Recently we’ve showed you the most interesting holiday destinations at the Balkan Peninsula and Greece. This time we’re also staying at the South of Europe but we’re moving to the Mediterranean. Cyprus, Italy, France and Spain – they will be inspiring us in this section of our holiday tips.
Larnaca, a meeting point of two cultures
Cyprus used to be a place where two different cultures coexisted – the Greek and the Turkish. Due to affairs that happened over the twentieth century, the island was eventually divided. Turks left the Southern part of the island while Greeks left the Northern. Remainings of earlier days coexistence can be traced in Larnaca. Although Turkish people are no longer there, the signs of their tradition being there for so many ages can be spotted easily. Neighbouring with a beautiful orthodox church of St. Lazar by Larnaca Salt Lake, there’s the Hala Sultan Tekke Muslim mosque. Beside a medieval castle and a beautiful promenade of the famous Finikoudes Beach, there’s the Old Turkish Quarter (Skala). All this mosaics into a very interesting cultural landscape.
Larnaca and abouts can be also recommended to all the fans of beach life and swimming in the warm waters of the Mediterranean. The aforementioned Finikoudes is a real family beach – you’ll have shallow sea shore and an easy access to the beach thanks to the central location. Take a look at the wide Mackenzie Beach, located South of the city. This is also a gem for aviation fans as the beach is neighbouring with the airport so you can observe departures and landing of the machines out of your comfortable chair.
Malaga – sunny hometown of Picasso
One of the most Southern cities of Spain, Andalusian Malaga can boast with centuries of interesting history, tradition and famous people originating from there. To mention but a few there’s Pablo Picasso, Antonio Banderas, or Fernando Hierro. It was a Roman based city so we can find there one of the oldest sights of Spain – ruins of a Roman theatre. Later on, it changed the owners multiple times – it was part of the Byzantine Empire, the Visigothic Kingdom, then the Muslim Umayyad Caliphate. Those ages witnessed the birth of the most interesting sights of Malaga – Alcazaba fortress, and Gibralfaro castle. Despite perfect fortifications, the city was conquered by the Spaniards at the end of the fifteenth century.
Spanish reign resulted in a new cathedral (which has never been finished) and multiple churches and convents. The end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century saw the beginnings of many Art Nouveau buildings.
Malaga is also the gate through to Costa del Sol, the Spanish sunny coast with many famous bathing resorts like Marbella or Nerja. Additionally, in Nerja you can visit the amazing cave complex – Cueva de Nerja, with impressive stalactites, stalagmites (the World’s biggest stalagmite is… thirty-two metres long!) and traces of primal dwelling dated 25-20 thousand years B.C. The climate, the landscape, and pervasive razzle-dazzle make this special ambient often compared to that of Southern California.
Alicante and the wonders of the White Coast
Spain can boast with a wide and great coast of the Mediterranean Sea with wonderful cities and breathtaking views. Alicante and the whole Costa Blanca are not just exceptional here. The most impressive sight of Alicante is Benacantil hill with Santa Barbara Castle originating from the times of Arab rule. The point gives a fantastic view of the city panorama and the imposing port. In the city, you should take a walk along the city avenues and promenades, like the Explanada de España marble pathway in a wavy pattern or La Rambla, the main avenue connecting the port with the medieval inner city and amazing market hall Mercado Central. A must-see is the Barri Vell – Santa Creu, which is the old quarter located at the bottom of Santa Barbara Castle and grand town hall, Concatedral de San Nicolas, Basilica of Santa Maria, tall city houses of the narrow lanes, and MUBAG – the art museum located in the eighteenth-century palace. Apart from that it’s worth taking a look at the really Spanish attraction – Plaza de Toros, a grand nineteenth-century bullfight arena and a museum.
Alicante is also beautiful Costa Blanca, which means “the white coast”. Alicante city beach Postiguet is a pitch-perfect postcard from Costa Blanca. If we add to it the proximity of Villajoyosa and Benidorm, wonderful beach resorts, we can certainly say that staying there will be surely an interesting experience for all devoted beach-leisure fans. There’s also something for scuba-divers. Tabarca island, within the administrative borders of Alicante, is a fantastic place to practice this exciting sports activity.
Nice – the beautiful French Riviera
“Beautiful Nice” is the title of the unofficial anthem of the capital city of the French Riviera. The song perfectly summarises the city atmosphere. Nice is one of the biggest cities in the whole France yet you can still feel like in a real resort. Wonderful city centre, monuments dating back many eras like the ruins of the Roman baths, sacred buildings coming from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century, beautiful examples of architecture from the nineteenth and twentieth century as well as from early modern times. You should definitely walk along the Mediterranean path Promenade du Paillon and visit the fantastically shaped Massena palace, then take walk to the coast and make it to the end of the famous Promenade des Anglais connecting the old town with the port and castle, as well as the neighbouring airport. Finally, put on your comfy shoes and climb up to the top of the tall Castle Hill which separates the city from the port.
Cote d’Azur is not only Nice but also other cities around the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea from Marseille to the border with Italy. Here’s where you’ll find the famous Cannes, unofficially called the cinematic capital of France, with its major film festivals. Here’s the place to admire the beautiful sea and amazing views in Antibes, Saint-Tropez, Menton, or Villefranche-sur-Mer. This is also where the luxury, richness, and gloss synonym can be found – in famous Monaco, with the real symbolism in a form of the casino Monte-Carlo.
Palermo – the charms of Northern Sicily
Historic cities of the Mediterranean Sea can boast with diverse influences. The same goes for Palermo, which used to be a Phoenician colony, and a Roman city, ruled by many, home to many – Byzantines, Arabs, and even… Slavic captives, prisoned by Arabic rulers! To this day we can observe here in Palermo the remainings of the Norman tradition as they created their own country there in the eleventh century. As well as the Spanish dynasty which owned Sicilly with short breaks up until half of the nineteenth century. As a result of that, there’s the splendid Norman Palace, a royal residence of Sicilly throughout the ages, or the cathedral (with a tomb of the first king of Sicily – Roger II and German emperor Frederick II of the Hohenstaufen dynasty) – listed as Unesco heritage sight with the cathedrals of Cefal and Monreale as the examples of the Arab-Norman architecture. Later periods brought to life also the amazing Teatro Massimo or the local opera house – considered one of the biggest in Europe, as well as city houses in the centre of Palermo with impressive architecture Quattro Canti – a crossing of Via Maqueda and Via Vittorio Emanuele with baroque facades of the houses.
Apart from Palermo, you might want to visit the neighbouring Sicilian capital city – Monreale, with famous mosaics originating from Roman times. This is the reason why you should visit Cefalù – with a magnificent cathedral, located in the centre of the enchanting little town at the bottom of picturesque hill, called not very creatively – La Rocca. The area is not just a museum and monuments but also many kilometres of sandy beaches. Great places for your beach time can be found near Palermo like Mondello, where you can enjoy clear-crystal emerald waters and white, soft sand.
As you can see, the possibilities are numerous and it’s really just up to you where you fly for your desired and well deserved holiday. Remember one thing – prepare well for your trip, check thoroughly if you there are any additional documents required by the country you’re flying to, what forms you have to fill out before your journey and make sure you familiarise the new rules regarding health and safety conduct.
Have a wonderful time during your journey!