When the children are younger, family holidays have their own criteria but once they’ve flown the nest you can opt for something a little more adventurous and cultural.
It is said that travel broadens the mind, and never more so than when you explore the history and archaeology of the places you visit. The past, like a foreign country, is full of difference and interest. It underlies the character and identity of every destination and is also the wider story of humankind. It holds familiarity and relevance for everyone. This is why archaeological travel is so fascinating. It unites culture with adventure and adds value and meaning to your travels.
“Everywhere has a story to tell and the breadth of interest is endless”.
The world’s historic and ancient sites are a ‘wonderbox’ of interesting things, and a veritable ark of profound insights, unsolved mysteries and great discoveries. They are often in beautiful locations too, and visiting them can get us off the beaten track to see more of the country. A useful starting point and source of inspiration are the country profiles by Hidden History Travel, who describe the archaeological and historical interest of various travel destinations. Specialist tour companies such as this provide the opportunity for a richer travelling experience where history comes to life.
Connecting with the past
Ancient Greece, for example, may seem like a distant, unfamiliar place known only to classical scholars but a tour of the ancient sites can be a profoundly satisfying experience for everyone. It’s not just the warm weather and good food; it’s an intellectual and emotional connection, a return to the cradle of our modern world. A Greek temple, with marble columns rising into a clear blue sky, is an abiding symbol of civilisation, and it is more than just the architecture that feels familiar; it’s the thoughts and actions of its creators, the people whose philosophy, science, art and politics laid the foundations of our European culture.
Well-conducted tours bring out all these wider contexts. It isn’t necessary to be a history buff, and you don’t have to do any research or planning. Tour lecturers and guides help bring it all together – as someone once said; “a tour without a guide is like a movie without a soundtrack”. Everywhere has a story to tell, and the breadth of interest is endless; from simple everyday life to cultural beliefs, and the rise and fall of great civilisations. History connects with so many areas of our lives. The best tours have a balance of leisure and interest, with time to relax, absorb it all and simply enjoy the experience.
History and prehistory
On the tiny Mediterranean island of Malta, there are Stone Age temples that predate the pyramids and which were expressions of prehistoric beliefs similar to those held by the builders of England’s famous Stonehenge. Whatever strange rituals were practised at such places, they are still fascinating today with their insights into the world of our ancestors and as reminders of the bigger picture; the human journey and our continuing attempts to understand life, death and the cosmos.
Many destinations have a deep heritage and Malta excels in its later history too, with the magnificent accomplishments of the Knights of St John and a celebrated World War II history.
The real Atlantis
The physical remains of the past create landscapes of memory that still resonate in our modern minds. Everyone has heard of the myth of Atlantis but how many people have actually visited the most likely site of the original city? Many scholars agree that the Aegean island of Santorini is the very place. This volcanic island erupted around 3500 years ago with devastating effects on the Bronze Age civilisation of the Aegean, and probably the entire eastern Mediterranean. It is simply amazing to stand today on the rim of that volcanic crater and realise the scale of the event, and marvel at the antiquity of the island’s ancient city of Akrotiri, incredibly preserved in ash like a prehistoric Pompeii; then to sail across to the nearby island of Crete to explore Knossos and other Minoan sites, the land of King Minos and the Minotaur and Europe’s earliest civilisation.
Turn your next holiday into a worthwhile experience, take a tour with a specialist company like Hidden History Travel. Their expertise creates wonderful holidays that are surprisingly affordable, and the interest never fades, even when the tour ends.