WOW Places – Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque, Pamukkale, Masada

PAMUKKALE, TURKEY

Pamukkale, Turkey

Pamukkale, Turkey

Pamukkale is located in southwestern Anatolia, a 4 to 5-hour drive inland from coastal attractions such as Ephesus, Bodrum, Marmaris and Antalya. The closest major attraction is Aphrodisias, roughly halfway between the coast and Pamukkale (less than 2 hours driving). Dramatic travertine terraces formed by hot spring deposits of calcium carbonate give Pamukkale its WOW-effect. The Romans built a thriving spa town here, Hieropolis. Spend a few hours wading in the pools and tramping through the Roman remains.

MASADA, ISRAEL

Masada, Israel, photo by Itamar Grinberg, courtesy of Israel Ministry of Tourism

Masada, Israel, photo by Itamar Grinberg, courtesy of Israel Ministry of Tourism

I have yet to find (or take) a photo that really conveys the experience of Masada to my satisfaction. It’s too big to fully capture with a lens, and perspective gets lost in the monochrome. From the top, over 1,000 feet up, you have a 360-degree view across miles and miles of Judean Desert and the Dead Sea. Herod the Great built one of his desert fortresses on this plateau, which, from some angles, looks like an enormous ship plying an ocean of dusty brown waves. You can reach Masada from Jerusalem in less than an hour. Read more about Masada here.

SHEIKH ZAYED GRAND MOSQUE, ABU DHABI

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE - photos by Sue Alstedt (left top and bottom) and Sallie Volotzky (right)

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE – photos by Sue Alstedt (left top and bottom) and Sallie Volotzky (right)

In case you hadn’t noticed, I love buildings. If the lines are just right, even the simplest building feeds my soul. Now, I won’t go so far as to call the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi a simple building, but there is something pure and uncomplicated about it. Clean splendor and pearly spaces radiate warm, gentle tones and draw a hushed but deeply felt WOW straight from my gut.

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