Middle Eastern Attractions

Middle Eastern Attractions

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Top Ten Azerbaijani Attractions

Top Ten Azerbaijani Attractions

AzerbaijanAzerbaijan1Azerbaijan2Azerbaijan3

        Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea, Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Iran. The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, the first democratic and secular republic in the Muslim world, was established in 1918, but was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1920. Azerbaijan regained independence in 1991. Shortly thereafter, during the Nagorno-Karabakh War, neighboring Armenia occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, its surrounding territories and the enclaves of Karki, Yukhary Askipara, Barkhudarly and Sofulu. The Nagorno-KarabakhRepublic, which emerged in Nagorno-Karabakh, continues to be not diplomatically recognized by any nation and the region is still considered a de jure part of Azerbaijan, despite being de facto independent since the end of the war. Azerbaijan, a nation with a majority Turkic and Shia population, is a secular and a unitary republic with an ancient and historic cultural heritage. Azerbaijan is one of the six independent Turkic states as well as the active members of the Turkic Council and the TÜRKSOY community. It is one of the founding members of GUAM and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and in December 1991 the country became a founding member of the Commonwealth of Independent States. On May 9, 2006 Azerbaijan was elected to membership in the newly established Human Rights Council by the United Nations General Assembly. A Special Envoy of the European Commission is present in the country, which is also a member of the United Nations, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the NATO Partnership for Peace program. Azerbaijan is a correspondent at the International Telecommunication Union and member of the Non-Aligned Movement and holds observer status in World Trade Organization. Being one of the five most developed countries among CIS members, Azerbaijan has the 67th highest human development level in the world. In 2009 the country had an unemployment rate of 6% and a low crime rate compared to other CIS and Eastern European countries.

  1. Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshahs’ Palace and Maiden Tower
    Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshahs’ Palace and Maiden TowerWalled City of Baku with the Shirvanshahs’ Palace and Maiden Tower1Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshahs’ Palace and Maiden Tower2Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshahs’ Palace and Maiden Tower3Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshahs’ Palace and Maiden Tower4Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshahs’ Palace and Maiden Tower5Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshahs’ Palace and Maiden Tower6Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshahs’ Palace and Maiden Tower7Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshahs’ Palace and Maiden Tower8Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshahs’ Palace and Maiden Tower9
    Palace of the Shirvanshahs is the biggest monument of the Shirvan-Absheron branch of the Azerbaijan architecture, situated in the Inner City of Baku. The complex contains the main building of the palace, Divanhane, the burial-vaults, the shah’s mosque with a minaret, Seyid Yahya Bakuvi’s mausoleum, Murad’s gate, a reservoir and the remnants of the bath-house. The palace is depicted on the obverse of the Azerbaijani 10,000 manat banknote of 1994-2006, and of the 10 new manat banknote issued since 2006.Nearby, the Maiden Tower or also known locally as Giz Galasi located in the Old City, Baku in Azerbaijan is an ancient tower with cultural affinity corroborating the presence Zoroastrians, Sassanians, Arabs, Persians, Shirvanis, Ottomans and Russians. Built in the 12th century, as part of the walled city of Baku, the Maiden Tower, with the Shirvanshahs’ Palace dated to the 15th century, are an ensemble of historic monuments. It is one of the most noted landmarks and Azerbaijan’s most distinctive national emblems and is thus featured on Azeri currency notes and other official letter heads. The Maiden Tower houses a museum, which presents the story of historic evolution of the Baku city. The view from the roof takes in the alleys and minarets of the Old City, the Baku Boulevard, the De Gaulle house and a wide vista of the Baku Bay. In recent years, the brazier on the top has been lit during the nights of the Novruz festival. Consequent to the receding of the sea shore line of the Caspian Sea, a strip of land emerged. This land was developed between the 9th and 15th centuries, when the walls of the old city, the palace including the huge bastion of the Maiden Tower were built.
    Links: Palaces, Top Ten Towers, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_City_%28Baku%29, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palace_of_the_Shirvanshahs, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maiden_Tower_%28Baku%29,
  2. Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape
    Gobustan Rock Art Cultural LandscapeGobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape1Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape2Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape3Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape4Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape5
    Gobustan National Park, officially Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape, is a hill and mountain site occupying the southeast ending of the Big Caucasian Ridge, mainly in the basin of Jeyrankechmaz River, between the rivers Pirsagat and Sumgait. It is located west of the settlement of Gobustan, about 40 miles (64 km) southwest of the centre of Baku on the west bank of the Caspian Sea. The territory of Gobustan is cut up with numerous, sometimes rather deep ravines (in Azerbaijani: gobu). That is a suggested origin of the Gobustan geographical name. In 1966 Gobustan was declared a national historical landmark of Azerbaijan in an attempt to preserve the ancient carvings, relics, mud volcanoes and gas-stones in the region. The mountains Boyukdash, Kichikdash, Jingirdag and the Yazili hill were taken under legal government protection. These mountains are located near the Caspian Sea, in the southeast part of Gobustan. In 2007 Gobustan was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site considered to be of “outstanding universal value” for the quality and density of its rock art engravings, for the substantial evidence the collection of rock art images presents for hunting, fauna, flora and lifestyles in pre-historic times and for the cultural continuity between prehistoric and medieval times that the site reflects.
    Links: National Parks, Top Ten Cave Paintings, Top Ten European Cave Paintings, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gobustan_Rock_Art_Cultural_Landscape,
  3. Bibi-Heybat Mosque
    Bibi-Heybat MosqueBibi-Heybat Mosque1Bibi-Heybat Mosque2Bibi-Heybat Mosque3Bibi-Heybat Mosque4Bibi-Heybat Mosque5
    The Bibi-Heybat Mosque is a historical mosque in Baku, Azerbaijan. The existing structure, built in the 1990’s, is recreation of the mosque with the same name built in the 13th century by Shirvanshah Farrukhzad II Ibn Ahsitan II, which was completely destroyed by the Bolsheviks in 1936. The Bibi-Heybat Mosque includes the tomb of Ukeyma Khanum (a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad) and today is the spiritual center for the Muslims of the region and one of the major monuments of Islamic architecture in Azerbaijan. It’s locally known as “the mosque of Fatima” which Alexandre Dumas using the same name, described the mosque during his visit in the 1840’s.
    Links: Top Ten Mosques, Top Ten Domes, Top Ten Dome Interiors, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bibi-Heybat_Mosque,
  4. Ateshgah “Ancient Eternal Fire Temple”
    Ateshgah “Ancient Eternal Fire Temple”Ateshgah “Ancient Eternal Fire Temple”1Ateshgah “Ancient Eternal Fire Temple”2Ateshgah “Ancient Eternal Fire Temple”3Ateshgah “Ancient Eternal Fire Temple”4Ateshgah “Ancient Eternal Fire Temple”5
    The Baku Ateshgah or “Fire Temple” is a castle-like religious structure in Surakhani, a suburb of greater Baku, Azerbaijan. “Atash” is the Persian word for fire. The pentagonal complex, which has a courtyard surrounded by cells for monks and a tetrapillar-altar in the middle, was built during the 17th and 18th centuries. It was abandoned after 1883 when oil and gas plants were established in the vicinity. The complex was turned into a museum in 1975 and now receives 15,000 visitors a year.
    Links: Temples, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ateshgah_of_Baku,
  5. Khinalug
    KhinalugKhinalug1Khinalug2
    Khinalug or Khinalugh is an ancient Caucasian village going back to the Caucasian Albanian period. It is located high up in the mountains of Quba Rayon, Azerbaijan. It is also a municipality in Quba Rayon, which consists of the villages of Khinalug and Qalayxudat. It is located just north of Quba in the middle of the Greater Caucasus Mountains that divide Russia and the South Caucasus. Khinalug is also the highest, most remote and isolated village in Azerbaijan and among the highest in the Caucasus. The weather changes dramatically during summer and winter, ranging from −20 °C to 18 °C. Khinalug has a population of about 2,000 people. This small group of people speaks the Khinalug language, which belongs to the Northeast Caucasian language family, although many speak Azerbaijani as well. The place is of great antiquity and holds remnants of the once rich Hindu and Buddhist past of Azerbaijan. Because of the high altitude and remoteness of Khinalug it managed to survive and withstand many invasions. There are also some other historical places such as a 12th century mosque, a 15th century mosque, several ancient cemeteries between the mountains, as well as many ancient holy caves of early humans. Because of its location, scenery and relative isolation, the village is considered one of Azerbaijan’s premiere destinations for hikers and adventure travelers in such travel guides as Lonely Planet. On October 7, 2006, the Azerbaijani president announced plans to modernize the educational buildings, infrastructure, governmental buildings and other resources of Khinalug.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khinalug,
  6. Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azerbaijan,

Top Ten Yemen Attractions

Top Ten Yemen Attractions

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       The Republic of Yemen is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern and southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east. Yemen has a land area of 555,000 square km and a population of approximately 24 million (2010). Its capital and largest city is Sana’a. Yemen’s territory includes over 200 islands, the largest of which is Socotra, about 415 km to the south of mainland Yemen, off the coast of Somalia. It is the only state in the Arabian Peninsula to have a purely republican form of government (though not in practice). In February and March 2011, an uprising against the government began, and clashes with police and pro-government supporters have steadily intensified. Many protesters demand the immediate resignation of the current leadership, and in particular that of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

