Aegean Coast

Think hard before visiting the legendary city of Troy in the far north – it’s a patchy, largely uninspiring ruin that children might struggle to marry with Homer’s epic tale of the Trojan War. Having said that, the site does have a large wooden horse which children will enjoy clambering inside, just as Greek soldiers are said to have done when they besieged the city thousands of years ago. A better all-round family destination in the northern Aegean is the popular spa resort of Cesme. Explore the 14th-century Genoese fortress overlooking the harbour, and take a trip on a gület (traditional schooner) to Donkey Island – a sanctuary for abandoned beasts of burden.

In complete contrast to Troy, above, Ephesus fires the imagination with its incredibly well preserved gateways, columns and streets. The most complete ancient city in the eastern Mediterranean, the former Roman capital of Asia Minor began life in the 11th-century BC as a centre of worship to Artemis, goddess of fertility. Ephesus only floundered in the 6th-century AD when its port silted up, effectively severing the city’s lifeblood. Try to reach Ephesus early – there’s little shade. The site also gets very crowded, but if anything that will help to recreate the atmosphere of this once-bustling city – especially when you stroll down Curetes Street. This colonnaded thoroughfare was the equivalent of London’s Oxford Street or New York’s Fifth Avenue. Get the kids to imagine they’re Romans out for a morning’s shopping. At the end of Curetes Street looms the grand, two-storey façade of the Library of Celsus, while the Marble Way (its surface etched with ancient cartwheel tracks) leads to a vast Roman theatre capable of seating 24,000 people. If the heat and dust begin to take their toll, retreat to the resort of Kusadasi where kids will find cool relief in the form of the Adaland Aquapark (adaland.com). The best beach, meanwhile, is Kadinlar Plaji.Further south, Bodrum and its satellite resorts of Bitez and Gümbet are magnets to the ‘bronze and booze’ crowd. However, the old part of Bodrum is definitely worth visiting for its medieval castle. When kids tire of firing imaginary arrows from the ramparts on to the yachts moored in the harbour below, entice them into the castle’s fascinating Museum of Underwater Archaeology (bodrum-museum.com). As well as finding out about Roman shipwrecks and crusading knights they can venture into the dungeons and learn about ancient medicine in the Snake Tower.


This is edited copy from Europe with Kids by William Gray.


 

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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