Many destinations in the Middle East are popular among seniors from around the world because of their unusual histories, profound cultures, magnificent architecture, and contrasting landscapes. Here I hand-pick several top-rated senior friendly destinations in the Middle East based on travelers' feedback and reviews.
Marrakech, literally meaning "Land of God" in the Amazigh (Berber) language, is located to the north of the foothills of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains. It is one of the four former imperial cities in Morocco, and possibly the most important. The city is divided into two distinct parts: the historical city Medina, and the new modern district called Gueliz or Ville Nouvelle. Gueliz brims with modern restaurants and large shopping zones. In contrast, the Medina is full of intertwining narrow streets and interesting local shops. In the Medina, you will have a chance to wander around the souks and seek out the best bargains.
Top-rated Marrakech things to do for senior travelers
The Djemaa El-Fna at the heart of the Medina is the highlight of any night in Marrakech. At night, the square really comes to life when musicians, dancers, acrobats, storytellers and snake charmers start their performances, and food stalls sell a variety of Moroccan fare. You may get lost in the exotic aromas and the entertaining sights. There are many souks or markets near the square, where you can bargain for almost everything, from spices to tea pots, kaftans to shoes, and much more.
The Djemaa El-Fna square at night
The Jardin Majorelle, or Majorelle Gardens, is a 2.5-acre botanical garden and artist's landscape garden created by French painter Jacques Majorelle (1886-1962) over almost forty years. This enchanting garden is one of the hottest attractions in Morocco, boasting a collection of plants from all over the world, a Berber Museum and an art deco studio. Wander around the lush grounds in the midst of the bustling city, appreciate the colorful setting, and enjoy the fascinating exhibitions, and you will have a really lovely time in the garden.
A brilliant blue building in Jardin Majorelle
Bahia Palace is a nineteenth-century palace and a set of gardens, intended to capture the essence of the Islamic and Moroccan style and be the greatest palace of its time. It may be one of the best-preserved historical sites, featuring beautiful interior decoration and stunning gardens with lovely flowers and plants. Great architecture, wonderful old buildings, colorful glass, carved woods, and mosaic floors are what you can expect.
The beautiful interior decoration of Bahia Palace
Luxor, literally meaning "Palaces", is the site of the Ancient Egyptian city of Thebes, and is regarded as the "World's Greatest Open-Air Museum" with the largest and grandest monuments in the world surviving from ancient Thebes. It boasts a breathtaking setting: the Nile flows between the modern city of Luxor and west-bank Necropolis. As the dynastic and religious capital of Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom Egypt, Luxor has so much to offer: grand monuments, vast temples and ancient royal tombs for history buffs, breathtaking river scenery, and spectacular desert for nature lovers.
Top-rated Luxor things to do for senior travelers
Temple of Karnak
The Temple of Karnak is a vast complex of decayed temples, chapels, pylons, and other buildings. It is considered the second largest ancient religious site in the world, after Angkor Wat Temple in Cambodia, and the second most visited historical site in Egypt after the Giza Pyramids near Cairo. The scale and size of the temple is awe-inspiring and visually stunning. You will be amazed at the magnificent statues, columns and structures, and gain an insight into what Egyptian temple worship looked like in ancient times and what daily life was like several thousand years ago.
The magnificent columns in the Temple of Karnak
Valley of the Kings
The Valley of the Kings, also known as Biban el-Moluk ("Gates of the Kings"), is the burial place of Egyptian pharaohs of the New Kingdom (1550-1069 BC), and is considered one of the most remarkable archaeological destinations in the world. The valley has 63 magnificent royal tombs. Step inside some of the tombs where you can see hieroglyphs, frescos and textures of stone and colors nearly 3300 years old, picture the tombs in their original glory, and understand the way they used to see death.
