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Lands of Myth and Legend

Many fantastic places spark the imagination even though the civilisations that gave them to us are long gone. The Norse caroused in Valhalla and the Celts conjured tales of Tír na nÓg whilst the Greeks spoke lyrically of the godly palaces of Olympus.

Tales of these legendary places serve as vital links to our ancient heritage as well as continuing to inspire popular culture, scientists and artists of all stripes. Naturally, many locations mentioned are either wholly fictitious or extremely difficult to reach while still alive – we wouldn’t recommend trying to follow Orpheus’ route into the Greek underworld!

However, intrepid archaeologists have managed to locate and uncover a number of these sites. The Flexicover Team takes a look at some interesting, and accessible, places of yore!

Troy, Turkey

When Prince Paris abducted Helen, wife of the King of Sparta, the combined Greek forces laid siege to Troy for ten long years in an effort to retrieve the errant queen. Supposedly, the war was ended when Odysseus devised his famous giant wooden horse ruse. Much has been written about this city (not least Christopher Marlowe’s famous poem) long thought to be completely fictional. But in the late 19th century, Heimlich Schliemamm discovered the remains of Troy in an overlooked northwestern region of Turkey. Whilst you're unlikely to see Brad Pitt, modern-day visitors can climb inside a replica Trojan Horse and walk around the walls, temples and ruins of one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world!

Carthage, Tunisia

Probably best known for Hannibal’s army of elephants that was marched over the Alps, Carthage was a city-state superpower and the archenemy of Rome during the 3rd century BCE. Their empire stretched from Morocco to the borders of Egypt, as well as Sardinia, Malta, the Balearic Islands, western Sicily and part of southern Spain. Originally a Phoenician colony led by Elissa (also known as Queen Dido), their military might came from a large navy that patrolled the Mediterranean. The actual city of Carthage is located on the outskirts of modern Tunis and, as Rome razed the city to the ground in 146CE, much of the ruins seen today are of Roman origin.

Valley of the Kings, Egypt

On the west bank of the Nile, across from the city of Luxor, stands the final resting place of the pharaohs of Egypt's New Kingdom (1539-1075 BCE). Whilst rulers of the Old and Middle Kingdoms favoured massive public monuments (like pyramids) as their tomb of choice, pharaohs such as Tutankhamun, Seti I and Ramses II, spent time and treasure creating underground mausoleums that no-one was ever meant to see. Some 63 chambers have been unearthed so far, containing mummies in gilt sarcophagi, bejewelled statues and, some believe, “The Curse of the Pharaohs”. After you’ve finished visiting, instead of jumping in a taxi, hike over the surrounding hills to Deir el-Medina or Deir el-Bahari, for some absolutely spectacular views… go on, walk like an Egyptian!

Knossos, Crete

Located 5km southeast of Heraklion, the Minoan Palace at Knossos is connected with several thrilling legends, notably the famous Labyrinth said to have been built for King Minos to hold the Minotaur - a mythical creature that was half-man, half-bull – who was slain by Theseus. Originally built around 1900 BCE, it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1700 BCE but rebuilt almost immediately and was the largest of all Minoan palaces covering an area of 22,000 square metres. It was not just the residence of the royal family but also the political, economic and religious centre of Crete. The ruins visible today are mostly from this second period.

Glastonbury, England

Rising from the flat plains is one of the most famous landmarks in Somerset, if not the whole of the West Country, Glastonbury Tor. Thousands of years ago it was an island, hence the identification with the mysterious Isle of Avalon, where it is said that King Arthur came to be healed after he was wounded by Mordred at the Battle of Camlan. If there, you must walk to the top of the Tor; from its height of 158m (525ft) on a clear day the view will encompass the Somerset Levels, Dorset, Wiltshire and even Wales!

Wherever you decide to travel, Flexicover Direct, the travel insurance specialists, are committed to providing the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year when away.

If you are travelling soon, have a great trip!