Tag Archives: history

Discovering Cappadocia: top things to do in this world-class destination

photo by CC user amlicht on pixabay

Going ahead with your Turkey holiday this year? Be sure to check out Cappadoccia, home to an underground city, mystical fairy chimneys, and a hospitable people that will change your perception of the Middle East.

Here’s what you should get up to in this part of the world…

1) Go on a tour on an underground city

This is a major aspect of Cappadoccia’s popularity, so you may as well get it out of the way as soon as you get settled in the area (hint: stay in a cave hotel to get into the spirit of the region from the second you arrive).

Carved out of the tufa that composes much of the local bedrock, the maze-like nature of these subterranean dwellings served to protect the Christian populace from the persecution that the Romans meted out on them in the early days of what is now the world’s biggest religion.

For this fact, it has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so be sure you don’t miss this fascinating site on your visit to Cappadoccia.

2) Visit a pottery workshop

The nature of the local soil has also made Cappadoccia a leading centre of exquisite pottery for countless generations.

The best of these artisans can be observed still plying their trade in the town of Avanos. Harvested from the moist banks of the Red River, jugs, vases, plates and various other crafts and pieces are made from the very moldable clay that is in abundance around these parts.

3) Walk amidst the fairy chimneys of Urgup

Another feature that Cappadoccia has long been famous for are the fairy chimneys that dot this valley in Turkey.

A type of rock formation that has its origins as the remnants of ancient volcanic ash and lava, only to be molded by wind and water over millions of years, these pinnacles have attracted the attention of tourists in the modern day, and were used as homes by area residents for milennia.

Three particularly striking chimneys can be found in the Urgup area, and a trail wends beneath and between them, making it a great place for an outdoor excursion during your time in this part of Turkey.

4) Go on a hot air balloon ride at dawn

By far the most sought after activity in Cappadocia, the fact that you’ll have to set your alarm on holiday shouldn’t stop you from going on a hot air balloon at dawn.

The lack of sleep and expense will be worth it, as you’ll lift off into the rapidly lightening sky with numerous other colourful lighter than air contraptions, giving you a photo opportunity that will unlike few others that you’ll come across in your life.

Culture hunting in Athens

photo by CC user Christophe Meneboeuf on wikimedia commons

Do your holiday plans have you traveling to Greece within the next year? If so, there are many historical and cultural sights here that will broaden your horizons during your time here.

When you go culture hunting in Athens, don’t neglect to check out the following attractions and highlights…

1) Acropolis and Parthenon of Athens

No tour of Athens can conclude without seeing either the Acropolis or Parthenon, so if you have limited time, be sure to get these two out of the way first so you can focus on other things afterward.

The Acropolis was a fortress built in the Late Bronze Age to protect ancient Athens from external threats from across the Mediterranean.

Contained within its fortified embrace are several buildings of significant cultural importance, the most prominent of which is the Parthenon.

Dedicated to the goddess Athena, the Parthenon contains some of the most important symbols of Ancient Greek art within its crumbling facade, making it a must visit for any visitor to Athens.

2) National Archaeological Museum

While these buildings are impressive enough on their own for being well over 2,000 years old, virtually all artifacts have been removed from these world heritage sites.

While some has been shuttled abroad to venues like the British Museum, many of these irreplaceable items can be found in the National Archaeological Museum. From prehistory to the Late Antiquity period, the world’s richest collection of Greek artifacts can be found here.

3) Ancient Agora of Classical Athens

Many are aware that the system of governance present in ancient Athens has served as an antecedent for democracy as we know it today, but if you are looking for where it all went down in those days, make certain that you visit the Ancient Agora of Classical Athens.

It was here where public debates on important matters were held, but also where market items were sold and certain athletic competitions were had. A small museum on site contains a number of artifacts that were excavated from this specific site, which includes pieces of clay pottery, glass, and loose coins.

4) Panathenaic Stadium

As mentioned earlier, some sporting events were held at the Agora in those days, but the bigger athletic competitions were hosted at the Panathenaic Stadium during the days of the Ancient Olympic Games.

When the time came to re-start the Modern Olympics, the old stadium was refurbished, and opened in time to host track events for the 1896 event.

Temple trampling on the island of Java in Indonesia

photo by CC user Heaven's Army on wikimedia

Looking to go temple tramping on the island of Java in Indonesia? This guide will guide you through some of this heavily populated isle’s most important Buddhist and Hindu ruins … let’s get started below!

1) Borobudur

Constructed in the 9th century AD near the present day location of the cultural centre of Yogyakarta, Borobudur used to be the centre of Buddhist worship on the Indonesian island of Java. With over 500 Buddhist statues and 2,600 reliefs, it is one of the most significant Buddhist temples in the world and despite Indonesia’s present day overwhelming adherence to Islam, it is still considered to be one of its greatest national treasures.

2) Prambanan

While the centre of Hindu influence in Indonesia can be found in Bali these days, this religion used to have followers across Java and the country as late as the 14th century, which is when Islam became the dominant faith of most citizens.

During the heyday of Hinduism, Prambanan was the religion’s most significant temple on the island of Java, as its construction portrayed God as the Trimurti, (creator, maintainer and destroyer of life), With a location that is within an easy drive of Yogayakarta (17 kilometres northeast), this temple can be done on the same or successive days from this famed tourist destination in Indonesia.

3) Sewu

A Buddhist temple constructed in the 8th century, Sewu is the second largest relgious site of its kind in Indonesia after Borobudur.

Infused with legends by locals that proposed that these ruins were cursed, the rediscovery has instead unearthed more of this island’s pre-Islamic heritage in a ruin that is one of the largest complexes in the Prambanan area.

4) Pawon

Built around the same era as Borobudur and Prambanan, Pawon temple was built with an amazing symmetry with the other two temples, leading archeologists to conclude that they are symbolically related in a manner that has yet to be fully understood.

Some has posited that Buddhists would visit this temple to purify their minds before entering the far more sacred grounds of Borobudur, though others have kept their minds open to other possibilities.

5) Ceto

Ceto temple was built in the 15th century on the slope of Mount Lawu, making it one of the the last Javanese Hindu temple to be built before royal courts throughout the land declared Islam to be the state religion.

While the cultural significance of this temple is not as intense as Prambanan, the mountain views and the circumstances under which is was constructed make it a great place for spiritual introspection.