Ruins Overview

Palmyra, Syria
Palmyra, Syria

"Ruins" is a loose term we have chosen to use as a heading for what essentially are Stone Built Ancient Monuments created by past civilizations. Ancient monuments is a more preferred term to describe places such as the Pyramids in Egypt or the Colosseum in Rome, however in some instances the scale of the structure may not be monumental. This why we have chosen Ruins' as our blanket description of these remaining traces of ancient humans. Ruins have been a fascination of the Travelling Backflip team since the very beginning of travelling with the Pyramids and ancient temples of Egypt being of particular interest. Before trips to Egypt were embarked upon however the remains of Rome were the first Ancient Monuments and Ruins we were exposed to. Many of the sites throughout this section are of Roman origin, whether built directly by Romans or their resulting influence on styles of architecture throughout the Mediterranean. There is just something intriguing about those partially destroyed stone remains standing isolated in a field, on a desert plain or smack in the middle of a modern city. Ruins and Ancient Monuments are a rare connection with the past that we rarely get in this modern age.

Petra

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling, Footside, Sara and Mike Waters

Al Khazneh or The Treasury, Petra, Jordan
Al Khazneh or The Treasury
The trail to the Monastery, Petra, Jordan
The trail to the Monastery
The Treasury from the Siq, Petra, Jordan
The Treasury from the Siq
Al Deir or The Monastery, Petra, Jordan
Al Deir or The Monastery
Swirling Sandstone Formation, Petra, Jordan
Swirling Sandstone Formation
Tombs of Petra, Petra, Jordan
Tombs of Petra

Petra is incredible.  For centuries travelers have tried to put the beauty and magical awe of this ancient city into words yet they have come up short.  When inducted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 it was described as "one of the most precious cultural properties of man's cultural heritage. Petra is an ancient city carved out of the colourful sandstone rock in the mountains of southern Jordan.  The city was built or cut by the Nabataeans.  The Nabataeans are an ancient people who are lacking in historical record yet they commanded enormous power in this harsh desert landscape from around 300BC until 100AD.  They created an ingenious system of channels and reservoirs that brought and stored precious water to their protected valley.  By having a continuous water supply in such an arid region, they attracted traders who plied the silk trade route and grew enormously wealthy.  Building projects on a grand scale were undertaken during the height of the Nabataean wealth, and these time weary monuments are what remain today and are what have fascinated eager travellers for centuries.  The legend of Petra is made even more intriguing due to the fact that it was lost from western historical record sometime after the crusades.

The Theatre, constructed by the Nabataeans and enlarged by the Romans, Petra, Jordan
The Theatre, constructed by the Nabataeans and enlarged by the Romans
The Royal Tombs, Petra, Jordan
The Royal Tombs
The Petra Valley from above, Petra, Jordan
The Petra Valley from above

Discovered again by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812, the local Bedouin made travel by foreigners to Petra a dangerous undertaking for years to protect this special place.  The natural defenses of Petra allowed it to remain untouched by marauding armies that swept through this region over the millennia.  Petra requires at least 3 days of exploring to cover the bear essentials of this 40sq km site.  Petra is more than just the iconic façade of the Treasury, there are days worth of stunning tomb facades to explore, highlights include; the Monastery, which is an even larger structure than the Treasury; a huge rock cut amphitheatre and numerous hikes and paths that climb to former religious sanctuaries on the peaks of this enclosed valley. Petra, the rose-red city, is a dramatic and ingenious piece of ancient history whose magnificence is equaled by none. Petra is the number one travel destination in all my travels.

The Treasury, Petra, Jordan
The Treasury
The Treasury, Petra, Jordan
The Treasury
Petra By Night, Petra, Jordan
Petra By Night
View from the High Place of Sacrifice, Petra, Jordan
View from the High Place of Sacrifice
Palace Tomb, Petra, Jordan
Palace Tomb
Obelisk Tomb, Petra, Jordan
Obelisk Tomb
Al-Deir, The Monastery, Petra, Jordan
Al-Deir, The Monastery
Street of Facades, Petra, Jordan
Street of Facades
View from the Treasury of the Siq, Petra, Jordan
View from the Treasury of the Siq
Petra Backflip, Petra, Jordan
Petra Backflip
Petra Backflip, Petra, Jordan
Petra Backflip
Petra Backflip, Petra, Jordan
Petra Backflip
The Siq, Petra, Jordan
The Siq
Urn Tomb, Petra, Jordan
Urn Tomb
View from the path to the Monastery, Petra, Jordan
View from the path to the Monastery
View from Jabal Al KHubtha, Petra, Jordan
View from Jabal Al KHubtha
The Siq, Petra, Jordan
The Siq
Street of Facades, Petra, Jordan
Street of Facades
Street of Facades, Petra, Jordan
Street of Facades
View from the High Place of Sacrifice, Petra, Jordan
View from the High Place of Sacrifice
The Royal Tombs, Petra, Jordan
The Royal Tombs
View of The Temple of Dushares or Qasr Al-Bint, Petra, Jordan
View of The Temple of Dushares or Qasr Al-Bint
Petra Colours, Petra, Jordan
Petra Colours
Al Deir Backflip, Petra, Jordan
Al Deir Backflip
Theatre Backflip, Petra, Jordan
Theatre Backflip
Temple of Dushares or Qasr Al-Bint, Petra, Jordan
Temple of Dushares or Qasr Al-Bint
Al Deir or The Monastery, Petra, Jordan
Al Deir or The Monastery
The Theatre, Petra, Jordan
The Theatre
View from Al Kubtha Mountain, Petra, Jordan
View from Al Kubtha Mountain
Street of Facades, Petra, Jordan
Street of Facades
View from Al Kubtha Mountain, Petra, Jordan
View from Al Kubtha Mountain
View from 	The Colonnade Street, Petra, Jordan
View from The Colonnade Street
The Monastery, Petra, Jordan
The Monastery
The Monastery, Petra, Jordan
The Monastery
The Treasury, Petra, Jordan
The Treasury
The Monastery, Petra, Jordan
The Monastery
Near the Monastery, Petra, Jordan
Near the Monastery
Near the Monastery, Petra, Jordan
Near the Monastery
Lions Tomb, Petra, Jordan
Lions Tomb
Lions Tomb, Petra, Jordan
Lions Tomb
Near the Royal Tombs, Petra, Jordan
Near the Royal Tombs
The Theatre, Petra, Jordan
The Theatre
The Treasury, Petra, Jordan
The Treasury
The Theatre, Petra, Jordan
The Theatre
Street of Facades, Petra, Jordan
Street of Facades
Royal Tombs, Petra, Jordan
Royal Tombs
Wadi Musa, Petra, Jordan
Wadi Musa
Inside the Monastery, Petra, Jordan
Inside the Monastery
The Theatre, Petra, Jordan
The Theatre
The Treasury, Petra, Jordan
The Treasury
View above the Treasury, Petra, Jordan
View above the Treasury
Lions Tomb, Petra, Jordan
Lions Tomb
The Monastery, Petra, Jordan
The Monastery
Near the Monastery, Petra, Jordan
Near the Monastery
Path to the Monastery, Petra, Jordan
Path to the Monastery
The Siq, Petra, Jordan
The Siq
Aneisho Tomb, Petra, Jordan
Aneisho Tomb
Urn Tomb, Petra, Jordan
Urn Tomb
Street of Facades, Petra, Jordan
Street of Facades
Palace Tomb, Petra, Jordan
Palace Tomb
Fault Line, Petra, Jordan
Fault Line
Palace Tomb, Petra, Jordan
Palace Tomb
Inside the Treasury, Petra, Jordan
Inside the Treasury
Street of Facades, Petra, Jordan
Street of Facades
Inside the Treasury, Petra, Jordan
Inside the Treasury

Palmyra

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling and Footside

Palmyra Backflip, Palmyra, Syria
Palymra Backflip
Tetrapylon, Palmyra, Syria
Tetrapylon
Palmyra Facade and Castle, Palmyra, Syria
Palmyra Facade and Castle
Decumanus Maximus, Palmyra, Syria
Decumanus Maximus
Monumental Arch, Palmyra, Syria
Monumental Arch
Palmyra Sunset, Palmyra, Syria
Palmyra Sunset

Palmyra is a spectacularly situated ancient Roman city located in an oasis in the harsh and barren Syrian Desert. The city was a key stop on the caravan trade routes that connected ancient Babylonia, Persia and India with the Mediterranean. Palmyra, also known as Tadmor in the Hebrew bible, is first mentioned in ancient documents and tablets around 2000 BC. This sand and sun beaten ruin was more of a nomadic, semi-permanent location in the surrounding oasis before increased trade brought the wealth, elegance and prestige to build from stone the city that you see today. Palmyra was a rare example of a city-state that was part of the Roman empire but never really became fully Roman. Due to its proximity on the fringe of the empire and the money it still attracted, the city had freedoms most parts of the empire did not. This ended up being its downfall, when an upstart queen proclaimed her own empire and started claiming large sections of the surrounding Roman provinces. Rome eventually quelled this rebellion in 272 AD, sieging and sacking the city in the process, never regaining its former prominence after that. The site now boasts a long colonnaded street or Decumanus Maximus, a restored amphitheatre, a massive temple to the god Bel (Ba'al) and various other building remains. Palmyra is a massive site and although much has been reclaimed from the shifting sands in this desert location, there is much that remains buried. With recent unrest in the country of Syria, who knows how long it will take to unearth everything to be offered from under the sand. Palmyra offers hours of exploring what was once a wealthy and elegant city of the ancients. Nearby, an Arab castle stands watch over the site giving stunning views over the ruined city and the hostile desert landscape that stretches off towards neighbouring Iraq.

View overlooking the ruins and oases of Palmyra from Fakhr al-Din Castle, Palmyra, Syria
View overlooking the ruins and oases of Palmyra from Fakhr al-Din Castle
The end of the Decumanus Maximus, Palmyra, Syria
The end of the Decumanus Maximus
Inscription of Queen Zenobia, Palmyra, Syria
Inscription of Queen Zenobia
Tombs of Palmyra, Syria
Tombs of Palmyra
Entrance to Palmyra, Syria
Entrance to Palmyra
Ruins with Fakhr al-Din Castle, Palmyra, Syria
Ruins with Fakhr al-Din Castle
Tetrapylon, Palmyra, Syria
Tetrapylon
Palmyra Backflip, Palmyra, Syria
Palmyra Backflip
Temple of Bel, Temple of Ba'al, Palmyra, Syria
Temple of Bel (Ba'al)
View from Fakhr al-Din Castle, Palmyra, Syria
View from Fakhr al-Din Castle
Temple of Yarchabol, Palmyra, Syria
Temple of Yarchabol
Palmyra Pillars, Syria
Palmyra Pillars
View from Fakhr al-Din Castle, Palmyra, Syria
View from Fakhr al-Din Castle
Temple of Bel or the Temple of Ba'al, the largest structure at Palmyra, Syria
Temple of Bel or the Temple of Ba'al, the largest structure at Palmyra
Fakhr al-Din Castle, Palmyra, Syria
Fakhr al-Din Castle
Ruined Temple, Palmyra, Syria
Ruined Temple
Palmyra at Sunrise, Palmyra, Syria
Palmyra at Sunrise
Palmyra at Sunrise, Palmyra, Syria
Palmyra at Sunrise
Tetrapylon, Palmyra, Syria
Tetrapylon
Palmyra Tombs, Palmyra, Syria
Palmyra Tombs
Entrance to Palmyra, Syria
Entrance to Palmyra
Tetrapylon, Palmyra, Syria
Tetrapylon
Tetrapylon, Palmyra, Syria
Tetrapylon
Temple of Bel, Temple of Ba'al, Palmyra, Syria
Temple of Bel
Temple of Bel, Temple of Ba'al, Palmyra, Syria
Temple of Bel
Temple of Bel, Temple of Ba'al, Palmyra, Syria
Temple of Bel
Palmyra at Sunrise, Palmyra, Syria
Palmyra at Sunrise
Palmyra at Sunset, Palmyra, Syria
Palmyra at Sunset
Temple of Bel, Palmyra, Syria
Temple of Bel
Palmyra at Sunrise from the Tombs over looking the ruins, Palmyra, Syria
Palmyra at Sunrise from the Tombs over looking the ruins
Temple of Bel, Palmyra, Syria
Temple of Bel
Palmyra Sunset, Syria
Palmyra Sunset
Palmyra Arch, Syria
Palmyra Arch
End of the Decumanus Maximus, Palmyra, Syria
End of the Decumanus Maximus
View of site from Fakhr al-Din Castle, Palmyra, Syria
View of site from Fakhr al-Din Castle
Palmyra at Sunrise, Syria
Palmyra at Sunrise
Fakhr al-Din Castle, Palmyra, Syria
Fakhr al-Din Castle
Fakhr al-Din Castle, Palmyra, Syria
Fakhr al-Din Castle
Fakhr al-Din Castle, Palmyra, Syria
Fakhr al-Din Castle
Decumanus Maximus, Palmyra, Syria
Decumanus Maximus
Fakhr al-Din Castle, Palmyra, Syria
Fakhr al-Din Castle
View of the Tombs of Palmyra, Syria
View of the Tombs of Palmyra
Entrance to Palmyra, Syria
Entrance to Palmyra
Palmyra at Night, Syria
Palmyra at Night
Palmyra at Sunrise, Syria
Palmyra at Sunrise
Ruin Jumps, Palmyra, Syria
Ruin Jumps
Ruin Jumps, Palmyra, Syria
Ruin Jumps
Palmyra Bedouin, Palmyra, Syria
Palmyra Bedouin
Palmyra Inscription, Palmyra, Syria
Palmyra Inscription
View from Fakhr al-Din Castle, Palmyra, Syria
View from Fakhr al-Din Castle
Local Vehicle, Palmyra, Syria
Local Vehicle
Town of Palmyra, Syria
Town of Palmyra
Temple of Bel, Palmyra, Syria
Temple of Bel
Palmyra Columns, Palmyra, Syria
Palmyra Columns

Karnak

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling, Footside and Mike Minckler

Hypostyle Hall, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Hypostyle Hall
Hatshepsut Obelisk, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Hatshepsut Obelisk
Hypostyle Hall Backflip, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Hypostyle Hall Backflip
Eighth Pylon, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Eighth Pylon
Precinct of Amun-Re Gate, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Precinct of Amun-Re Gate
Sacred Lake of Precinct of Amun-Re, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Sacred Lake of Precinct of Amun-Re

Karnak is arguably Egypt's most impressive site and it is also the largest temple complex/religious site ever built by humans. Karnak was the focal point of the ancient Egyptian religious centre of Thebes. When Thebes was the capital of a united Egypt the temple flourished, however, when the capital was moved elsewhere its fortunes were tied to the city and its importance declined. This sprawling, open-air museum was created sometime in the Middle Kingdom, or roughly after 2000 BC, and construction continued into the Ptolemaic period, roughly around 300 BC. Even when the Roman emperor Constantine banned pagan worship in 323 AD, the complex was still used for housing early Christian churches. Approximately 30 pharaohs contributed to the building of this massive religious site over its extended history. Visitors today can only view one section that was built and dedicated to the all important god Amun. The other three remaining sections are off-limits to tourists and not excavated. There are large temple sanctuaries, stunning obelisks, towering rainforest-like hieroglyph inscribed pillars, expertly carved granite statues and thats just scratching the surface. The blockbuster and most memorable aspect of Karnak is the Hypostyle Hall. Measuring roughly 5000 square metres, the hall boasts 134 massive columns arranged in 16 rows. 122 of these columns are 10 metres tall, and the other 12 are 21 metres tall with a diameter of over three metres. After all the bus tours are gone, walking through the giant pillars in the Hypostyle Hall in the late afternoon, as the sun beams in from the west, is a timeless experience not to be missed. A whole day could easily be spent exploring and examining the many aspects and details of Karnak, starting with the Hypostyle Hall and working your way outwards. Most bus tours funnel large tour groups in and out in the early morning and just after lunch, all within one to two hours, which is nowhere near enough time. If you can visit in between these peak times you will have whole sections of this amazing temple complex to yourself. Even if you're not the biggest fan of ancient Egyptian history, Karnak should be second on your list only to the Pyramids of Giza when visiting Egypt. It is the temple of temples; it is that good.

