The Eastern Mediterranean region is one of the most popular cruise regions in the world owing to the vast range of diverse territories that it comprises of. From the beautiful Adriatic coasts of Croatia and Italy, to the islands of Greece, the Black Sea, and Turkey’s offerings of Istanbul and Kusadasi, there are so many beautiful regions to explore during your Eastern Mediterranean cruises. Depending on the Eastern Mediterranean cruises you choose, your itinerary may also include ports such as Ukraine, cities in Russia, the Holy Land, Israel, Cyprus, and even Egypt.
The cornerstone ports on Eastern Mediterranean cruises are havens for history buffs who want a taste of the centuries gone by in the form of amazingly preserved ruins, and locations with rich culture and history that are just waiting to be explored. Many of these historical ruins date as far back as several thousands of years. Home to some of the earliest civilizations that flourished in the world, the Mediterranean or the Mare Nostrum (Our Sea) as it was known as then was the central hub of the Roman Empire as well as many other civilizations since. Eastern Mediterranean cruises offer you the opportunity to explore an open-air museum of colossal dimensions. If the marvels of the ancient world hold interest for you, these are a few ports and sights that you must not miss during Eastern Mediterranean cruises.
The Acropolis at Athens
Perhaps the most recognizable ruins of ancient Greece, and easily one of the most important ancient monuments in the world, the Acropolis or High City overlooks the beautiful city of Athens. First inhabited during the Neolithic era, the Acropolis was home to humans till 510 B.C.E. After this time, the site was claimed as a “province of the gods” in ancient Greece. A stop here is a must for any historical buff. Visit the Acropolis to get an eyeful of the stunning Parthenon temple that was built in honor of the goddess Athena, the renovated mammoth Acropolis Museum, and many more sights. The new museum was built in 2009, and is tenfold the size of the older one. Today, you can see more artefacts on display than ever before owing to the sprawling size of the new museum.
Insider’s Recommendation: Explore the Acropolis with a guided tour. If you do not want to sign up for one, make sure you buy a combined ticket that allows you access to the museum as well as the Acropolis. The marble and stone paths here can be hazardously slippery, so make sure you wear sturdy, non-slip rubber shoes or sneakers.
The Blue Mosque at Istanbul
Istanbul is the dream city of every history lover. The annals of time have seen this city become the capital of not just one or two, but three successive empires, namely, the Roman, Byzantine, and the Ottoman Empire. Easily the most recognizable symbol of the city of Istanbul is the Blue Mosque or the Sultanahmet Camii. Built during the reign of Ahmed I of the Ottoman Empire between 1609 and 1616, this is one of just two mosques in all of Turkey that boasts 6 minarets. This mosque gets its name from the distinctive blue handmade tiles that cover the sprawling interior of the mosque. More than 21,000 tiles were used to decorate the insides of the mosque, and these tiles display over 50 varied designs.
Insider’s Recommendation: The Blue Mosque is not just a tourist destination. It is, first and foremost, a place of worship. As such the mosque remains closed 5 times a day for a duration of 90 minutes for prayers. On Fridays, the mosque stays shut till 2.30pm. Keep these timings in mind when you step out to visit the mosque during your Eastern Mediterranean cruises. Also remember that visitors have to enter the mosque premises barefoot (plastic bags are provided to store your shoes), and women must cover their heads (coverings are offered for free at the entrance).
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