Greece is a popular tourist destination. Some of that comes from its historical influence. However, it is also home to a storied landscape with much natural beauty. If people want to visit a similar place without visiting Greece, there are plenty of other options in the Mediterranean Basin.
Cyprus is an island in the Eastern Mediterranean. It has a long-standing connection with the Greek people, as shown by how Greek Cypriots make up more than three-quarters of the island’s total population. Currently, there is a Cyprus and a Northern Cyprus, which is the product of violent disagreement over the island’s future during the middle of the 20th century. Still, the island is safe, as shown by the importance of tourism to both the Cypriot economy and the Northern Cypriot economy.
Dubrovnik is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the Adriatic Sea. Once upon a time, it was Ragusa, a maritime republic with an influential role in the region’s trade. Nowadays, Dubrovnik remains one of Croatia’s six public ports, which isn’t even mentioning its continuing cultural relevance. Amusingly, some people might recognize Dubrovnik because of Game of Thrones. The city provided most of the exterior shots of King’s Landing, according to USA Today, and other sources.
Situated on the First Cataract of the Nile, Aswan was once the point of separation between Egypt and Nubia. Its location is less relevant in the present than in the past because modern Egypt extends well into the latter region. Still, Aswan is a major tourist destination because of its one-time strategic importance. That is particularly true because it now includes the island of Elephantine, home to some of the finest surviving examples of Upper Egyptian architecture.
Cairo came into existence because of the Muslim conquest of Egypt. Despite that, it is one of the best places to visit for people interested in ancient Egypt for two reasons. One, Cairo is home to the Egyptian Museum and the Grand Egyptian Museum. Two, Cairo is close to Giza, Memphis, and Heliopolis. Of course, the city is also the country’s capital, so it has plenty of other attractions.
5. Siwa Oasis
The ancient Egyptians identified themselves with Kemet, referring to the rich black soil on both sides of the life-sustaining Nile. In contrast, Deshret referred to the surrounding deserts, which were as inimical to human existence then as they are now. Still, the latter is home to small bastions of life. One of these would be the Siwa Oasis, once home to the Oracle of Ammon. In 332 BC, Alexander the Great visited the site. Subsequently, he began thinking of himself as the son of Ammon or Zeus-Ammon. The Art Institute of Chicago says the ram horns often seen in depictions of the Greek conqueror are symbolic of this claim.
Luxor has a reputation for being an open-air museum. That is because the modern city contains both the Karnak and the Luxor temple complexes. Furthermore, several other famous sites sit on the opposite bank of the Nile. In particular, there is the Theban Necropolis, which contains both the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens. There are few places capable of matching Luxor when it comes to sites of historical interest.
The French Riviera has been a tourist destination since the late 18th century. One of its most famous locations is the city of Cannes. A lot of people will recognize it because of the annual Cannes Film Festival. Otherwise, Cannes is famous as a playground for the rich.
The ancient Greeks were incredible sailors who traveled throughout the Mediterranean Basin. Even so, it is telling that they first named it Seirenoussai, thus indicating it belonged to the sirens. Modern Corsica is one of the 18 administrative regions of France, though its culture remains much influenced by Italian culture. It is less developed than a lot of other regions. For proof, consider Regions of France’s statement that agricultural products make up most of its top exports. Thanks to this, Corsica has also retained much of its natural beauty, thus enabling it to support a booming tourism sector.
Speaking of which, the ancient Greeks also settled throughout the Mediterranean Basin. For instance, ancient Greek colonists founded the city of Massalia on the Mediterranean coast east of the river Rhône around 600 BC. Since then, its experience hasn’t been 100 percent smooth. For example, it lost its independence during Caesar’s civil war because it sided with Caesar’s enemies. Similarly, the Franks sacked it in 739, while the Aragonese sacked it in 1423. Despite these occurrences, people have been living in what is now called Marseilles throughout, thus making it the oldest continuously-inhabited city in France. It is one of the most visited cities in the country, so much so that it sees millions of visitors yearly. Some want to see Marseilles, while others want to use it as a springboard to see the rest of southern France.
Rome is rightfully one of the most famous cities in the world. Initially, it was a place of no consequence. However, the Romans managed to conquer the entire coast of the Mediterranean Sea, thus enabling them to call that body of water Mare Nostrum meaning “Our Sea” without exaggeration. Rome’s practical importance to the Roman Empire fell over time. Despite that, it is easy to see its influence all around the modern world. Those interested in history can’t consider their Mediterranean experience complete without visiting the Eternal City at least once.
