UPDATED April 30, 2024

BY Miles MacDonald

IN Road of Empires

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UPDATED April 30, 2024

BY Miles MacDonald

IN Road of Empires

no comments

Road Of Empires: Spain To Sicily


Road of Empires. This extraordinary cycling tour is most certainly that. Along the route cyclists will see the signs of distant empires come and gone, in the incredible ruins left on remote mountains and beautiful Mediterranean shores, but also in the present-day language, culture, cuisine, architectural styles, religion and local politics. The history of civilizations along the Road of Empires are highly interconnected and cyclists will come away with a feeling of wonder at how these past Empires have together left their marks, both for better and worse, upon the thriving societies of today.

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Starting in Seville and cycling through southern Spain, with stops in Cordoba and Granada, the history and architecture of the people referred to as Moors are very clearly visible. From the Royal Palace of Seville to the Alhambra Castle of Granada, the many directions of cultural influence are apparent, with Muslim North Africans, themselves having been converted to Islam in the 7th century by Arab caliphates, establishing an Empire in the Iberian Peninsula and bringing their faith, cuisine and art with them.

Plaza de Espana, Seville

Of course, it is not only history but cycling that brings us to Spain. The semi-arid landscape and hilltops dotted with villages, as well as small secondary roads lined with oranges bursting from trees, make for wonderful cycling and perhaps a chance for some Iberian ham or Andalusian wines along the way. From Granada the tour skirts the southern edge of the  Sierra Nevada National Park with its snow-capped peak in full view. The tour soon reaches the Mediterranean coast and the city of Almeria, where the next leg of the adventure will begin.

Coastal road, Algeria

From Spain, we will voyage out across the Mediterranean Sea by ferry to Algeria, the largest country in Africa. It is a destination few tourists have the opportunity to discover, and yet it is incredibly rich in its history, culture and scenery. With its very hospitable people, it is a country that deserves exploring. In the spring time it is green and lush. This makes the contrast of the azure sea and white capped Atlas Mountains that much more striking. The vast Sahara Desert lies unseen to the south of our route, with almost all Algeria’s population and roads situated in the north.

If one word encapsulates the cycling terrain for our time in Algeria, it is undulating. Whether faced with switchback climbs and descents along the Mediterranean Sea on the way towards Algiers, the capital, or the constant ups and downs in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains after heading inland, the cyclists will certainly be challenged.

Djemla, Algeria

Along the route, the cyclists will have the opportunity for guided visits to some of the most striking historical ruins in North Africa. These include Tipaza with its sandy perch, and ancient olive trees, by the sea as well as Djemla, a UNESCO world heritage site – whose name translates to “beautiful” in Arabic – along with the ancient Roman City of Hippo Regius. There is also the lingering architecture of the French in Algiers and Annaba. The recent, in a historical context, colonization by the French in Algeria and ensuing decolonization is a history that is being worked through. Perhaps reading Frantz Fanon’s, The Wretched Of The Earth or the Algerian born, and Nobel Prize winner, Albert Camus’ book, who is very much still admired in Algeria, The Stranger, may give one an insight into local perspectives in 20th century Algeria.


Tunisia stands as a contrast to the feeling of remoteness from tourists and foreigners that one experiences in Algeria. The hilltop border along the Mediterranean between the two countries allows cyclists to descend, and barely pedal, their bicycles all the way down to the beach at the Tunisian city of Tabarka and its Genoese seaside castle. Mountains also await in Tunisia though, as do olive groves, as profuse as you will ever see, creating lush green landscapes to pedal through. The Dougga ruins will be visited where we’ll be guided through its layers of history, where Numidian, Carthaginian, Roman, Byzantium, Vandal and Arab populations once lived.

Tunisian desert

The best cycling routes are in the north close to the Mediterranean, but no trip to North Africa would be complete without a desert experience. To allow for desert exploration after arriving to Tunis, the Tunisian capital and site of ancient Carthage, a 3-day, 2-night journey will be arranged by vehicle taking cyclists into the desert, where they will camp under the stars and explore dunes, desert oasis and Bedouin culture.

Hilltop village, Sicily

Sicily, our final destination along this historic journey, immediately reveals its connectedness to the rest of the Road of Empires: from the Greek ruins at the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento to Sicily’s Trinacria symbol with one of the three Gorgons of Greek mythology, Medusa, at its centre. In addition, the Arab influence in Sicily remains strong and is especially visible in Palermo, a legacy left from the Islamic Kingdom that ruled almost all of Sicily during the 10th and 11th centuries.

Mt Etna, Sicily

In Sicily, as with all Mediterranean coastal regions, the cycling isn’t easy. No shortage of steep climbs and descents and tiny, remote roads lie ahead. Views of Mt. Etna will amaze cyclists and the sleepy fishing village of Sciacca (pronounced “shocka”), as well as our other stops on the island, will provide many opportunities to dive into Sicilian cuisine and wines.

Syracuse, Sicily

Syracuse is a fitting end to our tour, with its grand Greek theatre, temple of Apollo and the beautiful island of Ortigia jutting out into the sea. Once one of the greatest cities of the ancient Greeks, it is built on overlapping civilizations, whose blend of styles and beliefs live on in the city today.

Extra note: The font for the Road of Empires logo was inspired by watching Raiders of the Lost Ark many times as a child when an inspiration for adventure, lost relics and far-flung places was born. A career as an archeologist did not pan out, but dreaming of distant sites to visit by bicycle has been a positive substitute. Thank you Indiana Jones…


Road of Empires

Pedal through history on the Road of Empires Cycling Adventure. Spin through Spain, Algeria, Tunisia & Sicily and learn about the Moors, Romans...

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