The colorful fresco and hieroglyphs on the wall of one royal tomb in the Valley of the Kings
Luxor Temple, located on the east bank of the Nile River, is a large ancient Egyptian temple complex constructed between 1100 BC and 1600 BC. It is known as "ipet resyt", which literally means "the Southern Sanctuary" literally in the Egyptian language. Unlike the other Thebes temples dedicated to a cult god or a deified version of the king in death, Luxor temple is dedicated to the rejuvenation of kingship, and may have been the place where many Egypt kings were crowned. The temple is full of amazing things to discover, the time-honored walls, colossal statues, spectacular columns, all will definitely astonish you.
The color of stones of the temple varies considerably during the day, at sunset and in the evening.
The time-honored walls and colossal statues in the Luxor Temple
Istanbul is the economic, cultural and historic center of Turkey, and is the meeting place of the East and West physically and culturally. With a long history, it offers numerous historic and religious places to visit. Ancient monuments, breathtaking architecture, magnificent mosques, dazzling bazaars, and Turkish baths will be the lasting memory of your Istanbul tour.
Top-rated Istanbul things to do for senior travelers
Hagia Sophia Museum / Church (Ayasofya)
The Hagia Sophia Museum is prominent for its art and history of architecture. The current building was originally constructed between 532 and 537. It has one of the most turbulent histories of any museum in the world: built and used as a Christian church for 916 years, and later used as a mosque for 482 years, and finally converted into a museum in 1935. So, it is a place carrying a lot of history with an awesome combination of church and mosque together, making it easily one of the most impressive sights in Istanbul.
The awesome combination of church and mosque can be found in the Hagia Sophia Museum.
The Blue Mosque, also known as Sultan Ahmet Mosque, is the most photogenic building in Istanbul. The exterior is curvaceous with a series of domes and six slender minarets, while the interior is adorned with blue tiles, thus giving the building its commonly used name. You can stand inside the mosque to admire the gorgeous decorations, and enjoy the scent of history.
The Basilica Cistern is the largest surviving Byzantine cisterns among hundreds of ancient cisterns lying beneath Istanbul. This large underground water reservoir was constructed in 532 using 336 fine-carved columns, many of which were salvaged from ruined temples. The cavernous depths, wonderful construction, lightings and arts, make it a magical and mysterious scene and a real wonderland.
The fine-carved columns in the Basilica Cistern
Jerusalem, located on a plateau between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean, is one of the oldest cities in the world, and a holy place to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Followers of these three major Abrahamic religions have been traveling to Jerusalem for centuries for pilgrimage and worship. As a traveler, you can also appreciate its profound cultural and historical significance. Plan a flexible itinerary to visit the major spots, but also leave some time to stroll through the ancient streets, and immerse yourself in the simple daily life.
Top-rated Jerusalem things to do for senior travelers
Old City of Jerusalem
The Old City is a 0.9 km² / 222 acre walled area in the center of the modern city of Jerusalem, and surrounded by the impressive Ottoman city walls built in the 16th century. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, it is the heart of the city and Jewish history, and one of the most intense places in the world. The Old City is culturally and historically divided into four Quarters: the Muslim Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, the Armenian Quarter, and the Christian Quarter. Strolling along the narrow streets and alleys, while hearing prayers and music from churches and synagogues, you'll feel like you are in a mystical and magical world. It is a place teeming with life, faith and history in every corner.
Yad Vashem - The World Holocaust Remembrance Center
The Yad Vashem, established in 1953, is Israel's official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. Located in the western slope of Mount Herzl (Mount Remembrance), and adjacent to the Jerusalem Forest, it consists of 0.18 km² / 44 acre complex containing museums, memorial sites, outdoor commemorative sites, etc. It is a very eye-opening and educational experience for people to see the dark past and explore the complete history of the Holocaust. Be emotionally prepared.
The Western Wall, or Wailing Wall, is an ancient limestone wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, and the most sacred and significant site for the Jewish people. Here, you can watch people of deep faith praying at the Wall, and soak up the atmosphere of ancient significance and pilgrimage. It really is a spiritual and enlightening experience.
People in front of the Western Wall
It's important to consider senior-friendly factors when choosing travel destinations for senior travelers. As a tour operator with most customers being seniors, we are experienced in customizing private tours for senior travelers. We are always reachable for any inquiries or any questions about the Middle East.
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