travel benefits by design

Mediterranean vistas

Mediterranean

For sun-drenched Mediterranean vistas, travel to Spain, Portugal, Turkey and Greece. Barcelona civilians flaunt perfect hairstyling and fashionable attire; even sneakers and running shorts are emblazoned with chicness. Barcelona contains the Museu Picasso – five baroque mansions crammed with works from their former artist-in-residence. But the most stunning presence of all is the captivating, dizzying heights of Antoni Gaudí’s La Sagrada Família cathedral with beautiful stained glass and endless colonnades encrusted with sand-and-cement detailing. La Sagrada Família is a riot of brilliantly engineered gothic and art nouveau pillars, stacked arches, exaggerated spires, eye-popping kaleidoscopic facades and hyper-Symbolism – there is no other edifice that can ever be like it in the world.

Be sure to visit the stately Royal Palace of Madrid, and Alhambra, the palace-fortress complex where Spanish Moors made their final stand. Alhambra represents the finest Moorish architecture with exquisite gardens, pools, paintings and sculptures. Portugal’s picturesque region of Salta is famous for its port production and red rock canyons. For the best resorts overlooking the Aegean Sea, Santorini, Greece is an absolute MUST! Santorini includes the popular Perissa Beach, the Red Beach with red sands and cliffs, and Kamari with its black sands. Akrotiri, an excavated site of an ancient Minoan city, is also located in Santorini. The mystique of Greece is Athens with its archaeological treasures – the Acropolis, the Parthenon, the Ancient Agora and the Theatre of Dionysos.

Nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea is Turkey – the New Testament origins of the Church of Ephesus and Antioch, and from 330 A.D. to 1453 A.D, the capital of the Eastern Orthodox Church was Constantinople, now known as Istanbul. Turkey was also the region of clashes between the Christian Byzantine Empire and the Moslem Ottoman Turks, and further back in time, the central power of the Hittites in their war with the ancient Israelites, and the battlegrounds of Alexander the Great and the Persian King Darius. Indeed, Turkey is the crossroad of civilizations and has many amazing relics and archaeological sites. Be sure to visit the city of Ephesus, where the Great Theater and the Library of Celsus with its grand façade are located. Balloon-ride through the incredible vista of the Göreme Fairy Chimneys, where layers of basalt and volcanic ash form eccentric bulbous walls and columned stacks where ancient churches and storage facilities are hidden deep within. Another fascinating natural wonderland is Pamukkale, translated as “cotton castle”, with pale blue hot spring waters rimmed by voluminous calcium deposits of white travertine terraces. Both the original Christian church of Hagia Sophia, built during the reign of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I, and the Blue Mosque, built during the reign of the Sultan Ahmed, are incredible works of majesty and artistry combined.

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