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Treasures of the World: Western Asia
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1.

Damascus, Syria: Paradise in the Desert

Founded in the 3rd millennium B.C., Damascus is one of the oldest cities in the Middle East. In the Middle Ages, it was the center of a flourishing craft industry, specializing in swords and lace. The city has some 125 monuments from different periods of its history, and one of the most spectacular is the 8th-century Great Mosque of the Umayyads, built on the site of an Assyrian sanctuary.
Online
2017; 2001
2.

Incense Route, Israel: Desert Cities in the Negev

The four Nabatean towns of Haluza, Mamshit, Avdat and Shivta, along with associated fortresses and agricultural landscapes in the Negev Desert, are spread along routes linking them to the Mediterranean end of the Incense Route. Together they reflect the hugely profitable trade in frankincense and myrrh from south Arabia to the Mediterranean, which flourished from the 3rd century B.C. until the 2nd century A.D. With the vestiges of their sophisticated irrigation systems, urban constructions, forts, and caravanserai, they bear witness to the way in which the harsh desert was settled for trade and agriculture.
Online
2017; 2006
3.

Tabriz, Iran: The Great Bazaar

Tabriz has been a place of cultural exchange since antiquity, and its historic bazaar complex is one of the most important commercial centers on the Silk Road. Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex consists of a series of interconnected, covered, brick structures, buildings, and enclosed spaces for different functions. Tabriz and its Bazaar were already prosperous and famous in the 13th century when the town, in the province of Eastern Azerbaijan, became the capital city of the Safavid kingdom. The city lost its status as capital in the 16th century, but remained important as a commercial hub until the end of the 18th century, with the expansion of Ottoman power. It is one of the most complete examples of the traditional commercial and cultural system of Iran.
Online
2017; 1995
4.

The White City District of Tel Aviv, Israel

Tel Aviv was founded in 1909 and developed as a metropolitan city under the British Mandate in Palestine. The "White City" portion of Tel Aviv was constructed from the early 1930s until the 1950s, based on the urban plan by Sir Patrick Geddes, reflecting modern organic planning principles. The buildings were designed by architects who were trained in Europe where they practiced their profession before immigrating. They created an outstanding architectural ensemble of the Modern Movement in a new cultural context.
Online
2017; 2005
5.

Troy, Turkey: Of Poetry and Archeology

Troy, with its 4,000 years of history, is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. The first excavations at the site were undertaken by the famous archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann in 1870. In scientific terms, its extensive remains are the most significant demonstration of the first contact between the civilizations of Anatolia and the Mediterranean world. Moreover, the siege of Troy by Spartan and Achaean warriors from Greece in the 13th or 12th century B.C., immortalized by Homer in the Iliad, has inspired great creative artists throughout the world ever since.
Online
2017; 2001
6.

Bethlehem, Palestine: A Holy Place Between Walls and Mass Tourism

The inscribed property is situated about 6 miles south of Jerusalem on the site identified by Christian tradition as the birthplace of Jesus since the 2nd century. A church was first completed there in 339, and the edifice that replaced it after a fire in the 6th century retains elaborate floor mosaics from the original building. The site also includes Latin, Greek Orthodox, Franciscan and Armenian convents and churches, as well as bell towers, terraced gardens and a pilgrimage route.
Online
2017; 1995
7.

Mtskheta, Georgia: The Miracle of St. Nina

The historic churches of Mtskheta, former capital of Georgia, are outstanding examples of medieval religious architecture in the Caucasus. They show the high artistic and cultural level attained by this ancient kingdom.
Online
2017; 2003
8.

The Monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin, Armenia

These two Byzantine monasteries in the Tumanian region from the period of prosperity during the Kiurikian dynasty (10th to 13th century) were important centers of learning. Sanahin was renowned for its school of illuminators and calligraphers. The two monastic complexes represent the highest flowering of Armenian religious architecture, whose unique style developed from a blending of elements of Byzantine ecclesiastical architecture and the traditional vernacular architecture of the Caucasus region.
Online
2017; 2006
9.

Istanbul, Turkey: Capital of Three Empires

Strategically located on the Bosphorus peninsula between the Balkans and Anatolia, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, Istanbul has been associated with major political, religious and artistic events for more than 2,000 years. Its masterpieces include the ancient Hippodrome of Constantine, the 6th-century Hagia Sophia and the 16th-century Suleymaniye Mosque, which are now jeopardized by overpopulation, industrial pollution and uncontrolled urbanization.
Online
2017; 2000
10.

Göreme, Turkey: Stone City of Early Christianity

In a spectacular landscape entirely sculpted by erosion, the Göreme valley and its surroundings contain rock-hewn sanctuaries that provide unique evidence of Byzantine art in the post-Iconoclastic period. Dwellings, troglodyte villages and underground towns—the remains of a traditional human habitat dating back to the 4th century—can also be seen there.
Online
2017; 2001
11.

