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Three great ‘history holiday’ destinations


While some holidaymakers are satisfied by white sand, blue sea and a warm sun, others yearn for worldly knowledge and a sense of place. Choosing to visit a country with a rich and varied history allows holidaymakers to dip in and out of time periods, sampling the results of human endeavour across the ages.

Pic: Archer10/flickr

Egypt – The City of the Dead

The City of the Dead is a four-mile long area of tombs and mausoleums in south-eastern Cairo. Despite being a repository of the deceased, many people live and work there. Some choose to be near ancestors while others have been forced there by overpopulation in the city.

The City of the Dead was founded during the Arab conquest of Egypt in 642 AD, when Amr ibn al-‘As established his family’s graveyard at the foot of the Mokattam hills.

The Karnak Temple Complex

The Karnak Temple Complex is one of Egypt’s most visited historical sites and consists of a vast array of chapels, temples, pylons and obelisks – all dedicated to the Theban gods. The complex began being built during Sesostris I’s reign and continued well into the Ptolemaic period.

Although Karnak consists of four main parts, only one of them is open to the public. Transport and tours can be arranged from Luxor, which is just 2.5km south of Karnak.

England – Stonehenge

Looming out of the otherwise desolate Salisbury Plain, Stonehenge is one of England’s most recognisable sites. The prehistoric monument was built sometime between 3000 and 2000 BC, and is a circle of large standing stones set within earthworks.

Visiting Stonehenge is easy. There are plenty of cheap flights to the United Kingdom, and a bus service operates from Heathrow Airport to Amesbury. Stonehenge is then just a two-mile walk or taxi journey away. There is also a regular bus service from outside the railway station in the city of Salisbury.

Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian’s Wall is northern England’s most popular tourist attraction. Built during the Roman Empire in 122 AD, the wall stretched for 80 Roman miles from one side of England to the other. A large portion of the wall still exists, and can be viewed by following the Hadrian’s Wall Path or by bicycling along National Cycle Route 72.

Greece – The Acropolis of Athens

Pic: Archer10/flickr

Situated on a flat-topped rock above the city of Athens, the Acropolis is an ancient citadel containing the remains of a variety of historically important buildings such as the Parthenon, the Prοpylaia, and the Erechteion. Most of the structures in the Acropolis were completed during the fifth century – when the city of Athens was at its height of cultural importance. To reach the Acropolis, head up the hill from Monastiraki.

Olympia

Situated in southern Greece on the Peloponnesos peninsula, Olympia was the site of the Olympic Games in ancient Greece. Olympia’s central sacred enclosure contains the Temple of Hera, the Temple of Zeus, and the Pelopion. The stadium and hippodrome can be found to the east, while to the west lies the workshop of Pheidias, and the Gymnasion.

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