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This is Jaffa, also known as Yafo. It’s one of the world’s oldest ports, a major commercial hub in the Mediterranean as early as the Bronze Age, at least. Just behind the headland, and peaking around the end, is a thoroughly modern city, where settlement began less than 150 years ago.

Christians know Jaffa as the place where Peter raised Tabitha from the dead and where a vision on the roof of Simon the Tanner’s house compelled him to preach to Gentiles, as well as Jews. Jonah set out from Jaffa port on his fishy adventure, as told in the Biblical Book of Jonah and in the Koran.

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Pensive Athena, 5th-century BCE relief sculpture from the acropolis in the name-sake city-state of this goddess of wisdom, justice, civilization, the arts and warfare, among other things. The Acropolis Museum holds hundreds of artefacts from over a thousand years of history beginning around the 7th century BCE, when urban centers began to form around the country. About 1/2 of the sculptures from the Parthenon are on display, including 165 feet of the frieze.

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Kayseri Sultan Hani is one of many caravanserais in the Cappadocia region of our mystery country. The Silk Road and other well-traveled trade routes connecting Europe, Asia and North Africa were punctuated with these hostels, which provided shelter for trade caravans. At the caravanserai, merchants found shelter, food and supplies for themselves and their animals, as well as a range of services and plenty of opportunities for networking and deal making. The first caravanserais were built in Anatolia (of which Cappadocia is a part) by Seljuk sultans, who ruled from the 10th to the 13th century. Caravanserais were square or rectangular, with fortress-like walls and a single, often elaborate, portal. Inside, chambers and stalls were arranged around a central courtyard, usually with a small mosque in the center.

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Mutrah Souk in the capital is one of the oldest traditional markets in our mystery country and a favorite stop for visitors. Near the main entrance, there are plenty of shops offering the standard trinkets, as well as quality local products for tourists.
Buy frankincense of the best quality here (and many other places around the country), a product exported from this country for thousands of years. To round out the set, you can also find gold and myrrh at the Mutrah Souk. For a more authentic experience, head deeper into the maze of alleys, where locals shop.

 

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In 1761, a hunting party of Bedouins followed a gazelle out of the desert to a pool of fresh water near the coast, a miraculous find in that place. They built a well and a watch tower out of coral, sea stone and crushed sea shells to protect and control the water, at that time the greatest form of wealth they knew. The ruling sheikh moved into the fort and Qasr al-Hosn (which means “palace fort”) remained the residence of the local rulers for 200 years there after. Today, Qasr al-Hosn stands in the shadow of watch towers of another kind, built by liquid wealth of another kind.

 

 

 

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Plaza de la Catedral is one of many public squares in the capital’s old city. The square was a swamp until drained in the 16th century. In a city known for Spanish colonial architecture, the 18th-century Cathedral of the Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception is one of few examples of the local Baroque style. 

 

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