Hypostyle Hall Backflip, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Hypostyle Hall Backflip
Hypostyle Hall, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Hypostyle Hall
Hypostyle Hall, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Hypostyle Hall
Procession of Rams at Entrance, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Procession of Rams at Entrance
Entrance to Hypostyle Hall, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Entrance to Hypostyle Hall
Statues of Ramses, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Statues of Ramses
Lesser Temple, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Lesser Temple
Lesser Temple, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Lesser Temple
Southern Gate, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Southern Gate
Karnak Backflip, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Karnak Backflip
Karnak Backflip, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Karnak Backflip
Karnak Backflip, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Karnak Backflip
Hypostyle Hall, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Hypostyle Hall
Hypostyle Hall, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Hypostyle Hall
Hypostyle Hall, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Hypostyle Hall
View of Karnak site, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
View of Karnak site
Karnak Pylon, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Karnak Pylon
Entrance to Hypostyle Hall, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Entrance to Hypostyle Hall
First Pylon and Avenue of Rams at Entrance Gate to Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
First Pylon and Avenue of Rams at Entrance Gate to Karnak Temple
Overview of Precinct of Amun-Re at Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Overview of Precinct of Amun-Re at Karnak Temple
Karnak Gate, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Karnak Gate
Obelisks, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Obelisks
Entrance to Hypostyle Hall, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Entrance to Hypostyle Hall
Reliefs in Precinct of Amun-Re, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Reliefs in Precinct of Amun-Re
Hypostyle Hall, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Hypostyle Hall
View of Precinct of Amun-Re, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
View of Precinct of Amun-Re
Large Pillars in Hypostyle Hall, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Large Pillars in Hypostyle Hall
Hypostyle Hall, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Hypostyle Hall
Entrance to Hypostyle Hall, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Entrance to Hypostyle Hall
Hypostyle Hall, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Hypostyle Hall
Hypostyle Hall, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Hypostyle Hall
Hypostyle Hall, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Hypostyle Hall
Hatshepsut Obelisk, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Hatshepsut Obelisk
Entrance to Hypostyle Hall, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Entrance to Hypostyle Hall
Hypostyle Hall, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Hypostyle Hall
Hypostyle Hall, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Hypostyle Hall
Lesser Temple, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Lesser Temple
Obelisks, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Obelisks
Beyond the Hypostyle Hall, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Beyond the Hypostyle Hall
Hypostyle Hall, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Hypostyle Hall
Hypostyle Hall, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Hypostyle Hall

Mount Nemrut

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling and Footside

King Antiochus I, Mount Nemrut, Turkey
King Antiochus I
Zues and Apollo, Mount Nemrut, Turkey
Zues and Apollo
Goddess of Commagene, Mount Nemrut, Turkey
Goddess of Commagene
West Side of Mount Nemrut, Mount Nemrut, Turkey
West Side of Mount Nemrut
East Side at Sunrise of Mount Nemrut, Mount Nemrut, Turkey
East Side at Sunrise of Mount Nemrut
West Side of Mount Nemrut, Mount Nemrut, Turkey
West Side of Mount Nemrut

Mount Nemrut is a 2134 metre high mountain in eastern Turkey. At the pinnacle of Mt. Nemrut, the pre-Roman era King Antiochus I built statues of himself, two lions, two eagles and various Greek, Armenian and Persian gods. These statues were roughly eight or more metres tall when completed and they stand on the Eastern and Western sides of a large pyramid made of fist sized stones. Construction appears to have started around 62 BC. The representations of such a diversity of gods alongside the king indicates he was attempting to build his own religion, incorporating aspects of the many religions within his kingdom. Over the last 2000 years the statues have fallen over, leaving the two metre tall heads standing upright and gazing out over the landscape as if they were looking back into time itself. Although most of the heads have been damaged and their noses smashed off, they are in surprisingly good condition. It is likely they have been preserved due to the remoteness of the mountain top location. Watching the sunrise and sunset on this isolated mountain top, with the ancient weathered statues, is a legendary travelling moment and worth the effort to visit this spot in the mountains of eastern Turkey.

Head of Zeus, Mount Nemrut, Turkey
Head of Zeus
Head of Apollo, Mount Nemrut, Turkey
Head of Apollo
Head of Zeus, Mount Nemrut, Turkey
Head of Zeus
Head of Zeus, Mount Nemrut, Turkey
Head of Zeus
Head of Hercules, Mount Nemrut, Turkey
Head of Hercules
Head of King Antiochus I, Mount Nemrut, Turkey
Head of King Antiochus I
West Side of Mount Nemrut, Mount Nemrut, Turkey
West Side of Mount Nemrut
West Side of Mount Nemrut, Mount Nemrut, Turkey
West Side of Mount Nemrut
Head of King Antiochus I, Mount Nemrut, Turkey
Head of King Antiochus I
Road to Mount Nemrut, Mount Nemrut, Turkey
Road to Mount Nemrut
East Side of Mount Nemrut, Mount Nemrut, Turkey
East Side of Mount Nemrut
South Side view of Mount Nemrut, Mount Nemrut, Turkey
South Side view of Mount Nemrut
East Side of Mount Nemrut, Mount Nemrut, Turkey
East Side of Mount Nemrut
East Side of Mount Nemrut, Mount Nemrut, Turkey
East Side of Mount Nemrut
East Side of Mount Nemrut, Mount Nemrut, Turkey
East Side of Mount Nemrut
West Side of Mount Nemrut, Mount Nemrut, Turkey
West Side of Mount Nemrut
Road to Mount Nemrut, Mount Nemrut, Turkey
Road to Mount Nemrut
East Side of Mount Nemrut, Mount Nemrut, Turkey
East Side of Mount Nemrut
Mount Nemrut Backflip, Mount Nemrut, Turkey
Mount Nemrut Backflip
Mount Nemrut Backflip, Mount Nemrut, Turkey
Mount Nemrut Backflip
Mount Nemrut Backflip, Mount Nemrut, Turkey
Mount Nemrut Backflip
Sunset from the west side of Mount Nemrut, Mount Nemrut, Turkey
Sunset from the west side of Mount Nemrut

Pont Du Gard

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling, Peter Dale and Footside

Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France

The Pont Du Gard is an ancient Roman Aqueduct located in southern France, about a 30 minute drive from the city of Avignon. The Pont spans the Gardon River and is a three-tiered structure that stands almost 50 metres above the river. This exceptionally well preserved piece of Roman ingenuity was built in the 1st century AD and is part of an aqueduct system that is 50 kilometres long, having supplied a Roman outpost at the modern day town of Nimes. What is even more impressive is learning the 50 km system, built over 2000 years ago, only descends in height by 17 metres. Standing under the first row of gigantic arches next to the river and seeing how perfectly and precise the massive sandstone blocks are put together, you can't help but marvel at these ancient engineers. With no computer power, some slave labour and a desire for fresh spring water, these Romans created a system that lasted until the 6th century. The Pont Du Gard fell into disuse when the last remnants of the Roman empire were no longer maintaining the infrastructure but the bridge that spanned the river continued to be used for centuries as a toll bridge. The aqueduct bridge was so well made that it survived 2000 years of weather and looting of its stone before it became protected in the early part of the 20th century. A hotel nearby showed pictures of the river overflowing to the second level of the bridge in 2005! It makes you wonder how many times that happened over the 2000 years prior and gives you further appreciation for those ancient builders that made this monument so long lasting.

Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France

Baalbek

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling and Footside

Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Jupiter
Entrance to Baalbek site, Baalbek, Lebanon
Entrance to Baalbek site
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Pillars and Ruins, Baalbek, Lebanon
Pillars and Ruins

Baalbek, known as Heliopolis in ancient times, is the best preserved and largest Roman Temple structure in the world, outside of Rome. Located in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, some 1100m above sea level, Heliopolis means city of the sun. Baalbek was inhabited by the Phoenicians, Greeks and then taken to new levels by the Romans. It was a religiously important location for all the peoples who lived there and was a place of pilgrimage for many during ancient times. Once under Roman control, construction was stepped up to a grand scale, outdoing any ancient city, even Rome itself at that time. The temples are simply staggering in their size and grandeur, with intricate relieves and pagan scenes carved into the remaining structures. The original Temple of Jupiter only has six remaining Corinthian columns but they are massive and comparable in size only to what you can see in the Egyptian Temple of Karnak. A number of these columns were robbed during the reign of the Roman Emperor Justinian for the Hagia Sofia in modern day Istanbul. The most impressive part of Baalbek is the still-intact Temple of Bacchus, which has solid walls on all sides and nineteen standing Corinthian columns. The temple dominates the site measuring 66 metres long by 35 metres wide and 30 metres tall. There are reliefs and carvings of the life of the god Bacchus still seen on the temple. The Roman god Bacchus was the god of wine and, thus, residents and visitors of Baalbek worshipped this god with massive ceremonies that often turned into wild orgies of wine and sex. Strangely enough Baalbek was one of the last locations in the Roman Empire that converted to Christianity and, reportedly, it took threat of force for them to stop worshipping their pagan gods. Due to Baalbek's location in the Hezbollah controlled Bekaa valley, there are no bus tours and very few visitors venture to this monumental piece of history. This fact gives visitors the rare opportunity of exploring one of the most impressive and important pieces of the Roman Empire in a pristine and unspoiled setting. The only hassle you will receive from locals is to buy a bright yellow Hezbollah t-shirt or a faded postcard. A trip to Lebanon without seeing Baalbek would be a travesty of the highest degree. Don't let what you read in the news keep you away from this amazing place.

Panoramic view from the Great Court of Baalbek, left side is the Temple of Bacchus and middle is the Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Lebanon
Panoramic view from the Great Court of Baalbek, left side is the Temple of Bacchus and middle is the Temple of Jupiter
View from the ruins of Baalbek of the Bekka Valley and Eastern Lebanon Mountain Range, Baalbek, Lebanon
View from the ruins of Baalbek of the Bekka Valley and Eastern Lebanon Mountain Range
View of the Temple of Bacchus from the Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Lebanon
View of the Temple of Bacchus from the Temple of Jupiter
Temple of Jupiter Remains, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Jupiter Remains
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Jupiter
The Great Court, Baalbek, Lebanon
The Great Court
Temple of Bacchus and Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus and Temple of Jupiter
Baalbek Backflip, Baalbek, Lebanon
Baalbek Backflip
Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Jupiter
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Near the Entrance, Baalbek, Lebanon
Near the Entrance
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Eastern Lebanon Mountain Range, Baalbek, Lebanon
Eastern Lebanon Mountain Range
Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Jupiter
Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Jupiter
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Jupiter and the Great Court, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Jupiter and the Great Court
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
View from the Entrance Structures of the ruins at Baalbek, Lebanon
View from the Entrance Structures of the ruins at Baalbek
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Jupiter
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Near Entrance, Baalbek, Lebanon
Near Entrance
Temple of Jupiter Steps, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Jupiter Steps
Team Leaders, Baalbek, Lebanon
Team Leaders
The Great Court, Baalbek, Lebanon
The Great Court
Eastern Lebanon Mountain Range, Baalbek, Lebanon
Eastern Lebanon Mountain Range
Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Jupiter
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Jupiter
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
The Great Court, Baalbek, Lebanon
The Great Court
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Jupiter
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Right the remains of the Temple of Jupiter, Left the remains of the Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Right the remains of the Temple of Jupiter, Left the remains of the Temple of Bacchus
Right the remains of the Temple of Jupiter, Left the remains of the Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Right the remains of the Temple of Jupiter, Left the remains of the Temple of Bacchus

Rome

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling

Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II, Rome, Italy
Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II
Colosseum, Rome, Italy
Colosseum
St Peters Church and Square, Rome, Italy
St Peters Church and Square
The Pantheon, Rome, Italy
The Pantheon
Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome, Italy
Castel Sant'Angelo
Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy
Trevi Fountain

Rome is one of the most vibrant and unforgettable cities in the world, the city is rich with massive monuments displaying its glorious historical past yet offering a very cosmopolitan and distinctly Italian atmosphere.  Rome is the capital city of Italy as well as the country's largest and most populous at about 4 million people.  Within the city of Rome itself, lays the smallest nation in the world, the State of the Vatican City, the epicenter of Catholicism and the home of the pope.  Referred to as la Città Eterna, "the Eternal City" in Italian, Rome has a long and prosperous history starting in 753 BC.  This is when, according to legend, the city of Rome was founded by the twins Romulus and Remus before going on to become the most powerful empire of the ancient world.  This successful dominance depended on military expansion, commercial predominance, as well as assimilation of any civilization within its realm.  For almost a thousand years, Rome was the richest, largest and most politically important city in the Western world.  Rome offers travellers of all ages and budgets a plethora of things to see and do; whether it be gazing out over the ruins of the mighty Colosseum where men and beasts competed in battles to the death; or standing before the giant doors of St Peters and being dwarfed by one of the most religiously significant buildings on earth; or strolling the streets of Rome and taking in the beautiful city squares adorned with gushing fountains and statues carved by the finest Italian artists over the centuries.  Rome is a repeat destination.  It seems no matter how much time you spend exploring all it has to offer there still remains something important that was missed.

Rome Skyline with St Peters, Rome, Italy
Rome Skyline with St Peters
Piazza Navona, Rome, Italy
Piazza Navona
Colosseum, Rome, Italy
Colosseum
Lateranense Obelisk, Rome, Italy
Lateranense Obelisk
Quirinale Obelisk, Rome, Italy
Quirinale Obelisk
Agonalis Obelisk, Rome, Italy
Agonalis Obelisk
Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II, Rome, Italy
Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II
Colosseum, Rome, Italy
Colosseum
Colosseum, Rome, Italy
Colosseum
Colosseum, Rome, Italy
Colosseum
Arch of Constantine, Rome, Italy
Arch of Constantine
Pantheon, Rome, Italy
Pantheon
Arch of Septimius Severus, Rome, Italy
Arch of Septimius Severus
Interior of St Peters Cathedral, Rome, Italy
Interior of St Peters Cathedral
Rome Skyline, Rome, Italy
Rome Skyline
Interior of Pantheon, Rome, Italy
Interior of Pantheon
Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome, Italy
Castel Sant'Angelo
Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy
Trevi Fountain
Pantheon, Rome, Italy
Pantheon
View from top of St Peters, Rome, Italy
View from top of St Peters
St Peters Cathedral, Rome, Italy
St Peters Cathedral
Interior of St Peters, Rome, Italy
Interior of St Peters
Castel Sant'Angelo and Tiber River, Rome, Italy
Castel Sant'Angelo and Tiber River
Arcibasilica Papale di San Giovanni in Laterano, Rome, Italy
Arcibasilica Papale di San Giovanni in Laterano
St Peters Cathedral, Rome, Italy
St Peters Cathedral
St Peters Cathedral, Rome, Italy
St Peters Cathedral
St Peters Cathedral, Rome, Italy
St Peters Cathedral
St Peters Square, Rome, Italy
St Peters Square
Spanish Steps, Rome, Italy
Spanish Steps
Minerveo Obelisk, Rome, Italy
Minerveo Obelisk
Spanish Steps
Spanish Steps
Inside the Colosseum, Rome, Italy
Inside the Colosseum
Inside the Colosseum, Rome, Italy
Inside the Colosseum

Ephesus

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling and Footside

Selcuk Fortress, Selçuk Fortress, Selçuk, Turkey
Selcuk Fortress
Library of Celsus, Ephesus, Efes, Turkey
Library of Celsus
The Large Theatre, Ephesus, Efes, Turkey
The Large Theatre
Library of Celsus, Ephesus, Efes, Turkey
Library of Celsus
Library of Celsus Backflip, Ephesus, Efes, Turkey
Library of Celsus Backflip
Library of Celsus, Ephesus, Efes, Turkey
Library of Celsus

Ephesus is now an extensive ruin site of the once powerful Roman and, before that, Greek city of the same name. Ephesus, or Efes in Turkish, was an important port and trading centre for well over 1000 years before the harbour started to silt up and an earthquake in 614 AD partially destroyed the city, hastening its decline. The importance of this area not only lies in the remains of the city itself, but also the fact that this was the site of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Later, it became dominated by the Seljuk Turks who left a fortress on the hill overlooking Selçuk, the city that is used as a base to explore Ephesus roughly 3 km away. Ephesus was a grand city in its day. The main sites you can view are the Library of Celsus and the large Theatre that seated 44,000, attesting to the wealth this ancient city once had. Only an estimated 15% of Ephesus has been excavated but considering the extravagance of the limited sites you can see, it's intriguing to think of what could be unearthed in the future. Ephesus is one of Turkey's most popular tourist destinations and, due to this, the busloads that show up to drop off daytrippers can seem endless. Showing up in the early morning when the site opens, or squeezing some time in the late afternoon allows you the ability to absorb this amazing record of history a little more peacefully.

