for complete coverage of the Old City of Jerusalem.
Without a doubt, Jerusalem is the magnet that attracts visitors to
Israel. In fact, many visitors ignore the modern city of Jerusalem and flock to the compact, walled "Old City"
to see monuments that are largely of religious and historic significance.
We have prepared a Guide the the
Best Places to Visit in Jerusalem that is focused on the Old City and the Mount of Olives. Leading
attractions include the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Dome of the Rock, the Western Wall and
the Gardens of Gethsemane.
Tel Aviv is the most modern city in Israel and, also, the most secular,
although it is guided or, perhaps, constrained by the religious boundaries set by the laws of Israel.
Tel Aviv offers an active nightlife, a scenic beachfront on the
Mediterranean and an open and relaxed atmosphere. There is good
quality dining, as well as some of the best falafel in the world. By
the way, the leading hotels are along the the shore, close to good
restaurants, interesting shopping and Israel's leading nightlife.
For the Geeks among you, Tel Aviv is a global hotspot for technology
Tel Aviv has a number of quality museums, although the Tel Aviv Museum of Art,
focused on 20th century art, is the most well-known. The museum's official
website provides information on its collections, exhibitions and
details on visiting.
the Carmel Market, a daily open air/ street market located
mid-city off Allenby Street for fruits, nuts, meats, clothes, jewelry and
just about anything else you can imagine. The market is the mixing pot of Tel Aviv and
a great way to get a feeling for the life of the city.
Jaffo (Yafo), reputed to be the oldest port in the world, has a decidedly
distinct flavor from Tel Aviv, due to its Arabic heritage.
Unfortunately, its architecture reflects little of its important history,
but it is a pleasant place for a walk, especially in the modest
Artisan Quarter. We recommend Yafo Port as a great place
for a meal, especially if you choose a good quality restaurant with a view
of the water. The area is, also, something of a nightspot, as is much
of Tel Aviv along the shore.
Haifa is the third largest in Israel and its history links back to
Biblical times. Today is it a working port, as well as an educational
and technology center.
Haifa is often made fun of by the residents of Tel Aviv (and the other cities of
Israel) because it is viewed as a boring, working city whose residents are
too serious. The saying in Israel is that Haifa works, Tel Aviv plays
and Jerusalem prays. We are not sure of the validity of that saying,
but would point out that Haifa has a picturesque setting on the slopes of Mount
The Bahá'i Shrine of the Báb (the prophet of the
Bahá'i faith) and the Bahá'i Gardens are spectacular sights to visit and
part of the pilgrimage of the Baha'i faith that includes Haifa, Acre and
Western Galilee. The Báb Shrine and Bahá'i Gardens are part of the Baha'i
World Center and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. See this official
website of the
Bahá'i faith for more information on their facility in Haifa.
is a port city that was originally settled by the Phoenicians.
It is another of Israel's historic cities with an extremely interesting
history. The city that exists today was shaped and fortified by
the Ottoman Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries and is a classic example
of an Ottoman walled town including its citadel, mosques and baths.
Much of the architecture that you can see today was built atop the
remains of buildings constructed by the Crusaders. During the time of
the Crusades, Akko was the dominant
trading port in the eastern Mediterranean.
Acre was the last remaining capital of the Crusader state in the Holy
Lands and was recaptured by the Mameluks at the end of the 13th century.
The Crusader history has been well preserved in Acre and the Old City is a
UNESCO World Heritage site. Be sure to see the main Crusader fortress
and the Knights Hall (photo above).
Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias/Lake Kinneret )
The Sea of Galilee is also called Lake Kinneret, Lake Tiberias and the
Sea of Tiberias. Located in north-eastern Israel near the Golan
Heights, the lake occupies a geologic structure called the Jordan Great Rift Valley.
The lake is nearly seven hundred feet below sea level and is
approximately thirteen miles long, eight miles wide and one hundred
and forty feet deep. The Jordan River is the main source of water for
the Sea of Galilee, although underground springs are a secondary source.
The Lake and the areas surrounding it provide popular vacation
destinations for the Israelis and you will find many modern hotels and luxury
destinations hugging the lake. Water sports and the lake itself are the main
attractions, although there are numerous good quality restaurants.
In addition, the surrounding area contains numerous locations
mentioned in the New Testament related to the life of Christ.
Most of these locations are considered pilgrimage locations by devout Christians interested in the life of Jesus. We cover several of these
locations in the section of our Israel Guide titled
Christian Sites outside of Jerusalem.
Tiberias is a flourishing tourist center famous for its
hotels, spas, tombs of the Jewish sages and numerous lunch spots along that
lake that feature the "type" fish that Christ fed to the thousands (as
well as a local delicacy known as the St. Peter’s fish). Tiberias,
which dates from around the time of Christ, became an important religious center
for the followers of Judaism, especially after the Jews were expelled from
Jerusalem by the Romans. The city became a Christian outpost in the Holy Lands
during the Crusades (the 11th and 12th centuries).
Occupying the rift valley between Jordan, Israel and the West Bank of the Palestinian Territories, the Dead Sea is a highly saline body of freshwater located over 1,300 feet below sea level, surrounded by mountains and hilly, arid terrain. Since the waters entering the lake from the Jordan and other rivers have no way to escape the rift, they are subject to rapid evaporation in the desert environment of the
Judean Desert. Evaporation of the water leaves behind salts, which are either absorbed into the remaining water or precipitated out to form salt deposits.
The Dead Sea is approximately 50 miles long, 12 miles wide and over a thousand feet in depth.
The water is approximately ten times as salty as ocean water, but valued for its therapeutic effects. Although it is difficult to swim in the water, floating requires little effort and can be quite comfortable. In addition, the Dead Sea’s black, saline, mud
and its reputed restorative powers attracted Herod the Great (of biblical and historical infamy), Cleopatra and other
well-known figures from history.
The Dead Sea area is known to readers of the Bible as the location of the towns of Sodom,
Gomorrah and other important locations. In addition, the Dead Sea is on the way to Masada National Park and Avdat
National Park, a beautiful canyon-lands in the desert. (See the
official National Parks
Website, available in English, for information on all of the
National Parks in Israel.)
Elat is a resort area in the far south of Israel on the Gulf of Aqaba
(Gulf of Elat) where the borders of Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia
come close together (but not quite touching). Although extremely warm
most of the year, Eilat is a popular sea-side resort known for its luxury
hotels and dramatic Coral Nature Reserve, a 1200 meter long and beautiful
coral reef. For more information on the Coral Beach Nature Reserve,
Other Attractions of Interest
This region of the world has had a long and interesting history that has
involved several major civilizations who conquered, colonized and left their
footprints while doing so. We cover Israel's most interesting
archaeological sites (Caesarea,
Beit Shean) in our
section on the
Best Archaeological Sites in Israel.
Christian Religious Sites (outside of Jerusalem)
Many Christians visit Israel in order to see and explore the land where
Jesus walked and lived. We cover the important Christian religious
sites in Nazareth,
Tabgha and the
Beatitudes in our section Israel's Christian religious sites outside of Jerusalem.
In addition, we describe the
Gospel Trail and Jesus Trail that can be used to visit towns and areas
in the Galilee that are associated with Jesus.
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