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Büyükada Island is the largest of a chain of small islands known as the Princes Islands in the Marmara Sea, about an hour by ferry from the country’s largest city, once known as Constantinople. In the 19th century wealthy Ottomans built summer houses here and many of those distinctive wooden mansions are part of the island’s appeal to tourists today. Motorized vehicles are prohibited on the island, which adds to its slow-paced, old-world atmosphere. 

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Sharqiya Sands, also known as Wahiba Sands after the local Bani Wahiba tribe, is roughly 4,000 square miles of sandy dunes in the north-east of our mystery country, about a two-hour drive from the national capital of Muscat. Along with several indigenous Bedouin groups inhabiting this desert, the high moisture content of the sand supports a surprising variety of flora and fauna. Heavy fog regularly rolls in off the sea and is absorbed by the sands.

There are lodges and tent camps in the Sharqiya Sands, but tourism, which has taken off across the country in recent years, may soon be limited to designated areas in order to preserve the unique and sensitive ecosystem. 

 

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Jews in Morocco

the mellah, the Jewish neighborhood of Fez

the mellah, the Jewish neighborhood of Fez

Jews have lived in Morocco for thousands of years, at least since the 6th-century BCE, after the Babylonian Exile of the Jews from Israel. In the 1st century, after Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70CE, many Jews fled to Morocco. Their numbers increased significantly after the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, as part of the Spanish Inquisition.

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The Paseo del Prado in Cienfuegos is the longest pedestrian promenade in the country. It stretches about 2km across the city to the malecón, the waterfront promenade. Developed by French settlers in the 19th century, Cienfuegos is much younger than the Spanish colonial cities of the country and its abundant Neoclassical architecture gives it a distinctive feel. Many of the city’s beautiful buildings can be seen along the Paseo del Prado.

 

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