Top Ten Middle Eastern Mountains

Top Ten Middle Eastern Mountains


  1. Mount Ararat, Turkey
           Mount Ararat is a snow-capped, dormant volcanic cone in Turkey. It has two peaks: Greater Ararat (the highest peak in Turkey, and the entire Armenian plateau with an elevation of 5,137 m/16,854 ft.) and Lesser Ararat (with an elevation of 3,896 m/12,782 ft.). The Ararat massif is about 40 km (25 mi) in diameter. The Iran-Turkey boundary skirts east of Lesser Ararat, the lower peak of the Ararat massif. It was in this area that, by the Tehran Convention of 1932, a border change was made in Turkey’s favor, allowing it to occupy the eastern flank of Lesser Ararat. Mount Ararat in Judeo-Christian tradition is associated with the “Mountains of Ararat” where, according to the book of Genesis, Noah’s ark came to rest. It also plays a significant role in Armenian culture and irredentism.
    Links: Top Ten Turkish Attractions,,
  2. Temple Mount, Israel
           The Temple Mount is one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem, having been used as a religious site for thousands of years. At least four religions are known to have used the Temple Mount: Judaism, Christianity, Roman religion, and Islam. Biblical scholars have often identified it with two biblical mountains of uncertain location: Mount Moriah where the binding of Isaac took place, and Mount Zion where the original Jebusite fortress stood; however, both interpretations are disputed. Judaism regards the Temple Mount as the place where God chose the Divine Presence to rest (Isa 8:18); according to the rabbinic sages whose debates produced the Talmud, it was from here the world expanded into its present form and where God gathered the dust used to create the first man, Adam. The site is the location of Abraham’s binding of Isaac, and of two Jewish Temples. According to Jewish tradition and scripture (2 Chronicles 3:1-2), the first temple was built by Solomon the son of David in 957 BC and destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC. The second was constructed under the auspices of Zerubbabel in 516 BC and destroyed by the Roman Empire in 70 AD. Jewish tradition maintains it is here the Third and final Temple will also be built. The location is the holiest site in Judaism and is the place Jews turn towards during prayer. Due to its extreme sanctity, many Jews will not walk on the Mount itself, to avoid unintentionally entering the area where the Holy of Holies stood, since according to Rabbinical law, some aspect of the Divine Presence is still present at the site. It was from the Holy of Holies that the High Priest communicated directly with God. Among Sunni Muslims, the Mount is widely considered the third holiest site in Islam. Revered as the Noble Sanctuary (Bait-ul-Muqaddas) and the location of Muhammad’s journey to Jerusalem and ascent to heaven, the site is also associated with Jewish biblical prophets who are also venerated in Islam. After the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in 637 AD, Umayyad Caliphs commissioned the construction of the al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock on the site. The Dome was completed in 692 AD, making it one of the oldest extant Islamic structures in the world, after the Kaabah. The Al Aqsa Mosque rests on the far southern side of the Mount, facing Mecca.
    Links: Temples, Top Ten Israeli Attractions,,
  3. Asir & Hejaz Mountains
    1A new road rolls toward the the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.34657
    The Hijaz or Hejaz range of mountains is located in the Hejaz region, close to the western coast of Saudi Arabia. The western coastal escarpment of the peninsula is composed of two mountain ranges, the Hijaz to the north and the Asir farther south, with a gap between them near the middle of the peninsula’s coastline. From an elevation of 2,100 m (6000 feet), the range declines towards the vicinity of the gap about 600 m. The mountain wall drops abruptly on the western side toward the Red Sea, leaving the narrow coastal plain of Tihamah. The eastern slopes are not as steep, allowing rare rainfall to help create oases around the springs and wells of the few wadis. The Hijaz mountain area includes the Cradle of Gold (Mahd adh Dhahab) in the region between Mecca to Madina, the only known Arabian source for workable quantities of gold. Additionally the Hijaz has been conjectured as the source of the Pishon River that was described as one of the four rivers associated with the Garden of Eden. The course of the now dried up river (modern-day Wadi Al-Rummah and its extension Wadi Al-Batin) was identified by Farouk El-Baz of Boston University and named the Kuwait River. This tracks north-east across the Saudi desert for 600 miles and follows Wadi Al-Batin to the Gulf. The ‘Kuwait River’ and the Hejaz region is estimated to have dried up 2,500–3000 years ago.
