After twelve years, I am back for my second visit to the city first known as Byzantium, then became Constantinople, and Istanbul today. The city that is both ancient and modern, Europe and Asia, familiar and exotic. I visited for the first time two sights I failed to see the last time: the Basilica Cistern and the Istanbul Archeology Museum. And also took the opportunity to re-visit the Topkapi Palace and of course, the Ayasofya. In July 2020, the Ayasofya was decreed to be used as a mosque again, annulling the use as museum – the mosaics on the balcony…
A UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site, Ephesus is Türkiye‘s grandest and best preserved ancient city with classical ruins. A showpiece of Aegean archaeology, the stellar ruins of Ephesus have provided travellers all the impetus to justify a trip to this stretch of picturesque coastlands. The ruins were rediscovered in the late 1800s and excavations have been going on for nearly a century. The Temple of Artemis that was built in the 4th century BC and was recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Its fame reached distant lands and it became a pilgrimage site for merchants, kings, and…
Three time lucky, as they say – and all my three visits to Florence have been a charm. I will never tire of this city. With most of the main sights lying within walking distance of one another, Firenze, is the cradle of the Renaissance and one of Europe’s great art cities. There is so much exquisite art and architecture within its ancient walls that it is easy to become overwhelmed. The plan is to visit sites I have not seen before. On exhibit at Palazzo Strozzi is Donatello, the Renaissance. A historic exhibition which sets out to reconstruct the…
Karnak & Luxor Temples
Luxor is often called the world’s greatest open-air museum and there might be nothing in the world that compares to the scale and grandeur of the monuments that have survived from ancient Thebes. After the pyramids of Giza, Karnak is Egypt’s most important pharaonic site. Excavations over the years have gradually uncovered the original structure of the temple complex, which was built over a 1,300-year period. Luxor Temple is an elegant example of Pharaonic temple architecture. The temple was largely completed by the 18th-Dynasty pharaoh Amenhotep III and added to during the reign of Ramses II in the 19th Dynasty.
Modern Luxor grew out of the ruins of Thebes, once the capital of ancient Egypt’s New Kingdom (1550–1069 BC). The Temple of Hatshepsut rises out of the desert in a series of terraces that merge with the sheer limestone cliffs behind. Discovered only in the mid-19th century, and still being restored by the Polish Mission.
Luxor has the greatest concentration of ancient monuments in Egypt. An hour’s flight from Cairo, one can spend a week here, although I was only able to spend a full day. The remote, barren Valley of the Kings was the necropolis of the New Kingdom pharaohs. The dramatic corridors and burial chambers are adorned with symbolic accounts of the journey through the underworld and ritual paintings to assist the pharaohs in the afterlife. The Valley of the Queens lies to the southwest of the Valley of the Kings and holds the tombs of many royal wives and children.
Set on the Nile River, Cairo is a mega-city of of more than 20 million people, making it the most populous city in the Middle East and the second most populous in Africa — and it feels like it. The capital of Egypt is not an easy city, as it is loud, clogged and frenetic – and it might take a while to get used to the cacophony. But it is a small price to pay to experience the energy of the Mother of the World.
Giza & Saqqara
For nearly 4,000 years, the extraordinary shape, the perfect geometry, and sheer size of the Pyramids of Giza have invited tons of questions and awe. The last remaining intact Wonder of the Ancient World is indeed a sight to behold. No other monuments are so instantly recognized around the world, yet only a few realize that there are at least 115 further pyramids spread across 70 kms of desert. Covering a 7km stretch of the Western Desert, Saqqara, the huge necropolis of the Ancient Egypt Capital of Memphis, was an active burial ground for more than 3500 years and is…
24 Hours in Vienna
I am back in Vienna for 24 hours before I catch my flight back home. I had nothing specific planned for this stop over and decided to just play it by ear. I came upon the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek or the Austrian National Library. It’s State Hall is one of the most beautiful library halls in the world and is the biggest Baroque library in Europe. There were a couple more of restaurants that I was not able to visit when I was in Vienna a couple of months ago that I wanted to try. First stop for a late breakfast…
The peaceful village of Perast is located in one of the most beautiful bays in the Adriatic that dates back from the Venetian period (1420 – 1797). Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979, Perast looks like a chunk of Venice — with its outstanding Venetian architecture — that floated down the Adriatic and anchored itself onto the Bay of Kotor. Opposite Perast, across the water, rise the much-photographed twin islets of Our Lady of the Rocks and St. George, each capped by a church. It is said that the island of Our Lady of the Rocks is…