  1. Old City of Sana’a
    Old City of Sana’aOld City of Sana’a1Old City of Sana’a2Old City of Sana’a3Old City of Sana’a4Old City of Sana’a5Old City of Sana’a6
    Sana’a is the capital of Yemen and the center of the San‘a’ Governorate; however the city itself is not part of the Governorate, but forms the separate administrative district of “Amanat Al-Asemah.” Sana’a is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. At an altitude of 2,300 m (7,500 ft), it is also one of the highest capital cities in the world. Sana’a has a population of approximately 1,748,000 (2010) making it Yemen’s largest city. The old city of Sana’a, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has a distinctive visual character due its unique architectural characteristics, most notably expressed in its multi-story buildings decorated with geometric patterns
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sana%27a, http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/385,
  2. Old Walled City of Shibam
    Old Walled City of ShibamOld Walled City of Shibam1Old Walled City of Shibam2
    Shibam (often referred to as Shibam Hadhramaut) is a town in Yemen with about 7,000 inhabitants. The first known inscription about the city dates from the 3rd century AD. It was the capital of the Hadramawt Kingdom.
    Links: Cities, Top Ten Wallshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shibam, http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/192,
  3. Historic Town of Zabid
    Historic Town of ZabidHistoric Town of Zabid1Historic Town of Zabid2Historic Town of Zabid3Historic Town of Zabid4Historic Town of Zabid5Historic Town of Zabid6Historic Town of Zabid7Historic Town of Zabid8
    Zabid is a town with an urban population of around 23,000 on Yemen’s western coastal plain. The town, named after Wadi Zabid, the wadi (or valley) to its south, is one of the oldest towns in Yemen. It was the capital of Yemen from the 13th to the 15th century and a center of the Arab and Muslim world due in large part to its famed University of Zabid and being a center of Islamic education. It was the capital of the Ziyadid dynasty from 819–1018 and the Najahid dynasty from 1022–1158. Today, however, it is at the intellectual and economic margins of modern Yemen. Zabid has been declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. Its Great Mosque occupies a prominent place in the town. The vestiges of its university can also be visited.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zabid, http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/611,
  4. Socotra Archipelago
    Socotra ArchipelagoSocotra Archipelago1Socotra Archipelago2Socotra Archipelago3Socotra Archipelago4Socotra Archipelago5Socotra Archipelago6
    Socotra is a small archipelago of four islands in the Indian Ocean. The largest island, also called Socotra, is about 95% of the landmass of the archipelago. It lies some 240 kilometers (150 mi) east of the Horn of Africa and 380 km (240 mi) south of the Arabian Peninsula. The island is very isolated and through the process of speciation, one third of its plant life is found nowhere else on the planet. It has been described as the most alien-looking place on Earth. Socotra is part of the Republic of Yemen.
    Links: Top Ten Reefs, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socotra_Archipelago, http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1263,
  5. Aden
    Aden1AdenAden2Aden3
    Aden is a seaport city in Yemen, located by the eastern approach to the Red Sea (the Gulf of Aden), some 170 km east of Bab-el-Mandeb. Its population is approximately 800,000. Aden’s ancient, natural harbor lies in the crater of an extinct volcano which now forms a peninsula, joined to the mainland by a low isthmus. This harbor, Front Bay, was first used by the ancient Kingdom of Awsan between the 5th and 7th centuries BC. The modern harbor is on the other side of the peninsula. A local legend in Yemen states that Aden may be as old as human history itself. Some also believe that Cain and Abel are buried somewhere in the city.
    Links: Top 100 Stampshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aden,
  6. Town of Hajarin
    Town of HajarinTown of Hajarin1
    Description:
    Links:
  7. The Madrasa Amiriya of Rada
    The Madrasa Amiriya of RadaThe Madrasa Amiriya of Rada1The Madrasa Amiriya of Rada2The Madrasa Amiriya of Rada3The Madrasa Amiriya of Rada4The Madrasa Amiriya of Rada5
    Al-Amiriya is a 16th century madrasa (educational institution) located in Rada, Yemen. It is under consideration for inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was built in 1504 and is an example of the architecture of Tahirids, Yemen. The monument was in poor condition until 1978 when Iraqi-born archaeologist Selma Al-Radi saw it and enlisted financial help from foreign missions to restore it in a more than twenty year effort which she led.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amiriya_Madrasa,
  8. Jibla
    JiblaJibla1Jibla2Jibla3
    Jibla is a town in southwestern Yemen, close to Ibb. The town and its surroundings were added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List due to its purported universal cultural value. Following the death of Sulayhid Dynasty ruler Ali al-Sulayhi in 1067, Arwa al-Sulayhi’s husband Ahmad became the de jure ruler of Yemen, but he was unable to rule being paralyzed and bedridden. He gave all of his power to Arwa, one of her first actions was to move the capital from Sana’a to Jibla in order to be in a better position to destroy Sa’id ibn Najar and thus avenge her father-in-law’s death. This she managed to do by luring him into a trap in 1088. She built a new palace at Jibla, and transformed the old palace into a great mosque where she was eventually buried.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jibla,
  9. Archaeological site of Marib
    Archaeological site of MaribArchaeological site of Marib1Archaeological site of Marib2Archaeological site of Marib3Archaeological site of Marib4Archaeological site of Marib5
    Ma’rib is the capital town of the Ma’rib Governorate, Yemen and was the capital of the Sabaean kingdom (Ancient Sheba of biblical fame). It is located approximately 120 kilometers east of Yemen’s modern capital, Sana’a. The Sabaean kingdom was located in what is now the Aseer region in southwestern Yemen. The Sabaean kings made their capital at Ma’rib, and built great irrigation works such as the Ma’rib dams, whose ruins are still visible. The Marib Dam supported a flourishing culture for more than a thousand years; its collapse in 575 AD, a few years after the birth of Muhammad, may be one of the main reasons that Arabia did not become Christian. They also built castles and temples in the area, and were known for trading the valuable frankincense and myrrh. They were a seafaring people and known to have influence and a population in the Northeast African kingdom of D’mt, across the Red Sea in Eritrea and perhaps Ethiopia, the only other source of both frankincense and myrrh.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marib,
  10. The Historic City of Thula
    The Historic City of ThulaThe Historic City of Thula1
    Thula is one of five towns in Yemen on the tentative UNESCO World Heritage List. Dating to the Himyarite period, the town is very well-preserved and includes traditional houses and mosques.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thula,
  11. Historic city of Sa’dah
    Historic city of Sa’dahHistoric city of Sa’dah1Historic city of Sa’dah2Historic city of Sa’dah3Historic city of Sa’dah4Historic city of Sa’dah5
    Sa’dah is the capital city of Saada Governorate in north-western Yemen. Known in antiquity as Karna, it had a population of 51,870 in 2004.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saada,
  12. Jabal Haraz
    Jabal HarazJabal Haraz1Jabal Haraz2Jabal Haraz3Jabal Haraz4Jabal Haraz5
    Jabal Haraz is a small enclave of Ism’aili communities located in the mountains of Yemen, between Sana’a and al-Hudayda. The area is being considered for inscription in UNESCO’s World Heritage list of sites that have “outstanding universal value.”
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jabal_Haraz,
  13. Balhaf/Burum Coastal Area
    BalhafBurum Coastal Area
    Balhaf is an oasis in an area of coastal dunes in the Burum Coastal Area of Yemen. It has palm trees and white sand, which gives way to fields of black lava and to the fishing port of Bir-Ali. Qana, a major point of departure of the Route I’Encens, was the main port of the ancient kingdom of Hadhramaut, and is dominated by a hill, Husn al-Ghurab, or remains of the ancient vestiges. A I’écart is located on an extinct volcano, a crater lake with turquoise waters. The “Corniche” road leads to the coastal port of Burum. Burum, a typical fishing port, is an old village surrounded by a gypsum kilns. Close by, one can see the large bay of Mukalla, whose wetlands are populated by migrant birds from India or Africa.
    Links: Top Ten Craters, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balhaf,
  14. Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yemenhttp://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/ye,

Top Ten Uzbekistani Attractions

Top Ten Uzbekistani Attractions

UzbekistanUzbekistan1Uzbekistan2Uzbekistan3Uzbekistan4

       Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south. Prior to 1991, it was part of the Soviet Union. Once part of the Persian Samanid and later Timurid empires, the region was conquered in the early 16th century by Uzbek nomads, who spoke an Eastern Turkic language. Most of Uzbekistan’s population today belong to the Uzbek ethnic group and speak the Uzbek language, an offshoot of the Turkic languages. Uzbekistan was incorporated into the Russian Empire in the 19th century and in 1924 became a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, known as the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic (Uzbek SSR). It has been an independent republic since December 1991.Uzbekistan’s economy relies mainly on commodity production, including cotton, gold, uranium, potassium and natural gas. Despite the declared objective of transition to a market economy, Uzbekistan continues to maintain rigid economic controls, which often repel foreign investors. The policy of gradual, strictly controlled transition has nevertheless produced beneficial results in the form of economic recovery after 1995.

