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Friday, September 11, 2009

JORDAN

Petra, the jewel in the crown of Jordan's antiquities, has been declared by popular ballot one of the 'new' Seven Wonders of the World. The magnificent rock-hewn city of the Nabateans hardly needed further billing (since Jean Louis Burckhardt discovered it in the 19th century, it has been a favourite destination for Europeans) but at sunset on a winter's day, when the rose-pink city catches alight, it's easy to see why it has charmed a new generation of visitors.

Not to be outdone by Petra's success,
Wadi Rum, that epic landscape of Lawrence and Lean - 'Arabs' man' and moviemaker - is a contender as one of the Seven NaturalWonders of the World. Two such weighty accolades would be entirely disproportionate to the minimal size of Jordan.

But Jordan, once an important trading centre of the
Roman Empire and straddling the ancient Holy Land of the world's three great monotheistic religions, is no stranger to punching above its weight. Stand on Mt Nebo, newly consecrated by Pope John II, and survey the land promised to Moses; unwrap a scarf or two at Mukawir, where Salome cast a spell over men in perpetuity; float in the Dead Sea, beside a pillar of salt, reputed to be Lot's disobedient wife - go just about anywhere in Jordan and you'll find every stone bares a tale, and those of Madaba's legendary mosaics tell more tales than most.

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