Why I Went to Ancient Crete and Why You Should

Why I Went to Ancient Crete and Why You Should

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Balos. Crete, Greece.

Balos. Crete, Greece.

Myths of ancient Greece are fairytales. I liked them from childhood and have read them all, but I don’t think that my mother read those myths to me at bedtime. Most of these ancient stories could be very successful screenplays for horror films. Take the biography of the main Greek god, Zeus, for example.

An oracle predicted to Cronus, the ruling Titan, that his son would defeat him and take his throne. To prevent such an unpleasant destiny, Cronus started to swallow every child which was born to his wife, Rhea. I don’t know how many children he swallowed, but at last, Rhea’s patience was exhausted, and she decided to give birth and raise at least one child. With this in mind, she hid in a cave on the island of Crete with the newborn child. It was Zeus. Of course, he successfully realized the prediction and became the main Olympian god.

Today, you can visit the cave of Zeus on the Greek island of Crete.

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Castles of the Knights Templar in Portugal’s History

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Templar's convent and castle in Tomar, Portugal.

Templar’s convent and castle in Tomar, Portugal.

Upon arrival at the Lisbon airport on January 5th, we stayed there only long enough to claim our baggage; a very eventful 10-day car trip around Portugal’s cities awaited us. Our GPS navigator calculated a course and we moved to a little-known Portuguese village, Alvega. Ninety minutes later, our rented Citroen was already parked at the Manor House Solar de Alvega.

That ancient house was chosen to be the starting point for our fascinating acquaintance with Portuguese history. The best places to visit in Portugal we had already identified at home, in advance. Judge for yourself. Within a radius of a hundred kilometers around Alvega, there were such historic Portuguese cities as:

  • Alcobaca with the gravestone of the most popular Portuguese Queen, Ines de Castro;
  • Tomar which has been the capital of the Portuguese Knights Templar since the 12th century;
  • the Almourol Castle, the Templars’ outpost on the Tejo River;
  • Coimbra, one of the first Portuguese capitals;
  • and the unique Portuguese village of Monsanto which would surprise us a bit later.

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A Walk Along the Jugendstil Quarter: Mikhail Eisenstein—the Gaudi of Riga.

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Art Deco Architecture Style. Albert Street, 4, Riga, Latvia.

Art Deco Architecture Style. Albert Street, 4, Riga, Latvia.

Do you know why the small capital of Latvia is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List? It is not because of the medieval center of old Riga with its bright and impressive House of Blackheads, and not even because of the Dome with one of Europe’s best organs, and certainly not because of the famous Riga Black Balsam. The capital of Latvia has a trump card, which not every tourist knows about.

It so happened that at the end of the 19th century, almost the whole of Europe watched the birth of a new architectural style—it would be called Modern. In France it is known as Art Nouveau, in Germany as Jugendstil, in Italy as Liberty, and in the USA as Tiffany.

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