  1. Historic Center of Bukhara
    Historic Centre of BukharaHistoric Centre of Bukhara1Historic Centre of Bukhara2Historic Centre of Bukhara3Historic Centre of Bukhara4Historic Centre of Bukhara5
    Bukhara, from the Soghdian βuxārak (“lucky place”), is the capital of the Bukhara Province (viloyat) of Uzbekistan. The nation’s 5th largest city, it has a population of 263,400 (2009 census estimate). The region around Bukhara has been inhabited for at least five millennia, and the city has existed for half that time. Located on the Silk Road, the city has long been a center of trade, scholarship, culture and religion. The historic center of Bukhara, which contains numerous mosques and madrassas, has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Ethnic Tajiks constitute the majority in Bukhara, but the city long had a population including Jews and other ethnic minorities as well.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bukhara,
  2. Samarkand “Crossroads of Cultures”
    SamarkandSamarkand1Samarkand2Samarkand3Samarkand4Samarkand5Samarkand6
    Samarkand, “Stone Fort” or “Rock Town,” is the 2nd largest city in Uzbekistan and the capital of Samarqand Province. The city is most noted for its central position on the Silk Road between China and the West, and for being an Islamic centre for scholarly study. In the 14th century it became the capital of the empire of Timur (Tamerlane) and is the site of his mausoleum (the Gur-e Amir). The Bibi-Khanym Mosque remains one of the city’s most notable landmarks. The Registan was the ancient center of the city.
    Links: Top Ten Dome Interiors, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samarkand,
  3. Itchan Kala
    Itchan KalaItchan Kala1Itchan Kala2Itchan Kala3Itchan Kala4Itchan Kala5Itchan Kala6
    Itchan Kala is the walled inner town of the city of Khiva, Uzbekistan. The old town retains more than 50 historic monuments and 250 old houses, dating primarily from the 18th or 19th centuries. Djuma Mosque, for instance, was established in the 10th century and rebuilt from 1788 to 1789, although its celebrated hypostyle hall still retains 112 columns taken from ancient structures. The most spectacular features of Itchan Kala are its crenellated brick walls and four gates at each side of the rectangular fortress. Although the foundations are believed to have been laid in the 10th century, present-day 10-meters-high walls were erected mostly in the late 17th century and later repaired.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Itchan_Kala,
  4. Historic Center of Shakhrisyabz
    Historic Centre of ShakhrisyabzHistoric Centre of Shakhrisyabz1Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz2Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz3
    Shakhrisabz, meaning “green city” in Persian, is a city in Uzbekistan located approximately 80 km south of Samarkand with the population of 53,000 (1991). Once a major city of Central Asia, it is primarily known today as the birthplace of 14th century Turco-Mongol conqueror Timur.
    Links: Sculptures, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakhrisyabz,
  5. Chor-Bakr
    Chor-BakrChor-Bakr1Chor-Bakr3
    The memorial complex of Chor-Bakr was built over the ostensible burial place of Abu-Bakr-Said, who died in the year 360 of the Muslim Calendar (970-971 AD), and who was one of the four of Abu-Bakrs (Chor-Bakr), descendants of the Prophet Muhammad. The complex includes the necropolis of family tombs, and courtyards enclosed with walls.
    Links: Top Ten Necropolises, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chor-Bakr,
  6. Historic Center of Qoqon
    Historic Center of QoqonHistoric Center of Qoqon1Historic Center of Qoqon2Historic Center of Qoqon3Historic Center of Qoqon4
    Kokand is a city in Fergana Province in eastern Uzbekistan, at the southwestern edge of the Fergana Valley. It has a population of 192,500 (1999 census estimate). Kokand is 228 km southeast of Tashkent, 115 km west of Andijan, and 88 km west of Fergana. It is nicknamed “City of Winds”, or sometimes “Town of the Boar.” Kokand is on the crossroads of the ancient trade routes, at the junction of two main routes into the Fergana Valley, one leading northwest over the mountains to Tashkent, and the other west through Khujand. As a result, Kokand is the main transportation junction in the Fergana Valley.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quqon,
  7. Sheikh Mukhtar-Vali Mausoleum Complex
    Sheikh Mukhtar-Vali Mausoleum ComplexSheikh Mukhtar-Vali Mausoleum Complex1Sheikh Mukhtar-Vali Mausoleum Complex2
    The Sheikh Mukhtar-Vali Complex is a mausoleum located in the town of Khiva, Uzbekistan. It was erected in the 16th century, above the grave of Sheikh Mukhtar-Vali.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheikh_Mukhtar-Vali_Complex,
  8. Mountains of the Western Tien Shan “Chatkal Sate Biosphere Reserve”
    Mountains of the Western Tien ShanMountains of the Western Tien Shan1Mountains of the Western Tien Shan2Mountains of the Western Tien Shan3
    The Tian Shan, “celestial mountains,” is a large mountain system located in Central Asia. The highest peak in the Tian Shan is Victory Peak (Jengish Chokusu), which is 7,439 meters (24,406 ft).
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tien-Shan_Mountains,
  9. Andijon
    AndijonAndijon2
    Andijan or Andizhan is the 4th largest city in Uzbekistan, and the capital of the Andijan Province. It is located in the east of the country in the Fergana Valley, near the border with Kyrgyzstan on the Andijan-Say River. It has a population of 323,900 (1999 census estimate).
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andijon,
  10. Desert Castles of Ancient Khorezm
    Desert Castles of Ancient KhorezmTop Ten Uzbekistani Attractions1Top Ten Uzbekistani Attractions2Top Ten Uzbekistani Attractions3Top Ten Uzbekistani Attractions4
    Khwarezm, or Chorasmia, is a large oasis region on the Amu Darya river delta in western Central Asia, which borders to the north the (former) Aral Sea, to the east the Kyzylkum desert, to the south the Karakum desert and to the west the Ustyurt Plateau. It was the center of the indigenous Khwarezmian civilization and a series of kingdoms, whose capitals were among others Kath, Gurganj (the modern Köneürgenç) and, from the 16th century on, Khiva. Today Khwarezm belongs partly to Uzbekistan and partly to Turkmenistan. The desert Castles of Ancient Khorezm consists of the following: Toprak Qala, Ayaz Qala, Koy-Kirilgan Qala, Big Guldursun fortress, Pil Qala, Anka Qala, Kurgashin Qala and Djanbas Qala.
    Links: Castles, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khorezm,
  11. Minaret in Vobkent
    Minaret in Vobkent
    Vabkent is a town in the Bukhara Province of Uzbekistan and the capital of Vabkent district. It is famous for a minaret constructed in 1196–1198, under the reign of Ala ad-Din Tekish.
    Links: Top Ten Minarets, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vabkent,
  12. Ancient Termiz
    Ancient TermizAncient Termiz1Ancient Termiz2
    Description: Termiz is a city in southern Uzbekistan near the border with Afghanistan. Some link the name of the city to thermos, “hot” in Greek, tracing its name back to Alexander the Great. Others suggest that it came from Sanskrit taramato, meaning “on the river bank.” It is the hottest point of Uzbekistan. It has a population of 140,404 (1 January 2005), and is the capital of Surxondaryo Province. Its most famous native son is Al-Tirmidhi, born in its suburb Bugh and buried 60 kilometers north of Termez, on the outskirts of Sherobod. He is locally known as Iso At Termezi or Termez Ota (Father of Termez City). Hakim-e-Termizi, one of the famous Sufi leaders, is buried in the suburbs of Termez. He is also known as Termez Ota (Father of Termez City). It was once a great center of Buddhism and Islam.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Termiz,
  13. Bahoutdin Architectural Complex
    Bahoutdin Architectural Complex
    Shaykh Baha-ud-Din or Bohoutdin was the founder of the Naqshbandi order, and was considered the spiritual patron of Bukhara governors; he died in 1389. That is why his necropolis, which was subsequently erected at his tomb, always was and remains the most esteemed in Uzbekistan and its fame has reached other Islamic countries. Ancient toponymy of this settlement is known under the name Kasri Arifon.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bahoutdin_Architectural_Complex,
  14. Zarautsoy Rock Paintings
    Zarautsoy Rock PaintingsZarautsoy Rock Paintings1
    The Zarautsoy gallery of rock art contains the oldest petroglyphs in Central Asia. The images describe primitive man’s everyday life, and bull and wild goat hunting. The site is located in the Surkhandarya Region of Uzbekistan.
    Links: Relieves and Petroglyphs, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zarautsoy_Rock_Paintings,
  15. Boysun
    BoysunBoysun1Boysun2Boysun3Boysun4Boysun5
    The Boysun territory is located on the ridge of Boysuntog, the southwest spur of the Gissar Mountains in the district of Boysun, Uzbekistan. The sites of Boysun, which is under consideration for inscription as a UNESCO World Heritageg site, are both cultural and natural. They include: the basic historical-archaeological sites (Teshik-Tash, Kushan wall, Kurganzol,); living sites of folk cultures (kishlaks- villages); workshops of folkcrafts; zones of unique landscapes, natural-sanitary complexes; and makhallas (communities). Landscapes of the ridge Boysuntog, and the well-preserved biodiversity of the territory, include rare and distinctive representatives of flora and fauna of the southern mountains of Uzbekistan. The cultural landscapes were formed during centuries in which, alongside elements and infrastructure of traditional human culture, representatives of flora and fauna of region are organically included and kept, for example as in Sayrob complex.
    Links: Top Ten Human Skulls, Top Ten Skull Artifacts, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boysun,
  16. Sarmishsay
    SarmishsaySarmishsay1Sarmishsay2Sarmishsay3Sarmishsay4Sarmishsay5Sarmishsay6
    The Sarmish Gorge, better known as Sarmishsay, is located on the southern slopes of the Karatau mountain range, 30-40 km to the north-east of the city of Navoi (Kermine) in Uzbekistan. The mountain range of the Karatau is considered to be one of the western spurs of the Turkestan Mountain Ridge of the Western Tien Shan. To the south of the Karatau lies the Zarafshan Valley, bordering the Kyzyl Kum desert. Since ancient times, the Karatau area has been an intersection of seasonal migration routes for people and animals. This place is famous for various ancient monuments of anthropogenic activity concentrated in an area of about 20 km². The sights include flint quarries, mines, old settlements, burial mounds, crypts and petroglyphs, including monuments of the Middle Ages, early Iron Age, Bronze Age and even Stone Age. There are over 4,000 petroglyphs still intact in Sarmishsay. They are mainly located at the beginning of a narrow stone canyon of 2-2.5 km (approx. 1.5 miles) long. The paintings are made on vertical, and sometimes on horizontal outcroppings of reddish sandstone streaked with slate and limestone. Next to the petroglyphs the burial grounds of ancient nomads and some pagan altars are located. Since ancient times this territory has been a sacred zone, where locals performed their sacred ceremonies on holy days. The Petroglyphs of Sarmishsay give quite a comprehensive picture of local fauna thousands of years ago. Today most of the animals they portray, which once inhabited this area, have disappeared, unable to compete for food with man and domestic livestock. Most of the animals included in the stone “book” of the Sarmish Gorge now are extinct.
    Links: Relieves and Petroglyphs, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarmishsay,
  17. Khazarasp
    Xazorasp
    Xazorasp, Uzbekistan, is one of the most ancient cities of Central Asia. It was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on January of 2008. The name Xazorasp is a Persian word, meaning one thousand horses, and there are several legends about this city in Persian literature.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khazarasp,
  18. Ak Astana-baba Mausoleum
    Ak Astana-baba MausoleumAk Astana-baba Mausoleum1Ak Astana-baba Mausoleum2
    Ak Astana-Baba is a mausoleum that is located in the Surxondaryo Province of Uzbekistan The mausoleum is being considered for inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The mausoleum has centric composition, square in plan and oriented to all World’s parts. The cubiform construction is flanked by guldusta towers and crowned by a well proportioned spherical, conical dome. The northeast, northwest and southwest walls of the interior have rather deep lancet bays with two twelve sided columns. The room with grave stone sagana is lightened by hole in sophit of the entrance arch. Façades are decorated by figured brickwork with wide vertical seams.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ak_Astana-Baba,
  19. Chashma-Ayub Mausoleum
    Chashma-Ayub Mausoleum
    Chashma-Ayub Mausoleum is located near the Samani Mausoleum, in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. Its name means Job’s well, due to the legend in which Job (Ayub) visited this place and made a well by striking the ground with his staff. The water of this well is still pure and is considered healing. The current building was constructed during the reign of Timur and features a Khwarazm-style conical dome uncommon in Bukhara.
    Links: Museums and Galleries, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chashma-Ayub_Mausoleum,
  20. Arab-Ata Mausoleum
    Arab-Ata MausoleumArab-Ata Mausoleum2Arab-Ata Mausoleum3
    Description: The Arab-Ata mausoleum is located in the Samarqand Province of Uzbekistan. Built on top of a tepa, or triangular-shaped hill, in the 10th Century, the mausoleum fills an important gap in understanding the evolution of mausoleum architecture in Central Asia.
    Links: Top Ten Mausoleums, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab-Ata_Mausoleum,
  21. Kanka
    KankaKanka1Kanka2
    A site of ancient settlement of Kanka in the territorial and administrative attitude is located in 80 km in the southeast from Tashkent, in the southeastern outskirts of Eltamgali settlement. It is the ancient and one of the large city centers of Tashkent oasis. Kanka is the first capital of Chach state, small estate of Kanguy. Monumental fortification walls with towers surround the huge territory of more than 160 hectares. There are three cities inside, allocated into each other, and each of them by own fortification, curtains and ditches. Inside-small town typical of antique plan, once it has affixed with other suspension bridge. In its northeast part rise the most powerful construction of the city-citadel-arch, with the height more than 40 meters with palace of governor, man-sided bastions and house temple. The total area is 220 hectares. Kanka divides into three parts; citadel, shakhristan, town territory and rabid, trade and commercial outskirt.
    Links: http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5286/,
  22. Bonus: The Door to Hell
    The Door to HellThe Door to Hell1The Door to Hell2The Door to Hell3
    The Derweze area is rich in natural gas. While drilling in 1971, geologists tapped into a cavern filled with natural gas. The ground beneath the drilling rig collapsed, leaving a large hole with a diameter of about 70 meters (230 ft). To avoid poisonous gas discharge, it was decided to burn it off. Geologists had hoped the fire would use all the fuel in a matter of days, but the gas still burns 40 years later. Locals have dubbed the cavern “The Door to Hell.” Next to capturing the gas, flaring is safer and friendlier to the environment than releasing the methane into the atmosphere, as methane is a relatively potent greenhouse gas with a high global warming potential. Turkmenistan plans to increase its production of natural gas. In April 2010, the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow visited the site and ordered that the hole should be closed, or other measures be taken to limit its influence on the development of other natural gas fields in the area.
    Links: Top Ten Gods of the Underworld, Top Ten Doors, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Door_to_hell#The_.22Door_to_Hell.22,
  23. Mir-Sayid Bakhrom Mausoleum

