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Mediterranean history: reading between the waves

Setting off on a cruise around the Med might seem like the perfect excuse to surrender your mind to complete vegetation for a few weeks, but it’s becoming increasingly popular for holidaymakers to seek something more meaningful from their vacation.

Dubrovnik in the Mediterranean - Image by Mario Fajt, used under the Creative Commons license.

Stretching from the Iberian Peninsula, along the southern coastline of continental Europe to the north of Africa, the Mediterranean Sea traverses three continents, and Mediterranean cruises can offer some unique opportunities to learn about our world’s history from some of its most ancient destinations. Take note of these educational places best visited from the sea.

Istanbul

A city spanning two continents, this cultural capital comprises an entirely unique cityscape of bathhouses and minarets, domes and spires. The Blue Mosque, the Agia Sofia and the Basilica Cistern are historic highlights no traveler should miss ticking off their itinerary before re-embarking. Istanbul’s beautiful hybrid of styles demonstrates a historic diversity which is unrivaled.

 Dubrovnik

This Dalmatian Coast delight boasts the best preserved medieval walls in the world, and an old town which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While its city walls bustle with cruise day-trippers, it’s easy to understand why; walking the two kilometers of stone fortifications is an edifying experience.

Tunis

With bustling medinas and French colonial architecture, Tunis is a city that wears its history scrawled across its skyline. Visit the Roman mosaics in the Bardo museum, then strike out for the ancient civilization of Carthage, one of the world’s most impressive archaeological sites, and the former heart of the Carthaginian empire.

Rome

No cultural odyssey would be complete without the inclusion of majestic Rome, a city guarding ancient treasures like the Colosseum, the Pantheon and the Baths of Diocletian under the guise of a modern metropolis. A number of cruise lines port at Civitavecchia, from which you can explore the city sights. Rome is hilly, so stay cool on your excursions with an old trick; fill your water bottle from one of the many historic drinking fountains in the city which dispense cool water carried directly by aqueduct.

The Mediterranean is one of the world’s most ancient beds of civilization, and so much can be learned about the world from setting off on a cruise around this historic and cultural haven.

With the breadth of countries to discover, the scope of cultures to explore, and the provenance of its destinations, choosing to cruise the Med proves history can be a literal voyage of discovery.

Author bio: Anissa Suliman is a vacation enthusiastic who makes a living managing a busy office to feed her passion! She also loves to cook Italian food and never visits a new country without her running trainers.

 

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Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook