The Netherlands is a densely populated country in part reclaimed from the sea with about half of its land lying below sea level. Many tourist only come to the Netherlands to visit Amsterdam. But Holland has11825808_1091563850853668_3332189866473291686_n plenty to offer outside its capital. Crisscrossed with canals, the flat landscape is perfect for cycling with historic town centers, classic windmills and other tourist spots sprinkled across the country. In the west and north the long coastline is marked by mile upon mile of protective dunes and sandy beaches. During springtime the flower gardens become great tourist attractions in the Netherlands providing a bold spectacle of vivid colors.

10-Delta Project

The Delta Project or Delta Works are a series of constructions built between 1950 and 1997 in the provinces of Zeeland and South Holland to protect large areas of land from the sea. The works consist of dams, sluices, locks, dikes, and storm surge barriers. They have been declared one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

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9-Maastricht Vrijthof

The Vrijthof is the best-known city square in Maastricht, a city in the southern most part of the Netherlands. It features the massive Saint Servatius Church and Saint Jan’s Cathedral. The Vrijthof regularly hosts large festivals at various times throughout the year, including autumn and winter festivals.

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8-Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is the largest and most prestigious museum for art and history in the Netherlands. It has a large collection of paintings from the Dutch Golden Age including works by Vermeer and Rembrandt. Until 2013, the museum is being completely renovated, but the major masterpieces are still on show.

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7-Kinderdijk

More than 1.000 old windmills still exist in the Netherlands. The largest concentration of Dutch windmills can be found near the village of Kinderdijk (“Children’s dike”). To drain the excess water from the polders, which are situated below sea-levels, 19 windmills were built around 1740. They have been well preserved to the present day and are now popular tourist attractions in the Netherlands.

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6-Hoge Veluwe

The Hoge Veluwe National Park is one of the largest continuous nature reserves in the Netherlands, consisting of heathlands, sand dunes, and woodlands. The Kröller-Müller Museum with it large collection of paintings by Vincent van Gogh is located within the park. Bicycles are available for free to visitors of the Hoge Veluwe, with much of the area being inaccessible by car.

5-Keukenhof Gardens

Keukenhof Gardens is the world’s largest flower garden, and actually a promotion for the Dutch flower industry. Approximately seven million flower bulbs are planted annually in the park with not only tulips, but also hyacinths, daffodils and other spring flowers on display. The gardens are open from the last week in March to mid-May. Keukenhof is one of the most visit tourist attractions in the Netherlands.

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4-Delft City Hall

The City Hall in Delft is a Renaissance style building on the Markt square across from the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church). Originally designed by the Dutch architect Hendrick de Keyser, it was heavily changed over the centuries and was restored in the 20th century to its Renaissance appearance.

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3-West Frisian Islands

The West Frisian Islands or Waddeneilanden in Dutch are a chain of islands in the North Sea off the Dutch coast. They continue further east as the German East Frisian Islands. The islands separate the North Sea from the shallow Wadden Sea, with tidal mud flats. Under the supervision of licensed guides several islands can be reached by walking on the mudflats during low tides. On the islands cycling is the most favorable means of transport.

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2-Leiden Canals

Leiden is known for the oldest university in the Netherlands, the birthplace of Rembrandt and its beautiful canals. The two branches of the Old Rhine enter Leiden on the east and unite in the city center which also contains several smaller canals. The old center of Leiden is one of the largest 17th century town centers in the Netherlands, second only to Amsterdam.

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1-Canals of Amsterdam

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Amsterdam began building its famous canals in the 17th century during the Dutch Golden Age. The three main canals, Herengracht, Prinsengracht, and Keizersgracht form concentric belts around the city, known as the grachtengordel. Today there are over 100 km (60 miles) of canals and 1,500 bridges. Alongside the main canals are 1550 monumental buildings.

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“Although I felt lazy, I didn’t want to spend a day sitting around or laying in the sun — I needed to move around, but at a relaxed place. So after breakfast I took a long, slow walk along Cape Agios Prokopios and the west side of Stelida mountain, eventually making my way back to the hotel.”

