Showing posts from September, 2017

Knossos, Heraklion, Greece

When excavations started, it had long been known that there once existed a city called Knossos. The first man to excavate the area, in 1878, was Minos Kalokairinos, a merchant from Heraklion and a lover of antiquity. However, the Turkish owners of the land compelled him to stop the excavations and the attempts of Schliemann (famous German archaeologist) to buy the land produced no results due to the high sums demanded. However, by 1900 the island had been declared an independent state and the Turkish decided to leave. Arthur Evans was able to buy the land and proceed with the excavations. By 1903 almost all the palace had been uncovered but Evans continued his research until 1931. During the excavations, part of the palace was restored and reinforced and the frescoes discovered were replaced by copies. The restoration methods used at Knossos have received much criticism and some of the conclusions reached by Evans have been questioned. The palace has been associated with the myt

Amphitheatre, Merida, Spain

Together with the Theatre, this is one of the most iconic monuments from the Roman period excavated in Merida. It was built at the same time of the theatre (at the end of the 1st century BC) and although smaller than other amphitheatres known in Iberia it still had a capacity of 15,000 spectators. Amphitheatres were dedicated to gladiatorial games and frescoes with gladiatorial scenes, probably included during the great reform of the theatre that was carried out during Trajan's reign, were found on what would have been the parapet of one of the spectators boxes of the Amphitheatre. They are exhibited in the National Museum of Roman Art. Opening hours:  9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (9.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. 25th Oct. to Mar.) Entrance fee: €12 (together with the theatre);  €15 the monumental circuit. Back to Merida

Saint Minas Cathedral, Heraklion, Greece

The cathedral of Saint Minas started being built in 1862. Built during difficult times- construction was even interrupted in 1866 due to the Cretan Revolution- it was greatly due to the enthusiastic support of the Heraklion people that the building was concluded in 1895. Despite Crete still being under Turkish rule, celebrations lasted for three days.  Saint Minas is the patron saint of Heraklion and the original church built in his honour still stands right beside the cathedral. Opening hours: Open daily. Entrance free Heraklion

Alcazaba, Merida, Spain

The Alcazaba of Merida dates back to Roman times but was reconstructed in other three different periods: Visigothic, Moorish and Middle Ages. During the Roman period, it was mainly a defensive structure for the bridge; excavations have revealed walls, a roadway and ruins of a stately home from this period. The walls were expanded during the Moorish period; a fortress was erected in 885 AD by Aderrahamn II. Within the walls, there's an "Aljibe" (cistern) probably Roman in origin; however, its present design is the work of the Moors in the 9th century. Descending down to the water there's a double flight of stairs which might have been used by horses. Opening hours:  9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (9.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. 25th Oct. to Mar.) Entrance fee:  €6;  €15 the monumental circuit. Back to Merida

Historical Museum of Crete, Heraklion, Greece

The neoclassical building that forms the oldest wing of the museum is a residential mansion built in 1903. Since 1953 it has housed the museum funded and run by the Society of Cretan Historical studies. It was enlarged in the 1970s, with the construction of the new wing. The HMC offers a comprehensive view of Crete's history and art from the early Christian times to the 20th century, including an exhibition on the famous Cretan writer, Nikos Kazantzakis. Opening hours: Mon. to Sat. 9 am to 5 pm (3.30 pm Nov. to Mar.) Entrance fee: €5 How to get there: The HMC is within walking distance of the city centre Heraklion

Ducal Palace of Vila Viçosa, Portugal

The Ducal Palace of Vila Viçosa was built in the early 16th century, by the fourth Duke of Bragança, D. Jaime. The Dukes of Bragança, originally from this city (Bragança) in Northern Portugal, relocated to Vila Viçosa in the 15th century. They moved to the castle on the hilltop but by the early 16th century D. Jaime, the 4th Duke of Bragança, decided he had had enough with the discomfort of living in a medieval castle and decided to have a Palace built. However, the works that gave the Palace its grandeur and mannerist style that can be seen today, were only carried out in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Palace raised in importance when, in 1640 the 8th Duke of Bragança became the King of Portugal, D, João IV. Much of the finest furniture was taken to Lisbon at this time- and later to Brazil, when the royal family fled the French Invasions- but there are still many pieces of interest to be seen. The Palace continued to be a place of relaxation and leisure, particularly for the ki