10 Don't-Miss Sites on Mediterranean Cruises

by Kim MacKinnon

10 Don't-Miss Sites on Mediterranean Cruises

by Kim MacKinnon

The countries you'll visit on a Mediterranean cruise — which often call on ports in the Adriatic and Aegean as well — are home to some of the world's most celebrated churches, museums, and architectural wonders. Here are 10 sites not to miss.  

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Sagrada Familia in Barcelona / iStock.com / Luciano Mortula
St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City
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The Sistine Chapel

Located deep in the heart of Rome's Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel is famous for a sacred and artistically compelling reason: its ceiling, a nine-panel Michelangelo masterpiece depicting God's creation of the world, man's fall from grace, and other scenes from the Book of Genesis. No photographs are allowed inside, so you'll have to see it in person.

Located deep in the heart of Rome's Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel is famous for a sacred and artistically compelling reason: its ceiling, a nine-panel Michelangelo masterpiece depicting God's creation of the world, man's fall from grace, and other scenes from the Book of Genesis. No photographs are allowed inside, so you'll have to see it in person.

Accademia Gallery in Florence
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Accademia Gallery

When calling on Livorno/Florence, head here to see "David," arguably the world's most famous statue. From the moment you gaze upon Michelangelo's 16th-century sculpture of the unclothed biblical figure ready to battle Goliath, you'll be smitten — in a good way. 

 

When calling on Livorno/Florence, head here to see "David," arguably the world's most famous statue. From the moment you gaze upon Michelangelo's 16th-century sculpture of the unclothed biblical figure ready to battle Goliath, you'll be smitten — in a good way. 

 

St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice
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St. Mark's Cathedral

Venice is a watery realm of canal-laced islands meant to be wandered, but any visit must also include the interior of St. Mark’s, an 11th-century Byzantine wonder with spectacular artwork and architectural details — the gilded mosaic tile ceiling in particular — from antiquity to the Middle Ages.

Venice is a watery realm of canal-laced islands meant to be wandered, but any visit must also include the interior of St. Mark’s, an 11th-century Byzantine wonder with spectacular artwork and architectural details — the gilded mosaic tile ceiling in particular — from antiquity to the Middle Ages.

The Acropolis
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The Acropolis

When is a hill not just a hill? When it's topped by a 2,500-year-old ancient Greek temple dedicated to Athena, the goddess of wisdom. You can admire the Parthenon from many vantage points, but its mythic columns demand to be explored up close — and the view of sprawling Athens below is worth the hike.

When is a hill not just a hill? When it's topped by a 2,500-year-old ancient Greek temple dedicated to Athena, the goddess of wisdom. You can admire the Parthenon from many vantage points, but its mythic columns demand to be explored up close — and the view of sprawling Athens below is worth the hike.

Terrace of the Lions in Delos
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Delos Archaeological Site and Museum

From Mykonos, it's an easy ferry ride to Delos, birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, according to classical mythology, and one of the main archaeological sites in Greece. The ruins are famous for the Terrace of the Lions — a regiment of marble felines that makes a very cool backdrop for a selfie.

From Mykonos, it's an easy ferry ride to Delos, birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, according to classical mythology, and one of the main archaeological sites in Greece. The ruins are famous for the Terrace of the Lions — a regiment of marble felines that makes a very cool backdrop for a selfie.

La Sagrada Familia interior in Barcelona
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La Sagrada Familia Cathedral

Genius or crazy? You decide. One of the most distinctive landmarks in Barcelona, this lavish-yet-unfinished masterpiece by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926) is a UNESCO World Heritage-designated monument with Gothic-meets-Art-Nouveau details that are a wonder to behold — both inside and out.

Genius or crazy? You decide. One of the most distinctive landmarks in Barcelona, this lavish-yet-unfinished masterpiece by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926) is a UNESCO World Heritage-designated monument with Gothic-meets-Art-Nouveau details that are a wonder to behold — both inside and out.

The Alhambra's Generalife in Granada
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The Alhambra

Ninety minutes by car from Malaga, the Andalusian city of Granada is famous for the Alhambra, a fortified Moorish complex of ornate 13th-century royal palaces, courtyards, and gardens. Carved, gilded, and tiled, this hilltop citadel dazzles. 

Ninety minutes by car from Malaga, the Andalusian city of Granada is famous for the Alhambra, a fortified Moorish complex of ornate 13th-century royal palaces, courtyards, and gardens. Carved, gilded, and tiled, this hilltop citadel dazzles. 

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul
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The Grand Bazaar

Istanbul's labyrinthine bazaar, which dates to the 15th century and ranks as one of the world's largest covered markets, features 60 winding streets and more than 5,000 shops and restaurants. Prepare to be overwhelmed — and to bargain.

Istanbul's labyrinthine bazaar, which dates to the 15th century and ranks as one of the world's largest covered markets, features 60 winding streets and more than 5,000 shops and restaurants. Prepare to be overwhelmed — and to bargain.

Dubrovnik
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Old City Walls of Dubrovnik

There's a photo op around every corner on the 1.2-mile wall surrounding this Croatian city's medieval Old Town. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, Dubrovnik's thick stone walls and stairways date to the 13th century — and the up-and-down circuit offers an old-school workout, especially on a hot summer day.

There's a photo op around every corner on the 1.2-mile wall surrounding this Croatian city's medieval Old Town. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, Dubrovnik's thick stone walls and stairways date to the 13th century — and the up-and-down circuit offers an old-school workout, especially on a hot summer day.

Blue Mosque in Istanbul
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The Blue Mosque

Constructed between 1609 and 1616 and officially known as Sultanahmet Mosque, this Istanbul landmark earned its nickname because of the more than 20,000 handmade azure tiles decorating its interior. It is also one of few mosques with six minarets.

Constructed between 1609 and 1616 and officially known as Sultanahmet Mosque, this Istanbul landmark earned its nickname because of the more than 20,000 handmade azure tiles decorating its interior. It is also one of few mosques with six minarets.

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