    Mir-Sayid Bakhrom (or Mir Sayyed Bahram) Mausoleum is a mausoleum in Karman, Uzbekistan. Mir-Sayid Bakhrom has features similar to the Samanid Mausoleum in Bukhara, Arab-Ata, in the Samarkand region, and to the mausoleum of Oq Ostona Bobo in the Surkhandarya region.
    Links: Top Ten Mausoleum, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mir-Sayid_Bakhrom_Mausoleum,
  24. Siypantosh Rock Paintings
    The Siypantosh Rock Paintings are located throughout the southwestern portion of the Zarafshan mountains, Kashkadarya Region, Uzbekistan. The rock paintings are situated on the concave rock faces of granite-diorite outcrops. Images were painted in black, yellow and red-brown pigments, and include foot-shaped designs, a bull with curved horns, various animals, small hand prints, etc.
    Links: Top Ten Cave Paintings, Relieves and Petroglyphs, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siypantosh_Rock_Paintings,
  25. Shokhimardon
    Shohimardon is a small town in Fergana Province in eastern Uzbekistan. It is an exclave of Uzbekistan, completely surrounded by Kyrgyzstan, in a valley in the Pamiro-Alai mountains. According to legend, the Caliph Ali was buried in Shohimardon. The Uzbek poet Hamza Hakimzade Niyazi lived and worked in Shohimardon until he was murdered there in 1929.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shohimardon,
  26. Poykent
    Poykent, an ancient city in Uzbekistan, is located in the lower stream of Zarafshan River and was one of the largest cities of the oasis. The city consisted of a citadel, two settlements, and a rabod (suburb). Poykent is currently under consideration for inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poykent,
  27. Varakhsha
    Description:
    Links:
  28. Shahruhiya
    Shahruhiya (Sharkiya) is a site of ancient settlement located 88 km to the southwest of Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on the right coast of Syrdarya River. It is the first large city of the Tashkent oases, situated on the Great Silk Road through Yaksart (Syrdarya). In the oriental sources, it was famous under the name Benaket, and the portion of the Great Silk Road direction called by its name.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shahruhiya,
  29. Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uzbekistan,

Top Ten Emirati Attractions

Top Ten Emirati Attractions

EmiratesEmirates1Emirates2Emirates4Emirates5

       The United Arab Emirates is a country situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Southwest Asia on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman and Saudi Arabia and sharing sea borders with Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Iran. The capital is Abu Dhabi, which is also the country’s center of political, industrial and cultural activities. Before 1971, the UAE was known as the Trucial States or Trucial Oman, in reference to a 19th century truce between the UK and several Arab Sheikhs. The UAE’s political system, based on its 1971 Constitution, is composed of several intricately connected governing bodies. Islam is the official religion, and Arabic is the official language. Its oil reserves are ranked as the world’s 6th largest and the UAE possesses one of the most-developed economies in West Asia. It is the 35th largest economy at market exchange rates, and has a high per capita gross GDP, with a nominal per capita GDP of US$47,407 as per the International Monetary Fund. Although the UAE has a constitution and a president, it is neither a constitutional monarchy nor a republic. It is a federation of seven monarchies, whose rulers retain absolute power within their emirates. The emirs chose one of their number to be the president of the federation, but this does not alter the monarchical character of the government of the emirates. The constitution is concerned solely with the relations between the emirates as members of the federation, and does not prescribe a constitutional system of government. The UAE is a founding member of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, and a member state of the Arab League. It is also a member of the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, OPEC, and the World Trade Organization.

  1. Dubai
    DubaiDubai1Dubai2Dubai3Dubai4Dubai5Dubai6Dubai7Dubai8
           Dubai is a city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates. The emirate is located south of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula and has the largest population with the 2nd largest land territory by area of all the emirates, after Abu Dhabi. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the only two emirates to have veto power over critical matters of national importance in the country’s legislature. The earliest recorded mention of Dubai is in 1095, and the earliest settlement known as Dubai town dates from 1799. Dubai was formally established in 1833 by Sheikh Maktoum bin Buti al Maktoum when he persuaded 800 members of the Bani Yas tribe, living in what is now part of Saudi Arabia, to follow him to the Dubai Creek by the Al Abu Falasa clan of Bani Yas, and it remained under clan control when the UK assumed the protection of Dubai in 1892. Its geographical location made it an important trading hub and by the beginning of the 20th century, it was an important port. In 1966, the year oil was discovered, Dubai and the emirate of Qatar set up a new monetary unit to replace the Gulf Rupee. The oil economy led to a massive influx of foreign workers, quickly expanding the city by 300% and bringing in international oil interests. The modern emirate of Dubai was created after the UK left the area in 1971. At this time Dubai, together with Abu Dhabi and four other emirates, formed the United Arab Emirates. The following year Ras al Khaimah joined the federation while Qatar and Bahrain chose to remain independent nations. In 1973, the monetary union with Qatar was dissolved and the UAE Dirham introduced throughout the UAE. A free trade zone was built around the Jebel Ali port in 1979, allowing foreign companies unrestricted import of labor and export capital. The Gulf War of 1990 had a negative financial effect on the city, as depositors withdrew their money and traders withdrew their trade, but subsequently the city recovered in a changing political climate and thrived. Today, Dubai City has emerged as a global city and a business hub. Although Dubai’s economy was built on the oil industry, the emirate’s model of business drives its economy, with the effect that its main revenues are now from tourism, real estate and financial services, similar to that of Western countries. Dubai has recently attracted world attention through many innovative large construction projects and sports events.
    Links: Cities, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dubai,
  2. Abu Dhabi
    Abu DhabiAbu Dhabi1
           Abu Dhabi, literally “Father of gazelle,” is the capital and the 2nd largest city in the UAE. Abu Dhabi lies on a T-shaped island jutting into the Persian Gulf from the central western coast. The city proper had an estimated population of 896,751 in 2009. Abu Dhabi houses important offices of the federal government, and is the seat for the UAE Government and the home for the Abu Dhabi Emiri Family and the President of the UAE from this family. Abu Dhabi has grown to be a cosmopolitan metropolis. Its rapid development and urbanization, coupled with the relatively high average income of its population, has transformed Abu Dhabi to a larger and advanced metropolis. Today the city is the country’s center of political, industrial activities, and a major cultural, and commercial center due to its position as the capital. Abu Dhabi alone generated 56.7% of the GDP of the UAE in 2008. Abu Dhabi is home to important financial institutions such as the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates and the corporate headquarters of many companies and numerous multinational corporations. One of the world’s largest producers of oil, Abu Dhabi has actively attempted to diversify its economy in recent years through investments in financial services and tourism. Abu Dhabi is the 2nd most expensive city for expatriate employees in the region, and 50th most expensive city in the world. Fortune & CNN stated that Abu Dhabi is the richest city in the world.
    Links: Cities, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Dhabi,
  3. The World Islands
    The World IslandsThe World Islands1The World Islands2
           The World or World Islands is an artificial archipelago of various small islands constructed in the rough shape of a world map, located 4.0 km (2.5 mi) off the coast of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The World islands are composed mainly of sand dredged from Dubai’s shallow coastal waters, and are one of several artificial island developments in Dubai. The World’s developer is Nakheel Properties, and the project was originally conceived by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai. As of 2010, only a single island has any building on it, which is a show home, all the other projects having been cancelled or delayed due to the 2008 financial crisis. While the developer and Dubai government deny it, a participant in a related law suit has alleged that the islands are also sinking back into the sea.
    Links: Islands, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_World_%28archipelago%29,
  4. Palm Islands
    Palm IslandsPalm Islands1Palm Islands2
           The Palm Islands are an artificial archipelago in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on which major commercial and residential infrastructures will be constructed. They are being constructed by Nakheel Properties, a property developer in the United Arab Emirates, who hired Belgian and Dutch dredging and marine contractor Jan De Nul and Van Oord, some of the world’s specialists in land reclamation. The islands are the Palm Jumeirah, the Palm Jebel Ali and the Palm Deira. Each settlement will be in the shape of a palm tree, topped with a crescent, and will have a large number of residential, leisure and entertainment centers. The Palm Islands are located off the coast of The UAE in the Persian Gulf and will add 520 km of beaches to the city of Dubai. The first two islands will comprise approximately 100 million cubic meters of rock and sand. Palm Deira will be composed of approximately 1 billion cubic meters of rock and sand. All materials will be quarried in the UAE. Among the three islands there will be over 100 luxury hotels, exclusive residential beach side villas and apartments, marinas, water theme parks, restaurants, shopping malls, sports facilities and health spas. The creation of the Palm Jumeirah began in June 2001. Shortly after, the Palm Jebel Ali was announced and reclamation work began. The Palm Deira, which is planned to have a surface area of 46.35 square km, was announced for development in October 2004. Construction was originally planned to take 10–15 years, but that was before the impact of the global credit crunch hit Dubai.
    Links: Top Ten Architectural Works by Nakheel, Islands, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_Islands,
  5. Sharjah
    SharjahSharjah1Sharjah2
           Sharjah is the 3rd largest and most populous city in the UAE, located along the southern coast of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula. Sharjah is the seat of government of the emirate of Sharjah. Sharjah shares legal, political, military and economic functions with the other emirates within a federal framework, although each emirate has jurisdiction over some functions such as civic law enforcement and provision and upkeep of local facilities. Sharjah has been ruled by the Al Qasimi dynasty since 1972. The city is a center for culture and industry, and alone contributes to 7.4% of the GDP of the UAE. The city covers an approximate area of 235 km² and has a population of over 800,000 (2008).
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharjah_%28city%29,
  6. Al Ain
    Al Ain
           Al Ain, “The Spring,” also known as the Garden City due to its greenery, is the 2nd largest city in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the 4th largest city in the United Arab Emirates. With a population of 374,000 (2009), it is located approximately 160 km east of the capital Abu Dhabi and about 120 km south of Dubai. Al Ain is the birthplace of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first president of the United Arab Emirates, and it has the country’s highest number of Emirati nationals. Al Ain is located in Abu Dhabi, inland on the border with Oman. The freeways connecting Al Ain, Abu Dhabi and Dubai form a geographic triangle in the center of the country, each city being roughly 130 kilometers from the other two.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Ain,
  7. Cultural Sites of Al Ain (Hafit, Hili, Bidaa Bint Saud and Oases Areas)
    Cultural Sites of Al AinCultural Sites of Al Ain1Cultural Sites of Al Ain2Cultural Sites of Al Ain3Cultural Sites of Al Ain4
           The Cultural Sites of Al Ain (Hafit, Hili, Bidaa Bint Saud and Oases Areas) constitute a serial property that testifies to sedentary human occupation of a desert region since the Neolithic period with vestiges of many prehistoric cultures. Remarkable vestiges in the property include circular stone tombs (2,500 BC), wells and a wide range of adobe constructions: residential buildings, towers, palaces and administrative buildings. Hili moreover features one of the oldest examples of the sophisticated aflaj irrigation system which dates back to the Iron Age. The property provides important testimony to the transition of cultures in the region from hunting and gathering to sedentarization.
    Links: Relieves and Petroglyphs, http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1343,
  8. Bonus: The Cloud (Proposed Project)
    The Cloud
           ‘The Cloud’ is a speculative design for a resort city elevated 300 meters in the air above Dubai and supported on slanting legs resembling rain.
    Links: Top Ten Proposed Towers, Top Ten Towers, http://www.realtyna.com/dubai_real_estate/dubai-future-projects.html,
  9. Bonus: Dubai Towers (Proposed Project)
    Dubai Towers
           Dubai Towers are a cluster of aesthetically designed towers that will symbolize a new phase in Dubai’s architectural standards and establish path breaking definitions in structural brilliance and engineering innovation worldwide.
    Links: http://www.realtyna.com/dubai_real_estate/dubai-future-projects.html,
  10. Bonus: Dubai Arch Bridge (Proposed Project)
    Dubai Arch Bridge
           In 2012, Dubai will become home to the largest, tallest arch bridge ever built.
    Links: http://www.realtyna.com/dubai_real_estate/dubai-future-projects.html,
  11. Bonus: Hydropolis
    HydropolisHydropolis1Hydropolis2
           The news in the air is that the world’s first luxury underwater hotel, the Hydropolis undersea resort, is all set to open its doors in Dubai this December. the £300 million, 220-suite hotel is a one of its kind resort.
    Links: http://www.realtyna.com/dubai_real_estate/dubai-future-projects.html,
  12. Bonus: Dubai Opera House (Proposed Project)
    Dubai Opera HouseDubai Opera House1Dubai Opera House2
           Jean nouvel submitted this proposal for the Dubai opera house. The futuristic building is meant to differentiate itself from ‘the vulgar hotels and office buildings’ of Dubai. Its design resembles a dune and is capped with a giant dome featuring a semi-permeable skin.
    Links: Top Ten Opera Houses, http://www.realtyna.com/dubai_real_estate/dubai-future-projects.html,
  13. Bonus: Dubai Grand Pyramid (Proposed Project)
    Dubai Grand Pyramid
           The ‘Dubai Grand Pyramid’ will be a multi-use space and will be flanked by two smaller pyramids housing the developer falcon city’s offices and commercial space for a theme park.
    Links: Pyramids, Top Ten Modern Pyramids, Top Ten Middle Eastern Pyramidshttp://www.realtyna.com/dubai_real_estate/dubai-future-projects.html,
  14. Bonus: Arabian Blade
    Arabian Blade
           The ‘Arabian Blade’ is a mixed-use tower designed by Claudio Catalano. The building was inspired by plant forms and combines several volumes into one unit. The building will contain residences, a hotel and commercial space.
    Links: http://www.realtyna.com/dubai_real_estate/dubai-future-projects.html,
  15. Bonus: Dubai Promenade (Proposed Project)
    Dubai Promenade
    The Dubai Promenade is another project developed by nakheel, which is located in between Dubai marina and palm jumeirah. This wheel shaped five star hotel is built on a man-made peninsula. It will be accompanied by a series of sister towers that will create 2,000 residential units.
    Links: http://www.realtyna.com/dubai_real_estate/dubai-future-projects.html,
  16. Bonus: Other Proposed Projects
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    Description:
    Links: http://www.realtyna.com/dubai_real_estate/dubai-future-projects.html,
  17. Links: Top Ten Emerati Hotels, Top Ten Emerati Restaurantshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uae,

