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This national capital building recently reopened after an 8-year renovation.

The Capitolio was built in 1929 as the home of the Congress. After the country’s leftist revolution in 1959, the building, which was loosely modeled after the U.S. Capital building, was neglected as a symbol of imperialism.

Restoration work continues in some areas but the building is open for guided tours. Inside and out, the building is an architectural treasure and not to be missed. The most famous feature inside is a 57-foot bronze Statue of the Republic.

 

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This North African country was the first to acknowledge the independence of the United States of America.* In 1777, seeking to expand foreign trade, the country’s sultan opened his ports to several European countries with which he did not have treaties, and to the brand new nation of the USA. In treating the United States just as he did partner countries with formal agreements, he legitimized its independence.

The Americans were focused on their revolutionary war at the time and it took a few years for a proper response. Ultimately, a Treaty of Peace and Friendship was signed by both nations in 1786. Although renegotiated some 50 years later, this treaty is still in effect and is America’s longest standing treaty.

*France was the first to formally recognize US independence by treaty, in 1778.

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The fortified mountain palace of Machaerus is infamous as the place where Salome danced for the head of John the Baptist, whom her step father Herod Antipas had imprisoned there for two years.

Located near the village of Mukawir, about 40km south of the mosaic-rich town of Madaba, Machaerus is one of three fortified desert retreats built by Herod the Great (father to Herod Antipas) and the only one in our mystery country. The other two fortresses are located across the river which gave the country its name and forms part of its western border.

 

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This is one of some 800 Bell Caves in the Beit Guvrin-Maresha National Park in the central part of our mystery. The caves were chalk mines dug in the 7th-11th centuries, during the country’s Islamic period. Miners would first dig a shaft and then cut blocks out of the soft chalk walls and haul it up through the shaft with ropes. Chalk was used in construction.

 

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Along the banks of the longest river on earth (or the 2nd longest, depending on who you ask), life proceeds much as it has for 8,000 years, at least. Until it was dammed in the early 19th century, the annual flooding of the river left rich silt in its wake and the fertile fields fed the country and exported wheat and other grains far beyond its borders. The cultural sophistication and political and economic power of the country’s ancient civilization can be directly linked to the river. Today, the river still provides almost all of the country’s water but dams control the flow and provide hydroelectric power.

 

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Kavala, in the north of our mystery country, was known as Neopolis 2,000 years ago, when the apostle Paul visited on one of his missionary journeys. It’s often included as a stop on Christian pilgrimage trips following the footsteps of Paul. The city’s position on the Roman Via Egnatia, and its large port on the Aegean Sea, made it an important commercial center in antiquity.

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This spice bazaar, just steps from the Bosphorus shore, is one of the best known and largest covered markets in our mystery country’s most populous city. It has been the center of the city’s spice trade for over 350 years. The market is called the Egyptian Bazaar because its construction was financed by income from Egypt, which was an Ottoman province at the time.

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