From the world’s first pizzeria to a growing hip-hop scene—discover little-known facts about the Mediterranean.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Mediterranean

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With a rich history, the Mediterranean has much to see, do and taste.

Credit: Royal Caribbean

Embark on a Mediterranean cruise on one of several Royal Caribbean ships, like Harmony of the Seas, and you’ll find you can see and experience many of Europe’s iconic landmarks, cultures and traditions. From authentic dishes of France to the ancient ruins of Italy, the adventures that await are sure to bring your history classes to life.

There’s plenty to discover of this region’s storied past, and you can get a jumpstart even before setting sail. Here are 10 surprising facts to get you in the Mediterranean state of mind:

Marseille’s coast is lined with waterfront cafes, shops and seafood restaurants.

Credit: Royal Caribbean

France

1. Marseille, France, the country’s largest port and the second largest in the Mediterranean, is well known for its hip-hop music scene. This is thanks to talented artists and groups like Akhenaton, Jul and Keny Arkana.

2. Did you know the Cote d’Azur, or French Riviera, gets about 300 days of sun per year? That makes it quite the idyllic destination all year long. You can visit the area’s world-famous beaches, complete with colorful umbrellas lining the golden sands, for postcard-worthy views.

 

Greece is world-renowned for its stunning turquoise waters and beautiful beaches.

Credit: istock

Greece

3. Believe it or not, Greece is made up of about 6,000 islands. Of those, only 227 are actually inhabited, and each has its own history, culture and unique landscapes. We recommend tasting your way through Greece’s rich traditions with a lunch excursion that includes breadmaking, folkloric dancing sweet treats and more.

4. One of the greenest islands in Greece, Corfu’s lush landscapes features millions of olive trees and thousands of species of plants and herbs, including several rare orchids. Explore Corfu’s beautiful natural scenery on a picturesque bike tour.

 

The Roman Empire is still hailed for its advances in architecture, art and democracy.

Credit: Royal Caribbean

Italy

5. In ancient  Rome, some residences not only had central heating and indoor plumbing but also heated floors. Inventions we also can trace back to the Romans include concrete, newspapers and sewer systems. To learn more, take a tour of ancient Roman buildings and palaces, such as the Le Domus Romane di Palazzo Valentini.

6. Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba, widely believed to be the world’s first pizzeria, opened its doors in Naples, Italy, in 1738. Today, the restaurant’s ovens are lined with lava rocks from nearby Mount Vesuvius. Drop in for wood-fired slices or take a pizza-making class where you can learn how to toss your own authentic Neapolitan pie.

7. Pisa’s famous landmark isn’t the only leaning tower in the area: The Basilica of San Nicola and the bell tower at the Church of San Michele degli Scalzi have a similar posture because of unstable soil in the area.

 

The beaches of Barcelona line the city, the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle.

Credit: Shutterstock

Spain

8. While Barcelona is ranked as one of the top destinations year over year, many don’t know that its famed beaches didn’t exist until 1992. The city revamped its coastline (including importing sand from Egypt to cover a little over a 2-mile stretch) in advance of hosting a worldwide sporting event that summer.

9. Malaga in Spain was built by the Phoenicians in the 7th and 8th centuries B.C., making it one of the oldest cities in the world. You can still see some of the original city walls in the cellar of the Museo Picasso Malaga, which was built to honor the city’s most famous native: Pablo Picasso.

Pro tip: You can also visit Museu Picasso in Barcelona to learn more about the famed artist and see his works of art.

10. The Strait of Gibraltar—where the Mediterranean Sea joins with the Atlantic Ocean and Spain nearly touches the top of Africa—is just 8 miles wide at its narrowest point. Go on and explore even more exciting waterways in Spain by kayaking in Malaga and the Gulf of Cadiz or sailing on a catamaran in Palma de Mallorca.

 

Ready to set sail and experience all that the Mediterranean has to offer? Explore the Royal Caribbean cruises that will take you to this bucket-list region here.