Baalbek. The best 'Do Not Travel To' Roman ruins in the world.

I had seen the ancient Roman temples of Baalbek in an old BBC documentary and have had it on my travel list for many years. Now seemed a good time to visit, I was in the region and the recent fighting close by in Syria, which had sent rockets crashing into the town, and incursions over the border, had quietened down considerably. 

Anjar. A city of Beauty and Violence

The distant crackling woke me up. I was having a nap in the car to overcome the effects of the lack of sleep on the overnight flight on Middle Eastern Airlines to Beirut from Heathrow.

I got out to stretch my legs, and then I heard it again, but this time it was louder and more concentrated. Distant, but unmistakable, there was a fairly major gun battle raging beyond the Syrian hills behind me.

Iran Uncensored

When I first said I was going to Iran some friends were horrified. Not only was it seen as being extremely dangerous (being situated next to both Iraq AND Afghanistan), surely you would have no freedom, and you could not drink alcohol and would have to dress modestly. Why would I want to go there?

Top 10 things to do in Yazd

Yazd, a city right in the middle of two Iran's harshest deserts, the Dasht-e Kavir and the Kavir-e Lut. This isolation has led to it avoiding many of the wars and battles which destroyed many of Iran's other cities and has left a beautifully preserved ancient city. Genghis Khan never made it here, but Marco Polo did and he wrote extensively about it. I found it a great place to visit, ideal for walking and exploring, and it is the home of the best Baklava in Iran.

Isfahan. So much more to see than Nuclear enrichment facilities.

Evening prayer at the Jameh Mosque
Isfahan, also spelt Esfahan, is one of the great cities of the world. Once the capital of Persia, it was compared to Rome and Athens by the writer Robert Byron in the classic Silk Road travelogue 'The Road to Oxiana'. Today it is in the news for having the site of Iran's nuclear research facility nearby, and causing the resulting global sanctions against the country (which are now being lifted), but is really should be known for its stunning treasures.

The mountain tombs of Naghsh-e Rostam

The ancient Royal tombs carved into the mountain side at Naghsh-e Rostam are not as well known as the abandoned city of Persepolis, a little over ten kilometres away, but they are very much as impressive, if not more so, because of their state of preservation.

A Palace in the Desert. Persepolis

In an arid desert area, thirty minutes from the southern Iranian city of Shiraz, lies the ruins of Persepolis, once one of the greatest cities on earth. Founded by King Darius I in 518 BC it was the capital of the Persian empire and inspired awe from those who visited it. The ancient Greek historian, Diodorus Siculus, described it as "...the richest city under the sun". And so it remained until Alexander the Great looted and burnt it down two hundred years later as revenge for the Persian sacking of Athens.