  4. Hindu Kush
    The Hindu Kush is an 800 km (500 mi) long mountain range that stretches between central Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. The highest point in the Hindu Kush is Tirich Mir (7,708 m or 25,289 ft.) in Chitral District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. It divides the valley of the Amu Darya (the ancient Oxus River) to the north from the Indus River valley to the south. To the east the Hindu Kush buttresses the Pamir range near the point where the borders of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan meet, after which it runs southwest through Pakistan and into Afghanistan, finally merging into minor ranges in western Afghanistan.
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  5. Taurus Mountains
    The Taurus Mountains are a mountain complex in southern Turkey, dividing the Mediterranean coastal region of southern Turkey from the central Anatolian Plateau. The system extends along a curve from Lake Eğirdir in the west to the upper reaches of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in the east. It is a part of the Alpide belt in Eurasia. The Taurus mountains are divided into three chains from west to east as follows; Western Taurus ((Batı Toroslar), Akdağlar, the Bey Mountains, Katrancık Mountain, Geyik Mountain), Central Taurus ((Orta Toroslar), Akçalı Mountains, Bolkar Mountains, Aladağlar, Tahtalı Mountain), and the Southeastern Taurus ((Güneydoğu Toroslar), Nurhak Mountains, Malatya Mountains, Maden Mountains, Genç Mountains, Bitlis mountains).
  6. Pamir Mountains
    The Pamir Mountains are a mountain range in Central Asia formed by the junction of the Himalayas with Tian Shan, Karakoram, Kunlun, and Hindu Kush ranges. They are among the world’s highest mountains, and since Victorian times, they have been known as the “Roof of the World,” presumably a translation from Persian. They lie mostly in Gorno-Badakhshan province, Tajikistan and Badakshan Province, Afghanistan. To the north they join the Tian Shan mountains along the Alay Valley of Kyrgyzstan. To the south they join the Hindu Kush mountains along the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan and Gilgit–Baltistan in Pakistan. To the east they may end on the Chinese border or extend to the range that includes Kongur Tagh which is sometimes included in the Kunlun Mountains.
  7. Elburz Mountains
    Alborz, also written as Alburz, Elburz or Elborz, is a mountain range in northern Iran stretching from the borders of Azerbaijan and Armenia in the northwest to the southern end of the Caspian Sea, and ending in the east at the borders of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. The highest mountain in West Asia, Mount Damavand, Amol, Mazandaran is located in the range. The Alborz mountain range forms a barrier between the south Caspian and the Qazvin-Tehran plateau. Its higher elevations, in the Elburz Range forest steppe ecoregion, are arid with few trees, but its northern slopes, in the Caspian Hyrcanian mixed forests ecoregion, are lush and forested. Zoroastrians may identify the range with the dwelling place of the Peshyotan, and the Zoroastrian Ilm-e-Kshnoom sect identify Mount Davamand as the home of the Saheb-e-Dilan (‘Masters of the Heart’). In his epic Shahnameh, the poet Ferdowsi speaks of the mountains “as though they lay in India.” This could reflect older usage, for numerous high peaks were given the name and some even reflect it to this day, for example, Mount Elbrus in the Caucasus Mountains, and Mount Elbariz (Albariz, Jebal Barez) in the Kerman area above the Strait of Hormuz. As recently as the 19th century, a peak in the northernmost range in the Hindu Kush system, just south of Balkh, was recorded as Mount Elburz in British army maps. All these names reflect the same Iranian language compound, and share an identification as the legendary mountain Harā Bərəzaitī of the Avesta. Also due to its great snowy winters there are several ski resorts, some consider that a few of these are among the best in the world. Some of most important ones are Dizin, Shemshak, Tochal, and Darband.