Recommendations for Expeditions in the Emirates

Top Ten Turkmenistani Attractions

Top Ten Turkmenistani Attractions

TurkmenistanTurkmenistan1Turkmenistan2Turkmenistan3

       Turkmenistan is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic (Turkmen SSR). Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states. It is bordered by Afghanistan to the southeast, Iran to the south and southwest, Uzbekistan to the east and northeast, Kazakhstan to the north and northwest and the Caspian Sea to the west. Turkmenistan’s GDP growth rate of 11% in 2010 ranks 4th in the world, but these figures are subject to wide margins of error. It possesses the world’s 4th largest reserves of natural gas resources. Although it is wealthy in natural resources in certain areas, most of the country is covered by the Karakum (Black Sand) Desert. The Turkmen government operates as a single-party system. Turkmenistan was ruled by President for Life Saparmurat Niyazov (called “Türkmenbaşy, leader of the Turkmens”) until his sudden death on December 21, 2006.

  1. Ärtogrul Gazy Mosque
    Turkmenistan1
    Ertuğrul was the father of Osman I, the founder of the Ottoman Empire. He was the leader of the Kayı clan of the Oghuz Turks. When arriving in Anatolia from Merv (Turkmenistan) with his 400 horsemen to aid the Seljuks of Rum against the Byzantines, Ertuğrul set off the chain of events that would ultimately lead to the founding of the Ottoman Empire. Like his son, Osman, and his future descendants, Ertuğrul is often referred to as a Ghazi, a heroic champion fighter for the cause of Islam.
    Links: Top Ten Mosques, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ertugrul_gazi,
  2. State Historical and Cultural Park “Ancient Merv”
    State Historical and Cultural Park “Ancient Merv”State Historical and Cultural Park “Ancient Merv”1State Historical and Cultural Park “Ancient Merv”2
    Merv, formerly Achaemenid Satrapy of Margiana, and later Alexandria and Antiochia in Margiana, was a major oasis-city in Central Asia, on the historical Silk Road, located near today’s Mary in Turkmenistan. Several cities have existed on this site, which is significant for the interchange of culture and politics at a site of major strategic value. It is claimed that Merv was briefly the largest city in the world in the 12th century.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merv,
  3. Kunya-Urgench
    Kunya-UrgenchKunya-Urgench1
    Konye-Urgench, also known as Konya-Urgench, Old Urgench or Urganj, is a municipality of about 30,000 inhabitants in north-eastern Turkmenistan, just south from its border with Uzbekistan. It is the site of the ancient town of Ürgenç (Urgench), which contains the unexcavated ruins of the 12th century capital of Khwarezm. Formerly situated on the Amu-Darya River, Old Ürgenç was one of the greatest cities on the Silk Road. Its foundation date is uncertain, but the extant ruins of the Kyrkmolla fortress have been dated (rather ambitiously) to the Achaemenid period. The 12th and early 13th centuries were the golden age of Ürgenç, it became the capital of Khorezm Empire and it surpassed in population and fame all other Central Asian cities barring Bukhara. In 1221, Genghis Khan razed it to the ground in one of the bloodiest massacres in human history.
    Links: Top Ten Minarets, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kunya-Urgench,
  4. Parthian Fortress of Nisa
    Parthian Fortress of Nisa2
    Nisa (also Parthaunisa) was an ancient city, located near modern-day Bagir village, 18 km northwest of Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. Nisa is described by some as one of the first capitals of the Parthians. It was traditionally founded by Arsaces I (reigned 250 BC–211 BC), and was reputedly the royal necropolis of the Parthian kings, although it has not been established that the fortress at Nisa was either a royal residence nor a mausoleum.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nisa,_Turkmenistan,
  5. Links: Top Ten Turkmenistani Hotels, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkmenistan,

Top Ten Turkish Attractions

 Top Ten Turkish Attractions

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       Turkey is a Eurasian country located 97% in Asia (mostly in the Anatolian peninsula) and 3% in East Thrace in Europe. Turkey is bordered by eight countries: Bulgaria to the northwest; Greece to the west; Georgia to the northeast; Armenia, Azerbaijan (the exclave of Nakhchivan) and Iran to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the southeast. The Mediterranean Sea and Cyprus are to the south; the Aegean Sea to the west; and the Black Sea is to the north. The Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles (which together form the Turkish Straits) demarcate the boundary between East Thrace and Anatolia; they also separate Europe and Asia. Turkey is one of the six independent Turkic states. The vast majority of the population are Muslims. The country’s official language is Turkish, whereas Kurdish and Zazaki languages are spoken by Kurds and Zazas, who comprise 18% of the population. Turks began migrating into the area now called Turkey(derived from the Medieval Latin Turchia, “Land of the Turks”) in the 11th century. The process was greatly accelerated by the Seljuk victory over the Byzantine Empire at the Battle of Manzikert. Several small beyliks and the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm ruled Anatolia until the Mongol Empire’s invasion. Starting from the 13th century, the Ottoman beylik united Anatolia and created an empire encompassing much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia and North Africa. After the Ottoman Empire collapsed following its defeat in WWI, parts of it were occupied by the victorious Allies. A cadre of young military officers, led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his colleagues, organized a successful resistance to the Allies; in 1923, they would establish the modern Republic of Turkey with Atatürk as its first president. Turkey is a democratic, secular, unitary, constitutional republic with an ancient cultural heritage. Turkey has become increasingly integrated with the West through membership in organizations such as the Council of Europe, NATO, OECD, OSCE and the G-20 major economies. Turkey has also fostered close cultural, political, economic and industrial relations with the Middle East, the Turkic states of Central Asia and the African countries through membership in organizations such as the Turkic Council, Joint Administration of Turkic Arts and Culture, Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Economic Cooperation Organization. Turkey’s location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia makes it a country of significant geostrategic importance. Given its strategic location, large economy and military strength, Turkey is a major regional power.

