sites not to be missed on your
visit to the Land of Israel

  • Jerusalem

 

Jewish cemetery on Mount of olives

The Jewish Cemetery on the Mount of Olives is the oldest and most important Jewish cemetery in Jerusalem, holding tombs of famous figures in Jewish history. It is the largest and holiest Jewish cemetery on earth. 

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the annual Palm sunday procession on mount of olives 

Dominus Flevit chapel

The location of the Franciscan chapel "Dominus Flevit" (the lord weeps in Latin) derives from chapter 19 of the Gospel of Luke: Jesus, while riding toward the city of Jerusalem, becomes overwhelmed by the beauty of the city and the Jewish Temple and predicting its future destruction weeps openly.

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The Dome of the rock
esplanade of the mosques

Western Wall

The Western Wall in the Old City is the holiest shrine for Judaism. It is part of the massive engineering project by King Herod in 1st century BCE, for the construction of the Jewish temple.

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The church of the Holy Sepulcher - Old city

Mishkenot Shaananim neighborhood

Until the 1860's, all Jerusalem residents lived within the walls of the Old City. the city gates were locked from sunset to sunrise to protect residents from marauding bandits.

But as Jerusalem's population increased drastically in the first half of the 19th century, new housing projects spilled outside the walls, first next to the City Wall, gradually expanding way beyond.

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the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum

Purim Jewish festival

Purim is a joyous Jewish festival commemorating the survival of the Jews who, in the 5th century BCE, were to be exterminated by their Persian rulers. 

The story is related in the biblical Book of Esther.

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Xmas in the Christian quarter - Old City

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the panoramic view from the Jewish cemetery
on Mount of Olives

Palm Sunday procession

The annual Palm Sunday procession follows the steps of Jesus on the Mount of Olives and through the Kidron Valley to the ancient city of Jerusalem.

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the view from the chapel "Dominus Flevit"
Mount of Olives

Dome of the Rock

The Dome of the Rock shrine was built by the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan in the late 7th century. It is the oldest Islamic monument still standing.

According to Islam, the rock under the Dome is the spot from which the Prophet Muhammad went up to the sky for an encounter with God, an event known as the "Miraj".

The Western Wall - Old City

church of the Holy Sepulcher

The church of the Holy sepulcher is the holiest shrine for Christianity. here, Jesus was crucified on the Golgotha. His body was buried in a grotto. according to Christianity he later rose back to life. 

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the Yemin Moshe neighborhood near the City Walls

The Shrine of the Book

The Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum serves as the repository for the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered at Qumran in 1947.

The white dome embodies the lids of the jars in which the scrolls were found.

The building is designed as a sanctuary expressing profound spiritual meaning. it is considered an international landmark of modern architecture.

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Purim festival in the ultra-orthodox 
neighborhood of Mea Shearim

Xmas in the christian quarter

Christmas is celebrated in both the Christian and Armenian quarters of the Old City in Jerusalem. The narrow lanes become adorned with decorations, Xmas trees and Santa Klaus.

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  • Archeology

 
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King Herod's palace by the sea
Caesarea archeological site

Masada

King Herod built two palaces for himself on Masada unlikely rocky outcrop. This in its own would largely justify a visit.

But wait for the gripping drama: in the days of the Great Revolt (70AD), the last of the Jewish rebels against Rome entrenched themselves at Masada, and turned their fight into a symbol of the struggle for freedom.

Because of the enthralling historic events that took place on the mountain and the archaeological finds that have been revealed, UNESCO has declared Masada National Park a World Heritage Site.

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Byzantine church at Kursi
Sea of Galilee 

Maresha burial caves

During the Hellenistic period the people of Maresha (Lakhish region) commonly buried their dead in caves with niches often decorated with gables (a triangular architectural element common on temple facades).

an inscription was found mentioning Apollophanes son of Sesmaios, the leader of the Sidonian community in Maresha. The inscription clearly identifies Tel Maresha with biblical Maresha!

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Dolmen field - Golan heights

olive oil industry

The olive holds a special place in traditional Jewish sources as well as in daily life. The olive was a staple in the early Israelite diet, and for thousands of years olive oil has had several other uses. Primarily, it was used for light, in the Holy Temple as well as in private homes. The oil has also been used for cooking, for medicinal purposes, for cosmetics, and as payment. Kings, priests and prophets in ancient Israel were all anointed with olive oil.

archeologists found evidence showing that Olive oil was used in the Land of Israel as early as 8,000 years ago!

Caesarea

Caesrea is among Israel’s most impressive archaeological sites. The beautifully restored harbor was built by King Herod. At the time, it was considered an engineering marvel due to its challenging setting and the building technology used. 

As for King Herod, he had his own palace built right up on the sea shore!