The Odeon, the small Theatre at Ephesus, could seat 1500 people, Ephesus, Efes, Turkey
The Odeon, the small Theatre at Ephesus, could seat 1500 people
Library of Celsus, Ephesus, Efes, Turkey
Library of Celsus
Library of Celsus, Ephesus, Efes, Turkey
Library of Celsus
Library of Celsus, Ephesus, Efes, Turkey
Library of Celsus
Gate of Augustus, Ephesus, Efes, Turkey
Gate of Augustus
Basilica of St. John, Selçuk, Turkey
Basilica of St. John
The Odeon, Ephesus, Efes, Turkey
The Odeon
Selcuk Fortress, Selçuk, Turkey
Selcuk Fortress
Library of Celsus, Ephesus, Efes, Turkey
Library of Celsus
The Large Theatre, Ephesus, Efes, Turkey
The Large Theatre
Library of Celsus, Ephesus, Efes, Turkey
Library of Celsus
Sunset in Selcuk, Selçuk, Turkey
Sunset in Selcuk
Library of Celsus, Ephesus, Efes, Turkey
Library of Celsus
Library of Celsus, Ephesus, Efes, Turkey
Library of Celsus
Library of Celsus, Ephesus, Efes, Turkey
Library of Celsus
Library of Celsus, Ephesus, Efes, Turkey
Library of Celsus
The large Theatre at Ephesus, view from Harbor street, could seat 44,000 people, Ephesus, Efes, Turkey
The large Theatre at Ephesus, view from Harbor street, could seat 44,000 people
Sunset over the fields near the town of Selçuk, Turkey
Sunset over the fields near the town of Selçuk

Termessos

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling and Footside

Termessos Backflip, Termessos, Turkey
Termessos Backflip
Termessos Ruins, Termessos, Turkey
Termessos Ruins
Termessos Theatre, Termessos, Turkey
Termessos Amphitheatre
Termessos Amphitheatre, Turkey
Termessos Amphitheatre

Termessos is a ruined mountain city built over 1000 meters above sea level in the Taurus Mountains on the Turkish Coast. The strategic position and warrior skills of the people of this ancient city enabled victory against Alexander the Great and made Termessos an independent ally of the Roman Empire. There seems to be no concrete date for when the city came to prominence but it was already well established by the time of Alexander the Great. The records of his campaigns are the first recorded accounts of this mysterious ancient city. Exploring the ruined city of these warrior people is an exceptional experience for its surrounding mountain scenery and majestic amphitheatre. Getting to the site is an easy day trip from the coastal city of Antalya, although it is recommended you have a car or be prepared to walk some serious distances uphill if hitch hiking doesn't pan out. Crawling through the rough bushes over fallen blocks of stone, and occasionally breaching the tree line, offers the experience of exploring romantic ruins in a mountainous setting. An opportunity such as that shouldn't be missed.

Termessos Amphitheatre, Termessos, Turkey
Termessos Amphitheatre
Termessos Temple, Termessos, Turkey
Termessos Temple
Termessos Amphitheatre, Termessos, Turkey
Termessos Amphitheatre
Termessos Amphitheatre, Termessos, Turkey
Termessos Amphitheatre
Termessos Amphitheatre, Termessos, Turkey
Termessos Amphitheatre
Termessos Amphitheatre, Termessos, Turkey
Termessos Amphitheatre
Termessos Amphitheatre, Termessos, Turkey
Termessos Amphitheatre
Termessos Amphitheatre, Termessos, Turkey
Termessos Amphitheatre
Termessos Amphitheatre, Termessos, Turkey
Termessos Amphitheatre
View from temple walls in Termessos, Termessos, Turkey
View from temple walls in Termessos
Termessos Amphitheatre, Termessos, Turkey
Termessos Amphitheatre
Termessos Amphitheatre, Termessos, Turkey
Termessos Amphitheatre
Entrance to Ruins, Termessos, Turkey
Entrance to Ruins
Termessos Amphitheatre, Turkey
Termessos Amphitheatre
Termessos Temple, Turkey
Termessos Temple
Termessos Ruins, Turkey
Termessos Ruins

Stonehenge, England

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling

Stonehenge view from walking path, England, United Kingdom
Stonehenge view from walking path
Stonehenge view from heelstone, England, United Kingdom
Stonehenge view from heelstone
Stonehenge view from walking path, England, United Kingdom
Stonehenge view from walking path
Stonehenge view from walking path, England, United Kingdom
Stonehenge view from walking path
Avebury Stone Circle, England, United Kingdom
Avebury Stone Circle
Stonehenge view from walking path, England, United Kingdom
Stonehenge view from walking path

Stonehenge is an enigmatic prehistoric monument in southwest England, roughly 13 km north of the city of Salisbury. Radiocarbon dating indicates that the first stones were erected on the Salisbury plain around 2400 BC, making this site roughly as old as the Great Pyramid in Egypt. Stonehenge sits at the centre of a number of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in the surrounding area that include the West Kennet Long Barrow and Avebury Stone Circles among others. It is evident that this area of the United Kingdom had a diverse and developing population that started building with wood, then graduated to stone some time around 3000 BC. Like Stonehenge, the Avebury Stone Circles initially started with a henge, or bank with ditch, and post holes were dug in a wide, circular manner on the top of the bank. Archaeological evidence shows that by 2600 BC, these builders switched from wood to stone and their designs became more specific and detailed, culminating in Stonehenge itself roughly around 2200 BC. With evidence that some of these mammoth slabs of stone came from parts of southern Wales, it must have been an effort by the entire population to have created what you can still see standing today. Even with all our modern technology, archaeologists and historians cannot seem to come to agreement on the original function of Stonehenge or how it was built. Certainly it was a place of worship, possibly a place of healing as the many recovered human remains with ailments in the area suggest. It may have been a burial ground or funerary monument for a powerful leader. Even today the site is revered by many practicing pagans, converging on the site during each solstice, although the access they are given to the actual circle of stones has been restricted in recent years. Regardless of its origins and function, Stonehenge is an interesting place that, like the Great Pyramid, it offers more questions than answers.

Panoramic View of Stonehenge and the surrounding fields from the designated walking path, England, United Kingdom
Panoramic View of Stonehenge and the surrounding fields from the designated walking path
Stonehenge view from walking path, England, United Kingdom
Stonehenge view from walking path
West Kennet Long Barrow, England, United Kingdom
West Kennet Long Barrow
Stonehenge Backflip, England, United Kingdom
Stonehenge Backflip
Stonehenge view from walking path, England, United Kingdom
Stonehenge view from walking path
Avebury Stone Circle, England, United Kingdom
Avebury Stone Circle
Stonehenge view from walking path, England, United Kingdom
Stonehenge view from walking path
Avebury Stone Circle, England, United Kingdom
Avebury Stone Circle
Stonehenge view from walking path, England, United Kingdom
Stonehenge view from walking path
West Kennet Long Barrow Entrance, England, United Kingdom
West Kennet Long Barrow Entrance
Stonehenge view from walking path, England, United Kingdom
Stonehenge view from walking path
View of Avebury Henge, England, United Kingdom
View of Avebury Henge
Stonehenge view from walking path, England, United Kingdom
Stonehenge view from walking path
Stonehenge view from walking path, England, United Kingdom
Stonehenge view from walking path
Stonehenge view from walking path, England, United Kingdom
Stonehenge view from walking path
Stonehenge view from walking path, England, United Kingdom
Stonehenge view from walking path

Philae Temple

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling, Footside and Mike Minckler

Philae Temple Inner Courtyard
Philae Temple Inner Courtyard
Main Pylon
Main Pylon
Philae Temple on Agilkia Island, near Aswan, Egypt
Philae Temple on Agilkia Island
Carved Egyptian God scenes, Philae Temple, near Aswan, Egypt
Carved Egyptian God scenes
Main Pylon, Philae Temple, near Aswan, Egypt
Main Pylon
Inside Philae Temple, near Aswan, Egypt
Inside Philae Temple

Philae Temple is one of the more unique and picturesque sites of ancient Egypt because it is situated on an island in the middle of the Nile (technically Lake Nasser) and is the only surviving temple with such a dramatic location. The original Philae Temple was located further down river and had become threatened by the building of the Aswan dam that created Lake Nasser. Like the amazing Statues and Temples at Abu Simbel further south the international community had to step in and save these amazing monuments of ancient Egypt or risk losing them forever. The project to save Philae started in 1960 and the entire site was documented, dismantled into 40,000 pieces, transported to the nearby island of Agilkia and reassembled to what you see today. The Philae temple you see today was a structure built during the Ptolemaic period and was almost as renowned as the Pyramids in the classical Greek world. Positive writings by a number of famous Greek travellers including Strabo and Pliny the Elder spread the word of its importance. Philae Temple is a must do day trip from the southern city of Aswan, taking a boat out to the island is the only way to access the temple. If you can time it right to avoid the tour groups you can get that 'secluded on an ancient temple island' feeling that you won't find anywhere else.

Main Pylon of Philae Temple, Egypt
Main Pylon of Philae Temple
Colonnaded Street, Philae Temple, Egypt
Colonnaded Street
View of Philae Temple from the edge of the island, Egypt
View of Philae Temple from the edge of the island
Trajans Kiosk, Philae Temple, Egypt
Trajans Kiosk
Hieroglyphs at Philae Temple, Egypt
Hieroglyphs at Philae Temple
Side view of main pylon, Philae Temple, Egypt
Side view of main pylon
Inside Philae Temple, Egypt
Inside Philae Temple
Philae Temple from the water, Egypt
Philae Temple from the water
Philae Temple from the water, Egypt
Philae Temple from the water
Main Pylon, Philae Temple, Egypt
Main Pylon
Philae Temple Backflip, Egypt
Philae Temple Backflip
Inside Philae Temple, Egypt
Inside Philae Temple
Panoramic View of the interior of Philae Temple, near Aswan, Egypt
Panoramic View of the interior of Philae Temple
Panoramic View of Philae Temple from the east side of the temple, near Aswan, Egypt
Panoramic View of Philae Temple from the east side of the temple
Philae Temple from the water, Egypt
Philae Temple from the water
Trajans Kiosk, Philae Temple, Egypt
Trajans Kiosk
Colonnaded Street, Philae Temple, Egypt
Colonnaded Street
Carved scenes on Philae Temple, Egypt
Carved scenes on Philae Temple
Inside Philae Temple, Egypt
Inside Philae Temple
Side view of main pylon, Philae Temple, Egypt
Side view of main pylon
Main Pylon, Philae Temple, Egypt
Main Pylon
Hieroglyphs at Philae Temple, Egypt
Hieroglyphs at Philae Temple
Main Courtyard, Philae Temple, Egypt
Main Courtyard
Inside Philae Temple, Egypt
Inside Philae Temple
Main Courtyard, Philae Temple, Egypt
Main Courtyard
Philae Temple Backflip, Egypt
Philae Temple Backflip

Edfu Temple

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling, Footside and Mike Minckler

Inside Edfu Temple, Egypt
Inside Edfu Temple
First Pylon of Edfu Temple, Egypt
First Pylon of Edfu Temple
The Sanctuary inside Edfu Temple, Egypt
The Sanctuary inside Edfu Temple

Edfu Temple is one of the finest preserved temples in ancient Egypt and is located on the west bank of the Nile River just over 100 km south of modern day Luxor. Constructed during the Ptolemaic era this temple is particularly important because of the detailed inscriptions that describe how the temple was built along with the language and religion that was prominent in Egypt from 200 BC onwards. The first pylon is a massive facade that dominates the surrounding area and its hard to believe that over the centuries this temple was buried by sand up to 10 metres below ground by the early 1800's. Due to the fact the temple was buried for centuries by the shifting sands it was preserved exceptionally well and was able to survive being robbed for building materials unlike many other ancient Egyptian monuments. Edfu Temple is a key stopping point for riverboat and felucca cruises that go up and down the Nile to Aswan, so any thorough trip of Egypt should incorporate this fantastic temple and you won't have to go off the beaten track very far to get there.

The rear side of Edfu Temple viewed from the main entrance, Egypt
The rear side of Edfu Temple viewed from the main entrance
Stairway to the roof, Edfu Temple, Egypt
Stairway to the roof
Edfu Temple Backflip, Egypt
Edfu Temple Backflip
Inside Edfu Temple, Egypt
Inside Edfu Temple
First Pylon at Edfu Temple, Egypt
First Pylon at Edfu Temple
First Pylon at Edfu Temple, Egypt
First Pylon at Edfu Temple
Side Aerial at Edfu Temple, Egypt
Side Aerial at Edfu Temple
Pillars in Edfu Temple, Egypt
Pillars in Edfu Temple
Statue of Horus, Edfu Temple, Egypt
Statue of Horus
First Pylon at Edfu Temple, Egypt
First Pylon at Edfu Temple
Rear of Edfu Temple, Egypt
Rear of Edfu Temple
View of the First Pylon at Edfu Temple, Egypt
View of the First Pylon at Edfu Temple
Hieroglyphs at Edfu Temple, Egypt
Hieroglyphs at Edfu Temple

Medinet Habu

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling, Footside and Mike Minckler

First Pylon, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
First Pylon
The Temple Complex, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
The Temple Complex
Hypostyle Hall, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Hypostyle Hall
Peristyle Hall, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Peristyle Hall
First Courtyard, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
First Courtyard
First Pylon and Relief of Ramses III, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
First Pylon and Relief of Ramses III

Medinet Habu is the mortuary temple built by the pharaoh Ramses III during his reign between 1186 BC and 1155 BC. Unlike the big temples of Karnak and Luxor, it does not typically get the bus tours that funnel hoards of tourists through the site, giving you an extensively detailed Egyptian temple to explore in peace. Medinet Habu is also one of the finest preserved temples in all of Egypt. It boasts hieroglyphs cut in to the walls as deep as the length of your hand and many areas where the once magnificent colour and painting that adorned all temples in Egypt survives over 3100 years after it was built. The Peristyle Hall is the most impressive, with colour still visible on almost all of the pillars and all along the roof of this section. The temple structure is 150 metres long and is designed in a standard orthodox manner used by Ramses the Great, Ramses the III's father. There is a massive pylon, or monumental gateway, that fronts the entrance to the temple depicting scenes of Ramses III beating down his enemies. These scenes are common throughout temples in Egypt, however, what is not common is the fact that the actual heads of defeated foreigners were found placed in the temple possibly to symbolize the power of the pharaoh. Medinet Habu is a quick detour off the road to the Valley of the Kings and Deir el-Bahri and rarely gets large crowds, which is surprising considering how detailed and well preserved it is. After Karnak, Medinet Habu is the temple in Egypt you should ensure you don't miss.

Peristyle Hall, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Peristyle Hall
Medinet Habu Backflip, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Medinet Habu Backflip
Peristyle Hall, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Peristyle Hall
First Pylon, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
First Pylon
View from outside the temple, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
View from outside the temple
Hypostyle Hall, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Hypostyle Hall
Cartouche of Rameses III, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Cartouche of Rameses III
Main Gate, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Main Gate
Peristyle Hall, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Peristyle Hall
View of the Medinet Habu Temple Complex, Luxor, Egypt
View of the Medinet Habu Temple Complex
View of the Peristyle Hall and Second Courtyard, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
View of the Peristyle Hall and Second Courtyard
Peristyle Hall Relief, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Peristyle Hall Relief
Gates between Courtyards, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Gates between Courtyards
Peristyle Hall Relief, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Peristyle Hall Relief
Peristyle Hall, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Peristyle Hall
View from outside the main entrance, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
View from outside the main entrance
Hypostyle Hall, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Hypostyle Hall
Peristyle Hall, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Peristyle Hall
Peristyle Hall, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Peristyle Hall
Peristyle Hall, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Peristyle Hall
Peristyle Hall, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Peristyle Hall
Hypostyle Hall, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Hypostyle Hall
View of First Pylon, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
View of First Pylon
First Pylon of Medinet Habu Temple, note the beat downs on enemies carved into both sides, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
First Pylon of Medinet Habu Temple, note the beat downs on enemies carved into both sides
The First Courtyard, on the right were statues of Ramses III, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
The First Courtyard, on the right were statues of Ramses III
Migdol Tower Entrance, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Migdol Tower Entrance
Peristyle Hall, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Peristyle Hall
Ramses smoting his enemies, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Ramses smoting his enemies
First Courtyard, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
First Courtyard
Second Courtyard, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Second Courtyard
Peristyle Hall, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Peristyle Hall
Migdol Tower Entrance, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Migdol Tower Entrance
Hypostyle Hall, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Hypostyle Hall
Peristyle Hall, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Peristyle Hall
Peristyle Hall, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Peristyle Hall
First Pylon, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
First Pylon
Hypostyle Hall, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Hypostyle Hall
Gate from First to Second Courtyard, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Gate from First to Second Courtyard
Hypostyle Hall, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Hypostyle Hall
Migdol Tower Entrance, Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt
Migdol Tower Entrance

Deir el-Bahari

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Footside, Eric Starling and Mike Minckler

Hatshepsuts Temple, Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Hatshepsuts Temple
Hatshepsuts Temple, Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Hatshepsuts Temple
Near Deir el-Bahari, Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Near Deir el-Bahari
Tomb of the Nobles, near Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Tomb of the Nobles
Hatshepsuts Temple, Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Hatshepsuts Temple
Tomb of the Nobles, near Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Tomb of the Nobles

Deir el-Bahari, translated as the Northern Monastery, is a complex of mortuary temples for three pharaohs on the West Bank of the Nile, not far from the Valley of Kings and Medinet Habu Temple. Although there are the remains of three temples at the base of a massive desert cliff, the best preserved and most prominent belongs to the female pharaoh Hatshepsut. Posing as pharaoh while her infant son grew up, she was a woman of great ambition and obviously immense power considering all her accomplishments in the male dominated society of ancient Egypt. Her remaining temple is a triple-tiered complex with a sloping ramp connecting each level. There are some statues that remain unmolested and you can still see some of the colour in the sheltered areas that was surely brilliant in its day. The temple is fairly simple compared to others in the area, yet, its location at the base of a massive cliff can't help but impress visitors. The cliffs and dunes surrounding this area are riddled with tombs, caves and other sanctuaries where ancient Egyptians buried their dead. While the Valley of the Kings, which is just over the hill from Deir el-Bahri, restricts photography, the equally impressive Tomb of Nobles near to Hatshepsuts Temple is free reign and much less crowded. Upon first glance, the hills and cliffs in this area look barren, desolate and worthless but looks can be deceiving. It's not until you look much closer, brave the heat, and take the time to explore whats under the surface that you realize how spectacular these lesser tombs really are.