  8. Caucasus Mountains
    The Caucasus Mountains are a mountain system in Eurasia between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea in the Caucasus region. The Caucasus Mountains include: the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range and the Lesser Caucasus Mountains. The Greater Caucasus Range extends from the Caucasian Natural Reserve in the vicinity of Sochi on the northeastern shore of the Black Sea, generally trending east-southeast and reaching nearly to Baku on the Caspian Sea, while the Lesser Caucasus runs parallel to the greater range, at a distance averaging about 100 km (62 mi) south. The Meskheti Range is a part of the Lesser Caucasus system. The Greater and Lesser Caucasus ranges are connected by the Likhi Range, which separates the Kolkhida Lowland from the Kura-Aras Lowland. In the southeast are the Talysh Mountains. The Lesser Caucasus and the Armenian Highland constitute the Transcaucasian Highland. The highest peak in the Caucasus range is Mount Elbrus in the Greater Caucasus, which rises to a height of 5,642 m (18,510 ft.) above sea level. Mountains near Sochi will host part of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
  9. Tian Shan
    The Tian Shan, also spelled Tien Shan, is a large system of mountain ranges located in Central Asia. The highest peak in the Tian Shan is Victory Peak (Jengish Chokusu), 7,439 m (24,406 ft.). Local names for the ranges include: “Celestial Mountains,” “Empyrean God,” “Heavenly Mountains,” “God’s Mountains,” and “Mountains of Tengri.” The Chinese name for Tian Shan may be derived from the Xiongnu language name Qilian, which was described by Sima Qian in the Records of the Grand Historian as the homeland of the pre-Xiongnu peoples of the region, the Yuezhi, and has been said to refer to the Tian Shan rather than to the range 1,500 km (930 mi) further east now known by this name.
  10. Zagros Mountains
    The Zagros Mountains are the largest mountain range in Iran and Iraq. With a total length of 1,500 km (932 mi), from northwestern Iran, and roughly correlating with Iran’s western border, the Zagros range spans the whole length of the western and southwestern Iranian plateau and ends at the Strait of Hormuz. The highest points in the Zagros Mountains are Zard Kuh-bakhtiari and Dena. The Hazaran massif in the Kerman province of Iran forms an eastern outlier of the range, the Jebal Barez reaching into Sistan.
  11. Mount Sinai, Egypt
           Mount Sinai, meaning “Moses’ Mountain” or “Mount Moses,” also known as Mount Horeb, is a mountain in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt that is the traditional and most accepted identification of the biblical Mount Sinai. The latter is mentioned many times in the Book of Exodus in the Torah, the Bible, and the Quran. According to Jewish, Christian and Islamic tradition, the biblical Mount Sinai was the place where Moses received the Ten Commandments.
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  12. Mount Damāvand, Iran

    Mount Damāvand is a potentially active volcano or Stratovolcano and the highest peak in Iran, has a special place in Persian mythology and folklore. It is located in the middle Alborz Range, adjacent to Varārū, Sesang, Gol-e Zard and Mīānrūd and is the highest volcano in all of Asia. It is a potentially active volcano, since there are fumaroles near the summit crater emitting sulfur, which were known to be active on July 6, 2007. The mountain is located near the southern coast of the Caspian Sea, in Āmol county, Māzandarān, 66 km (41 mi) northeast of Tehran.
    Links: Top Ten Iranian Attractions,,
  13. Mount Zion, Israel
           Mount Zion is a hill in Jerusalem just outside the walls of the Old City. Mount Zion has been historically associated with the Temple Mount. In the Bible, Mount Zion is synonymous with Mount Moriah, the site of the binding of Isaac and the Jewish Temple. The term is also used for the entire Land of Israel.
