History. It's everywhere you turn. Down narrow, cobble-stoned streets, atop rugged mountain cliffs just off the decks of your cruise ship. Escape all the pressures of civilization without missing out on any of its pleasures.
Your days ashore are invitations to adventure, education and the pure pleasure of seeing things you've only read about before. Visit castles, museums and galleries. Explore ancient cities through winding canals. From glorious gardens and gilded theaters to famous boulevards and fabled landmarks, you're in for a picture-perfect experience.
One of Europe's leading cities, Amsterdam's rings of canals and traditional Dutch architecture are unmistakable. Rich in art, history and culture, Amsterdam is home to the Van Gogh museum, Anne Frank's house, and the Rijksmuseum, which houses many works by Rembrandt and Vermeer.
This fortified seaport was already centuries old when St. Paul and St. Barnabas left its harbor on their journey to Antioch. Explore the superb museum in a converted Byzantine church, visit the ancient Roman Theatre, or simply relax amid the pleasant scents of orange groves and pine forests. Those hungry for more history can venture to the ancient towns of Side and Perge.
Piraeus is the seaport for Athens, the capital of western civilization, which boasts a fantastic mix of classical ruins and vivacious modern life. In a single day, you can climb the hill of the Acropolis to wonder at the Parthenon, join the lively Athenians in Constitution Square, and then find a welcoming taverna for some spirited bizouki music, plenty of ouzo to drink, and with luck, energetic Greek dancing.
Barcelona is the cultural heartland of Spain, yet its first language is Catalan, the native tongue of the proudly independent Catalonia region. Stroll down the shady, tree-lined Ramblas between street musicians and elegant bistros. Then perhaps visit the venerable Gothic cathedral, Picasso Museum or enjoy the architectural genius of Antonio Gaudi's Church of the Holy Family.
World renowned for its liquid namesake, Bordeaux's vineyards begin at the town's doorstep. Drive through the countryside to admire the richness of this region laden with grapevines and dotted with picturesque chateaux. Head north up to Pauillac along the Haute-Medoc wine road where some of the finest clarets are cultivated.
Despite the primeval desert that surrounds it, spirited Dubai has spent its oil income on modern architecture based on soaring Islamic spires. Explore the souk bazaars for gold and silks, Persian and Afghani rugs and more. And be sure to visit the Juneira Mosque.
Jewel of the Dalmatian coast, girded in ninth-century walls that rise sheerly from the water's edge, Dubrovnik is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe. Within the ancient fortifications is a labyrinth of narrow alleyways and a striking Renaissance boulevard called the "Stradun."
The Plaza de Merced, cathedrals, and museums of Malaga make it a remarkable site for studying the history and culture of Spain.The coastline that borders the city is magnificent, and it creates a wonderful backdrop to the ancient land.
Once called Constantinople, the former capital of the Byzantine Empire is the only city in the world to straddle two continents: Europe and Asia. This is the Golden Horn, the door between East and West, and your first vision of its domes and minarets is unforgetable. Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and Sultan treasures in Topkapi Palace await - as does the Grand Bazaar, laden with carpets, beaten brass and spices from afar.
This charming, picturesque resort where Antony and Cleopatra used to vacation is best known as the port for the ancients ruins of Ephesus - one of the world's most wondrous archaeological sites. Explorations should include such masterpieces as the Great Amphitheatre, where St. Paul addressed the Ephesians, the Library of Celsus, and the temples of Athena and Apollo - all connected by marble streets rutted by the wheels of countless chariots.
The birthplace of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, is nearby on this island - the third largest in Europe. Explore what is now called the Medieval Museum, a restored castle where Richard the Lionheart married in 1191. Visit a mosque, browse the local artisan shops and take in the natural and architectural delights of Cyprus.
Lisbon is many cities, from the cobbled alleys of the Alfama district to the broad Parisian style avenues at its heart. View it all from the heights of St. George's Castle. Belem's Monument to the Discoveries recalls the seafaring past, while nearby Sintra's storybook palaces, and the seaside resort of Caiscais, have different tales to tell.
The white cliffs of Dover are famous in song and story. From Dover you can visit nearby Canterbury or take a full-day excursion to see the sights of London, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and more.
Known as the "Queen of the Riviera" this cosmopolitan resort city is abundant in boutiques, nightclubs and museums, including the fascinating Chagal Museum. Browse along the elegant beachside Promenade des Anglais. Or, venture further along the Cote d'Azur to witness the galleries of Vence, Monte Carlo's glamorous casino, or Monaco's royal allure.
Legend has it that Apollo blessed this isle with sunshine and beauty. True to the myths, the "Island of Roses" is rich in magnificent scenery and umbrella-lined beaches. Take an excursion to Lindos, where high on a hill rises an ancient acropolis dedicated to the goddess Athena. You will also want to see the medieval Old Town, once home to the Crusading Knights of St. John, and tour the Grand Master's Palace, an Italian restoration famed for its superb mosaic floors.
The port of Civitavecchia is the gateway to The Eternal City, where all roads lead. Mad traffic careens past monuments of the great civilizations of the past. You will want to see it all: the soaring inspiration of St. Peter's, the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel; the flow of life along the Spanish Steps, the Coliseum, the Via Veneto and Trevi Fountain. Be sure to leave time for la dolce vita in one of the piazzas.
The Knights of St. John made this their base in the Mediterranean Sea. The castles, cathedrals and fortresses they built still are their remaining legacy. But Phoenicians, Romans, Carthaginians and Arabs preceded them and left their marks as well. Take a drive to M'dina, the former capital, and wonder at Europe's third-largest dome in Mostra.
Venice enchants you from your first glimpse as your ship glides through the Grand Canal. A world power in the middle ages, its affluence lives on in its beautiful old buildings like those surrounding Piazza San Marco. Be sure not to leave without a romantic ride along the canals in a gondola.
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