Hatshepsuts Temple, Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Hatshepsuts Temple
Near the Ramesseum, Luxor, Egypt
Near the Ramesseum
Tomb of the Nobles, near Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Tomb of the Nobles
Deir el-Bahari Backflip, Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Deir el-Bahari Backflip
Near Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Near Deir el-Bahari
Hatshepsuts Temple, Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Hatshepsuts Temple
Tomb of the Nobles, near Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Tomb of the Nobles
Hatshepsuts Temple, Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Hatshepsuts Temple
Tomb of the Nobles, near Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Tomb of the Nobles
Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Deir el-Bahari
Hatshepsuts Temple, Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Hatshepsuts Temple
Entrance to the Tomb of the Nobles, near Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Entrance to the Tomb of the Nobles
Hatshepsuts Temple, Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Hatshepsuts Temple
Tomb of the Nobles, near Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Tomb of the Nobles
Hatshepsuts Temple, Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Hatshepsuts Temple
Tomb of the Nobles, near Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Tomb of the Nobles
Tomb of the Nobles Tunnel Entrance, near Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Tomb of the Nobles Tunnel Entrance
Tomb of the Nobles, near Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Tomb of the Nobles
Hatshepsuts Temple, Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Hatshepsuts Temple
Hatshepsuts Temple, Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Hatshepsuts Temple
Hatshepsuts Temple, Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Hatshepsuts Temple
Hatshepsuts Temple, Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Hatshepsuts Temple
Hatshepsuts Temple, Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Hatshepsuts Temple
Tomb of the Nobles, near Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Tomb of the Nobles
Deserts near Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Deserts near Deir el-Bahari
Near the Ramesseum, Luxor, Egypt
Near the Ramesseum
Tomb of the Nobles, near Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Tomb of the Nobles
Panorama view from the cliffs above Deir el-Bahari looking towards the Nile, Luxor, Egypt
Panorama view from the cliffs above Deir el-Bahari looking towards the Nile
Tomb of the Nobles, near Deir el- Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Tomb of the Nobles
Hatshepsuts Temple, Deir el- Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Hatshepsuts Temple
Tomb of the Nobles, near Deir el- Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Tomb of the Nobles
Tomb Riddles Hills near Deir el-Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Tomb Riddles Hills near Deir el-Bahari
Tomb of the Nobles, near Deir el- Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Tomb of the Nobles
Hatshepsuts Temple, Deir el- Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Hatshepsuts Temple
Hatshepsuts Temple, Deir el- Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Hatshepsuts Temple
Tomb of the Nobles, near Deir el- Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Tomb of the Nobles
Hatshepsuts Temple, Deir el- Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Hatshepsuts Temple
Hatshepsuts Temple, Deir el- Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Hatshepsuts Temple
Hatshepsuts Temple, Deir el- Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Hatshepsuts Temple
Hatshepsuts Temple, Deir el- Bahari, Luxor, Egypt
Hatshepsuts Temple

Luxor

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling, Footside and Mike Minckler

Luxor Temple at Night, Luxor, Egypt
Luxor Temple at Night
Luxor, Egypt
Luxor
Luxor Temple Entrance, Luxor, Egypt
Luxor Temple Entrance
Avenue of Sphinxs, Luxor, Egypt
Avenue of Sphinxs
Luxor Temple over the Nile, Luxor, Egypt
Luxor Temple over the Nile
Luxor Temple Entrance, Luxor, Egypt
Luxor Temple Entrance

Luxor is a medium-sized city on the banks of the Nile with a long and diverse history as the ancient Egyptian capital of Thebes. Luxor and its surrounding area, on both banks of the Nile, is widely considered to be the largest open air museum in the world. The massive Temple of Karnak and the Temple of Luxor are located within the city limits itself. Across the river is the West Bank Necropolis which includes The Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens, the temples of Medinet Habu, Deir el-Bahri and the Ramesseum, along with a number of other tombs and ruined monuments. Weeks could be spent exploring just the above mentioned sites, yet, Luxor can also be used as a base for cruising the Nile, exploring further temples up river or accessing the Sahara desert and its many desert oasis locations. Within the city centre, and a key focal point of the city, stands the fascinating Luxor Temple. Built around 1400 BC, it is smaller than its big brother Karnak, but more prominent when lit up at night. It has been a multi-purpose venue for many occupants within the city for thousands of years. Luxor temple is impressive right from the start, when you walk up the avenue of sphinxs, to its massive Pylon gate that is flanked by two large sitting statues of Ramses the Great and a towering obelisk. Inside the temple are a number of large halls, a procession of pillars, well preserved granite statues, a 14th century mosque and graffiti from the many occupants who used the temple as a base for the local area. Roman writing can be seen in the rear temple, evidence of their use of the temple as a key fortress and administrative centre during their reign of Egypt. At night, the splendor of Luxor temple is impressively lit up throughout the entire complex, adding a further dimension to an already stunning site. Relaxing on the banks of the Nile, or a felucca on the Nile, while sipping strong tea and overlooking the city and its beaming temple is a another timeless moment you cannot get anywhere else.

The Peristyle Court built by Amenhotep III, Luxor, Egypt
The Peristyle Court built by Amenhotep III
The city of Luxor at sunset, Luxor, Egypt
The city of Luxor at sunset
Luxor Temple at Night, Luxor, Egypt
Luxor Temple at Night
The West Bank at Night, Luxor, Egypt
The West Bank at Night
The West Bank and the Nile River, Luxor, Egypt
The West Bank and the Nile River
Luxor Temple at Night, Luxor, Egypt
Luxor Temple at Night
Luxor Temple Entrance, Luxor, Egypt
Luxor Temple Entrance
Luxor, Egypt
Luxor
Colonnaded Section of Luxor Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Colonnaded Section of Luxor Temple
Luxor Temple Entrance, Luxor, Egypt
Luxor Temple Entrance
Boats on the Nile, Luxor, Egypt
Boats on the Nile
Luxor Temple and Abu el-Haggag mosque, Luxor, Egypt
Luxor Temple and Abu el-Haggag mosque
Luxor Temple Entrance, Luxor, Egypt
Luxor Temple Entrance
Luxor Sunset, Luxor, Egypt
Luxor Sunset
Luxor Temple Entrance, Luxor, Egypt
Luxor Temple Entrance
Luxor Temple Backflip, Luxor, Egypt
Luxor Temple Backflip
Ramses II Statue, Luxor Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Ramses II Statue, Luxor Temple
Luxor Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Luxor Temple
The Nile River, Luxor, Egypt
The Nile River
Luxor Temple Entrance, Luxor, Egypt
Luxor Temple Entrance
Avenue of Sphinxs, Luxor, Egypt
Avenue of Sphinxs
Luxor Temple Entrance, Luxor, Egypt
Luxor Temple Entrance
Luxor Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Luxor Temple
Avenue of Sphinxs, Luxor, Egypt
Avenue of Sphinxs
Luxor, Egypt
Luxor
Luxor Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Luxor Temple
Luxor Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Luxor Temple

Pyramids of Giza

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling, Footside, Mike Minckler, Sara and Mike Waters

Pyramids of Giza Backflip, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Pyramids of Giza Backflip
Giza Plateau Pyramids, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Giza Plateau Pyramids
Pyramid of Khafre, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Pyramid of Khafre
The Great Pyramid, Pyramid of Khufu, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
The Great Pyramid, Pyramid of Khufu
The Sphinx and Great Pyramid, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
The Sphinx and Great Pyramid
Pyramid of Menkaure overlooking Cairo, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Pyramid of Menkaure overlooking Cairo

The Pyramids of Giza have been a traveller's destination for over 3000 years. From the early Greek travellers to the modern day package tourist, the Pyramids at the Giza Plateau are the top site for any trip to Egypt. On the outskirts of modern day Cairo stands the only remaining Wonder of the Ancient World, the Great Pyramid. The three pyramids at Giza are giants of architecture and offer a humbling experience for anyone who stands at their base and ponders how they were built. Consider the amazing fact that the Great Pyramid was the tallest structure on Earth for around 3800 years before some of the church towers of the Medieval era pipped this ancient monument. Even with all the science and technology that defines our society today, there is still no definitive information available on when and how these pyramids were built. Estimates from mainstream Egyptologists are that the Great Pyramid was constructed roughly between 2560 BC to 2540 BC by the pharaoh Khufu. The slightly smaller pyramid of Khafre was built in the reign after Khufu before the pharoah Khafre's death, estimated to be around 2532 BC. Finally the smallest Pyramid of Menkaure is estimated to have been completed by his death in 2503 BC. The enigmatic Sphinx, that looks to front the pyramid of Khafre, is also at Giza and although most scholars attribute the Sphinx to this pharaoh, there are still many debates about its true origin, who it was linked to, and its estimated age. Many theories abound of when and how the Great Pyramid and Sphinx were created. The debate among scholars varies widely, from the accepted preset dates of the Egyptian Old Kingdom, to more extreme theories of aliens, or a civilized society around 10,000 BC. A unique and timeless experience of any trip to Egypt includes crawling through the humid, narrow shafts of these huge structures, all the way up to where the ancient pharaohs' tombs were located. Inside all three pyramids, the huge blocks, some weighing up to 15 tons, are so expertly fit together you cannot fit a knife blade between them. A tip for getting inside the Great Pyramid is to check the two opening times each day and show up early. They admit just over 100 people inside at these two set times daily and you will not want to miss out if you can handle claustrophobic spaces. The other two pyramids rotate yearly between being open and closed in an effort to preserve the insides, so there will always be one pyramid to enter at all times on your trip to the Giza Plateau. For anyone with even the slightest interest in the mystery and history of ancient Egypt, visiting the Pyramids at Giza is a must. Exploring these colossal ancient monuments is something that sticks with you and becomes the bench mark for futures sites you will see on your travels.

The Pyramids of the Giza Plateau, left to right, The Great Pyramid of Khufu, The Pyramid of Khafre, The Pyramid of Menkaure, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
The Pyramids of the Giza Plateau, left to right, The Great Pyramid of Khufu, The Pyramid of Khafre, The Pyramid of Menkaure
The Pyramids of the Giza Plateau, from right to left, The Great Pyramid, The Pyramid of Khafre, The Pyramid of Menkaure, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
The Pyramids of the Giza Plateau, from right to left, The Great Pyramid, The Pyramid of Khafre, The Pyramid of Menkaure
The Pyramids from the site entrance with the Sphinx in the foreground, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
The Pyramids from the site entrance with the Sphinx in the foreground
Sphinx and Pyramid of Khafre, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Sphinx and Pyramid of Khafre
Pyramids Backflip, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Pyramids Backflip
Camels and The Great Pyramid, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Camels and The Great Pyramid
Great Pyramid Backflip, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Great Pyramid Backflip
The Grand Gallery inside the Great Pyramid, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
The Grand Gallery inside the Great Pyramid
The Great Pyramid, Pyramid of Khufu, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
The Great Pyramid, Pyramid of Khufu
Pyramid of Khafre Backflip, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Pyramid of Khafre Backflip
Inside the Pyramid of Khafre, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Inside the Pyramid of Khafre
Sphinx and Pyramid of Khafre, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Sphinx and Pyramid of Khafre
The Great Pyramid, Pyramid of Khufu, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
The Great Pyramid, Pyramid of Khufu
The Pyramid of Khafre, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
The Pyramid of Khafre
The Pyramid of Menkaure, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
The Pyramid of Menkaure
The Sphinx, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
The Sphinx
The Sphinx, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
The Sphinx
The Sphinx and Pyramid of Khafre, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
The Sphinx and Pyramid of Khafre
Pyramid of Khafre, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Pyramid of Khafre
Great Pyramid, Pyramid of Khufu, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Great Pyramid, Pyramid of Khufu
Great Pyramid, Pyramid of Khufu, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Great Pyramid, Pyramid of Khufu
Giza Plateau Pyramids, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Giza Plateau Pyramids
Great Pyramid, Pyramid of Khufu, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Great Pyramid, Pyramid of Khufu
The Spinx, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
The Spinx
Great Pyramid Backflip, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Great Pyramid Backflip
Deserts surround the Pyramids, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Deserts surround the Pyramids
Pyramid of Khafre Backflip, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Pyramid of Khafre Backflip
The Pyramid of Khafre and The Pyramid of Menkaure, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
The Pyramid of Khafre and The Pyramid of Menkaure
The Pyramids of the Giza Plateau, right to left, The Great Pyramid of Khufu, The Pyramid of Khafre, The Pyramid of Menkaure, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
The Pyramids of the Giza Plateau, right to left, The Great Pyramid of Khufu, The Pyramid of Khafre, The Pyramid of Menkaure
The Pyramid of Menkaure and the deserts that surround the Giza Plateau, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
The Pyramid of Menkaure and the deserts that surround the Giza Plateau
Pyramid of Khafre, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Pyramid of Khafre
Great Pyramid, Pyramid of Khufu, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Great Pyramid, Pyramid of Khufu
Pyramid of Khafre, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Pyramid of Khafre
Great Pyramid, Pyramid of Khufu, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Great Pyramid, Pyramid of Khufu
View from Pyramids of Giza, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
View from Pyramids of Giza
Pyramid of Khufu and Pyramid of Khafre, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Pyramid of Khufu and Pyramid of Khafre
The Sphinx, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
The Sphinx
The Sphinx, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
The Sphinx
The Sphinx, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
The Sphinx
Pyramid of Khafre, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Pyramid of Khafre
Giza Plateau Pyramids, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Giza Plateau Pyramids
Pyramid of Khafre, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Pyramid of Khafre
Pyramid of Khafre, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Pyramid of Khafre
Great Pyramid, Pyramid of Khufu, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Great Pyramid, Pyramid of Khufu
Pyramid of Khafre, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Pyramid of Khafre
Pyramid of Khafre and Pyramid of Khufu, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Pyramid of Khafre and Pyramid of Khufu
View of Pyramids from the Cairo Tower, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
View of Pyramids from the Cairo Tower
Giza Plateau Pyramids, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Giza Plateau Pyramids
The Sphinx, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
The Sphinx
The Sphinx, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
The Sphinx
The Sphinx, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
The Sphinx
The Sphinx, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
The Sphinx
Pyramids Backflip, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Pyramids Backflip
The Sphinx, Giza, Cairo, Egypt
The Sphinx

Valley of the Kings

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling and Footside

Valley of the Kings from above, Egypt
Valley of the Kings from above
Tomb, Egypt
Tomb
Valley of the Kings, Egypt
Valley of the Kings

The Valley of the Kings is a barren, sun-baked desert valley that is part of the West Bank Necropolis monuments near the ancient city of Thebes and modern day Luxor. During a period of nearly 500 years, the mighty Pharaohs and powerful nobles of ancient Egypt cut tombs out of living rock in this valley and constructed their final resting place. Dating from the 16th to 11th century BC, the Valley of the Kings contains at least 63 known tombs. This inhospitable desert landscape continues to provide information on how death and the afterlife was so pivotal to ancient Egyptian culture. Pretty much all the tombs in the valley were robbed during antiquity, with the exception of the famous tomb of Tutankhamun, opened by Howard Carter in 1922. The amazing treasure, furniture and personal items of this minor pharaoh that came out of this small tomb are breathtaking, and give a small glimpse into how unbelievably lavish these tombs would have been before being looted. Descending into the humid rock-cut tombs to view the strange, colourful, Egyptian funerary scenes is a rare look back in time at how the ancient Egyptians dealt with death. Although you can view many scenes of Egyptian mythology throughout the temples of Egypt, the Valley of the Kings is the only place where the magnificent colour used to decorate the tombs and temples still survives. The amazing detail in each tomb is intricate, detailed and stunning, and then you realize that these pictures and scenes were painted well over 3000 years ago! Visiting the Valley of the Kings is a must, you get access to three tombs with your entry ticket. It is recommended to purchase another three, at least, at the gate so you don't have to go all the way back when you realize you just have to see more.

