NAME THAT COUNTRY

Bahla Fort is just one of many historical forts in our mystery country. It is, however, one of the oldest and the only one listed as a UNESCO Historical Site. The site is an oasis in the foothills of the Jabal al-Akhdar (the Green Mountain, part of the Al Hajar Mountains) in the interior of the country, about a 1/2-hour drive from the city of Nizwa. Bahla was built by The Nabhani dynasty, which ruled the area and controlled the lucrative trade of Frankincense from the 12th to 15th centuries. Construction of the sprawling complex, which is enclosed by a wall over 12km in length, was on-going throughout Nabhani rule and beyond.

 

 

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Nasreddin Hodja, the One String Wonder of Aksehir

Across the Muslim world, stories and anecdotes attributed to or about Nasreddin Hodja are as much a part of the collective consciousness as the Grimm’s Fairy Tales in Europe and North America.

Nasreddin was probably a real man who lived in Turkey in the 13th century. Some sources say he was born in Turkey, others that he moved there from Iran. In any case, it seems agreed that he lived and worked as a judge and teacher in Aksehir, near the city of Konya in central Turkey. He is known for his sly wit, appreciation of the absurd, optimism and genial nature. The honorific Hodja refers to a wise teacher. Continue reading

NAME THAT COUNTRY

 

5 Sentidos in our mystery country’s capital city is one of our favorite paladares. A paladar is a privately owned and operated restaurant, usually in a restored house. Paladares, among other micro-businesses, have flourished in the country since reform to the state-run economy took effect in 2011. Finding a variety of interesting ingredients is a challenge in this country of shortages and rationing, but with the help of an extensive black market and native creativity, there is no shortage of world-class dining in the larger cities.

 

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the Burnt House, Jerusalem

the Burnt House, Jerusalem

the Burnt House, Jerusalem

In Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter of the Old City, the Burnt House Museum vividly illustrates the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE. The exhibit includes the excavated remains of the home of a priestly family in the once upscale Upper City area near the Temple Mount and displays of artefacts found in the house. Among the items found are the arm bones of a young woman, a spear, stone jugs, bowls, plates, and oil lamps. Layers of ash and burned wooden beams and stones indicate the house was destroyed in an intense fire.

the Burnt House Museum, photo courtesy of our friend Larry Bell

the Burnt House Museum, photo courtesy of our friend Larry Bell

the Burnt House Museum, Jerusalem, photo courtesy of our friend Larry Bell

the Burnt House Museum, Jerusalem, photo courtesy of our friend Larry Bell

the Burnt House Museum, Jerusalem, photo courtesy of our friend Larry Bell

the Burnt House Museum, Jerusalem, photo courtesy of our friend Larry Bell

An inscription on a stone weight found in the house seems to identify the occupants as the Kathros family, a family of ill repute, chastised in the Talmud for abuse of power.

A film at the site gives a good overview of the political context of the destruction of Jerusalem and a moving account of the final hours of its citizens.

Our Magnificent Israel tour includes a visit to the Burnt House.