  1. Historic Areas of Istanbul
    Historic Areas of IstanbulHistoric Areas of Istanbul1Historic Areas of Istanbul2Historic Areas of Istanbul3Historic Areas of Istanbul4Historic Areas of Istanbul5Historic Areas of Istanbul7Historic Areas of Istanbul8
           Istanbul, also known as Byzantium and Constantinople, is the largest city of Turkey. According to the address-based birth recording system of the Turkish Statistical Institute, the metropolitan municipality (province) of the city had a population of 13.26 million as of 2010, which is 17.98% of Turkey’s population and the largest in Europe. Istanbul is a megacity, as well as the cultural, economic, and financial center of Turkey. It is located on the Bosphorus Strait and encompasses the natural harbor known as the Golden Horn, in the northwest of the country. It extends both on the European (Thrace) and on the Asian (Anatolia) sides of the Bosphorus, and is thereby the only metropolis in the world that is situated on two continents. During its long history, Istanbul has served as the capital of the Roman Empire (330–395), the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire (395–1204 and 1261–1453), the Latin Empire (1204–1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453–1922). When the Republic of Turkey was proclaimed on October 29, 1923, Ankara, which had previously served as the headquarters of the Turkish national movement during the Turkish War of Independence, was chosen as the new Turkish State’s capital. Istanbul is currently bidding to host the 2020 Summer Olympics. The city covers 39 districts of the Istanbul province.
    Links: Cities, Top Ten Medieval Wondershttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Istanbul,
  2. Hagia Sophia
    Hagia SophiaHagia Sophia1Hagia Sophia2Hagia Sophia3Hagia Sophia4Hagia Sophia5Hagia Sophia6Hagia Sophia7
           Hagia Sophia, “Holy Wisdom,” is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. From the date of its dedication in 360 until 1453, it served as the cathedral of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was the cathedral of the Latin empire. The building was a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1934, when it was secularized. It was opened as a museum on 1 February 1935. Famous in particular for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have “changed the history of architecture.” It was the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520. The current building was originally constructed as a church between 532 and 537 on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian and was the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site, the previous two having both been destroyed by rioters. It was designed by Isidore of Miletus, a physicist, and Anthemius of Tralles, a mathematician.
    Links: Top Ten Domes, Top Ten Dome Interiors, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hagia_Sophia,
  3. Göbekli Tepe
    Göbekli Tepe1Göbekli Tepe2Göbekli Tepe3Göbekli Tepe4Göbekli Tepe5
           Göbekli Tepe is a hilltop sanctuary erected on the highest point of an elongated mountain ridge some 15 km (9.3 mi) northeast of the town of Şanlıurfa in southeastern Turkey. The site, currently undergoing excavation by German and Turkish archaeologists, was most likely erected in the 9th millennium BC. Together with Nevalı Çori, it has revolutionized understanding of the Eurasian Neolithic. When discovered, it had been deliberately filled in and buried, for reasons unknown.
    Links: Top 100 Ruins, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6bekli_Tepe,
  4. Dolmabahçe Palace
    Dolmabahçe PalaceDolmabahçe Palace1Dolmabahçe Palace2Dolmabahçe Palace3Dolmabahçe Palace4Dolmabahçe Palace5Dolmabahçe Palace6Dolmabahçe Palace7
           Dolmabahçe Palace is a palace coming to pass across Üsküdar, on the left shore entrance by seaway from Marmara Sea to Boğaziçi, in its chapter surviving between Kabataş and Beşiktaş of the coastline, reaching out from Karaköy to Sarıyer. Located on the European side of the Bosporus, the palace served as the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1922, apart from a 22-year interval (1887-1909) in which Yıldız Palace was used.
    Links: Palaces, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolmabah%C3%A7e_Palace,
  5. Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia
    Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of CappadociaGöreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia1Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia2Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia3Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia4Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia5Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia6Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia7Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia8Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of CappadociaGöreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia1Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia2
           Göreme, located among the “fairy chimney” rock formations, is a town in Cappadocia, a historical region of Turkey. It is in the Nevşehir Province in Central Anatolia and has a population of around 2,500 people. Former names of the town have been Korama, Matiana, Maccan or Machan, and Avcilar. When Göreme Valley nearby was designated an important tourist destination, a “center” for all tourism in Cappadocia, the name of the town was changed to Göreme for practical reasons. The Göreme National Park (Göreme Milli Parklar in Turkish) was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985. The location of Göreme was first settled back in the Roman period. Christianity was then the prevailing religion in the region, which is evident from many rock churches that can still be seen today. Among Göreme’s historically important sites are Ortahane, Durmus Kadir, Yusuf Koc and Bezirhane churches, in addition to the richly decorated Tokali Kilise, the Apple Church, and a number of homes and pigeon houses carved straight into the rock formations in the town.
    Links: Top Ten Rock Cut Architecture, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6reme,
  6. Turkish Riviera
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           The Turkish Riviera, also known popularly as the Turquoise Coast, is an area of southwest Turkey encompassing Antalya, Muğla and to a lesser extent the provinces of Aydın, southern İzmir and western Mersin. The combination of a favorable climate, warm sea, more than 1,000 kilometers of shoreline along the Aegean and Mediterranean waters, and abundant natural and archaeological points of interest makes this stretch of Turkey’s coastline a popular national and international tourist destination. Among the archaeological points of interest are two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the ruins of the Mausoleum of Maussollos in Halicarnassus and the remains of the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, which can still be seen today. The Riviera is also the home for the internationally-known Blue Voyage, which allows participants to enjoy a week-long trip on Gulets to ancient cities, harbors, tombs, mausolea and intimate beaches in the numerous small coves, lush forests and streams that lace the Turquoise Coast. The coastline is further regarded as a cultural trove that provides a fascinating mixture of factual and mythological individuals, conflicts and events, and has frequently been referred to in the folklore of various cultures throughout history. As such, it is regarded as the home of scholars, saints, warriors, kings, and heroes, as well as the site of numerous well-known myths. Mark Antony of the Roman Empire is said to have picked the Turkish Riviera as the most beautiful wedding gift for his beloved Cleopatra of Egypt. St. Nicholas, later known as Santa Claus, was born in Demre (ancient Myra), a small town close to present-day Antalya. Herodotus, accepted as the father of History, was born in Bodrum (ancient Halicarnassus) around 484 BC. The volcanic mountains to the west of Antalya, near Dalyan, are believed to have been the inspiration for the mythical Chimera, the firebreathing monster that Bellerophon slew.
    Links: Top 100 Beaches, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_Riviera,
  7. Ephesus
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           Ephesus was an ancient Greek city, and later a major Roman city, on the west coast of Asia Minor, near present-day Selçuk, Izmir Province, Turkey. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era. In the Roman period, it was for many years the 2nd largest city of the Roman Empire; ranking behind Rome. Ephesus had a population of more than 250,000 in the 1st century BC, which also made it the 2nd largest city in the world. The city was famed for the Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BC), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The temple was destroyed in 401 AD by a mob led by St. John Chrysostom. Emperor Constantine I rebuilt much of the city and erected new public baths. The town was again partially destroyed by an earthquake in 614 AD. The city’s importance as a commercial center declined as the harbor was slowly silted up by the Cayster River (Küçük Menderes). Ephesus was one of the seven churches of Asia that are cited in the Book of Revelation. The Gospel of John may have been written here. The city was the site of several 5th century Christian Councils. It is also the site of a large gladiators’ graveyard. Today’s archaeological site lies 3 km southwest of the town of Selçuk, in the Selçuk district of İzmir Province, Turkey. The ruins of Ephesus are a favorite international and local tourist attraction, partly owing to their easy access from Adnan Menderes Airport and via the port of Kuşadası.
    Links: Top Ten Libraries, Top Ten Ancient Libraries, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ephesus,
  8. Xanthos–Letoon
    Xanthos–LetoonXanthos–Letoon1Xanthos–Letoon2Xanthos–Letoon3Xanthos–Letoon4Xanthos–Letoon5
           Xanthos was the name of a city in ancient Lycia, the site of present day Kınık, Antalya Province, Turkey, and of the river on which the city is situated. In early sources, “Xanthos” is used synonymously for Lycia as a whole.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xanthos,
  9. Hattusa (Hittite Capital)
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           Hattusa was the capital of the Hittite Empire in the late Bronze Age. It was located near modern Boğazkale, Turkey, within the great loop of the Kızıl River.
    Links: Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten Top Ten Middle Eastern Relieveshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hattusa,
  10. Hierapolis–Pamukkale
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           Hierapolis (“holy city”) was the ancient Greco-Roman city on top of hot springs located in south western Turkey near Denizli. The hot springs there have been used as a spa since the 2nd century BC, and people came to soothe their ailments, with many of them retiring or dying here. The large necropolis is filled with sarcophagi, including the Sarcophagus of Marcus Aurelius Ammianos. The great baths were constructed with huge stone blocks without the use of cement and consisted of various closed or open sections linked together. There are deep niches in the inner section of the bath, library, gymnasium and other closed or open locations. The complex, which was constructed in the 2nd century BC, constitutes a good example of vault type architecture and is now an archaeological museum.
    Links: Museums and Galleries, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hierapolis,
  11. City of Safranbolu
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           Safranbolu is a town and district of Karabük Province in the Black Sea region of Turkey. It is about 200 km north of Ankara and about 100 km south of the Black Sea coast. Former Turkish names of the town were Zalifre and Taraklıborlu and in Greek Saframpolis. It was part of Kastamonu Province until 1923 and Zonguldak Province between 1923 and 1995. According to the 2000 census, the population of the district is 47,257, of which 31,697 live in the town of Safranbolu. The district covers an area of 1,000 square km (386 sq mi). The Old Town preserves many old buildings, with 1,008 registered historical artifacts. These are: 1 private museum, 25 mosques, 5 tombs, 8 historical fountains, 5 Turkish baths, 3 caravanserais, 1 historical clock tower, 1 sundial and hundreds of houses and mansions. Also there are mounds of ancient settlements, rock tombs and historical bridges. The Old Town is situated in a deep ravine in a fairly dry area in the rain shadow of the mountains. The New Town can be found on the plateau about two kilometers west of the Old Town. The name of the town derives from ‘saffron’ and the Greek word ‘polis’ (city), since Safranbolu was a trading place and a center for growing saffron. Today saffron is still alive at the village of Davutobası which is 22 km east of Safranbolu and probably one of the best quality saffron in the world.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safranbolu,
  12. Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği
    Great Mosque and Hospital of DivriğiGreat Mosque and Hospital of Divriği1Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği2Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği3Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği4Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği5
           Divriği Great Mosque and Hospital is an ornately decorated mosque and medical complex built in 1299 in the small eastern Anatolian mountain town of Divriği, now in Sivas Province in Turkey. The architect was Hürremshah of Ahlat and the mosque was built on the order of Ahmet Shah, ruler of the Beylik of Mengücek. The inscriptions contain words of praise to the Anatolian Seljuk sultan Alaeddin Keykubad I. The adjoining medical center (darüşşifa) was built simultaneously with the mosque on the order of Turan Melek Sultan, daughter of the Mengücek ruler of Erzincan, Fahreddin Behram Shah. The exquisite carvings and architecture of both buildings put them among the most important works of architecture in Anatolia. Of particular note are the geometrical and floral reliefs on the main door.
    Links: Top Ten Mosques, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divri%C4%9Fi_Great_Mosque,
  13. Nemrut Dağ

