Travel insights from Jenna Buege, associate editor of The Compass

The Weird and the Wonderful of the Mediterranean, Part 2

You’ve read The Weird and the Wonderful of the Mediterranean, Part 1, now it’s time for part 2, a list even stranger than the last. Prepare yourself traveler, we are about to embark on a fabulous adventure.

France

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Petit passage au #palais #oklm pour se faire #plaisir

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An architectural wonder erected by a French postman, Le Palais Ideal is a whimsical castle made of grottoes and love. Looking something like a cross between the temple of Angkor and La Sagrada Familia, Ferdinand Cheval began work on this majestic palace in the late 19th century. Cheval had little formal education and no architectural experience, making this 32-foot high and 85-foot long masterpiece all the more impressive.

Slovenia

Built into the face of a dramatic cliffside, Predjama Castle in Slovenia was virtually impenetrable in its heyday in the 13th century. In addition to serving some major architectural lewks, this majestic castle is also famous for its massive underground cave system featuring subterranean halls, flowing rivers and unique formations. For the sake of oddities, it’s also worth noting that the once ruling baron, Erazem Lueger, met an untimely end when he was shot by a single cannon while using the toilet. 

Montenegro

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Fini les vacances..... #kotor #montenegro #catmuseum #notbelleville

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Cat lovers will have to resist the urge to squeal when combatted with the cuteness overload that is Cats Museum Kotor. Not only can travelers gaze upon an array of cat art, memorabilia and history at this purrfectly unique stop, they can also play with local kittens and cats that hang around the area. Kotor’s large cat population is the aftermath of the medieval town’s history as a port city where it served as a trading spot for ships around the world. It turns out the ships had an unintentional import, cats, and lots of them. Today Kotor embraces its feline population and cats are the symbol of the city and are cared for by local residents.

Turkey

Dating back to the time of the Byzantine Empire, the Basilica Cisterns of Istanbul were rediscovered in the 1500s when a Frenchman heard locals tell tales of great underground temples. Sure enough, 30 feet beneath the ground near the ancient basilica sat an artificial freshwater lake near the size of two football fields. It’s estimated that the cistern was built in 532 A.D. and was used to store fresh water for the palace and nearby buildings. Today the cisterns are open to the public and travelers can enjoy exploring the space on elevated walkways accompanied by dramatic lighting. 

Lebanon

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📍 JEITA GROTTO . Next stop in Beirut is the Jeita Grotto! . The Jeita Grotto is a SPECTACULAR system of limestone caves in Beirut, with an Upper and Lower Grotto! . A cable ride gets you from the entrance to the Upper Grotto and there's a train ride from the Upper Grotto to the Lower Grotto🚂🚂 . The Upper Grotto is visited on foot while there's a short boat ride through the Lower Grotto . Only a visit to the caves will make you understand how STUNNING they are. (On the flip side, NO pictures are allowed in any of the caves!😫) . . . #Lebanon #Beirut #Baalbek #JeitaGrotto #RaoucheRock #Harissa #Byblos #Batroun #MiddleEast #Travel #Tourist #Tourism #VisitLebanon #Vacation #Instatravel #Wanderlust #Travelgram #TravelBlogger #WorldTravel #WorldTraveler #GreenPassportChronicles #DidiAllOverTheWorld #DeeDeeTravels

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Part of the longest cave system in the Middle East and home to one of the world’s largest stalactites, measuring 27 feet in length, the Jeita Grotto is an underground fantasy land. Dating back to prehistoric times, the Jeita Grotto appears to have been used as an ancient foundry. Today the cave’s river flows into Nahr al-Kalb, the city of Beirut’s main source of fresh water. Travelers looking to experience the magic of Jeita can explore three of the grotto’s main chambers via raised walkways or boat.

Egypt

Follow the footsteps of a whale out of water at Wadi al-Hitan, aka Egypt’s Valley of the Whales. Wadi al-Hitan is a goldmine of fossils that document the whale’s journey from land mammal to sea creature (yup you read that right, apparently whales used to have hind legs). The fossils belong to an extinct ancestor of modern whales, the archaoceti, and provide a look into the creature’s epic transition. Valley of the Whales was determined an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.

Tunisia

If you think Hotel Sidi Driss looks like a movie set straight out of Hollywood, that’s because it is. A trip to Tunisia will transport travelers to a galaxy far, far away where they can geek out on nostalgia as they explore Luke Skywalker’s childhood home on the Star Wars’ fictional planet of Tatooine. Of course Hotel Sidi Driss isn’t actually a case of fine alien architecture but rather an example of a traditional Tunisian neighborhood. The hotel is in the village of Matmata which is rumored to date back to sometime between 264 to 146 B.C.. The region was rediscovered in 1967.

Algeria

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يسمى قبر الرومية لكن في الأصل هو قبر الملكة النوميدية Selene II بناه لها زوجها الملك جوبا الثاني كعربون محبة.. يعود تاريخ بنائه للقرن الأول قبل الميلاد ويوجد على هضبة تطل على سهول تيبازة الرومانية .. This building (tomb) is one of the wonders in North Africa.. The numidian King Juba II have built it for his wife Selene II in the First century before JC to express his huge love for her.. The building is a part of the UNESCO World heritage .. #backpacking #travel #trekking #hitchhiking #adventure #africa #algeria #الجزائر ⁦🇩🇿⁩ #wonder #monuments #ruins #architecture #archeology #landscape #old #building #king #queen #numidia #berber #rocks #limestone #pyramid #colors #backpacker

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Did you know that Cleopatra had a daughter? Princess Cleopatra Selene II was born in Egypt around 40 BC before moving to Rome and marrying Algerian prince Juba II. After successfully ruling the state of Mauretania for some time, Cleopatra Selene passed away in 6 B.C. Upon her death, the princess’ husband requested the construction of the Royal Mausoleum of Mauretania to house the remains of the royal family. The mausoleum was looted several times over the past few centuries resulting in the order to destroy it in 1555. Then, like something out of an Egyptian curse, a massive swarm of black wasps stung the men resulting in injuries so brutal some even died. It was soon after determined that the structure shouldn’t be disturbed. Tourists can visit this attraction for the steep price of one U.S. dollar.

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