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Portugal’s capital is an 18th-century city - elegant, open to the sea and carefully planned. Most places of interest are within easy walking distance. Rossio Square, the heart of Lisbon since medieval times, is an ideal place to start exploring. Many rebuilt houses with original façades provide stores and restaurants with modern interiors. High above Baixa is Bairro Alto - with its teeming nightlife. There are many monuments and museums, such as San Jeronimos Monastery, Royal Coach Museum and Gulbenkian Museum. Two well-known landmarks are the Monument to the Discoveries and the Tower of Belem. A statue of Christ looms above Europe’s longest suspension bridge. Madragoa, Bica and Bairro Alto, Lisbon’s older sections, offer a variety of sights: the Church of Sao Roque, with its beautiful tiles; St. George Castle, which offers a splendid view from its location above the Alfama quarter; the botanical gardens, featuring an unusual, cold greenhouse; and the cathedral, stunning with its Moorish design. Renowned Gulbenkian Museum is the cultural center of Portugal.
Founded as Portus Hannibalis by the Romans, Portimão is a port and one of the major resorts on the craggy Atlantic shores of Portugal's sunny Algarve. It boasts a bustling harbour overlooked by two castles and a pedestrian centre abounding in shops, bays and restaurants - while just two miles away is delightful Praia da Rocha, setting of a stunning beach, honey-hued cliffs and striking wind-and-sea-sculpted rock formations. Also from here you can visit Albufeira, the area's largest resort, the 12th century sandstone fortress at Silves, Fortaleza de Sagres and Cabo de Sao Vicente.
Cadiz is an old city with Andalusian character. The magnificent Baroque cathedral and impressive mansions were built with gold. Cadiz’s modern-day treasure lies 30 minutes to the north in the rolling hills of Jerez - where production of the liquid gold, as the famous sherry is often called, ensures a booming economy. Visit one of the bodegas for a tour and tasting. The Historic City Center of Old Cadiz is a pedestrian zone for a pleasant stroll. The monument to "Las Cortes" is the Spanish Parliament established in Plaza de España. The 18th-century golden-domed Cathedral of Santa Cruz looms over the whitewashed houses. The dazzling interior contains a magnificent collection of sculptures and art objects. The Museum of History features an outstanding model of Cadiz in ivory and mahogany that illustrates what the town looked like at the end of the 18th century. The small, colorful Flower Market offers much local flavor. The Moorish-style Alameda Apodaca Gardens serve as a reminder of the Moors’ occupation in past centuries.
Located beneath the coastal hills of the sun-warmed shores of the Andalusian coast, midway between Malaga and Almeria, ancient Motril is a seaport and thriving beach resort that has drawn Phoenicians, Romans and Moors during its long history. Visit beautiful churches, Carchuna Fortress and the 16th century Casa de la Palma. This Andalusian city is gateway to Granada and the famed Alhambra, located inland at the foothills of the former capital to the Caliphs and Almoravids, which is 40 miles away.
Alicante is located on Spain’s Costa Blanca in the Levant Region, along the country’s southeastern coast and is a tourist resort and commercial port. The region is marked by lush mountain ranges. During the Gothic era of the fifteenth through sixteenth centuries centuries, art and architecture flourished in Alicante and the remainder of the Levant Region. Immense palaces and grandiose churches were built with elaborate baroque details. Visitors can see a third century BC fortress - the citadel of Santa Bárbara built by ruler Amilcar Barca, a Carthaginian, Arrabal Roig - the old quarter, the Baroque town hall (1701-60), the Church of Santa María (14th century), and the Renaissance church of San Nicolás de Bari (18th century).
Mahon is a town known since antiquity for its natural harbor. Its coastline includes beautiful natural coves, rocky cliffs, and long beaches. Menorca is an open-air museum with archaeological remains giving evidence of Mediterranean cultures of thousands of years ago. Traces of English rule remain, especially in the design of tall houses with sash windows overlooking the harbor. Watersports are most popular of the wide range of leisure activities available. Sail boat rentals are available at numerous beaches and a golf course is located in Son Park. Menorca was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1993 - an acknowledgement of the island's environmental importance and artistic and cultural heritage. Santa Maria Church, located in Plaza de la Constitucion, was founded in 1287 and rebuilt in neo-classical style in the 18th century. Its 19th-century organ is one of the world’s largest, with 3,004 pipes. Sa Mesquida and Cala del Pilar are the two best beaches.