Valley of the Kings from the hills above, Egypt
Valley of the Kings from the hills above
Valley of the Kings near the Tomb of Tutankhamun, Egypt
Valley of the Kings near the Tomb of Tutankhamun
Tomb of Seti II, Valley of the Kings, Egypt
Tomb of Seti II
Valley of the Kings from above, Egypt
Valley of the Kings from above
Tomb, Valley of the Kings, Egypt
Tomb
Valley of the Kings Backflip, Egypt
Valley of the Kings Backflip
Inside Valley of the Kings, Egypt
Inside Valley of the Kings
Valley of the Kings from above, Egypt
Valley of the Kings from above
Tomb, Valley of the Kings, Egypt
Tomb
Valley of the Kings from above, Egypt
Valley of the Kings from above
Valley of the Kings from above, Egypt
Valley of the Kings from above

Abu Simbel

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling, Footside and Mike Minckler

The Great Temple dedicated to Ramses, Abu Simbel, Egypt
The Great Temple dedicated to Ramses
The Small Temple dedicated to Nefertari, Abu Simbel, Egypt
The Small Temple dedicated to Nefertari
The Great Temple Statues of Ramses, Abu Simbel, Egypt
The Great Temple Statues of Ramses
Inside The Great Temple, Abu Simbel, Egypt
Inside The Great Temple
The Great Temple, Abu Simbel, Egypt
The Great Temple
Battle Scene Inside The Great Temple, Abu Simbel, Egypt
Battle Scene Inside The Great Temple

Abu Simbel is an impressive site in southern Egypt comprising of two massive rock cut temples and is located on the western bank of Lake Nasser, about 290 km southwest of Aswan and roughly 50 km north of the border with Sudan. The temples were originally carved out of a mountainside during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II, or Ramses the Great, as a lasting monument to himself and his favourite queen Nefertari. Built between 1264 BC and 1244 BC, their purpose was to intimidate Egypt's southern neighbours, the Nubians. The main temple has four 20 metre tall statues of Ramses the Great sitting down, projecting the power of Egypt at the time, as they stare out over the desert guarding the route north into ancient Egypt. This main temple is dedicated to Ramses himself and three other gods Amun, Ra-Horakhty and Ptah. Over time, the temple and statues were covered in sand; it must have been the thrill of a lifetime for early European explorers to stumble upon the half submerged giant heads in the shifting sands of the Sahara. The smaller temple is dedicated to Nefertari and the god Hathor. Although not on the grand scale of Ramses' temple, it still boasts impressive statues and fantastically-well preserved carvings throughout the structure. The main temple, dedicated to Ramses, was intentionally and precisely cut by the ancient Egyptian architects in such a way that twice a year, on days in October and February, the rays of the sun would penetrate deep into the dark sanctuary and illuminate the holy sculptures. In 1959, the government of Egypt decided to dam the Nile river and create the Aswan High Dam. The resulting dam would create Lake Nasser and submerge Abu Simbel. The solution to save the site was to move these two huge temples in their entirety out of the danger area created by damming the river Nile. Between 1964 and 1968, the entire site was carefully cut into large blocks, dismantled, lifted and reassembled in a new location 65 metres higher and 200 metres back from the river. Although it is a long day trip by bus (unless you pay extra to fly) from Aswan to Abu Simbel, it is worth your time to see how Egypt's most powerful Pharoah Ramses the Great displayed his power in the ancient world.

View of the temples at Abu Simbel, on the left is The Great Temple dedicated to Ramses the Great and on the right is The Small Temple dedicated to Nefertari, Abu Simbel, Egypt
View of the temples at Abu Simbel, on the left is The Great Temple dedicated to Ramses the Great and on the right is The Small Temple dedicated to Nefertari
The Small Temple, Abu Simbel, Egypt
The Small Temple
Carving of Nefertari in the Small Temple, Abu Simbel, Egypt
Carving of Nefertari in the Small Temple
The Small Temple, Abu Simbel, Egypt
The Small Temple
Statues of Ramses at the Great Temple, Abu Simbel, Egypt
Statues of Ramses at the Great Temple
The Small Temple, Abu Simbel, Egypt
The Small Temple
Statues of Ramses at the Great Temple, Abu Simbel, Egypt
Statues of Ramses at the Great Temple
The Great Temple, Abu Simbel, Egypt
The Great Temple
Abu Simbel Backflip, Abu Simbel, Egypt
Abu Simbel Backflip
The Great Temple, Abu Simbel, Egypt
The Great Temple
Entrance to the Great Temple, Abu Simbel, Egypt
Entrance to the Great Temple
Inside the Great Temple, Abu Simbel, Egypt
Inside the Great Temple
Battle scene of Ramses, Abu Simbel, Egypt
Battle scene of Ramses
The Great Temple, Abu Simbel, Egypt
The Great Temple
Inside the Great Temple, Abu Simbel, Egypt
Inside the Great Temple
The Great Temple, Abu Simbel, Egypt
The Great Temple
Abu Simbel Backflip, Abu Simbel, Egypt
Abu Simbel Backflip
Inside the Small Temple, Abu Simbel, Egypt
Inside the Small Temple
The Small Temple, Abu Simbel, Egypt
The Small Temple
Colossus of Ramses Statues, Abu Simbel, Egypt
Colossus of Ramses Statues
Entrance to Abu Simbel, Abu Simbel, Egypt
Entrance to Abu Simbel
The Great Temple, Abu Simbel, Egypt
The Great Temple
The Great Temple, Abu Simbel, Egypt
The Great Temple
The Small Temple, Abu Simbel, Egypt
The Small Temple
The Great Temple, Abu Simbel, Egypt
The Great Temple
The Great Temple, Abu Simbel, Egypt
The Great Temple
Inside the Great Temple, Abu Simbel, Egypt
Inside the Great Temple
The Great Temple, Abu Simbel, Egypt
The Great Temple
The Great Temple at Abu Simbel with the colossal statues of Ramses the Great, Abu Simbel, Egypt
The Great Temple at Abu Simbel with the colossal statues of Ramses the Great

Saqqara and Dashur

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling and Footside

The Bent Pyramid, Dashur, Egypt
The Bent Pyramid
Djoser Step Pyramid, Saqqara, Egypt
Djoser Step Pyramid
The Red Pyramid, Dashur, Egypt
The Red Pyramid
Saqqara Tomb, Saqqara, Egypt
Saqqara Tomb
Burial Chamber in Pyramid of Unas, Saqqara, Egypt
Burial Chamber in Pyramid of Unas
Bent Pyramid and Red Pyramid in the distance, Dashur, Egypt
Bent Pyramid and Red Pyramid in the distance

Saqqara is a vast, ancient burial ground south of Cairo, boasting the world's oldest stone-built pyramid, the Step Pyramid of the Djoser. Saqqara served as a necropolis for the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis. The site covers an area almost 7 km long with numerous tombs and more than ten different pyramids, or mastabas, in different states of ruin. The Pyramid of Djoser is the dominating feature of Saqqara, constructed between 2667 BC - 2648 BC, it is the first properly built stone pyramid and was the inspiration for all major pyramid building in the area thereafter. Saqqara is deep in the desert and, thus, over the centuries was covered by layer upon layer of sand. This has helped in preserving these ancient tombs as well as concealing them. Archeologists continue to excavate this area and you can often see digs in progress when exploring the open air site. New finds continue to this day, from small one room tombs, to massive multi room temples with intricate carvings.
Further south along the west bank of the Nile are the pyramids of Dashur. Considered to be another necropolis for the pharaohs, there are two main pyramids here worth your time. Both the Bent Pyramid and the Red Pyramid were built by the Pharaoh Sneferu, the father of Khufu, who built the Great Pyramid at Giza. It is estimated these pyramids were built between 2613 BC - 2589 BC and they are two of the three pyramids commission by Sneferu. The Bent Pyramid is a unique example of a building project gone wrong. It is believed that due to the steepness of the original angle of the pyramid that signs of instability appeared during construction. The engineers then changed the angle of inclination from 54 degrees to a shallower 43 degrees to correct this, accounting for its appearance and inspiration for its name. Sneferu, obviously unhappy with this defect, proceeded to build his master piece, the Red Pyramid. The Red Pyramid is the third largest in Egypt behind only the two bigger pyramids at Giza. It is the first example of a true smooth sided pyramid and has an excellent interior you can explore. The entrance is high up on the north side of the pyramid, with an entry shaft  1 metre tall by 1.2 metres wide and sloping steeply down 61 metres, leading to two 12 metre high corbel vaulted chambers.
Saqqara and Dashur can be done as an easy day trip from Cairo in a taxi. Both sites receive a fraction of the visitors that you will deal with at Giza, giving you a rare opportunity to explore tombs and pyramids almost by yourself.

Djoser Step Pyramid, Saqqara, Egypt
Djoser Step Pyramid
Saqqara Tomb Carvings, Saqqara, Egypt
Saqqara Tomb Carvings
Step Pyramid Temple, Saqqara, Egypt
Step Pyramid Temple
Bent Pyramid, Dashur, Egypt
Bent Pyramid
Inside the Red Pyramid, Dashur, Egypt
Inside the Red Pyramid
Red Pyramid, Dashur, Egypt
Red Pyramid
Saqqara Tomb Carvings, Saqqara, Egypt
Saqqara Tomb Carvings
View of Dashur Pyramids from Saqqara, Egypt
View of Dashur Pyramids from Saqqara
Saqqara Tomb Carvings, Saqqara, Egypt
Saqqara Tomb Carvings
Red Pyramid, Dashur, Egypt
Red Pyramid
Bent Pyramid, Dashur, Egypt
Bent Pyramid
Step Pyramid, Dashur, Egypt
Step Pyramid
Bent Pyramid, Dashur, Egypt
Bent Pyramid
Bent Pyramid, Dashur, Egypt
Bent Pyramid
Bent Pyramid, Dashur, Egypt
Bent Pyramid
Djoser Step Pyramid, Saqqara, Egypt
Djoser Step Pyramid
Bent Pyramid, Dashur, Egypt
Bent Pyramid
Red Pyramid, Dashur, Egypt
Red Pyramid
Pyramid of Unas, Saqqara, Egypt
Pyramid of Unas
Saqqara Tomb Carvings, Saqqara, Egypt
Saqqara Tomb Carvings
View of Saqqara Pyramids from Dashur, Egypt
View of Saqqara Pyramids from Dashur
The Pyramids of Dashur, on the right is the Red Pyramid, on the left is the Bent Pyramid, Egypt
The Pyramids of Dashur, on the right is the Red Pyramid, on the left is the Bent Pyramid
The Bent Pyramid of Dashur, Egypt
The Bent Pyramid of Dashur
Djoser Step Pyramid Temple Complex, Saqqara, Egypt
Djoser Step Pyramid Temple Complex
Saqqara Tomb Carvings, Saqqara, Egypt
Saqqara Tomb Carvings
Djoser Step Pyramid Temple Complex, Saqqara, Egypt
Djoser Step Pyramid Temple Complex
View of Saqqara from Dashur, Saqqara, Egypt
View of Saqqara from Dashur
Bent Pyramid, Dashur, Egypt
Bent Pyramid
Oil Refinery next to Dashur, Egypt
Oil Refinery next to Dashur
Entrance to Djoser Step Pyramid, Saqqara, Egypt
Entrance to Djoser Step Pyramid
Red Pyramid, Dashur, Egypt
Red Pyramid
Saqqara Tomb Carvings, Saqqara, Egypt
Saqqara Tomb Carvings
Inside the Red Pyramid, Dashur, Egypt
Inside the Red Pyramid
Red Pyramid, Dashur, Egypt
Red Pyramid
Inside the Red Pyramid, Dashur, Egypt
Inside the Red Pyramid

Shiraz

Text by Footside; Photography by Footside

Naqsh-e Rostam, near Shiraz, Iran
Naqsh-e Rostam
Persepolis Carvings, near Shiraz, Iran
Persepolis Carvings
Xerxes Gateway, Persepolis, near Shiraz, Iran
Xerxes Gateway, Persepolis
Arg Karim Khan, Shiraz, Iran
Arg Karim Khan
Xerxes Gateway, Persepolis, near Shiraz, Iran
Xerxes Gateway, Persepolis
Naqsh-e Rostam, near Shiraz, Iran
Naqsh-e Rostam

When I think of Shiraz I think of Persepolis, the 2500 year old Persian wonder-city of wealth, power and abundance that was famously put to the sword by the unstoppable Alexander the Great. This was 'THE' ancient site of Persia, whilst of course there are a few other ancillary sites, a couple rock cut tombs, for me Shiraz was all about Persepolis. There's nothing much in the city of Shiraz itself, well nothing that I found remarkable or noteworthy anyway. It's a big city of functional buildings and roadways. As a commercial centre, Shiraz just gets on with it, and to be honest, with a decent place to stay and some transport to Persepolis, Shiraz gave me all that I wanted. If you're really scratching for something to do in Shiraz, check the Arg Karim Khan. It's a small walled fortress smack bang in the middle of town. It's all pretty basic inside and the turrets are somewhat unstable reminding me of the 'leaning tower of Pisa'. For all my enthusiasm for Persepolis, first stop on the generic taxi tour was Naqsh-e Rostam. A series of four  massive tombs cut high into the desert cliffs. Built to be inaccessible to bandits, they nonetheless remain a clearly visible and imposing stamp of authority over the area. It's not possible to get inside, but the views from ground level are pretty spectacular. There's a few restored carvings around the tombs, they're nothing special but worth a look. Continuing on for a short drive to the footsteps of Persepolis, it was here that my Persian bubble truly burst. For years I had carried the image of an  eastern super city to rival the exploits of Rome and Greece. As the centre piece of Iranian archeology I must confess my disappointment at the remnants of this near mythical ancient city. What I saw, and in reality what I should have expected was a ruin site. And considering it was ruined by one of history's greatest destroyers, I shouldn't have expected much. Somehow I had constructed an expectation - perhaps shaped by the efforts of Egypt or by exposure to the Roman achievements in North Africa and neighbouring middle eastern countries - of a massive desert complex.

View of Persepolis from the Eastern Hillside overlooking the ruins, Persepolis, near Shiraz, Iran
View of Persepolis from the Eastern Hillside overlooking the ruins

The initial Xerxes Gateway, provided the iconic introduction to Persepolis that I had hoped, but beyond the great pillars of the central hall the site consists mainly of low lying foundations and walls. With most of these foundations inscribed with various carvings and writings, there is certainly cause to linger, but ultimately they don't hold one's attention for long. Hiking the eastside hills to a couple of tombs are notable mainly for the excellent view over the entire site, but again, it was from this perspective that my disappointment was confirmed. Whilst still a thoroughly worthwhile site, which should be on any travellers Iranian itinerary, one's expectations have to be tempered by the understanding that since Persepolis was destroyed, it can not match the better preserved ancient sites of the west.

Naqsh-e Rostam, near Shiraz, Iran
Naqsh-e Rostam
Persepolis, near Shiraz, Iran
Persepolis
Central Hall Pillars, Persepolis, near Shiraz, Iran
Central Hall Pillars, Persepolis
Central Hall Pillars, Persepolis, near Shiraz, Iran
Central Hall Pillars, Persepolis
Arg Karim Khan, Shiraz, Iran
Arg Karim Khan, Shiraz
Xerxes Gateway, Persepolis, near Shiraz, Iran
Xerxes Gateway, Persepolis
Arg Karim Khan, Shiraz, Iran
Arg Karim Khan, Shiraz
Persepolis, near Shiraz, Iran
Persepolis
Naqsh-e Rostam, near Shiraz, Iran
Naqsh-e Rostam
Xerxes Gateway, Persepolis, near Shiraz, Iran
Xerxes Gateway, Persepolis
Xerxes Gateway, Persepolis, near Shiraz, Iran
Xerxes Gateway, Persepolis
Xerxes Gateway, Persepolis, near Shiraz, Iran
Xerxes Gateway, Persepolis
Central Hall Pillars, Persepolis, near Shiraz, Iran
Central Hall Pillars, Persepolis
Central Hall Pillars, Persepolis, near Shiraz, Iran
Central Hall Pillars, Persepolis
Central Hall Pillars, Persepolis, near Shiraz, Iran
Central Hall Pillars, Persepolis
Persepolis, near Shiraz, Iran
Persepolis
Persepolis, near Shiraz, Iran
Persepolis
Persepolis, near Shiraz, Iran
Persepolis
Naqsh-e Rostam, near Shiraz, Iran
Naqsh-e Rostam
Persepolis, near Shiraz, Iran
Persepolis
Xerxes Gateway, Persepolis, near Shiraz, Iran
Xerxes Gateway, Persepolis

Pompeii and Herculaneum

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling and Renee Martin

Herculaneum Mural, Italy
Herculaneum Mural
Pompeii Backflip, Italy
Pompeii Backflip
Herculaneum Mural, Italy
Herculaneum Mural
Preserved Human Body, Pompeii, Italy
Preserved Human Body, Pompeii
Herculaneum Road, Italy
Herculaneum Road
Temple of Jupiter, Pompeii, Italy
Temple of Jupiter, Pompeii

Pompeii and Herculaneum are two exceptionally well preserved Roman cities in the south of Italy near the modern day city of Naples and Sorrento. The astonishing level of preservation in both of these historical sites is due to the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Vesuvius on August 24th 79 AD. Both cities were engulfed in ash and debris with almost no warning, the fallout of ash and resulting pyroclastic flow extinguished all life around the volcano. This horrendous devastation encased the city of Pompeii and its smaller neighbour Herculaneum in up to 25 meters of pumice, ash and volcanic rock over a deadly 6 hour period. The historical record of this eruption was recorded by Pliny the Younger who was across the bay of Naples watching the work of nature unfold. Herculaneum was the first of the 2 cities to be rediscovered in 1738 when workers were preparing foundations for a summer palace for the then King of Naples. Pompeii was found 10 years later in 1748 when a Spanish engineer was intentionally excavating in the area he hoped to find the lost city of Pompeii. Both cities have been progressively excavated since their discovery. The preserved bodies, frescoes, garbage and even sewer contents have provided a complete and vivid picture of Roman society and daily life at that specific moment in history that is without equal anywhere in the world. Pompeii was founded in the 7th century BC, by the time of its destruction Pompeii was a thriving and wealthy port city of the Roman Empire. There are acoustically perfect amphitheatres, colourful vibrant frescoes, a former gladiator colosseum and villas of once wealthy Romans. Herculaneum is almost more valuable than Pompeii for the historical record because unlike Pompeii its burial was so deep it preserved some upper storeys of the towns buildings. The hotter ash preserved wooden household objects like furniture and even food. Herculaneum was also a wealthier town than Pompeii with a large number of fine houses that still boast some stunning frescoes, murals and decorative trimmings to their original structures. Pompeii and Herculaneum are must see sites that gives any visitor the opportunity to step back in time, all the while pondering how you could survive if that giant looming volcano ever went off again.

