The Middle East is certainly one of the world’s most interesting, ancient, stunning regions. Sure, it’s got its political issues – what place doesn’t? And yes, it tends to get very hot and a little too sunny at times, but also it’s a region so rich with things that are incredibly rewarding and truly unforgettable. Today I present you with five – imagine you had say 10 days and you could fly in and out of everywhere, here are five that you simply, in my mind, mustn’t miss!
And so I start with this contentious city, a place of such significance for all three of the Abrahamic religions, and the only place in this post that I haven’t actually been to. Yet. As this is on the agenda for November this year.
The Temple Mount is perhaps the focus of tourists for the city, but the whole place surely is going to be incredible.
- Esfahan, Iran
This city is somewhat central in Iran. And it generally gets regarded as the traveller’s favourite city in the country. The central square, the Naqsh-e Jehan Square, is a very special spot with mosques on the sides, ancient buildings, a market, all inter-connected. A walk along the Zayanderud River with its special bridges which contain cafes is a must. It’s a brilliant vibe, a special place this city. Slightly above Shiraz which could have possibly made the list too. But if you only visit one place in Iran, this should be it in my book!
- Valley of the Kings, Egypt
And so there is going to be some predictability with these last three. The Valley of the Kings, visited on a tour with stories about how they discovered the tombs, is a thoroughly jaw-dropping tour indeed. Usually visited from Luxor with its own amazing Karnak Temple, this glimpse into ancient life will leave you speechless.
The rock-hewn tombs of the Valley of the Kings date back to the 16th to 11th century BC. This makes them incredibly, obviously, old. Today they have found 63 different tombs which vary in size. One is known to have 120 different chambers.
- Petra, Jordan
See, now it is predictable. Jordan itself has so many ancient wonders, a lot of Roman ruins and old Roman cities, as does (or did) Syria. And I have heard of people who were disappointed in Petra. But for me this ancient city took my breath away.
The internet tells me it dates back as far as 9000 BC – so not quite as old as the Valley of the Kings. In the 2nd century AD Petra lost its independence from the Roman Empire, and you can see a great Roman influence in the ruins and rock-hewn temples and the like when you explore. It’s over a huge area, there is very little shade, and the Treasury is the most famous building of the lot and it is the one you encounter first after entering through the paths through the rock. It worked for me.
- Pyramids of Giza, Egypt (not to mention the Sphinx!)
And so it had to be. And I think that simply by reputation they impress beyond mere words. It was 1999 that I saw them, I should really go back for another look because I would love a more in depth experience than I had back 20 years ago.
Despite being in a pretty sketchy area of town, in clear sight of a KFC and plenty of camel touts, there is nothing in this world quite as jaw-dropping as the Pyramids of Giza, and that’s a simple fact. And of course you have the Sphinx there keeping them company. You can go inside, take a tour so you learn more than I did my merely walking around and taking a few snaps.
So. What would you put in there? I know there are no shortage of amazing places across the Middle East, from the ultra-modern Dubai, to the deserts and ruins I didn’t include here in Jordan, and Saudi-Arabia has a plethora of stunning sites to visit. Let me know by commenting! Thanks for reading – May the Journey Never End!