Reading about Varosha in Cyprus the other day, once a haunt of the rich and beautiful long since deserted and fenced off, I was reminded of Kupari in Croatia. I first saw the resort’s impressive hotels from my balcony a couple of miles along the coast. I was puzzled as to why, as dusk was falling, no lights were appearing at the windows. Intrigued, I drove there the next day only to find the hotels were ruins, skeletal remains of what had once evidently been thronging with guests. The air was heavy, poignant with the recent presence of crowds streaming in from the beach, climbing the broad stairways and partying in the ballroom… A little research revealed that the resort, built for Tito’s military elite, had been destroyed in the war in 1991.
There are some places that exude an almost tangible atmosphere, evoking the past. I find these irresistibly alluring and If you share this fascination here are few locations you’ll love.
Machu Picchu famed ‘lost city of the Incas’ was a holy site and something of its power is still apparent today as it elicits an undoubted emotional response from those who see it. It’s a place you can lose yourself as you wander through its terraces and temples. What looks a ruin from a distance turns out to have the most amazing paintings and reliefs, bringing the people who created them and lived in this city many centuries ago seem tantalisingly close.
Petra is one of the most photographed sites in the world, but still has the power to overwhelm. Walking in silence, in the dark, along the siq to the treasury, the path lit by hundreds of flickering candles casting strange shadows on the famous walls, is a magical experience. There is a sense of timelessness which draws you close to the ancient city and its people. Unforgettable.
Then there’s Fatehpur Sikri near Agra, the capital that lasted 14 years, the same length of time it took to build, rendered uninhabitable when its wells ran dry. Many of the palaces remain, largely intact but eerily empty. Walking around this ghost town it is easy to imagine the imperial family and their officials walking proudly through the corridors, their fine clothes reflecting the grandeur of their surroundings.
The Roman city of Volubilis was magnificent in its heyday. Within the massive city walls with their triumphal arch were temples, a basilica and hundreds of fine town houses. Driven away by local tribespeople, the Romans left in the 3rd century. Visiting the site today you can still enter through the arch though the walls are long since gone. But it’s the mosaics that bring the place to life. Pour on a little water and the colours are revealed. You could be back in the merchant’s house as he proudly shows off his fine new floor…
I could happily spend hours in any of these places, drinking up the atmosphere and listening to the echoes of the past. These are special places and deserve to be cherished. Add them to your wish list and let us take you there!