Temple in Pompeii, Italy
Temple in Pompeii
Mosaic in Herculaneum, Italy
Mosaic in Herculaneum
Main Road, Pompeii, Italy
Main Road, Pompeii
Herculaneum Mural, Italy
Herculaneum Mural
Pillars at Pompeii, Italy
Pillars at Pompeii
Mosaic with phallic symbol, Pompeii, Italy
Mosaic with phallic symbol, Pompeii
The Forum with Mount Vesuvius in the background, Pompeii, Italy
The Forum with Mount Vesuvius in the background, Pompeii
Roman Villa Ruins, Pompeii, Italy
Roman Villa Ruins, Pompeii
Roman Villa Ruins, Pompeii, Italy
Roman Villa Ruins, Pompeii
View of Herculaneum from above, Italy
View of Herculaneum from above
Herculaneum Mural, Italy
Herculaneum Mural
Herculaneum Statue Head, Italy
Herculaneum Statue Head
Herculaneum Alter, Italy
Herculaneum Alter
Intricate Carvings at Pompeii, Italy
Intricate Carvings at Pompeii
Herculaneum Doorway, Italy
Herculaneum Doorway
Pompeii Gladiatorial Arena , Italy
Pompeii Gladiatorial Arena
Pompeii Front Flip, Italy
Pompeii Front Flip
Pompeii Amphitheatre, Italy
Pompeii Amphitheatre
Herculaneum Mural, Italy
Herculaneum Mural
Herculaneum Private Alter, Italy
Herculaneum Private Alter
Herculaneum Mural, Italy
Herculaneum Mural
The ancient Shoreline at Pompeii, Italy
The ancient Shoreline at Pompeii
Mosaic at Herculaneum, Italy
Mosaic at Herculaneum
View of Herculaneum, Italy
View of Herculaneum
Wealthy Pompeii Villa, Italy
Wealthy Pompeii Villa
Buildings in Pompeii, Italy
Buildings in Pompeii
Human Body in Pompeii, Italy
Human Body in Pompeii
Pompeii Streets, Italy
Pompeii Streets
View of Herculaneum, Italy
View of Herculaneum
Herculaneum Building, Italy
Herculaneum Building
Herculaneum Plaque in Latin, Italy
Herculaneum Plaque in Latin
Herculaneum Shop, Italy
Herculaneum Shop
Herculaneum Statue, Italy
Herculaneum Statue

Jerash

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling, Footside, Sara and Mike Waters

Cardo Maximus, Jerash, Jordan
Cardo Maximus
North Theatre, Jerash, Jordan
North Theatre
Temple of Artemis, Jerash, Jordan
Temple of Artemis
Jerash Ruin Site, Jerash, Jordan
Jerash Ruin Site
Jerash Cathedral, Jerash, Jordan
Jerash Cathedral
Macellum, Jerash, Jordan
Macellum

Jerash, or in ancient times Gerasa, is the ruins of a once thriving Greco-Roman city and is considered to be one of the most important and best preserved Roman cities in the Middle East. In the second half of the first century AD, the city of Jerash achieved great prosperity as the Roman Empire built roads throughout the region bringing trade to the small settlement. Jerash and the Syrian ruin of Palmyra started to thrive and expand in importance as trade routes diverted to their cities over previous stops in places like Petra. The current site is huge and very impressive with large stretches of colonnaded streets, huge temple complexes standing tall with orange tinged pillars and amphitheatres restored to their previous glory. The size of Jerash means you can explore its many structures without running in to many other tourists which adds alot to the experience. Often overshadowed by the magnificence of Petra, Jerash is an easy day trip from the capital Amman and well worth the effort to disappear into a piece of history.

South Theatre, Jerash, Jordan
South Theatre
Macellum, Jerash, Jordan
Macellum
Northern Tetrapylon, Jerash, Jordan
Northern Tetrapylon
Forum and Cardo Maximus, Jerash, Jordan
Forum and Cardo Maximus
Jerash Cathedral Backflip, Jerash, Jordan
Jerash Cathedral Backflip
North Theatre, Jerash, Jordan
North Theatre
Corinthium columns, Jerash, Jordan
Corinthium columns
South Gate, Jerash, Jordan
South Gate
Temple of Artemis, Jerash, Jordan
Temple of Artemis
Cardo Maximus, Jerash, Jordan
Cardo Maximus
Nymphaeum, Jerash, Jordan
Nymphaeum
South Theatre, Jerash, Jordan
South Theatre
North Theatre, Jerash, Jordan
North Theatre
Jerash Cathedral, Jerash, Jordan
Jerash Cathedral
South Theatre, Jerash, Jordan
South Theatre
South Theatre, Jerash, Jordan
South Theatre
South Theatre, Jerash, Jordan
South Theatre
South Theatre, Jerash, Jordan
South Theatre
Jerash Temple, Jerash, Jordan
Jerash Temple
Cardo Maximus, Jerash, Jordan
Cardo Maximus
Jerash Temple, Jerash, Jordan
Jerash Temple
Hadrian's Arch, Jerash, Jordan
Hadrian's Arch
Jerash Cathedral, Jerash, Jordan
Jerash Cathedral
South Theatre Performance, Jerash, Jordan
South Theatre Performance
Cardo Forum, Jerash, Jordan
Cardo Forum
Nymphaeum, Jerash, Jordan
Nymphaeum
North Theatre, Jerash, Jordan
North Theatre
Temple of Artemis, Jerash, Jordan
Temple of Artemis
Jerash Cathedral Atrium, Jerash, Jordan
Jerash Cathedral Atrium
Jerash Cathedral, Jerash, Jordan
Jerash Cathedral
Temple of Artemis, Jerash, Jordan
Temple of Artemis
Cardo Forum, Jerash, Jordan
Cardo Forum
South Theatre, Jerash, Jordan
South Theatre
Cardo Forum and Maximus, Jerash, Jordan
Cardo Forum and Maximus
South Theatre, Jerash, Jordan
South Theatre
Cardo forum, Jerash, Jordan
Cardo forum

Hagar Qim and Blue Grotto

Text by Footside; Photography by Footside

Blue Grotto, Malta
Blue Grotto
Hagar Qim, Malta
Hagar Qim
Blue Grotto, Malta
Blue Grotto

Due to Malta’s small size and extensive public bus network, even the far extremities of the island can be reached with ease. The archaeological site of Hagar Qin and the natural rock formations of the Blue Grotto lie on the far southern coastline and make a sensible, combined day trip. Whilst the Blue Grotto itself is nothing more than a cave whose ocean floor creates a blue reflection, it is the journey to this area that is most appealing. Accessed only via a rustic fishing village on the tip of the island, the boatmen take pride in their lavishly coloured vessels that look like they have been transported directly from the 1950s north Italian lakes. The surrounding area is virtually empty and it is a solitary yet pleasant walk along the largely unused roadway to Hagar Qin. To be honest, it’s a little hard to be impressed by Hagar Qin. Supposedly the oldest man-made stone structure in the world, it rests beneath a giant artificial covering that does a great job in blocking out sunshine, uninterrupted camera shots and any sort of appreciation. Still, hike around the periphery of the site and grab some great views of the raw Maltese coastline. If nothing else, it’s a very nice day in the sun at this rocky outpost.

Blue Grotto, Malta
Blue Grotto
Hagar Qim, Malta
Hagar Qim
Hagar Qim, Malta
Hagar Qim

Moulay Idriss

Text by Footside; Photography by Footside

Moulay Idriss from nearby hillside, Moulay Idriss, Morocco
Moulay Idriss from nearby hillside
The Capitoline Temple, Volubilis, Moulay Idriss, Morocco
The Capitoline Temple, Volubilis
Basilica of Volubilis, Moulay Idriss, Morocco
Basilica of Volubilis
Moulay Idriss Town, Moulay Idriss, Morocco
Moulay Idriss Town
Volubilis Mosaic, Moulay Idriss, Morocco
Volubilis Mosaic
Basilica of Volubilis, Moulay Idriss, Morocco
Basilica of Volubilis

Only 20 minutes from Meknes, the whitewashed town of Moulay Idriss proudly looks down upon a vast green landscape of rich plains and rolling hills. Until the mid 20th Century it was forbidden for non-muslims to stay overnight in this religious settlement. Home to the mausoleum of its namesake, Moulay Idriss was the great grandson of the Prophet Mohammed. There is a certain air of purity and serenity here: the town sits atop a glorious hilltop, with fresh white painted housing offsetting the clean blue sky above. Unfortunately the mausoleum remains closed to non-muslims, who are only afforded a narrow peak of the entrance via the approaching alley. A pleasant 4 kilometre walk back down the hillside not only enables a stunning panoramic view of a sundrenched Moulay Idriss, but just happens to be the location of the ruined Roman city of Volubilis. The term 'ruin' is certainly adept, however it is by no means intended as a derogatory description. The majority of the site is rubble, with only the foundations remaining. Even so, the general layout of the city is obvious and some well preserved mosaics have been unearthed. Portions of the main colonnade are still standing; however the centre piece is the basilica. The adjacent Capitol, originally dedicated to Jupiter, consists of a stepped platform with columns, topped with nesting storks. To the north stands the solidly built Triumphal Arch which during its heyday acted as the gateway to the city. Volubilis attracts few tourists, and outside of popular tour bus times, the site stands as peacefully isolated as Moulay Idriss. Whilst basic compared to other Roman ruins, the spectacular backdrop of fertile hills and deep sunsets gives Volubilis the aura of an abandoned outpost. Though an easy day trip from Meknes, Moulay Idriss is best appreciated without time constraints and is highly recommended as a destination in and of itself.

Arch of Caracalla, Volubilis, Morocco
Arch of Caracalla, Volubilis
View of Moulay Idriss, Morocco
View of Moulay Idriss
Basilica of Volubilis, Morocco
Basilica of Volubilis
View of surrounding hills from Volubilis, Morocco
View of surrounding hills from Volubilis
Sunset at Volubilis, Morocco
Sunset at Volubilis
Roman Tablet at Volubilis, Morocco
Roman Tablet at Volubilis
Road to Moulay Idriss, Morocco
Road to Moulay Idriss
Moulay Idriss at Night, Morocco
Moulay Idriss at Night
View of Moulay Idriss, Morocco
View of Moulay Idriss
The Capitoline Temple in the Roman Ruins of Volubilis, Morocco
The Capitoline Temple in the Roman Ruins of Volubilis
The Roman Ruins of Volubilis at sunset, Morocco
The Roman Ruins of Volubilis at sunset
The town of Moulay Idriss at dusk, Morocco
The town of Moulay Idriss at dusk
Arch of Caracalla, Volubilis, Morocco
Arch of Caracalla, Volubilis
Volubilis Latin Inscriptions, Morocco
Volubilis Latin Inscriptions
Basilica of Volubilis, Morocco
Basilica of Volubilis
View in Moulay Idriss, Morocco
View in Moulay Idriss
Volubilis Mosaic, Morocco
Volubilis Mosaic
Basilica of Volubilis, Morocco
Basilica of Volubilis
Moulay Idriss from the road, Morocco
Moulay Idriss from the road
Arch of Caracalla inscription, Morocco
Arch of Caracalla inscription
Capitoline Temple, Volubilis, Morocco
Capitoline Temple, Volubilis
View of the Basilica and Capitoline Temple in the Roman Ruins of Volubilis, Morocco
View of the Basilica and Capitoline Temple in the Roman Ruins of Volubilis
View of the town of Moulay Idriss, Morocco
View of the town of Moulay Idriss
View of the Roman city of Volubilis near the modern town of Moulay Idriss, Arch of Caracalla on the left and Basilica of Volubilis on the right, Morocco
View of the Roman city of Volubilis near the modern town of Moulay Idriss, Arch of Caracalla on the left and Basilica of Volubilis on the right
Roman Ruins of Volubilis at sunset, Morocco
Roman Ruins of Volubilis at sunset
Arch of Caracalla on the right and Basilica of Volubilis in the centre, Morocco
Arch of Caracalla on the right and Basilica of Volubilis in the centre
Road to Moulay Idriss, Morocco
Road to Moulay Idriss
Volubilis Roman Ruins, Morocco
Volubilis Roman Ruins
Moulay Idriss at Night, Morocco
Moulay Idriss at Night

Aït Benhaddou

Text by Footside; Photography by Footside

View from opposite hill, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View from opposite hill
View from across Ounila River, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View from across Ounila River
View from New Town, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View from New Town
View of the Kasr, or fortified town, of Ait Benhaddou from surrounding hills, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View of the Kasr, or fortified town, of Ait Benhaddou from surrounding hills

Ait Benhaddou is a traditional mud brick city on the edge of the eastern Atlas Mountains. Famous as the Hollywood backdrop to numerous movies including Gladiator and Lawrence of Arabia, this sprawling town creeps up the side of a small hill overlooking a fertile valley fed by a dwindling river. With its layer upon layer of red mud brick structures, elevated walk ways, walls and gates, Ait Behhaddou has all the feel of a remote desert outpost or Berber citadel. It will come as no surprise that this iconic set-piece has been earmarked for preservation and is only open to tourists during day light hours. Locals do still live within its walls, but for tourists, it's necessary to stay in the reasonably modern one-road town on the other side of the river. This is no great loss as Ait Benhaddou is one of the those places best appreciated from the outside looking in. Follow the winding road that connects the new town and you'll find some great vantage points to set your camera clicking. From ground level, the sheer size of the walled town is impressive. There are some neat walk ways, giant gates and watch towers at the base, but as you climb skyward these features turn into more mundane forms of dwelling. There are a scattering of shops which are open to the public, but you'll spend most of your time navigating the maze of access points, detours and stairways leading to the top. An effort that is well worth your time. Leading up to the top there are a few terraces from which to pause, take a breath and soak up the view. Push further to a small tower at the very summit of the hill for the ultimate panoramic vista of the valley. To do Ait Benhaddou as a day trip requires a bit of luck and good timing. Via public transport you need to get off at the highway and hope for a waiting share taxi to complete the journey. Obviously it's the same for the way back, with the likelihood of transport connections diminishing along with the day light hours. For any traveller with an interest in these preserved desert towns, and this is the best one in the country, staying locally is recommended. There are some fantastic hikes around the periphery of Ait Benhaddou so do yourself a favour and budget a night out here.

Close up view of town, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
Close up view of town
View of farming fields and town, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View of farming fields and town
View of the intricate Kasbah structures, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View of the intricate Kasbah structures
View from the Granary above the town, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View from the Granary above the town
View from the Granary above the town, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View from the Granary above the town
View of the intricate Kasbah structures, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View of the intricate Kasbah structures
View from across Ounila River, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View from across Ounila River
View from Entrance Gates to town, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View from Entrance Gates to town
View from opposite hill, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View from opposite hill
View of Ait Benhaddou from across the Ounila River with tourist being transported by donkeys, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View of Ait Benhaddou from across the Ounila River with tourist being transported by donkeys
View of Ait Benhaddou from the hill opposite which offers great view of the preserved town, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View of Ait Benhaddou from the hill opposite which offers great view of the preserved town
View from the New Town, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View from the New Town
Zoomed in view of Old Town, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
Zoomed in view of Old Town
View from the Granary above the town, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View from the Granary above the town
View from opposite hill, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View from opposite hill
View of defensive walls, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View of defensive walls
View from across the Ounila River, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View from across the Ounila River
View from opposite hill, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View from opposite hill
View from across the Ounila River, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View from across the Ounila River
View from across the Ounila River, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View from across the Ounila River
View of Ait Benhaddou Old Town on the right and New Town on the left with the Ounila River in between, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View of Ait Benhaddou Old Town on the right and New Town on the left with the Ounila River in between
View of Ait Benhaddou Old Town from near the entrance gate by the Ounila River, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View of Ait Benhaddou Old Town from near the entrance gate by the Ounila River
View of Ait Benhaddou Old Town and surrounding valley from the opposite hill, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View of Ait Benhaddou Old Town and surrounding valley from the opposite hill
View of the New Town, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View of the New Town
View inside the Old Town, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View inside the Old Town
View of Old Town from across the Ounila River, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View of Old Town from across the Ounila River
View of Old Town from opposite hill, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View of Old Town from opposite hill
View of Old Town Walls from across the River, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View of Old Town Walls from across the River
View of Old Town Kasbah, Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
View of Old Town Kasbah

Apamea

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling and Footside

Apamea Pillars
Cardo Maximus at Apamea
Temple of Bacchus

Apamea is a now-ruined city that once belonged to the Seleucid Kings that ruled this area, northwest of present day Hama, hundreds of years before the birth of Christ. The city was apparently a key area where elephants, horses and other livestock were raised during the Seleucid reign before the Romans took over by sacking the city in 64 BC. From then on it became part of the Roman Empire and what you see today is the remains of the Roman period of rule. The city numbered some 500,000 people in the second century BC and must have been hugely important before the Roman conquest. The city continued to have at least regional importance through the Islamic conquest of the area, and even during the Crusades, before a massive earthquake destroyed the city and it fell into ruin. Remarkably, many columns of the main Roman street remain standing and attest to the size this ancient city once had. What is left of Apamea now is essentially the main Roman street and some other remnants of buildings. It is worth the brief time it takes to view the site because of its location in lush rolling green fields that contrast so dramatically with the desert Roman city of Palmyra.