Sicily was a strategic location in ancient times. As a result, numerous cultures came to live on the island. Palermo started as one of the three main Phoenician colonies in Sicily. In time, it came under Roman rule where it would remain for more than a millennium. It wasn’t until the Emirate of Sicily and then the Kingdom of Sicily that Palermo would become a capital. Put together, that makes for a lot of accumulated culture. Moreover, Palermo remains famous for its climate, its cuisine, and its other entertainment. As such, the city is well worth a visit.
Generally speaking, people care about early Roman history more than late Roman history. However, if they are interested in how the empire evolved, they should check out the city of Ravenna in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. After all, it was the last capital of the Western Roman Empire, presumably because its location plus its seaport made it much easier for the Eastern Roman Empire to send reinforcements. For a time, Ravenna became the capital of the Ostrogothic Kingdom. Eventually, the Eastern Roman Empire managed to reclaim the city from 540 to 751, which was more than long enough for it to leave its mark. Luck means that Ravenna has one of the best collections of late Roman architecture. UNESCO recognizes eight buildings as the Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna.
Malta is an archipelago in the approximate center of the Mediterranean Sea. Thanks to that, it has been a much sought-after naval base since ancient times. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that means Malta was a British colony from 1814 to 1964. Fortunately, it didn’t experience the same issues as Cyprus even though it gained independence just a short while afterward. With that said, Malta did become another top tourism destination in the region, as shown by how it sees more tourists in a year than the number of residents in the island country.
Dalmatia refers to a stretch of coastline on the Adriatic Sea. Most of it belongs to Croatia. However, the southeasternmost portion is the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro. It is a scenic location like the rest of the region. What is particularly interesting are its medieval towns, which remain in excellent condition.
Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia. It is well-known, not least because it and its surroundings make up one of the most populated regions in Europe. Historically speaking, Barcelona was once the most important city in the Crown of Aragon. It lost that status when the Crown of Aragon conquered Valencia. Then, Barcelona took another step back when Aragon and Castile formed the dynastic union that would lead to the Kingdom of Spain. Still, Barcelona is a cultural, commercial, and political center, particularly since Catalans are an ethnic group in their own right. Indeed, the city is one of the centers of the Catalan independence movement, which is very relevant in modern times. The BBC and other sources reported the regional parliament declaring independence in 2017, followed by Madrid imposing direct rule over the region.
Mallorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands. In ancient times, the region was famous for its skilled slingers, who worked as mercenaries for imperial powers. Modern Mallorca is another Mediterranean island with a thriving tourism sector, so much so that people sometimes joke about it being the 17th Federal State of Germany.
Valencia refers to both an autonomous community and an autonomous community’s capital in Spain. The city started as a Roman colony. Since then, it has been the seat of more than one state. Besides its sites of interest, Valencia is also notable because of its numerous celebrations. For instance, there is the Falles from March 15 to 19 that commemorates Saint Joseph.
Given the sheer range of places where the ancient Greeks set up colonies, it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that Anatolia was one of them. Ephesus was a Greek city-state founded in the region in the 10th century BC. Subsequently, it came under the rule of several empires before its last inhabitants abandoned it during the 15th century. The ruins of Ephesus provide no more than a glimpse of the city’s former glories. Still, they are well-preserved, thus contributing to them being one of the most popular tourist destinations for those interested in Greco-Roman times. For that matter, Ephesus isn’t just any city-state from those times. It was quite well-known in its time, which in turn, means it sees much mention in the historical record. For example, Ephesus was home to the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Similarly, Ephesus was one of the recipients of Saint Paul’s epistles.
Anatolia has been home to numerous empires. As a result, Turkey has plenty of archaeological sites that are unconnected to either the Greeks or the Romans. For instance, there is Hattusa, which was once the capital of the Hittite Empire. The latter was one of the great powers of the Late Bronze Age. As a result, we have learned much from the site. For instance, The Conversation points out that archaeologists recovered treaties from Hattusa suggesting there might be some historical basis for the Trojan War. The Hittite Empire was hit hard by the Late Bronze Age collapse. Unlike Assyria and Egypt, it underwent a total collapse, with the result that its people never managed to build another state of the same scale.
Imperial cities tend to be good choices for people with cultural interests to check out. After all, the wealth flowing into them tends to make for impressive monuments and the like. Istanbul was the capital of not one but two empires. First, it was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire from 395 to 1453 as Constantinople. Second, it was the capital of the Ottoman Empire from 1453 to 1923 as Istanbul, which is a Turkish contraction of a Medieval Greek phrase meaning “into the city.” Other than these glories, Istanbul is also notable because of its location. The city straddles the Bosporus, meaning it has long been regarded as a symbolic transition point between Europe and Asia.