The Ruins of Byblos, Lebanon

The ruins of many successive civilizations are found at Byblos, one of the oldest Phoenician cities. Inhabited since Neolithic times, it has been closely linked to the legends and history of the Mediterranean region for thousands of years. Byblos is also directly associated with the history and diffusion of the Phoenician alphabet.
Online
2017; 2004
12.

Bahrain Fort, Bahrain: Pearl on the Arabian Gulf

Qal’at al-Bahrain is a typical tell: an artificial mound created by many successive layers of human occupation. The strata of the roughly 1,000-by-2,000-foot tell testify to continuous human presence from about 2300 B.C. to the 16th century A.D. About 25% of the site has been excavated, revealing structures of different types: residential, public, commercial, religious and military. They testify to the importance of the site, a trading port, over the centuries. On the top of the 40-foot mound there is the impressive Portuguese fort, which gave the whole site its name: qal’a (fort). The site was the capital of the Dilmun, one of the most important ancient civilizations of the region. It contains the richest remains inventoried of this civilization, which was hitherto only known from w [...]
Online
2017; 2007
13.

Masada, Israel: A Story of Survival

Masada is a rugged natural fortress of majestic beauty in the Judean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. A symbol of the ancient Kingdom of Israel, Masada marks the last stand of Jewish patriots in the face of the Roman army in 73 A.D. It was built as a palace complex in the classic style of the early Roman Empire by Herod the Great, King of Judea (reigned 37 B.C.-4 A.D.). The camps, fortifications and attack ramp that encircle the monument constitute the most complete Roman siege works surviving to the present day.
Online
2017; 2005
14.

Quasr Amra, Jordan

Built in the early 8th century, this exceptionally well preserved desert castle was a fortress that from time to time was used both as a garrison and a residence for the Omayyad caliphs. The most outstanding features of this small pleasure palace are the reception halls and the baths, all richly decorated with figurative murals that reflect the secular art of the time.
Online
2017; 1999
15.

Pétra, Jordan: The Nabataean City of the Dead

Inhabited since prehistoric times, this Nabataean caravan city was an important crossroads between Arabia, Egypt and Syria-Phoenicia. Pétra—half-built, half-carved into the rock within a ring of mountains and riddled with passages and gorges—is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world, where ancient Eastern traditions blend with Hellenistic architecture.
Online
2017; 2001
16.

The Oasis of Al Ain, United Arab Emirates: Gateway to the Great Emptiness

The Cultural Sites of Al Ain (Hafit, Hili, Bidaa Bint Saud and Oases Areas) constitute a serial property that testifies to sedentary human occupation of a desert region since the Neolithic period with vestiges of many prehistoric cultures. Remarkable vestiges in the property include circular stone tombs (c. 2,500 B.C.), wells and a wide range of adobe constructions: residential buildings, towers, palaces and administrative buildings. Hili moreover features one of the oldest examples of the sophisticated aflaj irrigation system, which dates back to the Iron Age. The property provides important testimony to the transition of cultures in the region from hunting and gathering to sedentarization.
Online
2017; 1995
17.

Isfahan, Iran: A Reflection of Paradise

Built by Shah Abbas I the Great at the beginning of the 17th century and bordered on all sides by monumental buildings linked by a series of two-storyed arcades, the site is known for its Royal Mosque, the Mosque of Sheyx Lotfollah, the magnificent Portico of Qeyssariyeh and the 15th-century Timurid Palace. All bear witness to Persian sociocultural life during the Safawid era.
Online
2017; 2000
18.

The Old City of Jerusalem and Christianity, Israel

As the holy city for Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Jerusalem has always had a high symbolic value. Among the 220 historic monuments is the stunning Dome of the Rock, built in the 7th century and decorated with beautiful geometric and floral motifs. It is recognized by all three religions as the site of Abraham's sacrifice. The Wailing Wall delimits the quarters of the different religious communities, while the Resurrection Rotonda protects Christ's tomb.
Online
2017; 2000
19.

Aleppo, Syria: Thousand and One Bazaars

Located at the crossroads of various trade routes since the 2nd millenium B.C., Aleppo was ruled successively by the Hittites, Assyrians, Arabs, Mongols, Mamelukes and Ottomans. Its 13th-century citadel, its 12th-century Great Mosque and various 17th-century madrasas, palaces, caravanserais and hammams give it a cohesive and unique urban fabric, now threatened by overpopulation.
Online
2017; 2001
20.

Palmyra, Syria: The Queen of the Desert

An oasis in the Syrian desert northeast of Damascus, Palmyra contains the monumental ruins of a great city that was one of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world. The art and architecture of Palmyra, at the crossroads of several civilizations from the 1st to the 2nd century, married Greco-Roman techniques with local traditions and Persian influences.
Online
2017; 2000