View of the Cardo Maximus at the ruin site of Apamea, Apamea, Syria
View of the Cardo Maximus at the ruin site of Apamea
Apamea Ruins, Syria
Apamea Ruins
Apamea Ruins, Syria
Apamea Ruins
Cardo Maximus, Apamea, Syria
Cardo Maximus
Apamea Ruins, Syria
Apamea Ruins
Apamea Backflip, Syria
Apamea Backflip
Apamea Ruins, Syria
Apamea Ruins
Cardo Maximus, Apamea, Syria
Cardo Maximus
Apamea Ruins, Syria
Apamea Ruins
Cardo Maximus, Apamea, Syria
Cardo Maximus
Cardo Maximus, Apamea, Syria
Cardo Maximus
Cardo Maximus, Apamea, Syria
Cardo Maximus
Apamea Ruins, Syria
Apamea Ruins
Apamea Backflip, Syria
Apamea Backflip
Apamea Ruins, Syria
Apamea Ruins
Apamea Ruins, Syria
Apamea Ruins

Ani and Kars

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling and Footside

The Church of the Redeemer, Ani, Turkey
The Church of the Redeemer, Ani
The Church of Saint Gregory, Ani, Turkey
The Church of Saint Gregory, Ani
Cathedral of Ani, Turkey
Cathedral of Ani
Kars Fortress, Kars, Turkey
Kars Fortress
The Walls of Ani, Turkey
The Walls of Ani
Kars, Turkey
Kars

Kars is a medium-sized city in northeast Turkey, near the Armenian border. Kars has historical records dating back to the medieval period. The Castle that dominates what was once the original centre of the town is worth a visit, but the main purpose of visiting Kars is to use the city as a base to explore the once mighty capital of the Armenian kingdom, Ani. The ruined and uninhabited medieval city of Ani straddles the border and part of the site is a no-go zone due to the hostile relations between Turkey and Armenia. At the height of its power as the capital of the Armenian kingdom, Ani rivaled Constantinople, Baghdad and Cairo. Ani was a focal point on a number of trade routes from the east and the impressive remains today testify to its regional importance. The city contained a diverse mix of inhabitants and featured a number of religious buildings, palaces and fortifications. The site is vast and is a sobering reminder of what happened when an army sacked and slaughtered an entire city. The first such incident happened in 1064 by the Seljuk Turks, the city then changed hands between regional powers for a couple of hundred years before being sacked and massacred again by the Mongols. From this point onwards it took a steady decline until being abandoned sometime after the middle of the 17th century when the wars between the Ottomans and Iranians were ravaging the region. This is a tough area to get to in Turkey but that means you have an entire ruined city to yourself. Up until 2004 the area was a Turkish military base, so restoration and preservation are just starting again. You can't help but feel chills when standing on the ruined citadel walls overlooking the site and the surrounding terrain, picturing a once powerful city being put to the sword.

View of Ani from the ruined castle, Ani, Turkey
View of Ani from the ruined castle
View from Kars from the city fortress, Kars, Turkey
View from Kars from the city fortress
View of entire Ani site from the ruined castle, Ani Turkey
View of entire Ani site from the ruined castle
Kars Fortress Backflip, Kars, Turkey
Kars Fortress Backflip
Kars Fortress, Kars, Turkey
Kars Fortress
Ani, Turkey
Ani
Ani Backflip, Turkey
Ani Backflip
Ani Gate, Turkey
Ani Gate
View from Mosque of Minuchir, Ani, Turkey
View from Mosque of Minuchir, Ani
Ani Gate, Turkey
Ani Gate
Sheep surrounding the van on the road to Ani, Turkey
Sheep surrounding the van on the road to Ani
Kars Mosque, Kars, Turkey
Kars Mosque
Mosque of Minuchir, Ani, Turkey
Mosque of Minuchir, Ani
The Church of Saint Gregory Backflip, Ani, Turkey
The Church of Saint Gregory Backflip, Ani
Cathedral of Ani, Turkey
Cathedral of Ani
Kars Fortress, Kars, Turkey
Kars Fortress
Walls of Ani, Turkey
Walls of Ani
Cathedral of Ani, Turkey
Cathedral of Ani
Kars Fortress Backflip, Kars, Turkey
Kars Fortress Backflip
The Church of Saint Gregory, Ani, Turkey
The Church of Saint Gregory, Ani
View from Mosque of Minuchir, Ani, Turkey
View from Mosque of Minuchir, Ani
Ani, Turkey
Ani
Ani Carvings, Turkey
Ani Carvings
Ani, Turkey
Ani
The Church of Saint Gregory, Ani, Turkey
The Church of Saint Gregory, Ani
Ani City Fortress, Turkey
Ani City Fortress
Ani City Walls, Turkey
Ani City Walls
History of Ani, Turkey
History of Ani
The Church of Saint Gregory, Ani, Turkey
The Church of Saint Gregory, Ani
Ani City Gate, Turkey
Ani City Gate

Sumela Monastery and Trabzon

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling and Footside

Sümela Monastery, Sümela Monastery, Turkey
Sümela Monastery
Rock Church, Sümela Monastery, Sümela Monastery, Turkey
Rock Church, Sümela Monastery
Sümela Monastery, Sümela Monastery, Turkey
Sümela Monastery
Sümela Monastery Entrance, Sümela Monastery, Turkey
Sümela Monastery Entrance
Sümela Monastery, Sümela Monastery, Turkey
Sümela Monastery
Interior of Sümela Monastery, Sümela Monastery, Turkey
Interior of Sümela Monastery

The Sümela Monastery is a Greek Orthodox monastery cut into a large sheer cliff of Melá mountain roughly two hours inland from the Black Sea city of Trabzon. Founded in 386 AD by two priests who had been living in a cave around the current site, this monastery is dramatically set 1200 metres above sea level in the Black Mountains. The area is a national park and there are streams, forests and hiking trails around the monastery that draw visitors. From below, the view of the monastery is fasntastic with its distinctive sandstone coloured facade that seems to hang suspended on the sheer cliff. The monastery has fallen into ruin and been restored a number of times over its long history. Its current form comes from roughly the 13th century when it was granted annual funds from the imperial coffers. Even after the region was conquered by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II in 1461, the monastery still received imperial grants and privileges by successive sultans which was pretty rare for a Christian site. In 1923, when Greece and Turkey were going through forced population exchanges, the Sümela Monastery was abandoned and all the monks forced out. It has since become a popular tourist destination and for good reason. The views over the surrounding mountains are spectacular, there are still some impressive frescoes and architecture on view and there really is not many sheer cliff monasteries that are so easily accessible. The monastery has become a cultural and religiously important location again, which is helping to preserve and restore this excellent piece of history. If your in the Black Sea region of Turkey, make sure you head to this monastery in the mountains.

The Black Sea city of Trabzon, Trabzon, Turkey
The Black Sea city of Trabzon
Sümela Monastery inner church, Sümela Monastery, Turkey
Sümela Monastery inner church
Sümela Monastery, Sümela Monastery, Turkey
Sümela Monastery
Sümela Monastery Inner Church, Sümela Monastery, Turkey
Sümela Monastery Inner Church
Sümela Monastery, Sümela Monastery, Turkey
Sümela Monastery
Sümela Monastery Backflip, Sümela Monastery, Turkey
Sümela Monastery Backflip
Sümela Monastery Inner Church, Sümela Monastery, Turkey
Sümela Monastery Inner Church
Black Mountains Backflip, Sümela Monastery, Turkey
Black Mountains Backflip
Trabzon, Turkey
Trabzon
Trabzon back streets, Turkey
Trabzon back streets
Trabzon, Turkey
Trabzon
Sümela Monastery interior, Sümela Monastery, Turkey
Sümela Monastery interior
Black Mountains, Sümela Monastery, Turkey
Black Mountains
Sümela Monastery interior, Sümela Monastery, Turkey
Sümela Monastery interior
Sümela Monastery, Sümela Monastery, Turkey
Sümela Monastery
Sümela Monastery, Sümela Monastery, Turkey
Sümela Monastery
Sümela Monastery, Sümela Monastery, Turkey
Sümela Monastery
Trabzon, Turkey
Trabzon
Sümela Monastery, Sümela Monastery, Turkey
Sümela Monastery
Trabzon Backflip, Turkey
Trabzon Backflip
Black Mountains from the Sümela Monastery, Turkey
Black Mountains from the Sümela Monastery
Trabzon Fortress above the city, Trabzon, Turkey
Trabzon Fortress above the city
Trabzon Skyline, Trabzon, Turkey
Trabzon Skyline
Trabzon city near the centre, Trabzon, Turkey
Trabzon city near the centre

Patara

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling and Footside

Patara Amphitheatre, Turkey
Patara Amphitheatre
Patara Beach, Turkey
Patara Beach
Patara Ruins, Turkey
Patara Ruins

The ancient city of Patara was a powerful Lycian seaport on the southern coast of Mediterranean Turkey. The city was extremely important in the days of ancient Greece for having an impressive temple and oracle of Apollo that was second only to the oracle of Delphi in the ancient world. After that, it is famous as the birthplace of St. Nicholas and is mentioned in the bible. Today, it is a sleepy village off the main coastal highway, with access to one of the finest and largest beaches in Turkey. The beach of Patara is 18 km of soft sand and is now a protected area for sea turtles that use it as a nesting place for their eggs. These turtles can reach the size of a kitchen table and have become more endangered in the Mediterranean Sea. Due to this, the beach is roped off in some areas and closed from dusk till dawn. The ruins of the ancient city of Patara are back aways behind the beach and it is clear to see that this was once a powerful city state and a port of importance in antiquity. The remains of the massive amphitheatre built into the hillside attests to the wealth of the city. The views from the top overlooking the site give you an idea of how extensive Patara once was. Remnants of buildings, temples, theatres and port infrastructure are visible, peaking out of the grass fields and swampy area that was once the harbour. Patara is just now being excavated for a couple months of the year and each season more of the grandeur of this once important city is revealed.

Patara Amphitheatre, Turkey
Patara Amphitheatre
Patara Beach, Turkey
Patara Beach
Patara Ruins, Turkey
Patara Ruins
Patara Ruins, Turkey
Patara Ruins
Patara Amphitheatre, Turkey
Patara Amphitheatre
Small Patara Theatre, Turkey
Small Patara Theatre
The Ruins of Patara, Turkey
The Ruins of Patara
Patara Amphitheatre, Turkey
Patara Amphitheatre
Patara Backflip, Turkey
Patara Backflip
Patara Beach, 12 km long it is an annual nesting place for Mediterranean Sea Turtles, Patara, Turkey
Patara Beach, 12 km long it is an annual nesting place for Mediterranean Sea Turtles

Olympos

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling and Footside

Near Olympos, Turkey
Near Olympos
Olympos Beach, Olympos, Turkey
Olympos Beach
Olympos Bay, Turkey
Olympos Bay

Olympos was an ancient city on the southern Mediterranean coast of Turkey, founded in the Hellenistic period. Now, it is a backpacking hotspot famous for the "tree house" hostels and accommodation available in the Olympos Coastal National Park. There are a few ruins left from the ancient city that thrived in this valley thousands of years ago but the main draw is the huge beach and backpacking party scene on offer. There are a number of hostels/camping sites along with all other ranges of accommodation in the valley. You can hike the coastal trails, rock climb, kayak, relax on the beach, do some sailing or just party; whatever you want to do, Olympos can probably offer. A popular day trip, although done at night, is going to the nearby Chimaera or the eternal flame. There, flames shoot out of the ground, caused by natural gas which ignites when seeping out of the Earth. In ancient times it could be viewed from out at sea but they are not as powerful now. Olympos is mainly a place to relax, party and enjoy some beach time. However, if your up for some adventure hiking, the coastal trail from the beach follows an old path that hugs the coast and can give you some good views looking back on the bay and surrounding mountains.

Olympos Beach and Bay, Olympos, Turkey
Olympos Beach and Bay
Near the ancient city of Olympos, Turkey
Near the ancient city of Olympos
Olympos Beach, Turkey
Olympos Beach
Olympos Beach, Turkey
Olympos Beach
Sailboats on the Med, Turkey
Sailboats on the Med
Trail to Olympos Beach, Turkey
Trail to Olympos Beach
Olympos Beach, Turkey
Olympos Beach
Olympos Bay, Turkey
Olympos Bay
Olympos Beach and Bay, Turkey
Olympos Beach and Bay
Trail to Olympos Beach, Turkey
Trail to Olympos Beach

Cappadocia

Text by Eric Starling, Photography by Eric Starling, Footside, Sara and Mike Waters

Uchisar, Cappadocia, Turkey
Uchisar
Near Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey
Near Goreme
Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey
Goreme
Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey
Ihlara Valley
Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey
Ihlara Valley
Near Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey
Near Goreme

The landscape in Cappadocia, which is a unique and historical region in central Turkey, is like being on a different planet. The sandstone valleys, hills and strangely shaped formations are riddled with caves. Most caves are just one room, but others are huge complexes cut deep into the hillside that you will need the help of a torch to explore. Cave cities drop eight stories beneath the earth's surface, cone-like formations house hotels with cave rooms, monasteries cut into sheer cliffs, and religious caves have been frescoed by early Christian monks. Although the region known as Cappadocia has expanded and contracted over thousands of years with marauding armies, the areas most explored by Travelling Backflip are the valleys and sites available from the city of Göreme. The most important towns and destinations we have visited in Cappadocia are Göreme, the Ihlara Valley and Uchisar. Available underground cities to explore are Derinkuyu, Kaymakli, Gaziemir, and Ozkanak. However the best experiences can be had by heading off into the surrounding valleys around Göreme for some intense and often dramatic exploration reminiscent of Indiana Jones. This area is a photographer's dream with multi-coloured formations everywhere showing different levels of erosion. The so called 'Fairy Chimneys'  are some of the more interesting formations, all in different shapes and sizes and often distinctly phallic in form. The opportunity to explore multi level cave systems, connected by 30 metre tall vertical shafts with no safety rails, is not for the faint of heart but provides a rush for those who dream of such opportunities. Cappadocia gives a keen traveller the experience of pure uncensored adventure set in a historically rich and visually diverse part of the world.

