UNESCO Archeological

Villa Adriana (Hadrian’s Villa) in Tivoli

Tivoli is a hilltown not very far from Rome. It used to be a resort for the ancient Romans because not only did it have fresh water, but also some sulfur Springs. And the countryside is pretty spectacular too.

The most famous site in Tivoli is the Villa d’ Este. But a close second is about 5 miles west of Tivoli where we visited the ruins of Hadrian’s Villa. It is one of the most spectacular villas ever built in the Roman empire and once covered an area larger than the center of Imperial Rome.

Hadrian’s goal was to reproduce wonders of the world he had seen on his visits. As an example one walkway around a rectangular pool and garden mimics Athens while there are also sanctuary similar to Alexandria. There are ruins of several bath complexes, a library, and a theater.


Well you know you can’t visit Rome without stopping to see the Trevi fountain. There are also plenty of street scenes around the Piazza di Spagna at sunset. When we first arrived in Rome we explored the area around the Colosseum and then walk to Trajan’s Forum.

Capitoline Hill, on one of the seven hills of Rome, was the symbolic center of the Roman world and also the site of three important temples dedicated to the god Jupiter Optimus Maximus, protector of Rome, Minerva goddess of wisdom and war, and Juno Moneta, a guardian goddess.

Below the capital is the forum which was once the focus of political, social, legal, and commercial life. The Palatine Hill is where Romulus is said to have founded Rome in the eighth century BC.

The Colosseum has 80 arched entrances that allow easy access to spectators. Deadly gladiatorial combats and wild animal fights were staged by the emperor and wealthy citizens largely to gain popularity. In AD 80, 9,000 wild animals were killed the Colosseum which held about 55,000 people who were seated according to rank. The Colosseum used Corinthian Ionic and Doric columns.

Bru na Boinne

Stop #12:

Link to Wikipedia

Brú na Bóinne means Palace of the Boyne or Mansion of the Boyne. It contains one of the world’s most important prehistoric landscapes dating from the Neolithic period, including the large Megalithic passage graves of Knowth, Newgrange and Dowth as well as some 90 additional monuments (the photos are of Newgrange). The archaeological culture associated with these sites is called the “Boyne culture”. UNESCO designated the site in 1993.

Humans settled the area at least 6,000 years ago, but the major structures date to around 5,000 years ago.

We saw Neolithic mounds, chamber tombs, standing stones, henges and other prehistoric enclosures, some said to date from as early as the 32nd century BC. The site predates the Egyptian pyramids and was built with sophistication and a knowledge of science and astronomy. Each year, during winter solstice for about 20 minutes, a beam of light shines directly through an opening in the front entry of Newgrange and travels all the way through a narrow opening that leads to the far side of the chamber.

See also Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery.

National Library of Ireland on The Commons – Newgrange (photo from the early 1900s before the site was cleared)


Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak

Stop #22

Link to Wikipedia

The oldest settlement in Kazanlak dates back to the Neolithic era (6th-5th millennium BCE). The Thracian city of Seuthopolis was uncovered near Kazanlak. In the 4th century BCE, near the ancient Thracian capital of Seuthopolis and close to the city, a magnificent Thracian tomb was built. It contains painted murals representing a Thracian couple at a ritual funeral feast. The tomb was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

Lugo, Spain

Stop 25:

Lugo is Galicia’s oldest provincial capital most noted for its 1.5 mil) Roman wall with 71 towers.  The walls are 33-49 feet high. The third century walls are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Cathedral in the background of the cover photo is a mixture of Romanesque, Gothic, baroque, and neoclassical styles and was built in the early 1100s.

Thanks to Fodor’s Travel Guides, Trip Advisor, and Wikipedia for the great lessons that helped me to plan and summarize this trip.

Merida, Spain

Stop #9:

Mérida was one of the biggest surprises of this trip.  I never imagined that I’d be walking through Roman ruins of this magnitude in the middle of Spain!

Mérida was founded by the Romans in 25 BC and called Augusta Emerita.  It was the capital of the Roman province of Lusitania and located on the banks of the Río Guadiana.  At Merida, major Roman roads from León to Seville and Toledo to Lisbon crossed. The Roman ruins are definitely the highlight of this town.


  • Templo de Diana is the oldest of Mérida’s Roman buildings.
  • Mérida’s Roman teatro (theater) and anfiteatro (amphitheater) are must sees.  The theater is well preserved and seats 6,000 people (and is still used today for special events).  The amphitheater, which holds 15,000 spectators, opened in 8 BC for gladiatorial contests.
  • Basílica de Santa Eulalia is a church that honors a child martyr Eulalia, who was burned alive in AD304 for spitting in the face of a Roman magistrate.
  • Alcazaba Árabe (fortress) was built by the Romans and strengthened by the Visigoths and Moors.  From the fortress walls are views of the Roman bridge.
  • Circo (circus) is where chariot races were held.

Thanks to Fodor’s Travel Guides, Trip Advisor, and Wikipedia for the great lessons that helped me to plan and summarize this trip.

Poverty Point NM

Poverty Point contains a collection of earthworks built during a 600-year period.  The mounds are concentric half-circles, 4 to 6 feet high with an outside diameter of three-quarters of a mile apart.

With no human remains or heaps of shells, archaeologists assume that these mounds were simply symbols of power and wealth.

Dating to the Late Archaic period, the people lived in small groups at Poverty Point. There were most likely hundreds of residents.


Luxor, Egypt and Valley of the Kings and Queens

Link to Wikipedia

Luxor is the site of the Ancient Egyptian city of Waset, known to the Greeks as Thebes. Luxor has frequently been characterized as the “world’s greatest open-air museum”, with ruins of the temple complexes at Karnak and Luxor standing within the modern city. Across the River Nile lie the monuments, temples, and tombs of the West Bank Necropolis, which includes the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens.

Thebes thrived in the 11th Dynasty when Montuhotep II who united Egypt after the troubles of the first intermediate period brought stability.  Because Thebes was the city of the god Amun-Ra, it remained the religious capital of Egypt until the Greek period.

Giza, Egypt

Link to Wikipedia

The Giza Plateau is the site of some of the most impressive ancient monuments in the world, including a complex of ancient Egyptian royal mortuary and sacred structures, including the Great Sphinx, the Great Pyramid of Giza, and a number of other large pyramids and temples. Giza has always been a focal point in Egypt’s history due to its location close to Memphis, the ancient Pharaonic capital of the Old Kingdom.

The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza pyramid complex.  It is also the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one to remain largely intact.

The pyramid was built as a tomb over a 10- to 20-year period concluding around 2560 BC. At 481 feet, the Great Pyramid was the tallest man-made structure in the world for more than 3,800 years.


Terra Cotta Warriors, Xi’An China

Link to Wikipedia

The Terracotta Army is a collection of sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 BCE with the purpose of protecting the emperor in his afterlife.

The figures, dating from approximately the late third century BCE, were discovered in 1974 by local farmers in Xi’an, People’s Republic of China.

The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots and horses. The pits are estimated to contain more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses, and 150 cavalry horses.

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