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Mediterranean Tourist Guide

Mediterranean

Still the most popular vacation region in the world, the countries lining the Mediterranean Sea have played host to leisure visitors for over a hundred years, and to seaborne traders, invaders and military forces for thousands of years before that. The result is that on a Mediterranean cruise you are treated to a vast array of historical and cultural wonders unique to this region. The Med is popular for cruise ships as it has a huge variety of fascinating and awe-inspiring destinations within a short sail time.

Still the most popular vacation region in the world, the countries lining the Mediterranean Sea have played host to leisure visitors for over a hundred years, and to seaborne traders, invaders and military forces for thousands of years before that. The result is that on a Mediterranean cruise you are treated to a vast array of historical and cultural wonders unique to this region. The Med is popular for cruise ships as it has a huge variety of fascinating and awe-inspiring destinations within a short sail time.

Gibraltar, standing at the gateway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, is decidedly British in style but Continental in mood. All the region's ports and cities have been shaped and influenced by a succession of empires and the occasional individual creative genius. Barcelona, for centuries Spain's main sea trading port, also has a rich cultural and human history reflected in art and music. Don't miss the opportunity for an evening of Flamenco or a tour of the weird and wonderful architecture of Antonio Gaudi all around the city - not least the fabulous Holy Family cathedral.

The French Riviera has long been a favourite vacation destination and the cities of Nice, Cannes and Monte Carlo continue to bask in glamour and style. But beyond the elegant palatial buildings that line the shore there are medieval villages perched on hillsides bathed in the Mediterranean sun. The valley of the Rhône river, which flows through Avignon and out into the Mediterranean near Arles, is carpeted with vines which produce the renowned Côtes du Rhone wine.

The landscape of Provence has had enormous influence on many great artists including Renoir, Van Gogh, Matisse and Cézanne. The coastline of the south of France has inspired artists and writers for many decades. Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald stayed in the picturesque port of Antibes in the 1930s, for example. Pablo Picasso used Château Grimaldi as a studio and workshop and paid the rent in pictures now displayed in a museum in the town.

From long before package tours and cruises were ever thought of, Venice was a seafaring and trading city and the heritage of past glory and wealth is in the architecture that stands today. St Mark's Square and the Grand Canal lined with palaces and aristocratic villas are not only a reflection of the past but part of the modern life of the city.

The island of Malta has a rich military history as a strategic haven at the heart of the Mediterranean Sea. Its 16th century capital is bursting with treasures in churches, palaces and military installations. Even here history does not stand still - Valletta's Grand Harbour which once was the greatest naval base in the Mediterranean is now a spectacular marina, home to a fleet of yachts and a port of call for cruise liners.

The Mediterranean Islands of Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza have their glitzy resorts and garish nightlife but also charming traditional Spanish villages where island life goes on at a relaxed pace. The French island of Corsica and Italy's Sardinia and Sicily have a wealth of natural beauty in the landscapes and coastlines.

Greece and the Greek islands have a history all their own. Athens, the heart and soul of Greece, is a monument to the civilising influence of the ancients but is a bustling modern city at the same time. The Aegean Sea has over 1,400 islands each one offering a different and memorable experience for the visitor, from the idyllic Skopelos to the vibrant nightlife on Mykonos and Paros.

The Mediterranean has something for everyone from sunny well-developed modern beach resorts to a rich variety of cultural experiences and breathtaking scenery, shaped by nature and the influence of traders and empires down the centuries.

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