Israel is the must visited destination for many travelers who plan to buy Middle East air tickets.
Whether it is a spiritual or cultural tour, or a leisure beach vacation – Israel satisfies almost every visitor. Mesmerizing biblical spots scattered across the ruins of cities, forts, and temples create a rich intoxicating aura.
The country’s world famous city of Jerusalem boasts magnificent crowd magnets like Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Al-Aqsa mosque, and the gilded Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount. Similarly, Tel Aviv stuns with its staggering array of concert halls, theaters, bars, and restaurants.
The Dead Sea an amazing salt lake on the border between Israel and Jordan.
“Unless you are passionate about crowds, avoid Christmas and Easter in Jerusalem.
How to Get Around Jerusalem
The best way to see the Old City of Jerusalem is by walking the narrow, ancient alleyways that twist and turns like a maze.
Parts of the Old City like the Shouk (market) where the hustle and bustle crushes around you amid the presence of the past is pedestrianised.
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher
The Via Dolorosa ends here, at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Like most of the Old City, it is located within a small courtyard in front and the neighboring buildings built of Jerusalem stone.
The dome of the church next to the spire of a minaret, the call to prayer echoing through the ancient alley ways. Inside the church, the place has been divided up among several Christian sects who jealously guard their piece of space.
This spot, the highest in the Old City, has been a sacred site since the Romans built their temple to Venus, and there have been several churches here, beginning with the one Constantine put up, followed by another constructed by the Crusaders. It’s been added onto since then, but it remains a square Gothic creation with vast ceilings and huge columns supporting it.
The volume of tourists is almost the same as in the shouk. Here, Christ was nailed to the cross. Herded down another set of stairs, past the slab of rock where his body was washed and, finally, a few feet away, the Holy Sepulcher itself. Everything is covered in gold and tapestries.
Towards the back of the church are cool, calm, softly lit corridors, open onto small chapels. You can sense the aroma from centuries gone by and the dampness in the air.
Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock is located above the Wailing Wall on the old Temple Mount (Haram esh-Sharif, in Arabic).
There is no commercialism here. In fact, you leave all your belongings outside: shoes, purses, cameras, money, and passports.
Under the huge gold dome, is the quiet and peace of a place that exudes spiritualism. Men (and women, separately) quietly go about their devotions.
People speak softly, nobody sells postcards or candles, and no one takes photographs. What light there is shines down from stained glass windows into the dome, onto a chunk of bare rock bordered by an elaborately carved wooden screen.
It was here that Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his son, and here Mohammed is said to have ascended to heaven on his horse. The horse’s hoof prints are supposed to be visible in the stone.
No matter what your beliefs, this is a unique place and nobody should miss out on an opportunity to visit it.
Shrine of the Book
This is a must see. The Dead Sea Scrolls are housed here. You walk down a sloping tunnel into the underground building that could double as a movie set for a Sci-Fi flick. The long halls are lined with glass-fronted recesses.
Inside are various ancient scrolls found in the caves around Ein Gedi and range from dispatches from Bar Kochba to his troops during his uprising against Rome in 132 C.E. to even earlier documents, including legal papers relating to lawsuits, property deeds and loans.
Not until you are underground do you see the Scrolls themselves. The room is round and bi-level with walls of stone slabs like so many of the ancient buildings in the city. Some are just fragments; some seem to be quite complete. Each is perfectly formed letter sits on faint lines drawn for the scribe to follow.
In the deepest part of the Shrine is the spherical window holding the Isaiah scroll, wrapped around an over sized version of the wooden pole a Torah is wrapped around.
You can slowly walk around it. What a miracle it is that these fragile pieces of papyrus and parchment have survived for so many thousands of years.
Visitor Attractions, Events & Fun Activities, in Jerusalem
The Dead Sea
The high levels of salt in the Dead Sea come from the fact that it is isolated from other bodies of water and does not have a flowing exchange of fluid with the rest of the oceans, meaning that over several thousand years the water has evaporated resulting in highly concentrated levels of minerals and salts such as magnesium, sodium and calcium deposits.
In other words, the Dead Sea is constantly being topped up with minerals from its feeding rivers (and prehistoric remains from the oceans) because the only way out is through evaporation caused by the blazing Middle Eastern sun. But crucially, the minerals don’t evaporate, they remain and build up in the same way as a chef might reduce a recipe to bring out stronger flavours.
“There is no lower place on our planet, The surface being more than 400 metres below average sea level
Because of this saltiness, the Dead Sea has some amazing properties.
Tourists flock there, and everyone who visits enjoys the floatability of the water in the sea.
Because of its relatively high density, people float high in the water and it’s easy (and there are many photos to prove it) to float on the surface reading a book or listening to music.
In fact the water is so dense that trying to actually swim is quite a strenuous and awkward exercise because it is hard to keep your shoulders and legs underwater.
Floating easily may be one property but there other more useful features of this amazing sea. For centuries it has been treated as a spa destination, with people travelling from far and wide to its shores to benefit from the invigorating minerals.
This is no less true today, and a huge industry has grown up around the sea providing cosmetic, health and pampering products and shipping them to world markets across the globe.
By drying out and crystalising the Dead Sea’s water, for example, you end up with the pure and unique mixture of salts and minerals which can be added to all manner of cosmetic creams, lotions and powders.
Many people with psoriasis and eczema swear by their trips to the Dead Sea, but nowadays the Dead Sea can come to you instead.
Visitor Attractions, Events & Fun Activities, in Dead Sea