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the valley of the Dead Sea and Masada in the background

Kursi byzantine church

Kursi is an archaeological site on the East shore of the Sea of Galilee, containing the ruins of the largest Byzantine monastery compound ever found in the Land of Israel. It is identified by tradition as the site of the "Miracle of the Swine", as described in the Gospel.

The monastery and its church were built in the 5th century, remaining in use throughout the Byzantine period. A pilgrim's hospice and other buildings were found, proving that it served as a major pilgrimage site . 

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Sidonian burial caves - Maresha archeological site
Lakhish region

Dolmens on the Golan Heights

Dolmens are probably burial monuments from the Earlier Bronze periods (3500 to 2000BCE). Yet at the time, the vast majority of the human population on earth is still nomad. Now, if you are a nomad  you bury the body of the deceased on the spot and carry on your way to guaranty food supply.

Yet it seems that these people made huge efforts to always bring their dead back to be buried at the same spot! These dolmens remain a great puzzle for archeologists to this day.

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olive oil extracting plant from Tel Batash
7th century BCE
Land of Israel Museum

  • the life of Jesus

 
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near the baptismal site of Qasr el-Yahud
Jordan river

the Sea of Galilee

At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus settles down in the village of Capernaum, on the Northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. This choice is not random: indeed, Jesus has left Nazareth, his hometown. He is targeted by the authorities as his preaching is challenging the existing order.

Here he can preach to the jewish fishermen in the fishing villages scattered along the Northern shore. Capernaum is situated at the far end of the Jewish territory. The Eastern shore is pagan, under a different authority. Mathew, the tax man at the border, is Jesus disciple, he can help him cross over and escape if necessary.

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View of Mount tabor and Jezreel valley - Lower Galilee

chapel of the Ascension

The chapel of the ascension, on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, is regarded by Christians as the earthly spot where Jesus ascended to Heaven after his Resurrection.

It houses a rock believed to hold one of His footprints.

Qasr el-Yahud baptismal site

Qasr el-Yahud is a baptismal site on the banks of the Jordan River. It is the site where, according to tradition, Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.

Christian tradition marks this site as the place of the “spiritual birth” of Jesus, the starting point of Jesus ministry.

As such, the baptismal site is of great sacred significance

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View of the Sea of Galilee and Mount Arbel

Mount Tabor

For Christians, Mount Tabor is believed to be the place of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ, where Jesus began to radiate light and conversed with Moses and Elijah. the site long ago became a site of pilgrimage.

Mount Tabor stands alone and is therefore particularly striking, next to the Jezreel valley. This is probably why it played an important role in Biblical times.

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the chapel of the Ascension on Mount of Olives
Jerusalem

  • Jewish sites

 

Sepphoris (Tzipori)

Sepphoris was a major Roman and Byzantine city, the capital and heart of the Galilee province.

The Sepphoris 5th century synagogue is one of a handful of illustrated synagogue mosaics uncovered in Israel..

There is a large Zodiac circle in the middle, with the names of the months written in Hebrew.

The mosaic is 20.7 meters long and 8 meters wide.

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the Magdala Stone at Magdala archeological site
Sea of galilee

the Abuhav synagogue in Safed

The scroll housed in the Abuhav Synagogue is the oldest in Safed and many traditions and legends are associated with it. It is believed to have been written by rabbi Abuhav, one of the great sages of Castille - Spain, in the 15th century.

It is kept locked up in one of the three Arks in the synagogue. It is only taken out for reading three times a year, at Yom Kippur, Shavuot, and Rosh Hashanah.

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the mosaic floor at the Sepphoris synagogue
Lower Galilee

Magdala Stone

The Magdala Stone was uncovered at the site of Magdala on the western shores of the Sea of Galilee.

it is a stone block carved with symbols of the jewish Temple in Jerusalem. No other similar artifact has ever been uncovered in the Land of Israel.

Found almost in the center of the synagogue, the Magdala Stone is believed to be a piece of ceremonial furniture on which the Torah and other sacred scrolls were placed.

the Abuhav synagogue in Safed - Upper Galilee

the Abuhav synagogue in Safed - Upper Galilee

 

Tel Aviv

The city of Tel Aviv was founded in 1909 as an unlikely modern housing estate built on sand dunes, on the outskirts of the ancient port city of Jaffa. Little more than 100 years later it has become the rapidly growing economic and technological center of Israel.

Tel Aviv is also an international hub of highly active and diverse nightlife with bars, dance bars and nightclubs staying open well past midnight. The largest area for nightclubs is the Tel Aviv port.

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view of Haifa from Mount Carmel with the Bahai gardens

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Tel Aviv sea front

Haifa

Haifa, the third largest city in Israel, is built on the slopes of Mount Carmel. Its history spans some 3000 years. Yet it is under the British Mandate, in the 1930's, that Haifa saw large-scale development and became an industrial port city.

It is home to the Bahai World Centre, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a destination for Bahai pilgrimage.

  • outdoors

 

© Eitan Simanor

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outdoors in Israel