World Wonders are lopped into all sorts of categories these days. There are ancient wonders, natural wonders, industrial wonders, and even wonders of the underwater world, to name a few. What we haven’t yet turned into an officially classified category however, are the city wonders of the world – and perhaps we should! From towering urban centers to towns so beautiful they look to be plucked from family, cities are some of humankind’s most marvelous achievements. Certainly many of them can rightly be called wonders.
If in fact we were making such a list, it would only be appropriate to start with the Mediterranean. One of the oldest inhabited areas in the world, and one full of amazing cities both ancient and modern, it’s always been home to some of humans’ most impressive achievements. With this in mind, let’s look at some of the most stunning cities on the sea, and what makes them stand out.
Dubrovnik almost doesn’t need to be pointed out anymore it’s gotten so popular. Up to a certain point, it has Game Of Thrones to thank for this. The show has famously built some of its most famous settings around very real places in Dubrovnik, and it’s such a popular show droves of tourists have flocked there so as to tour the same places. Television and fantasy connections aside however, it’s a stunning medieval city built right on the sea – the Adriatic Sea, technically, but an offshoot of the Mediterranean, and still part of the region being discussed here. Characterized by lovely orange rooftops and stout stone walls (which you can walk along for the most interesting tour of the city), Dubrovnik is a true gem, really unlike any other city in the world, save a few in Croatia that are more or less like smaller versions of it. The city is a little light on modern attractions compared to some, but it really makes no difference to most tourists. The ancient sites and the beauty are the big attractions.
In a way that’s sort of opposite to Dubrovnik, Monte-Carlo may actually be better known for some of its attractions than specifically for its beauty. Its casino is arguably the main draw, and stands as an opulent counter to the modern state of casinos. Online businesses and well-regarded mobile sites dominate this form of entertainment now, and bring the games to people all over the world with maximum convenience. The Monte-Carlo Casino though is a throwback to old world gambling, and one that is a legitimate tourist draw unto itself. Similarly some of the city’s high-end hotels and restaurants attract visitors, and the harbor may be the most famous in the world, or is at least right there with the Sydney Harbour. When you zoom out though, Monte-Carlo is also a shockingly beautiful place. Built against a mountainous backdrop to surround the aforementioned harbor, it looks like a little piece of heaven.
There is an ancient quality to Valletta that surprises that of any of the other cities on this list, even though the entire Mediterranean is very old, in a sense. If anything though, that only makes the city more impressive to look at, perhaps because it looks more like a relic of the ancient world than a modern city. Full of old monuments and fortifications, it’s known for its largely Baroque architecture, highlighted primarily by St. John’s Co-Cathedral. The city also has its own spectacular harbor, not quite as famous as Monte-Carlo’s, but in a way more interesting because it’s less exclusive to multimillion-dollar yachts. Visiting Valletta is somewhat more like being in Dubrovnik in that most of what there is to do is related to history and sightseeing. That said, there is enough to tour, and enough natural and man-made beauty all around, to keep any tourist busy.
Venice may be the most famous city of the bunch for pure visual appeal, though as with Monte-Carlo it has a particular attraction that may be its biggest draw. In this case, it’s the gondola rides that take people along the famous canals that crisscross the city, making it feel unlike any other urban setting on the planet. Your visit to Venice isn’t complete without taking a ride in one of these boats, and they’re not even just for fun. They’re actually effective means of transportation through the city, helping you get from one place to another with relative efficiency. Gondolas aside, it’s an indescribably intriguing city from a visual standpoint, and one with plenty of specific attractions from Piazza San Marco to St. Mark’s Basilica.
Should we ever designate the “city wonders of the world,” and should the conversation start in the Mediterranean, any or all of these would be more than worthy of the honor.
Thanks to our partners for this guest post — we’ve been to all four and endorse that they are, indeed, stunning — for more City Wonder nominations, check out the Wonderlist!