Wonders of the Ancient World

Lonely Planet Travel Editor Tom Hall is on a mission to discover 52 of the most awe-inspiring places to visit across the world. This week he uncovers some of the remaining treasures of the ancient world in Egypt, Greece and Turkey.

Pyramids, Egypt

While any schoolchild can tell you that the only ancient wonder of the world left standing is the Great Pyramid at Giza, a jaunt to the sites of each can keep the classically minded wanderer busy for months, or even years. Start your quest in June before it really heats up in the eastern Med.

Where to see the ancient wonders of the world

Egypt is the obvious place to start with a leisurely perusal of Cairo’s ancient remains. From here it’s a short jaunt north to Alexandria, where you’ll need a mask and flippers to see what’s left of the Lighthouse of Alexandria.

It tumbled into ruins after two earthquakes in the 14th century but a fort built on its site retains some of the masonry. A Roman-era lighthouse built along similar lines can be seen on the north coast of Spain near La Coruña in Galicia.

Bypassing Babylon – the eponymous Hanging Gardens are reputed to have hung near present-day Al-Hillal in off-limits central Iraq – means a trip across the Med. The only mainland European wonder was the Statue of Zeus at Olympia. This monument may have perished in a fifth-century fire, having been carried off to Constantinople by Byzantine overlords, but there are fine ancient remains to ramble around including the running track from the classical games.

On your way to Turkey where you’ll find the final two sites, pause at Rhodes, where the Colossus once welcomed ships into Rhodes Town’s harbour. The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus and the once-massive Mausolem of Halicarnassus may both be ruins, but they’re an essential part of a tour of Turkey’s rich classical remains.

Planning your trip to Egypt, Greece or Turkey

Check out each country’s tourist information sites for everything you need to plan your trip: Tour Egypt, Greece Tourism and Tourism Turkey. There are no ferries from Egypt to Greece or Turkey but Greek Ferries has details on national and international boat services across the Med.

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