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This would be my final full day at Lianos Village Hotel … I would be moving on to Albania the next day

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A private villa just a few steps down the road from my hotel.I have walked past it many times during my Naxos holidays, but have never seen anyone there. It might be a holiday house for someone from Athens or elsewhere in Europe.

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This building, right next door to the villa, appears to contain several separate apartments. I’ve never seen anyone here, either — the windows have always been shuttered. It’s just a 5-minute walk from here to Agios Prokopios beach.

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The road from Stelida passes Molos Taverna (center) before reaching a parking area next to the dunes at Agios Prokopios beach.

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Agios Prokopios beach has views toward Orkos (rear left) and Cape Mikri Vigla (rear right) on the far side of the bay.

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Paros island comes into view as we walk up a dirt road leading from the beach to Cape Agios Prokopios.

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These guard dogs barked furiously at me from one of the nearby estates as I made my way up the hillside to a road in the residential development. I was glad they were securely chained — judging by the look of their emaciated bodies, they probably were hungry enough to eat me!

I avoided the property with the guard dogs and walked through a field of prickly scrub brush and herb bushes to reach the nearest road. It took us downhill between tall stone walls that separated some of the villa estates.

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During my way I stopped at Molos Taverna for a snack. The restaurant has a large open-air terrace set back a couple of hundred meters from Agios Prokopios beach.

After my snack I took a long walk in  Town, strolling through the Old Market area and the Castle. After a walk along the waterfront, I headed to Protodikeio Square, where I hailed a taxi for a ride back to my hotel. I had walked enough for one day, and weren’t going to hike back to the Hotel. I felt sad that I would be leaving the town in only 8 hours, but I had thoroughly enjoyed my fifth  visit in Greece. I will be back & Maybe next time with a good company from Netherland 🙂

®LiliSalca

“Greece Waterfalls are perhaps one of the most unheard-of attractions in a country more known for its ancient ruins and Mediterranean islands. But believe it or not, they do exist and in a fair bit of abundance if you know where to look and if you time your trip correctly.”

25299529Now I won’t lie to you. It took a bit of effort to visit a waterfall in the country because there are so many other attractions to see and experience. Among these are signature attractions like the Ancient Greek Ruins (in Athens, Delphi, Mycenae, Epidavros, Olympia, etc.), Meteora (featuring cliff-hanging monasteries), and the incredibly beautiful Santorini. There were even charming surprises like Nafplio that made it even more difficult to make the time to go waterfalling.

So with all that said, I managed to squeeze one waterfall into our visit to Hellas (which is Greece in Greek; also written as Eλλας in Greek alphabet), and I had to go a little out-of-the-way to reach the Edessa Waterfalls way up in Macedonian Greece. But it was well worth it in my mind. Plus, it also allowed me to visit the historically important Mt Olympus as well as the Byzantine relics in Thessaloniki along the way.

If I was fortunate to return to Greece, I’ll be sure to budget more time to visit the country’s waterfalls such as the Neda Waterfalls, Lefkada Waterfalls, and Vafkeri Waterfalls among others. But for now, my visit to Edessa will have to do.

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Finally seeing this famous canal standing on the bridge is as impressive as you can imagine. In fact there are 2 bridges but the one sometimes mentionned in guides (like the guide vert) on the Posidonia side is not interesting because the canal is not very high (on should I say deep). *

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The site is strange because it is just a bridge, you park along the road and the surroundings are not nice.

10 minutes is all you need but worth the view, I believe. It is an extremely deep and narrow canal. The view is breathtaking, especially if boats are going through.

 

®LiliSalca

“Going for a vacation can be both exciting and stressful. From planning to getting back home, it involves a lot of work and planning, unless you’re the adventurous kind of traveler who wants to surprise himself/herself. A few small things you may think are not so important can actually play a great role in making your travel and vacation less stressful and more enjoyable.”

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1. Make an itinerary.

A well-planned itinerary saves you and your friends or family from the hassle of having to decide where to go and what to do the moment you arrive at your destination. Unplanned vacations often lead to exasperating fiascos, not to unforgettable adventures. Put a collaborative effort in planning your schedule. Include everyone in planning where to book a reservation, which places to go to, and how you will spend your time. This involves looking up your destination online,Finding a Hotel, checking means of transportation, and finding parks, resorts, museums, and other places of interest.