           Nemrut or Nemrud is a 2,134 m (7,001 ft) high mountain in southeastern Turkey, notable for the summit where a number of large statues are erected around what is assumed to be a royal tomb from the 1st century BC.
    Links: Top Ten Tombs, Top Ten Necropolises, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nemrut_%28mountain%29,
  14. Archaeological Site of Troy
    Archaeological Site of TroyArchaeological Site of Troy1Archaeological Site of Troy2Archaeological Site of Troy3Archaeological Site of Troy4Archaeological Site of Troy5
           Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida. It is best known for being the focus of the Trojan War described in the Greek Epic Cycle and especially in the Iliad, one of the two epic poems attributed to Homer. Metrical evidence from the Iliad and the Odyssey seems to show that the name Ilion formerly began with a digamma, Wilion. This was later supported by the Hittite form Wilusa. A new city called Ilium was founded on the site in the reign of the Roman Emperor Augustus. It flourished until the establishment of Constantinople and declined gradually during the Byzantine era. In 1865, English archaeologist Frank Calvert excavated trial trenches in a field he had bought from a local farmer at Hisarlık, and in 1868 Heinrich Schliemann, wealthy German businessman and archaeologist, also began excavating in the area after a chance meeting with Calvert in Çanakkale. These excavations revealed several cities built in succession. Schliemann was at first skeptical about the identification of Hissarlik with Troy but was persuaded by Calvert and took over Calvert’s excavations on the eastern half of the Hissarlik site, which was on Calvert’s property. Troy VII has been identified with the Hittite Wilusa, the probable origin of the Greek Ilion, and is generally (but not conclusively) identified with Homeric Troy. Today the hill at Hisarlik has given its name to a small village near the ruins, supporting the tourist trade visiting the Troia archaeological site. It lies within the province of Çanakkale, some 30 km south-west of the provincial capital, also called Çanakkale.
    Links: Top Ten Warriorshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troy,
  15. Selimiye Mosque and its Social Complex
    Selimiye Mosque and its Social ComplexSelimiye Mosque and its Social Complex1Selimiye Mosque and its Social Complex2Selimiye Mosque and its Social Complex3
           The Selimiye Mosque is an Ottoman mosque in the city of Edirne, Turkey. The mosque was commissioned by Sultan Selim II and was built by architect Mimar Sinan between 1568 and 1574. It was considered by Sinan to be his masterpiece and is one of the highest achievements of Islamic architecture. This grand mosque stands at the center of a külliye (complex of a hospital, school, library and/or baths around a mosque) which comprises a medrese (Islamic academy teaches both Islamic and scientific lessons), a dar-ül hadis (Al-Hadith school), a timekeeper’s room and an arasta (row of shops). In this mosque Sinan employed an octagonal supporting system that is created through eight pillars incised in a square shell of walls. The four semi domes at the corners of the square behind the arches that spring from the pillars, are intermediary sections between the huge encompassing dome (31.25m diameter with spherical profile) and the walls.
    Links: Top Ten Dome Interiors, Top Ten Mosques, Top Ten Sultans, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selimiye_Mosque,
  16. Phrygia
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           In antiquity, Phrygia was a kingdom in the west central part of Anatolia, in what is now modern-day Turkey, centered around the Sakarya River. The Phrygians are most famous for their legendary kings of the heroic age of Greek mythology: Gordias whose Gordian Knot would later be untied by Alexander the Great, Midas who turned whatever he touched to gold, and Mygdon who warred with the Amazons. According to Homer’s Iliad, the Phrygians were close allies of the Trojans and participants in the Trojan War against the Achaeans. Phrygian power reached its zenith in the late 8th century BC under another, historical King Midas, who dominated most of western and central Anatolia and rivaled Assyria and Urartu for power in eastern Anatolia. This later Midas was however also the last independent king of Phrygia before its capital Gordium was sacked by Cimmerians around 695 BC. Phrygia then became subject to Lydia, and then successively to Persia, Alexander and his Hellenistic successors, Pergamon, Rome and Byzantium. Phrygians were gradually assimilated into other cultures by the early medieval era, and the name Phrygia passed out of usage as a territorial designation after the Turkish conquest of Anatolia.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrygia,
  17. Links: Top Ten Turkish Hotels, Top Ten Turkish Restaurantshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkey,

Recommendations for Trekking in Turkey

Top Ten Tajikistani Attractions

Top Ten Tajikistani Attractions

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       Tajikistan is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. Afghanistan borders it to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east. Tajikistan also lies adjacent to Pakistan’s Chitral and the Gilgit-Baltistan region, separated by the narrow Wakhan Corridor, which is claimed by both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Most of Tajikistan’s population belongs to the Persian-speaking Tajik ethnic group, who share language, culture and history with Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. Once part of the Samanid Empire, Tajikistan became a constituent republic of the Soviet Union in the 20th century, known as the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic. Mountains cover over 90% of this Central Asian republic. After independence, Tajikistan suffered from a devastating civil war which lasted from 1992 to 1997. Since the end of the war, newly established political stability and foreign aid have allowed the country’s economy to grow. Trade in commodities such as cotton, aluminum and uranium has contributed greatly to this steady improvement.

  1. Proto-Urban Site of Sarazm
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    Sarazm is an ancient town and jamoat in north-western Tajikistan. It is located in Panjakent District in Sughd province. The archaeological site of the ancient city of Sarazm is located near Durman, a town situated in the Zarafshan Valley of north-west Tajikistan in the Sughd province near the border with Uzbekistan.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarazm,
  2. Amir Ismail Samani Monument
    Amir Ismail Samani Monument
    Description:
    Links:
  3. Links: Attractions, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tajikistan,

Top Ten Syrian Attractions

Top Ten Syrian Attractions

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       Syria is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest. The name Syria formerly comprised the entire region of the Levant, while the modern state encompasses the site of several ancient kingdoms and empires, including the Eblan civilization of the 3rd millennium BC. In the Islamic era, its capital city, Damascus, the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, was the seat of the Umayyad Caliphate and a provincial capital of the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt. The population of Syria is 74% Sunni Muslim, with a 12% Shia and Alawite Muslim population, 10% Christian and 3% Druze. Combined, some 86% of the Syrian population is Muslim, which largely includes Arabs and significant minorities of Kurds and Circassians, while some 10% are Christians, which mainly includes ethnic Assyrians, but also Arab Christians and Armenians. The ethnic minorities include Kurdish (9%), Assyrian/Syriac, Armenian, Turkmen and Circassian populations, while the majority is Arab (90%). The modern Syrian state was established as a French mandate and attained independence in April 1946, as a parliamentary republic. The post-independence period was tumultuous, and a large number of military coups and coup attempts shook the country in the period 1949–1970. Syria was under Emergency Law from 1962–2011, effectively suspending most constitutional protections for citizens, and its system of government is considered non-democratic. Bashar al-Assad is the current president, and was preceded by his father Hafez al-Assad, who was in office since 1971. Syria is currently facing massive protests as part of the Arab Spring.

  1. Ancient City of Damascus
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    Damascus, commonly known in Syria as Al Sham, and as the City of Jasmine, is the capital and the largest city of Syria and one of the country’s 14 governorates. The Damascus Governorate is ruled by a governor appointed by the Minister of Interior. Damascus is a major cultural and religious center of the Levant. The city has an estimated population of 4,211,000 (2009). Located in southwestern Syria, Damascus is the center of a large metropolitan area of 6 million people (2009). Geographically embedded on the eastern foothills of the Anti-Lebanon mountain range 80 kilometers (50 mi) inland from the eastern shore of the Mediterranean on a plateau, Damascus experiences a semi-arid climate due to the rain shadow effect. The Barada River flows through Damascus. First settled in the 2nd millennium BC, it was chosen as the capital of the Umayyad Caliphate from 661 to 750. After the victory of the Abbasid dynasty, the seat of Islamic power was moved to Baghdad. Damascus saw a political decline throughout the Abbasid era, only to regain significant importance in the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods. During Ottoman rule, the city decayed completely while maintaining a certain cultural prestige. Today, it is the seat of the central government and all of the government ministries. Damascus was chosen as the 2008 Arab Capital of Culture.
    Links: Cities, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_City_of_Damascus,
  2. Ancient City of Aleppo
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           Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,301,570 (2005), expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant. For centuries, Aleppo was Greater Syria’s largest city and the Ottoman Empire’s 3rd, after Constantinople and Cairo. Although relatively close to Damascus in distance, Aleppo is distinct in identity, architecture and culture, all shaped by a markedly different history and geography. Aleppo is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world; it has been inhabited since perhaps as early as the 6th millennium BC. Excavations at Tell as-Sawda and Tell al-Ansari, just south of the old city of Aleppo, show that the area was occupied since at least the latter part of the 3rd millennium BC; and this is also when Aleppo is first mentioned in cuneiform tablets unearthed in Ebla and Mesopotamia, in which it is noted for its commercial and military proficiency. Such a long history is probably due to its being a strategic trading point midway between the Mediterranean Sea and Mesopotamia. The city’s significance in history has been its location at the end of the Silk Road, which passed through central Asia and Mesopotamia. When the Suez Canal was inaugurated in 1869, trade was diverted to sea and Aleppo began its slow decline. At the fall of the Ottoman Empire after WWI, Aleppo ceded its northern hinterland to modern Turkey, as well as the important railway connecting it to Mosul. Then in the 1940’s it lost its main access to the sea, Antioch and Alexandretta (Iskenderun), also to Turkey. Finally, the isolation of Syria in the past few decades further exacerbated the situation, although perhaps it is this very decline that has helped to preserve the old city of Aleppo, its mediaeval architecture and traditional heritage. Aleppo is now experiencing a noticeable revival and is slowly returning to the spotlight. It recently won the title of the “Islamic Capital of Culture 2006,” and has also witnessed a wave of successful restorations of its treasured monuments.
    Links: Top Ten Mosques, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_City_of_Aleppo,
  3. Site of Palmyra
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           Palmyra was an ancient city in Syria. In the age of antiquity, it was an important city of central Syria, located in an oasis 215 km northeast of Damascus and 180 km southwest of the Euphrates at Deir ez-Zor. It had long been a vital caravan city for travelers crossing the Syrian desert and was known as the Bride of the Desert. The earliest documented reference to the city by its Semitic name Tadmor, Tadmur or Tudmur (which means “the town that repels” in Amorite and “the indomitable town” in Aramaic) is recorded in Babylonian tablets found in Mari. Though the ancient site fell into disuse after the 16th century, it is still known as Tadmor in Arabic, and there is a newer town next to the ruins of the same name. The Palmyrenes constructed a series of large-scale monuments containing funerary art such as limestone slabs with human busts representing the deceased.
    Links: Top Ten Ancient Cities, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Site_of_Palmyra,
  4. Ancient City of Bosra
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            Bosra, also known as Bostra, Busrana, Bozrah, Bozra, Busra Eski Şam, Busra ash-Sham, and Nova Trajana Bostra, is an ancient city administratively belonging to the Daraa Governorate in southern Syria.
    Links: Top Ten Theaters, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_City_of_Bosra,
  5. Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din
    Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-DinCrac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din1Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din2Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din3Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din4Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din5
           Krak des Chevaliers is a Crusader castle in Syria and one of the most important preserved medieval military castles in the world. In Arabic, the fortress is called Qal’at al-Ḥiṣn, the word Krak coming from the Syriac karak, meaning fortress. It is located approximately 40 km west of the city of Homs, close to the border of Lebanon, and is administratively part of the Homs Governorate. The Citadel of Salah Ed-Din, once known as Saone and Saladin Castle, is a castle in Syria. It is located 30km east of Latakia, in high mountainous terrain, on a ridge between two deep ravines, surrounded by forest.
    Links: Castles, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crac_des_Chevaliers, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qal%27at_Salah_El-Din,
  6. Ancient villages of Northern Syria

