turns away from the main thoroughfares to find peace alone, amid the city’s labyrinth of tiny streets. Hurry to Piazza San Marco to be immersed in Venice’s elegant glory. Basilica San Marco transports you back to the wealthy days of the Doges, who ruled for over 1,000 years. Initially their private chapel, it’s now decorated with beautiful Byzantine mosaics. Nearby the Campanile di San Marco bell tower offers views over the higgledy-piggledy rooftops of times gone by. Just a hop skip and a jump around the corner is the Doge’s Palace, where the levels of opulence ramp up even further. Justice was meted out in this stunning Palace, with the guilty walking to the cells across the covered Bridge of Sighs. Vaporetto trips to local islands offer even more adventures to float your boat, whether it’s Murano with its world-famous glass, Torcello with its amazing Cathedrals, or Burano with its handmade lace and delightfully colourful painted houses.
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