2. Savor the places you go to.

This is not The Amazing Race challenge. You don’t need to rush from one place to another and miss the fun of immersing yourselves long enough in a town or a beach. A lot of vacationers are backpackers and adventure seekers who like to experience as much of the foreign country as possible, so they stay in a place for an hour and rush to the next nature park. However, this usually leaves them tired and listless. That is not why and how you want to travel. Most people go on a holiday to relax, not to feel exhausted when they return home.

3. Go during the off-peak season.

Most travel destinations have peak seasons. Peak seasons are when the weather is expected to be great. These are also times when festivities take place. The peak season offers a lot of activities for tourists, but it’s also the time when the place gets crowded. Hotel Booking becomes difficult. Air fare is also more expensive. Visiting the place during off season allows you to have a more intimate encounter with the locals. It’s quieter and the accommodations are way cheaper.

4. Quit updating your Instagram or Facebook.

Constantly updating your social media accounts is a sure way to spoil your vacation. Many people really like to boast of their holiday at a tropical paradise to their friends’ envy. What’s the point really? Sure, updating your Instagram takes only about 30 seconds. Now add the number of minutes you have to spend on responding to comments and chatting with a friend who’s suddenly gotten interested in where you’re spending winter or summer. The next thing you know, you’re on your way back to the hotel, and you haven’t even enjoyed the beach because you’re on your phone the whole time!

5. Try local cuisines.

What’s the point of traveling abroad if you’re just going to eat at an Albanian dinner? Try the local food, and you will be surprised that there is good stuff outside Albania. Some foods are worth a try.

All right, here’s the deal. You really want to find out what the locals eat? Go to eating venues where the average citizens eat. Don’t eat at the hotel. Walk to the heart of the town where local restaurants serve local food. Just make sure the food is cooked right. However, eat street-food at your own risk. It can be surprisingly good though!

Vacation_16. Get off the cab and walk.

Aside from the fact that walking burns calories, it’s a great way to experience the local ambiance and be in touch with the townspeople. It’s usually a great thing – immersing yourself in a foreign community and getting to know how people live add a whole new level of understanding of human life. Getting to know a different culture, a different way of life, will probably give you the new perspective that you need, which means you come back home a tad wiser.

©LiliSalca

Eurovision Ireland

Elhaida Dani - 'I'm Alive'. Photo Facebook Elhaida Dani – ‘I’m Alive’. Photo Facebook

ALBANIA : Watch Elhaida Dani’s NEW Eurovision song ‘I’m Alive’ – Do you like it?

Elhaida Dani won the Albanian National Selection back in December of 2014 with the song ‘Diell’

Then the news came in February that ‘Diell’ was being replaced by the song ‘I’m Alive’

Today saw the release of ‘I’m Alive’ that will represent Albania at Eurovision in May.

So do you like the song ‘I’m Alive’? Is it better suited than ‘Diell’ for Eurovision? Can it take Albania to the Grand Final of Eurovision? Could it win the contest?

Let us know.

Author/Editor in Chief Garrett Mulhall

Source : Eurovision Ireland

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1- WANDER AT WILL

Harmony broke out in Cyprus in April when the barriers came down on Nicosia’s Ledra Street (Lokmaci, in Turkish). You can now walk the entire length of this thoroughfare, closed in 1974 after Turkey invaded the northern part of the island, and a symbol of the division of Cyprus.

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This new crossing, the sixth to be opened since 2003, makes it much easier to take in the whole Cyprus experience (the Greek South, part of the European Union, spending the euro, and the Turkish North).

Turkish and Greek attractions in old Nicosia are worth a visit. I particularly liked the restored Büyük Han (Great Inn), a 16th Century Ottoman inn on a stone courtyard with shops and cafes.

2- SAVE THE DONKEYS

Whoever shot some of the famous wandering donkeys on the Karpas peninsula in the very north of Cyprus earlier this year could have had no idea how it would unite the divided community.

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The donkeys are descendants of animals left to roam by farmers after the island split in 1974. After the shooting Greek and Turkish Cypriots united through the Facebook website and launched a campaign to protect the donkeys, which they see as the ‘symbol of Cyprus’. There are 500 left, wandering the peninsula.