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Civitavecchia is the port city for Rome. Rome has always been and remains the Eternal City. With its splendid churches, ancient monuments and palaces, spacious parks, tree-lined boulevards, fountains, outdoor cafés and elegant shops, Rome is one of the world’s most attractive cities. Among the most famous monuments is the Colosseum where spectators watched combats between muscled gladiators and ferocious animals. Stop to see the remains of the Forum, once a political and commercial center. Rome’s squares were enhanced with such imposing structures as the Vittorio Emanuele Monument and grandiose fountains like the Fontana di Trevi. Awe at Christendom’s most magnificent church, the Sistine Chapel. The busy square Piazza Venezia is easily recognized by its imposing Vittorio Emanuele II Monument. Take a stroll to Rome's famous Trevi Fountain. Vatican City is the site of lovely St. Peter's Square and St. Peter's Basilica, where for 200 years, Renaissance masters worked on its design and created an unparalleled masterpiece. Visit Vatican Museum.
Salerno is situated at the northern end of the Gulf of Salerno. The old town, rising up the slopes of the hill on the site of ancient Salernum, still bears evidence of its medieval period. Salerno's main attraction is a Romanesque cathedral, built in 1085 and remodeled in the late 18th century. Inside is the ornate tomb of Margaret of Anjou and the tomb of Pope Gregory VII, who died here in 1085. In the richly decorated crypt under the alter lie the remains of Evangelist Matthew, brought here from Paestum. A hilltop crowned by the old Lombard Castello offers extensive views. Along the seafront, to the east of the harbor, extends a promenade lined with impressive modern buildings. Visit the Greek temples of Paestum. Other favorite excursions from here are to Pompeii and to the popular resort towns of Amalfi and Ravello. The Museo Diocesano houses a fine collection of medieval carved tablets. Occupying two floors of the San Benedetto Monastery, the main attraction at Museo Provinciale is a handsome bronze head of Apollo fished out of the bay in the 1930s.
Cast in the Tyrrhenian sea, the Lipari Islands experience an increasing amount of tourism due to unusual scenery and mild climate. The variety and beauty of rock formations, the volcanic phenomena of Stromboli and the crystalline waters always impress visitors. Local-style architecture adds charm to picturesque villages. The main islands include famous Stromboli and Lipari. In a bay on Lipari’s east coast lies the main town of the same name - dominated by the Castello or Acropolis, which separates the town’s two harbors. Within Castello are the cathedral and the former Bishop's Palace, which now houses the Archaeological Museum. It is noted for its fine collection of relics from recent excavations, Greek masks and statuettes from theatrical life as far back as Sophocles and Euripides. At Marina Corta there are hydrofoils and boats offering trips to neighboring islands. The most southern Lipari Island, Vulcano Island, has a spectacular volcanic landscape of rugged peaks rising above beaches. A steep trail leads up from the plain to a 1,150-foot crater.
Valletta is the capital of Malta. This remarkable fortified city with its massive bastions followed the most advanced Renaissance ideas in town planning, with streets laid straight on a grid looking over the Grand Harbour. Outside the 'City Gate' is the famous Triton Fountain. 'City Gate' has public buses and vendors selling soft drinks and all sorts of traditional fresh Maltese bread and sweets. Freedom Square shows an extraordinary capital with buildings of fine architecture of different tastes and styles ranging from the Mannerism to Baroque to Rococo to Neoclassicism. Valletta is a fascinating city for wandering around looking at what used to be the Knight's own cathedrals and Auberges. The city's backbone is Republic Street, which runs straight through the city center to Fort St. Elmo. Valletta has several narrow, steep side streets decorated with traditional Maltese pastel colored balconies and a statue on almost every street corner. There are plenty of shops, cafes, and restaurants to choose from.
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