Goreme National Park, Cappadocia, Turkey
Goreme National Park
Near Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey
Near Goreme
Goreme National Park, Cappadocia, Turkey
Goreme National Park
Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey
Goreme
Kayseri Mosque, Cappadocia, Turkey
Kayseri Mosque
Uchisar, Cappadocia, Turkey
Uchisar
Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey
Ihlara Valley
Goreme National Park, Cappadocia, Turkey
Goreme National Park
View from Uchisar, Cappadocia, Turkey
View from Uchisar
Cappadocia Backflip, Cappadocia, Turkey
Cappadocia Backflip
Ihlara Valley Backflip, Cappadocia, Turkey
Ihlara Valley Backflip
Uchisar Backflip, Cappadocia, Turkey
Uchisar Backflip
Mount Aktepe near Goreme and Goreme National Park, Cappadocia, Turkey
Mount Aktepe near Goreme and Goreme National Park
Goreme National Park Crusader Church, Cappadocia, Turkey
Goreme National Park Crusader Church
Goreme National Park, Cappadocia, Turkey
Goreme National Park
Goreme National Park, Cappadocia, Turkey
Goreme National Park
The Monastery, Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey
The Monastery, Ihlara Valley
Cappadocia Countryside, Cappadocia, Turkey
Cappadocia Countryside
Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey
Goreme
Goreme from Uchisar, Cappadocia, Turkey
Goreme from Uchisar
Goreme National Park, Cappadocia, Turkey
Goreme National Park
Goreme National Park, Cappadocia, Turkey
Goreme National Park
Goreme National Park, Cappadocia, Turkey
Goreme National Park
Livable caves, Cappadocia, Turkey
Livable caves
Random Formations, Cappadocia, Turkey
Random Formations
Cappadocia Countryside, Cappadocia, Turkey
Cappadocia Countryside
Goreme National Park, Cappadocia, Turkey
Goreme National Park
Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey
Ihlara Valley
Near Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey
Near Goreme
Derinkuyu Underground City, Cappadocia, Turkey
Derinkuyu Underground City
Near Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey
Near Goreme
Derinkuyu Underground City, Cappadocia, Turkey
Derinkuyu Underground City
Multi Level Cave System, Cappadocia, Turkey
Multi Level Cave System
View from Uchisar, Cappadocia, Turkey
View from Uchisar
View from Uchisar, Cappadocia, Turkey
View from Uchisar
Near Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey
Near Goreme
Multi Level Cave, Near Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey
Multi Level Cave, Near Goreme
Uchisar, Cappadocia, Turkey
Uchisar
Turkish Military Base, Cappadocia, Turkey
Turkish Military Base
Goreme National Park, Cappadocia, Turkey
Goreme National Park
Goreme National Park, Cappadocia, Turkey
Goreme National Park
Near Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey
Near Goreme
Near Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey
Near Goreme
Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey
Ihlara Valley
Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey
Ihlara Valley
Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey
Ihlara Valley
The Monastery, Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey
The Monastery, Ihlara Valley

Bath, England

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling

Romans Baths, Bath, England, United Kingdom
Romans Baths
Pulteney Bridge, Bath, England, United Kingdom
Pulteney Bridge
View up the River Avon to Pulteney Bridge, Bath, England, United Kingdom
View up the River Avon to Pulteney Bridge
The Circus, Bath, England, United Kingdom
The Circus
The Royal Crescent, Bath, England, United Kingdom
The Royal Crescent
Bath Abbey, Bath, England, United Kingdom
Bath Abbey

The English city of Bath is located just under 100 miles west of London and is one of the most visually pleasing and historically diverse cities in the UK. Having been a place of reverence for Iron Age Britons who valued its natural hot springs, the Romans took it to a new level, forming a town, temples and building their Roman Baths on the same spot. Although the current Roman Baths complex is a later creation and not original, its an interesting place and the audio-guided tour gives good descriptive visuals of what the temple and baths would have been like during the Roman's 300 year occupation of the area. What really makes the city of Bath so impressive is the Georgian architecture used along with the Bath stone to make so many impressive residential buildings. Due to its popularity as a spa and resort town from the 1400's onward, the city was progressively developed using a golden coloured limestone which gives the city much of its character and visual appeal. On top of the Roman Baths, Bath Abbey and stone bridges and buildings on the river running through town, you should make sure you go see the residential Circus and Royal Crescent buildings as well. Bath is a popular tourist destination but is spread out enough that you can escape crowds by exploring the hills and parks that surround the downtown area. This is arguably one of England's most beautiful cities and definitely worth your time.

View from the Roman Baths, Bath, England, United Kingdom
View from the Roman Baths
Roman Baths, Bath, England, United Kingdom
Roman Baths
Bath Abbey, Bath, England, United Kingdom
Bath Abbey
The Great Bath, Roman Baths, Bath, England, United Kingdom
The Great Bath, Roman Baths
River Avon, Bath, England, United Kingdom
River Avon
The Great Bath, Roman Baths, Bath, England, United Kingdom
The Great Bath, Roman Baths
View of the River Avon, Bath Abbey and Pulteney Bridge, Bath, England, United Kingdom
View of the River Avon, Bath Abbey and Pulteney Bridge
The Royal Crescent Residential Complex, Bath, England, United Kingdom
The Royal Crescent Residential Complex
The River Avon and Pulteney Bridge on the right, Bath, England, United Kingdom
The River Avon and Pulteney Bridge on the right
View of the city of Bath from the surrounding hills, Bath, England, United Kingdom
View of the city of Bath from the surrounding hills
View of the City of Bath, England, United Kingdom
View of the City of Bath
Building in Bath, England, United Kingdom
Building in Bath
Canal near Bath centre, England, United Kingdom
Canal near Bath centre
Bath Abbey, Bath, England, United Kingdom
Bath Abbey
Roman Baths, Bath, England, United Kingdom
Roman Baths
The Great Bath, Roman Baths, Bath, England, United Kingdom
The Great Bath, Roman Baths
River Avon and Bath Abbey, Bath, England, United Kingdom
River Avon and Bath Abbey
The Great Bath, Roman Baths, Bath, England, United Kingdom
The Great Bath, Roman Baths
The Royal Crescent, Bath, England, United Kingdom
The Royal Crescent
Bath Abbey, Bath, England, United Kingdom
Bath Abbey
Bath Backflip, Bath, England, United Kingdom
Bath Backflip
The Great Bath, Roman Baths, Bath, England, United Kingdom
The Great Bath, Roman Baths
Pulteney Bridge, Bath, England, United Kingdom
Pulteney Bridge
Canal near Bath centre, Bath, England, United Kingdom
Canal near Bath centre
Bath Residential Building, Bath, England, United Kingdom
Bath Residential Building
The Circus, Bath, England, United Kingdom
The Circus
Obelisk, Bath, England, United Kingdom
Obelisk
The Great Bath, Roman Baths, Bath, England, United Kingdom
The Great Bath, Roman Baths
Sacred Spring, Roman Baths, Bath, England, United Kingdom
Sacred Spring, Roman Baths
Swan, Bath, England, United Kingdom
Swan
View of Bath City, Bath, England, United Kingdom
View of Bath City
Bath Abbey, Bath, England, United Kingdom
Bath Abbey
Obelisk, Bath, England, United Kingdom
Obelisk
Roman Baths, Bath, England, United Kingdom
Roman Baths
The Great Bath at the Roman Baths, Bath, England, United Kingdom
The Great Bath at the Roman Baths
The Royal Crescent, Bath, England, United Kingdom
The Royal Crescent
View from the lower level of the Roman Baths complex with Bath Abbey looming large, Bath, England, United Kingdom
View from the lower level of the Roman Baths complex with Bath Abbey looming large

Athens

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling, Footside, Sara and Mike Waters

Acropolis, Athens, Greece
Acropolis
Academy of Arts, Athens, Greece
Academy of Arts
View of Acropolis over Athens Old Town, Athens, Greece
View of Acropolis over Athens Old Town

Athens is a vibrant, congested, sprawling metropolis and widely referred to as the cradle of Western Civilization. Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world with a recorded history of at least 3,000 years. Ancient Athens was a powerful city-state that was a centre for arts, learning and philosophy. The classical era importance is still at the forefront of the city with the famous Acropolis standing as a symbol of Athens and Greece itself. Athens is typically the main hub for any visit to Greece whether your transiting on to the islands or other parts of the mainland. The city can be oppressive with heat and pollution but no trip to Greece is complete unless you have spent at least a couple days here. Getting lost in the labyrinth of ancient twisting streets below the Acropolis is a travelling experience in Europe everyone should enjoy first hand.

View of Athens from Lycabettus Hill, Athens, Greece
View of Athens from Lycabettus Hill
Temple of Olympian Zeus, Athens, Greece
Temple of Olympian Zeus
Athens Parliament Building, Athens, Greece
Athens Parliament Building
Caryatid Porch of the Erechtheion, Athens, Greece
Caryatid Porch of the Erechtheion
Acropolis at night, Athens, Greece
Acropolis at night
View from Acropolis, Athens, Greece
View from Acropolis
Acropolis at night, Athens, Greece
Acropolis at night
Acropolis, Athens, Greece
Acropolis
Athens Parliament Building, Athens, Greece
Athens Parliament Building
Temple of Olympian Zeus, Athens, Greece
Temple of Olympian Zeus
Temple of Hephaestus, Athens, Greece
Temple of Hephaestus
View of Acropolis Theatre, Athens, Greece
View of Acropolis Theatre
Acropolis Theatre, Athens, Greece
Acropolis Theatre
Acropolis, Athens, Greece
Acropolis
Temple of Olympian Zeus, Athens, Greece
Temple of Olympian Zeus
Athens Parliament, Athens, Greece
Athens Parliament
Temple of Hephaestus, Athens, Greece
Temple of Hephaestus
Acropolis, Athens, Greece
Acropolis
Acropolis, Athens, Greece
Acropolis
Erechtheum on Acropolis, Athens, Greece
Erechtheum on Acropolis
View of Acropolis Theatre, Athens, Greece
View of Acropolis Theatre
View from Acropolis, Athens, Greece
View from Acropolis
Acropolis, Athens, Greece
Acropolis
Acropolis Backflip, Athens, Greece
Acropolis Backflip
View of Athens from Lycabettus hill, Athens, Greece
View of Athens from Lycabettus hill
Original Olympic Stadium, Athens, Greece
Original Olympic Stadium
View from Acropolis, Athens, Greece
View from Acropolis

Rhodes

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling, Footside, Sara and Mike Waters

Rhodes Old Town, Rhodes, Greece
Rhodes Old Town
Palace of the Grand Masters, Rhodes, Greece
Palace of the Grand Masters
Acropolis of Lindos, Lindos, Rhodes, Greece
Acropolis of Lindos
Rhodes Old Town Square, Rhodes, Greece
Rhodes Old Town Square
Rhodes Old Town Walls, Rhodes, Greece
Rhodes Old Town Walls
Palace of the Grand Masters, Rhodes, Greece
Palace of the Grand Masters

The Island of Rhodes is a must-see historic Greek island at the crossroads between Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Rhodes' strategic position on important ancient sea routes has provided a rich history stretching back over 5000 years. This long and often violent history has given the island many interesting faces. From the early Greek acropolis of Lindos, to the Crusader built medieval walled town of Rodos (Rhodes), to the Islamic mosque domes and minarets built by conquering Muslim armies. Some of the best moments include walking the 12m high 3m thick, moat-protected walls above Rhodes' Old Town or climbing ancient Greek ruins perched high above the Mediterranean and seeing early Greek writing inscribed into marble pillars. Rhodes is one of those places that is so sought after that the face of the island and its main city (Rodos) have changed drastically over the thousands of years it has been inhabited. The Minoans came in the 16th century BC, the Greek Dorians in the 8th century BC, the Persians overran the island in the 5th century BC, Alexander the Great in 332 BC and then the island signed a peace treaty with Rome in 164 BC. During the Medieval period, the Byzantine period ended with a siege by the Knights Hospitaller which built most of what you see today in the old town of Rhodes. Towering walls and fortifications held off a number of Muslim attempts to take the city until it fell in 1522. From then, it was a possession of the Ottoman sultans for 400 years. Its hard to imagine how one small island has endured so much bloodshed through its history until you set your eyes on the walls, stunning harbour and fertile land. This island was worth fighting for and its more than worth at least a few days of your time to soak up as much history as you can. Picturing the Colossus of Rhodes (one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world) straddling the harbour or determined muslim armies laying siege to the towering walls, all while you enjoy a couple of beers on the waterfront may delay you leaving this amazing Greek island.

Lindos Backflip, Lindos, Rhodes, Greece
Lindos Backflip
Rhodes Old Town Gate, Rhodes, Greece
Rhodes Old Town Gate
Mandraki Harbour Castle, Rhodes, Greece
Mandraki Harbour Castle
Rhodes Old Town Gate, Rhodes, Greece
Rhodes Old Town Gate
Entrance to the Palace of the Grand Masters, Rhodes Greece
Entrance to the Palace of the Grand Masters
View from Acropolis of Lindos, Lindos, Rhodes, Greece
View from Acropolis of Lindos
Mandraki Harbour and Castle, possibly where the Colossus of Rhodes stood, Rhodes, Greece
Mandraki Harbour and Castle, possibly where the Colossus of Rhodes stood
Rhodes Old Town, Rhodes, Greece
Rhodes Old Town
Rhodes Walls and Ramparts, Rhodes, Greece
Rhodes Walls and Ramparts
Rhodes Moat, Rhodes, Greece
Rhodes Moat
Rhodes Old Town Gate, Rhodes, Greece
Rhodes Old Town Gate
Rhodes Moat, Rhodes, Greece
Rhodes Moat
Rhodes Old Town Skyline, Rhodes, Greece
Rhodes Old Town Skyline
Acropolis of Lindos, Rhodes, Greece
Acropolis of Lindos
Palace of the Grand Masters, Rhodes, Greece
Palace of the Grand Masters
Rhodes Moat from Wall Walk, Rhodes, Greece
Rhodes Moat from Wall Walk
Rhodes Old Town Gate, Rhodes, Greece
Rhodes Old Town Gate
Palace of the Grand Masters Mosaic, Rhodes, Greece
Palace of the Grand Masters Mosaic
Palace of the Grand Masters Mosaic, Rhodes, Greece
Palace of the Grand Masters Mosaic
Palace of the Grand Masters, Rhodes, Greece
Palace of the Grand Masters
Rhodes Old Town, Rhodes, Greece
Rhodes Old Town
Rhodes Old Town Skyline, Rhodes, Greece
Rhodes Old Town Skyline
Palace of the Grand Masters from Harbour, Rhodes, Greece
Palace of the Grand Masters from Harbour
Acropolis of Lindos, Rhodes, Greece
Acropolis of Lindos
Rhodes Old Town Walls, Rhodes, Greece
Rhodes Old Town Walls
Mandraki Harbour, Rhodes, Greece
Mandraki Harbour
Rhodes Old Town, Rhodes, Greece
Rhodes Old Town
Rhodes Old Town, Rhodes, Greece
Rhodes Old Town
Lindos Backflip, Rhodes, Greece
Lindos Backflip
Rhodes Old Town Mosque, Rhodes, Greece
Rhodes Old Town Mosque
Acropolis of Lindos, Rhodes, Greece
Acropolis of Lindos
Rhodes Old Town, Rhodes, Greece
Rhodes Old Town
Palace of the Grand Masters, Rhodes, Greece
Palace of the Grand Masters
Rhodes Moat, Rhodes, Greece
Rhodes Moat
Rhodes Old Town, Rhodes, Greece
Rhodes Old Town
Acropolis of Lindos, Rhodes, Greece
Acropolis of Lindos
Acropolis of Lindos, Rhodes, Greece
Acropolis of Lindos

Delphi

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling

Delphi Backflip, Delphi, Greece
Delphi Backflip
Delphi Theatre, Delphi, Greece
Delphi Theatre
View from Ruins of Delphi, Delphi, Greece
View from Ruins of Delphi

Delphi is an atmospheric ancient historical site and modern mountain village on the southwestern spur of Mount Parnassus. A 3-hour bus ride from Athens replaces the big city and congested roads with large ruins and narrow streets of tavernas set amid flourishing olive groves high above the valley floor. In ancient times it was the site of the oracle of Delphi who had considerable influence throughout the Greek world and even Egypt. She was consulted before wars, the founding of colonies, and important journeys. Delphi also hosted the early Pythian Games, a fore runner of the Olympic Games, and running the length of the giant stadium built high up into the mountainside is timeless for any athlete.

Temple of Apollo, Delphi, Greece
Temple of Apollo
Delphi ruins, Delphi, Greece
Delphi ruins
Delphi Stadium, Delphi, Greece
Delphi Stadium
Temple of Apollo, Delphi, Greece
Temple of Apollo
Delphi Theatre, Delphi, Greece
Delphi Theatre
Temple of Apollo, Delphi, Greece
Temple of Apollo
Delphi Stadium, Delphi, Greece
Delphi Stadium
Temple of Apollo, Delphi, Greece
Temple of Apollo
Delphi Stadium, Delphi, Greece
Delphi Stadium
Delphi Theatre, Delphi, Greece
Delphi Theatre
Delphi Theatre, Delphi, Greece
Delphi Theatre
View from Ruins, Delphi, Greece
View from Ruins

Delos and Mykonos

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling and Footside

Stork on Mykonos, Mykonos, Greece
Stork on Mykonos
Mykonos Harbour, Mykonos, Greece
Mykonos Harbour
Mykonos Backflip, Mykonos, Greece
Mykonos Backflip
Top of Delos Island, Delos, Greece
Top of Delos Island
Delos Mosaic, Delos, Greece
Delos Mosaic
Delos, Delos, Greece
Delos

Mykonos is a popular Greek island in the Cyclades grouping where in Greek mythology, Zues battles the Titans. Nowadays it is a thriving tourist zone with many package beaches and iconic windmills. Package tourism and a thriving gay and lesbian scene stands side by side with a maze of white-washed villages that can have you lost very easily. One of the big reasons for coming to Mykonos is to use the island as a base to visit one of the most important historical, archeological and mythological sites in Greece: the island of Delos. The island of Delos continues to have excavation work done to this day and many of the artifacts are on display in museums on the island and in Athens. Evidence shows the island has been inhabited since sometime just after 3000 BC, becoming a major cult centre between 900BC and 100 AD. Famous as the birthplace of Apollo and possibly Artemis (although this is debated), the island was a religious pilgrimage for the Ionians. The island became so important in ancient Greece that at one stage, no one was allowed to die or give birth on the island due to its sacred importance. The site is a sprawling mass of ruins with mosaics, statues and columns, left to give a hint of the island's prior importance. Climbing to the top of the hill overlooking the site is an eerie experience that makes you wonder just how stunning this site would have been in its prime.

Mykonos, Greece
Mykonos
Mykonos, Greece
Mykonos
Mykonos, Greece
Mykonos
Delos, Greece
Delos
Mykonos, Greece
Mykonos
Delos, Greece
Delos
Mykonos, Greece
Mykonos
Mykonos, Greece
Mykonos
Mykonos, Greece
Mykonos
Delos, Greece
Delos
Delos, Greece
Delos
Delos, Greece
Delos
Delos, Greece
Delos
Delos, Greece
Delos
Delos, Greece
Delos