3- SAVOUR THE SHADE

Scour all the Mediterranean and you won’t find a more perfect place to rest in the shade with a cool drink on a hot day. British author Lawrence Durrell bought a house in the hilltop village of Bellapais in the Fifties. He immortalized the tree on the square as the Tree of Idleness in his novel Bitter Lemons Of Cyprus. Today you have a choice of shades in which to laze. Two candidates claim to be the official idle tree. There is the mulberry overshadowing the coffee shop and the nearby Japanese pagoda at the Huzur Agac (Tree of Idleness) restaurant. Nearby is Bellapais Abbey, a 12th Century French Gothic Abbey in the Five Finger Mountains, said to have inspired Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle.

4- GO TIME-TRAVELLING

For a small island, Cyprus packs some mighty history. It holds three Unesco World Heritage Sites, the top ranking of historical treasures. One is the entire city of Paphos, listed for its remains of ancient villas, palaces, theaters, fortresses, tombs and Roman mosaics.

The second site covers the Byzantine Painted Churches in the Troodos mountains, all richly decorated with murals. And the third site is the Neolithic settlement of Choirokoitia.

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5. GET GREEDY

One of the leaders in the fight to reinstate authentic Greek-Cypriot cooking is the 7 St Georges taverna in Yeroskipos. Say yes to owner George Demetriades’s endless mezes.

Nobody forces you to move on to a main course but if you must, try the lamb tavas, slow-cooked in a clay pot with white wine.

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Also try Kouppas in the stone village of Neo Chorio. Specialties include beef stifado and afelia – slow-cooked pork in red wine. And Notios, in the Almyra Hotel, Paphos, is one of the best new restaurants, for Mediterranean-Asian fusion cuisine.

6. SWEAT IT OUT

Omeriye Hamam is a famous old Turkish bath in Nicosia’s old town, restored and operating again in its 14th Century premises – the stone-built Augustinian church of St Mary – in a joint European Union and United Nations project.

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Lie back in these ornate rooms and relax in a centuries-old tradition. The hamam is loosely based on the sauna principle but with added perspiring, exfoliating, splashing in cold water and pummeling. You’ll feel improved inside and out, serene and ready to murder a Turkish tea with dates.

©LiliSalca

Anybody who’s ever gotten a taste of Central and Eastern Europe have learned to count on a few things when traveling to a new destination in the area: castles, town squares, churches, and lots of uphill walking. Krakow is no different in that regard. However, one thing it does have that draws well over a million visitors to Poland every year — and growing — is historical relevance, culture and an unmistakable quaint charm that makes it a priority destination for globe trotters. Below are the top 5 things to see when you get here.

The Old Town

Considered the heart of Krakow, the city Old Town is perhaps the most common destination for visitors. The site has shown vast improvements since the end of communism in 1990, heralding a plethora of modern shops, café’s, pubs, restaurants, and an eyeful of cultural and historical sites.

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Amongst one of the many sites of Old Town are the Krakow National Museum, which features one of the largest collections of modern Polish art in the country. Visitors may also visit the famous Juliusz SÅ‚owacki Theatre, home to several operatic favorites and the Krakow Film Festival held every June.Perhaps one of the more memorable charms of the Old Town district is simply a nice slow walk throughout its small, yet plentiful streets. One might indulge in Krakow’s Jewish heritage by purchasing a bagel from one of several bagel carts.

Wawel Cathedral

Also located in the Old Town is the 1,000 year old Gothic Wawel Cathedral, chalk full of history, beauty and national pride. The cathedral comes complete with 18 chapels, and houses a museum, library, and national archives. It is also famously the site of coronation for Polish kings, and in its catacombs, the burial place of royalty and national hero’s such as poet Juliusz Slowacki, and 11th C. Bishop of Krakow Saint Stanislaus the Martyr.

Assessable to guests is the 800 plus pound Sigismund Bell, engraved with lovely religious images and Latin inscriptions of dedications to God.

11127311783_81999b9e16_bWieliczka Salt Mines

Complete with numerous chapels, an open reception hall, and underground salt lake, the Wieliczka salt mine is not your average salt mine, but a virtual underground civilization that puts Jeanne DuPrau’s fantasy-fiction, City of Ember, to shame.