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    Links:
  7. Links: Top Ten Syrian Hotels, Top Ten Syrian Restaurants, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syria,

Top Ten Saudi Arabian Attractions

Top Ten Saudi Arabian Attractions

Al-Hijr Archaeological SiteMeccaSaudi Arabia

       The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Middle East by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the 3rd largest Arab country. It is bordered by Jordan and Iraq on the north and northeast, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates on the east, Oman on the southeast, and Yemen on the south. It is also connected to Bahrain by the King Fahd Causeway. The Persian Gulf lies to the northeast and the Red Sea to its west. Saudi Arabia has an estimated population of 25.7 million of which 5.5 million are non-citizens, and its size is approximately 2,149,690 square km (830,000 sq mi). The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded by Abdul-Aziz bin Saud (known in the West as Ibn Saud) in 1932, although the conquests which eventually led to the creation of the Kingdom began in 1902 when he captured Riyadh, the ancestral home of his family, the House of Saud, referred to in Arabic as the Al Saud. Saudi Arabia’s government takes the form of an Islamic absolute monarchy. The kingdom is sometimes called “The Land of the Two Holy Mosques” in reference to Mecca and Medina, the two holiest places in Islam. The two mosques are Masjid al-Haram (in Mecca), and Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (in Medina). Saudi Arabia has the world’s largest oil reserves and is the world’s largest oil exporter. Oil accounts for more than 90% of exports and nearly 75% of government revenues, facilitating the creation of a welfare state. However, human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have repeatedly expressed concern about the state of human rights in Saudi Arabia.

  1. Mecca
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           Mecca is a city in the Makkah province of Saudi Arabia. Islamic tradition attributes the beginning of Mecca to Ishmael’s descendants. In the 7th century, the Islamic prophet Muhammad proclaimed Islam in the city which was by then an important trading center. After 966, Mecca was led by local sharifs. When the authority of the Ottoman Empire in the area collapsed in 1916, the local rulers established the Hashemite Kingdom of Hejaz. The Hejaz kingdom, including Mecca, was absorbed by the Saudis in 1925. In its modern period, Mecca has seen tremendous expansion in size and infrastructure. The modern day city is the capital of Saudi Arabia’s Makkah Province, in the historic Hejaz region. With a population of 1.7 million (2008), the city is located 73 km (45 mi) inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of 277 m (909 ft) above sea level. Mecca is regarded as the holiest city in Islam. More than 13 million Muslims visit Mecca annually, including several million who perform the Hajj (pilgrimage). As a result, Mecca has become one of the most cosmopolitan and diverse cities in the Muslim world, however, non-Muslims are prohibited from entering the city. Mecca and Medina and its surrounding outskirts are the only two places where the Quran was composed.
    Links: Top Ten Spiritual Destinations on Earth, Top Ten Mosques, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mecca,
  2. Medina
    MedinaMedina1Medina2
           Medina, “the radiant city,” also transliterated as Madinah, is a city in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia, and serves as the capital of the Al Madinah Province. It is the 2nd holiest city in Islam, and the burial place of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, and it is historically significant for being his home after the Hijrah. Before the advent of Islam, the city was known as Yathrib, but was personally renamed by Muhammad. Medina is home to the three oldest mosques in Islam, namely; Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (The Prophet’s Mosque), Quba Mosque (the first mosque in Islam’s history), and Masjid al-Qiblatain (the mosque where the qibla was switched to Mecca). Because of the Saudi government’s religious policy and concern that historic sites could become the focus for idolatry, much of Medina’s Islamic physical heritage has been destroyed since the beginning of Saudi rule. The Islamic calendar is based on the emigration of Muhammad and his followers to the city of Medina, which marks the start of the Hijri year in 622 AD, called Hijra. Similarly to Mecca, entrance to Medina is restricted to Muslims only; non-Muslims are neither permitted to enter nor travel through the city. Muslims believe that Mecca and Medina and its surrounding outskirts are the two places where the Quran was revealed
    Links: Top Ten Mosques, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medina,
  3. Tomb of Muhammad, Medina, Saudi Arabia
    Tomb of Muhammad, Medina, Saudi ArabiaTomb of Muhammad, Medina, Saudi Arabia1Tomb of Muhammad, Medina, Saudi Arabia2Tomb of Muhammad, Medina, Saudi Arabia3Tomb of Muhammad, Medina, Saudi Arabia4Tomb of Muhammad, Medina, Saudi Arabia5
           Muhammad, Muhammed, Mohammad or Mohammed, (26 April 570 – 8 June 632), was the founder of the religion of Islam, and is considered by Muslims to be a messenger and prophet of God, the last law-bearer in a series of Islamic prophets, and, by most Muslims, the last prophet of God as taught by the Quran. Muslims thus consider him the restorer of an uncorrupted original monotheistic faith (islām) of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and other prophets. He was also active as a social reformer, diplomat, merchant, philosopher, orator, legislator, military leader, humanitarian, philanthropist, and, according to Muslim belief, an agent of divine action. Born in 570 in the Arabian city of Mecca, he was orphaned at an early age and brought up under the care of his uncle Abu Talib. He later worked mostly as a merchant, as well as a shepherd, and was first married by age 25. Discontented with life in Mecca, he retreated to a cave in the surrounding mountains for meditation and reflection. According to Islamic beliefs it was here, at age 40, in the month of Ramadan, where he received his first revelation from God. Three years after this event Muhammad started preaching these revelations publicly, proclaiming that “God is One,” that complete “surrender” to Him (literally “islām”) is the only way (dīn) acceptable to God, and that he himself was a prophet and messenger of God, in the same vein as other Islamic prophets. Muhammad gained few followers early on, and was met with hostility from some Meccan tribes. To escape persecution, Muhammad sent some of his followers to Abyssinia before he and his remaining followers in Mecca migrated to Medina (then known as Yathrib) in the year 622. This event, the Hijra, marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar, which is also known as the Hijri Calendar. In Medina, Muhammad united the conflicting tribes, and after eight years of fighting, his followers, who by then had grown to 10,000, conquered Mecca. In 632, a few months after returning to Medina from his Farewell pilgrimage, Muhammad fell ill and died. By the time of his death, most of the Arabian Peninsula had converted to Islam, and he had united the tribes of Arabia into a single Muslim religious polity. The revelations (or Ayah, “Signs of God”), which Muhammad reported receiving until his death, form the verses of the Quran, regarded by Muslims as the “Word of God” and around which the religion is based. Besides the Qur’an, Muhammad’s life (sira) and traditions (sunnah) are also upheld by Muslims. They discuss Muhammad and other prophets of Islam with reverence, adding the phrase peace be upon him whenever their names are mentioned. While conceptions of Muhammad in medieval Christendom and pre-modern times were largely negative, appraisals in modern history have been far less so.
    Links: Top Ten Religious Figures, Spiritual Teachers, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad,
  4. Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (Madâin Sâlih)
    Al-Hijr Archaeological SiteAl-Hijr Archaeological Site1Al-Hijr Archaeological Site2Al-Hijr Archaeological Site3Al-Hijr Archaeological Site4
           Mada’in Saleh, also called Al-Hijr or Hegra, is a pre-Islamic archaeological site located in the Al-Ula sector, within the Al Madinah Region of Saudi Arabia. A majority of the vestiges date from the Nabatean kingdom (1st century AD). The site constitutes the kingdom’s southernmost and largest settlement after Petra, its capital. Traces of Lihyanite and Roman occupation before and after the Nabatean rule, respectively, can also be found in situ, while accounts from the Qur’an tell of an earlier settlement of the area by the tribe of Thamud in the 3rd millennium BC. According to the Islamic text, the Thamudis, who would carve out homes in the mountains, were punished by Allah for their persistent practice of idol worship and for conspiring to kill the prophet whom He sent, the non-believers being struck by an earthquake and lightning blasts. Thus, the site has earned a reputation down to contemporary times as a cursed place, an image which the national government is attempting to overcome as it seeks to develop Mada’in Saleh, officially protected as an archaeological site since 1972, for its tourism potential. In 2008, for its well-preserved remains from late antiquity, especially the 131 rock-cut monumental tombs, with their elaborately ornamented façades, of the Nabatean kingdom, UNESCO proclaimed Mada’in Saleh as a site of patrimony.
    Links: Top Ten Rock-Cut Architecture, Top Ten Tombshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meda%27in_Saleh,
  5. At-Turaif District in ad-Dir’iyah
    At-Turaif District in ad-Dir’iyahAt-Turaif District in ad-Dir’iyah1At-Turaif District in ad-Dir’iyah2
           Al-Diriyah is a town in Saudi Arabia located on the northwestern outskirts of the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Diriyah was the original home of the Saudi royal family, and served as the capital of the first Saudi dynasty from 1744 to 1818. Today, the town is the seat of the Diriyah Governorate, which also includes the villages of Uyayna, Jubayla, and Al-Ammariyyah, among others, and is part of Ar Riyad Province.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diriyah,
  6. Links: Top Ten Saudi Arabian Hotels, Top Ten Saudi Arabian Restaurantshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saudi_arabia,