Leisure time has been a big deal for most of human history. Those who could afford to take time away from their work would often travel to visit relatives or make pilgrimages to religious sites. In some areas, traveling away from home during certain parts of the year was almost mandatory as the summer weather made living difficult or brought mosquitoes carrying deadly diseases such as malaria. These days, however, vacations and traveling away from home are something that almost everyone can do. For a vacation filled with old world history and exciting sightseeing, be sure to check out these 5 destinations!
For the past two millennia, Jerusalem has been a major destination for those who could afford to make the trip. The city is a major focus of three major worldwide religions as well as being a crossroads for East and West when it comes to the spice trade. This city has been such a major tourist destination that the Crusades were waged over control of it and its associated trade routes.
From the last days of the Roman Republic, the Eternal City camped upon the Seven Hills and overlooking the Tiber has been a major destination for trade and artists. Of course, before the invention of air conditioning, inhabitants of Rome routinely fled the city during the summer months to escape the heat and the mosquitoes that made life very difficult for all of them. After the fall of the Roman Empire and its rebirth as the seat of Western Christendom, Rome became home to some of the most beautiful and famous art and artists in Europe.
King Henry himself once said that Paris was worth a Mass. The home of the French kings, resplendent with gardens, straddling the Seine, has been a favorite destination for nearly six centuries. The Luxembourg Gardens and the Palais de Senat are still among the most beautiful sights in the city. The city is also home to some of the most beautiful Gothic and modern churches with one of the old palaces — the Louvre — housing some of the most famous works of art in Western Civilization.
One of the great Italian cities, Venice became a force to be reckoned with during the Renaissance. Home to many great examples of architecture, Venice was also home to the early merchantile class during the medieval era. Though the city is prone to flooding, the methods of construction used in even its earliest buildings has them still standing in a manner that will doubtless outlast any modern building.
Once the center of Hellenic civilization and all that was considered good in the West, Athens remained a popular place for anyone with pretensions to grandeur to visit for many centuries after the seat of Western power moved to the city on the Tiber. These days, Athens is most well-known for its ruined temples and the rich chance for archeology.
Vacations and pilgrimages have long been part of life for the rich and the powerful. In days long past, their choice of locale often reflected the beliefs that were most popular and enduring in their culture. However, five cities have long stood out as popular destinations for their wealth of culture, art, and history and, without a doubt, will continue to loom large in our lists for centuries to come.