The descent to the mines via its spiraling stairwell is seemingly never ending, extending nearly a quarter mile into the ground. But if you don’t mind a little calve swelling the next day, the 700 year old salt mines are a must for any visitor. The mine’s feature attraction is arguably Saint Kinga’s Chapel, whose walls and décor are almost entirely carved from the stone. The sculptures and other decoration that adorn the chapel include scenes from the New Testament, including Jesus before Herod and a nativity scene.

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The mines also include an impressive array of other statues and chandeliers hand carved from salt rock. Who hasn’t ever wanted to see Da Vinci’s Last Supper carved from salt rock? Well, here’s your chance.

If you’re looking for a real treat and happen to find yourself in Krakow for an extended visit in September, you can participate in the 4 day Underground IPA Soccer Tournament, taking place in the mines!

Auschwitz

Where many Catholics visit Krakow for its density of chapels, cathedrals, and history, many Jews too make a pilgrimage here for the city is rich in Jewish ancestry; and to visit nearby Auschwitz, the site of history’s most well known and substantial atrocity, the Holocaust. As most know, Auschwitz during World War II became the unfortunate location of the war’s largest extermination camp, killing more than one million people, 90 percent of whom were Jews during the years of operation from 1942-1944.

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The remaining preservation of the site serves as a haunting reminder of what transpired during the war, using existing structures to show portraits taken of victims, showcases filled with thousands of gallons of hair, and luggage and suitcases. Visitors may also visit Block 10, where the Germans conducted the uncovered “medical experiments” and may even go down into the chambers where mass executions were carried out.

Wawel Royal Castle

Another cultural gem to sprout up on Wawel Hill is the Royal Castle, which looks over the Vistula River. It is full of state rooms, exhibitions, the royal gardens, and stunning courtyard. Once inside, a guest may visit the Crown Treasury, which contains memorabilia of Polish monarchs and royalty.

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The location of the castle is also home to the “Dragon’s Den,” a limestone cave that was once residence to the Polish folklore legend Wawel Dragon, who pillaged the town until it was killed by the whims of a cobblers apprentice.

Rich in history and culture, Krakow is a must-see destination in Eastern Europe. And while these 5 attractions give you a good start on all there is to do and see in this city, keep in mind that there is much more of Krakow to explore. So take your time!

Turkey is a land that is so varied and in constant contrast with itself that it can be hard to ever truly understand, but to get a start there are many sites that can give a flavor of the country’s unique mix of history, culture and natural wonders. In traversing this country from west to east the traveler will see astonishing differences in cultures and ways of life. From the modern, cosmopolitan capital to the eastern outposts of Sanliurfa and Van there is a world of difference. Even the otherworldly natural sites are still filled with remnants of human history and are so diverse it is hard to believe they all fit in one country.

 Anıtkabir – The Mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

The magnitude of Atatürk’s legacy is undeniable when you first witness his lavish memorial. It’s hard to not be impressed by its sheer size and grandeur – it’s simple, yet powerful. It reminded me of Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum in Hanoi, Vietnam and sends a similar message to its visitors.

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This extravagant tomb and memorial is particularly important to the city of Ankara because it was Atatürk, the revolutionary founder and first president of the new Republic of Turkey, who designated Ankara as the country’s new capital city. On the 69th anniversary of his death, over 550,000 people visited the mausoleum to pay respect to the Father of Modern Turkey. Think about that for a moment!

Explore Ankara Citadel

For fantastic city views of Ankara head to the Ankara Citadel, situated in the Ulus Bentderesi District of in the Old Quarters. Ankara has many interesting archaeological sites scattered throughout the city, however only a few structures surrounding the citadel have survived its appetite for development and modernization.

Ankara Citadel Gate

The citadel surrounds old Ankara and is free to enter and explore. But be forewarned, there are no barriers or handrails to protect clumsy walkers or those with a paralyzing fear of heights – and it’s a loooong way down!

Admire the elegance of Kocatepe Mosque

Stunning, glorious, powerful, seductive, magnificent, brilliant.

