The Middle East is another thoroughly interesting region. Without a doubt its ‘greatest hits’ are of a man-made archaeological-historical nature, comfortably prevailing over its naturally occurring ‘B-sides’. Hardly surprising given that the Middle East is an ancient cradle of civilization (please forgive the banality).
One thing I should mention at the outset here: I only have scant first-hand knowledge of the region; accordingly, there may be a few inaccuracies in this short regional section of my Top-100. If so – help me out! Any mistakes need correcting or additions need making? > the comments section please. I’d be most grateful.
All righty. Off we go…
50. Dead Sea.
An undeniably unique Middle Eastern natural phenomenon. Water so salty… yes, you know, you float in it!… So let me be a little less obvious here: water so salty… just a lick of your wet fingers and you need to down at least two cold beers in one. What better excuse for a little naughtiness? :-).
51. Pamukkale, Turkey.
Cascading waterfalls and terraced lime basins + hot springs = unusual sights and uniquely satisfying sensations. Alas, seriously – depressingly – spoiled by both local folks and incoming tourist folks – masses thereof; nevertheless, still a most impressive location. I’m afraid I’ve none of my own travelogue-tales I can refer you to, since I was here back in 2004, before I got into this here blogging thing.
52. Cappadocia, Göreme National Park, Turkey.
Volcanic stone columns. The photos look amazing, especially with the hot air balloons. Haven’t been yet.
53. Petra, Jordan.
The ancient city cut into a rock face. Heard so much about this place… Really need to get there asap.
54. Baalbek and Byblos, Lebanon.
Amazing ancient architecture. The stone blocks of the foundations of Baalbek – can’t wait to inspect them in the flesh. And Byblos: more awesome ancient antiquity – at least 6000 years old. Haven’t been. Must!
55. Giza Pyramids & Valley of the Kings, Egypt.
Is there anyone on the planet, say, above the age of 10, who hasn’t heard of Cairo’s pyramids? Not many, surely. Slightly less famous but no less phenomenal is the Valley of the Kings – a burial ground for the Pharaohs from as far back as the 16th century BC! And is there any good reason why an experienced world traveler into his 6th decade hasn’t been to either yet? NO!
Mecca (Makkah) and Medina, Saudi Arabia.
Mecca: another one of those ‘who hasn’t heard of it?’ place names. But to go there one first has to convert to Islam.
Isfahan mosques and palaces, Iran.
Friends who’ve been to most of the must-sees in the Middle East tell me this is probably the most magnificent city of the whole region. The photos appear to confirm this. I need to get there – yesterday…
Rub’ al Khali desert (‘Empty Quarter’).
Endless sandy desert, dune ridges, sand your feet sink into it’s so fine… – which often means much airborne sand when the wind gets up: sand in your hair, teeth, boots, pockets! Still, if you don’t dwell on such petty tortures – and wear sandals instead of boots! – the desert is undeniably unworldly and unreally beautiful: breathtaking, hypnotic. Oh, and it goes without saying, surely: both the daybreak and the sunsets here are must-see; I should know ).