European getaways: Ancient cities

by Mary Del Rosario
Stripes Europe

The best part about living in Europe is its accessibility to jet off to countries that are rich in history. One plane ride away and you can walk the ruins of Pompeii, fight alongside the Romans in the Colosseum and visit Zeus and the rest of the Greek gods. These ancient cities transport us to the past and make it possible to relive a period of time that can only be learned about through textbooks and movies.


The majestic temple of Hephaestus.

Athens

The birthplace of democracy and Greek mythology, Athens is not only the capital of Greece but is the capital of Europe. Landmarks dating back to the 5th century are scattered all across this ancient city. It is also the home of Plato’s Academy and Aristotle’s Lyceum.

When touring the Greek capital, the Acropolis should be on top of your to do list. Considered to be the most famous landmark in the country, the Acropolis is a fortified part of Athens that is built on a hill to honor the Greek goddess Athena. Perfect photo-op views can be seen atop this citadel as it overlooks the entire city.  An archaeologist’s dream, the Parthenon is another temple of the Acropolis that will have you feeling awe-struck.

The oldest neighborhood, Plaka, is another example of how much history is embedded in Athens. Hundreds of shops, rustic buildings and marble streets make this street the most pleasant one to stroll along.


Make a wish at the Trevi Fountain! 

Rome

Pizza, pasta, wine, beautiful fountains – Rome has got it all! Italy’s capital, though sprawling with cosmopolitan vibes can really only be described as one word: ancient. Rome is filled with age-old buildings and memorials and can be seen in the Roman Catholic Church in Vatican City, St. Peter’s Bascilica and of course, the Colosseum. Known as the impressive gladiatorial arena, the Colosseum is the place one has to visit when in Rome. It is also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre and is covered by a huge canvas awning. 

Another famous masterpiece that adds to Rome’s archaic charm is Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel. Part of the Apostolic Palace where the Pope resides, the famous ceiling is considered to be a cornerstone work of High Renaissance art.   

If you’ve seen pictures of an ornately carved fountain, chances are it’s the Trevi Fountain, an intricate fountain that was designed by Nicola Salvi, an Italian architect. This beautiful landmark is one of the oldest water sources in Rome and dates back to 19 B.C.


Ruins in Pompeii.

Pompeii

Though the eruption of Mount Vesuvius left the ancient Roman city of Pompeii in ruins, what’s left of this city is archeological wonder and the imagination of what could have been. During the 8th century, Pompeii flourished as a rest town for many wealthy Romans. Dotted with lavish villas and beautiful houses, Pompeii was a city of money and wealth. 

As you walk through the ruins, you’ll notice the tracks embedded in the road from the chariots that serve as a reminder of the city’s thriving past. For more reminders of what once was, visit the Forum of Pompeii which was the economic, political and religious city center. Though there aren’t any inhabitants living in actual Pompeii, more than one million people live in the cities surrounding Mount Vesuvius.

A European getaway to an ancient city will not only humble you but will also fill your head with imagination, wonder and may even teach you a thing or two about history!

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