Whatever adjective you choose, it still won’t come close to accurately capturing the style and grace of Ankara’s largest and most impressive place of worship. A visit to Kocatepe Mosque is a must during any trip to Anakara.

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The Travertine pools of Pamukkale

On arrival into the small town of Pamukkale, it is almost impossible to miss the town’s main attraction. Overlooking the town is the strikingly beautiful white ‘cotton castle,’ as the name means in Turkish. The attraction is made from calcium deposits that seem to flow like melting glue down a large hill towards the town. As you approach the hill and begin to climb, you see that it is in fact covered in a thick layer of white limestone that has been slowly added to over centuries as flowing water from the hot pools above deposited more and more bits of calcium.

Blue water travertine pools at Pamukkale, Turkey

Since becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988, people are no longer allowed to walk over or sit in the naturally formed pools, but there are still wooden boardwalks that take you around and over some of the pools, which gives a great view without damaging the fragile site.

The ancient city of Ephesus

If you have ever wondered what your life would have been like if you had lived around the time of Jesus Christ and you don’t currently own a time machine, then your best bet is the ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus. It is one of the world’s best-preserved examples of an ancient city and boasts some incredible structures. The most iconic is the facade of the Roman Library of Celsus.

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Whether or not you get a tour of the grounds, be sure to stick around close to closing time. At this point you can explore the city in the low light of the late afternoon virtually by yourself, at least by comparison to the hoards of tourists that can be there during the day. At this time of day, walking down the large stones that make up the ancient main road toward the dusty brown two-storey library, you feel like it could be any period in time. It would be easy to believe you were walking down the main thoroughfare of Ephesus when it was flourishing city during the height of the Roman Empire.

Between the modern town of Selçuk and Ephesus are the remains of what was once one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Now only a few pieces of foundation and a single reconstructed pillar are all that is left of the once great Temple of Artemis, which was built and destroyed and rebuilt many times between 550 BC and 391 AD. Unfortunately, most of the best artifacts from this temple now lie in the British Museum. Around Selçuk there are several other impressive things to see, especially for people of Christian faith. The ruins of what was once the massive St. John Basilica are all that surround the remains of what is believed to be Saint John the Apostle, and the House of the Virgin, a modest stone chapel, sits on the site of the house where the Virgin Mary died.

Mount Nemrut

At the peak of the 2150 meter Mount Nemrut is one of the most spectacular monuments of the ancient world. On the top of the mountain sits the massive burial mound of King Antiochos I of Commagene and on this sits five seated statues on both the eastern and western faces. The eight-none meter high bodies are intact while the heads have all succumbed to the years and now lie on the ground in front, still displaying remarkable detail and craftsmanship.  These statues, which are of Apollo, Tyche the Commagene god of fertility, Zeus, Antiochos I and Heracles, are joined by several smaller lion and eagle statues. This burial mound and the statue-covered terraces are considered by some to be the eighth ancient wonder of the world.

Syria and Jordan 331The ghost town of Kayaköy

This town of 2000 to 3000 people was abandoned in 1923 after the Greco-Turkish war because of mandatory population exchanges between Greece and Turkey. There are many opinions as to why people never moved into the vacated homes, one of the more interesting being the rumours about the outgoing Greeks poisoning the town’s wells. A more practical reason is that the town’s location on the side of a hill was well suited for the craftsmen Greeks who had lived there, but was useless for the Turkish farmers of the area.

Beneath a layer of dust in the abandoned chapels of Kayaköy you will still find colourful frescoes and delicate tile work. There are very few visitors to the town to disturb the dust, so much of the time you will find yourself alone wandering through crumbling and roofless stone cottages and cracked empty churches for hours. Even by the road at the bottom of the hillside town there are only a few vendors and restaurants to take away from the ambiance of the eerie ghost town.

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The true wonder of the ghost town is just in walking its dirt paths and overgrown stone staircases to see a frozen tableaux of a different time, just left to be reclaimed by nature. There are still many visible artifacts left of the Greek culture which once thrived in the town. The bits of colorful paint, intricate stone work and crumbling frescoes are in constant danger from the elements and local looters who remove and sell the town’s artifacts.

©LiliSalca