Top Historical Sites

In this brief post I will describe some of my personal favourite historic sites, in no particular order.

  1. Akrotiri ton Plakoton, Cyprus

Located close to the RAF base in the south of Cyprus is Akrotiri. The ongoing excavations by the department of antiquities and other archaeological organisations has revealed a late Roman church, I was fortunate enough to be able to be a part of this and excavate the brightly coloured tesserae of an impressive mosaic.

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2.   Stonehenge

Working at Stonehenge providing talks to students and stewarding the site gave me a unique chance to explore this famous Neolithic site, the highlights being the summer solstice.

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3. Ostia

Often  overlooked by the more famous sites of Rome, Ostia in my opinion equals Pompeii and Herculaneum. Once, the most important port in Rome during the republican period it was eventually too small to meet the needs of Rome’s citizens and a larger port of Portus was constructed nearby. Today you can view the forum, insulae and impressive temple.

4. Pollena Trocchia

Situated at the foot of Mt Vesuvius is the town of Pollena, due to its position it has often succumbed to the numerous volcanic eruptions, one of which buried these Roman baths. This relatively unknown site revealed much about its long history, the gradual build up of volcanic deposits indicate an eventful past.

Pollena Trocchia bath complex ( showing the volcanic deposits on the right )

The Roman baths lying next to a block of modern flats

5. Palenque

Nestled in the dense jungle lies the hidden Mayan city of Palenque, with steep pyramids which were used for human sacrifices to the palace and resting place of one of the Mayan rulers this site provides a glimpse of what a typical Mayan settlement was like, the stadium where a mysterious  ball game was played was my highlight.

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6. Athens
Athens birthplace of democracy,philosophy, theatre and birthplace of Aristotle, Pericles, Socrates to name but a few. Anyone with a slight interest in history and archaeology should visit, the most popular attraction being the Parthenon. But I suggest a visit to the often overlooked Kerameikos cemetery (which I wrote about in an earlier post) where it’s citizens were buried their stele providing a glimpse into their lives.

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7.Haghia Sophia,Istanbul
One of the great architectural wonders of the world the Haghia Sofia is situated in Istanbul in the once prosperous capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, until falling to the Turks in 1453. The Haghia Sophia was built under the reign of Justininian and was seen as the cathedral of the orthodox world. The glistening mosaics highlight the once glorious art of Byzantium, before it was converted into a mosque, today it’s an open museum and you can admire its dome and architecture.

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8. Silchester (Calleva Attrebatum)

Located in the heart of Hampshire, is the Roman town of Calleva Attrebatum. What’s unique about this site is that while other towns such as Winchester continued to be occupied after the Romans withdraw, Calleva was abandoned. Excavations have revealed much of the towns layout including its various insulae and forum and basilica. Today you can visit the remains of the towns amphitheatre and walk around towns walls which survive remarkably intact.

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Author: Jeremy Fazzalaro

Photos: All photos taken by author

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