    Links: Top Ten Israeli Attractions,,
  14. Ultar Sar, Pakistan
           Ultar Sar is the southeasternmost major peak of the Batura Muztagh, a subrange of the Karakoram range. It lies about 10 km (6.2 mi) northeast of the Karimabad, a town on the Karakoram Highway in the Hunza Valley, part of the Gilgit District of Gilgit–Baltistan, Pakistan.
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  15. Mount Aqraa’, Turkey and Syria
           Mount Aqraa’, also known as Zaphon in the Bible, and Mount Casius to the Greeks, is a mountain located near the mouth of the Orontes River on the Syrian-Turkish border around 10 km (6.2 mi) north of Ugarit. Rising directly from a narrow coastal plain, Jebel Aqra is a mariners’ landmark with a long history as a sacred mountain. According to Ugaritic texts it was the sacred mountain of the storm god Baal (Baal-Hadad in ancient Canaanite mythology), where his palace was erected of blue lapis and silver and where his lightning overcame the nearby sea (Yam) and Death (Mot) himself. The thunderstorm-gathering mountain was an object of cult itself, and on it dwelt also the goddess Anat. As a result of the mountain being the meeting site of the gods, Mount Aqraa’ has been given the title of the Mount Olympus of the Middle East. On its bare limestone peak the cult-site is represented by a huge mound of ashes and debris, 180 feet wide and 26 feet deep, of which only the first 6 feet have been excavated, in which the excavators reached only as far as Hellenistic strata before closing down. The mountain, Robin Lane Fox observes, had an earlier sacred history among the Hurrians, who had known the mountain as Hazzi and placed their own storm god Teshub on its summit. Hittite rulers took up the name of its storm king and his victory over the sea by which he established his “kingship in heaven,” according to texts found at the Hittite capital Hattusa.
    Links: Top Ten Turkish Attractions, Top Ten Syrian Attractions,,
  16. Mount Serbal, Egypt
           Mount Serbal is a mountain located in Wadi Feiran in southern Sinai, sometimes identified in texts as Gebel Serbal. At 2,070 m (6,791 ft.) high, it is the 5th highest mountain in Egypt. It is part of the St. Catherine National Park. It is thought by some to be the Biblical Mount Sinai. There were many granite dwellings on Mount Serbal which were inhabited by anchorites in early Christian times, and there are traces of a 4th century monastery close to its base. It is likely that the many inscriptions (some in Greek) found on rocks at the foot of Mount Serbal and the path up to its peak date from these times. One spot on the path is called Mokatteb, or the valley of writing.
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  17. Mount Paran, Jordan

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  18. Mt. Mashu
           Mashu, as described in the Epic of Gilgamesh of Mesopotamian mythology, is a great cedar mountain through which the hero-king Gilgamesh passes via a tunnel on his journey to Dilmun after leaving the Cedar Forest, a forest of 10,000 leagues span. The corresponding location in reality has been the topic of speculation, as no confirming evidence has been found. Aaron Shaffer confirmed the reading of the mountain in Sumerian as “Kur Lib-na-nu” through collation of different sources of the Gilgamesh myth. Jeffrey H. Tigay also suggests that in the earlier Akkadian version it is “explicitly located in the north west, in or near Lebanon.” One theory is that the only location suitable for being called a “cedar land” was the great forest covering Lebanon and western parts of Syria and, in consequence, “Mashu” is the whole of the parallel Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon ranges, with the narrow gap between these mountains constituting the tunnel. The word “Mashu” itself may translate as “two mountains,” from the Babylonian for twins. May refer to the two mountains Mt. Ararat and Little Ararat.
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  19. Bonus: Mount Moriah

           Moriah, “ordained/considered by the LORD,” is the name given to a mountain range by the Book of Genesis, in which context it is the location of the sacrifice of Isaac. Traditionally Moriah has been interpreted as the name of the specific mountain at which this occurred, rather than just the name of the range and some believe the location to be the site of the Temple Mount.
  20. Mount Umm Shumar
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