Visegrad: Located on a sharp bend of the Danube in northern Hungary, Visegrad was one of the great fortress towns of the medieval and ancient world. The Romans used the promontory as part of their border defenses along the Danube. During the medieval period Hungarian Kings built castles to face down Mongol and Turkish invasions. Today the fortifications are comprised of an upper and lower castle. The lower castle has been restored and contains a museum. You can easily reach Visegrad by river boat from Budapest. Nagyvillam Restaurant has a commanding view of the surrounding countryside and serves a wide ranging menu that includes several game meats.
Trajan’s Theatre: The Bulgarian city of Plovdiv is the country’s main cultural capital. The city intersperses ancient ruins with handsome 19th century architecture. As the capital of Ancient Thrace, Plovdiv traces its origins as far back as 4000 BC. Of all of Plovdiv’s ruins, the best preserved and most famous is Trajan’s theatre. Part of Trajan’s Empire wide building campaign during the period of Rome’s greatest influence, the amphitheatre was only uncovered during the 1970’s after a landslide. Today the structure is so well preserved that it is used to host musical and dramatic performances. Spectators on the ancient seats have a fine view of downtown and the Rhodope Mountains in the background.
Trajan’s Theatre Plovdiv
Segesta: On the north coast of Sicily, halfway between Palermo and Trapani lie the ruins of the ancient city of Segesta. The city was founded by the Elymians, an indigenous people of Sicily that became Hellenized in their later history. Segesta, in its later history, was locked in violent competition with its neighbor to the south, Selinunte. Segesta allied itself with Athens and later Carthage in this ongoing feud, leading both powers to invade Sicily. The ruins of Segesta today are mainly comprised of an amphitheatre and a temple. The temple of Segesta sits on a grassy hill overlooking the surrounding hills and the sea and was built around 430 BC. Doric in composition, the temple is incredibly well preserved. Some archaeologists believe the construction of the temple to have been a diplomatic move to lure Greek support. The temple was also never finished as its columns are not fluted and are still propped on the blocks used to put them in place.