Gems and magical places in Israel that you may not want to miss
Masada today is one of the Jewish people's greatest symbols. Israeli soldiers take an oath there: "Masada shall not fall again." Next to Jerusalem, it is the most popular destination of Jewish tourists visiting Israel. It is strange that a place known only because 960 Jews committed suicide there in the first century C.E. should become a modern symbol of Jewish survival.
In recent years, Masada became widely known through the excavations of the late Israeli archaeologist Yigael Yadin. In addition to finding two mikvaot (ritual baths) and a synagogue used by Masada's defenders, he uncovered twenty-five skeletons of men, women, and children. In 1969, they were buried at Masada with full military honors.
Learn more: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org
The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is one of the oldest continuously operating churches in the world. The structure is built over the cave that tradition marks as the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth, and it is considered sacred by followers of both Christianity and Islam.
Via Dolorosa & Way of the Cross
The Via Dolorosa, the road Jesus walked from the place of Pontius Pilate’s sentencing to Golgotha, means “way of sorrows.” The beautiful hymn that begins “On a hill far away...” has led many to picture this last road as a pastoral, quiet scene, a path wending its way, perhaps among old olive trees, up a mountain to where crosses stand starkly against the sky. Walking the real street in Old Jerusalem that bears the name “Via Dolorosa” means putting aside these images, but hopefully replacing them with other, even more meaningful ones that will bring you closer to moments you will always hold precious.
Learn more here: http://www.goisrael.com
Located in the Old City of Jerusalem at the foot of the western side of the Temple Mount. It is a remnant of the ancient wall that surrounded the Jewish Temple and is one of the most sacred sites in Judaism. Just over half the wall, including its 17 courses located below street level, dates from the end of the Second Temple period, being constructed around 19 BCE by Herod the Great.
Dome of the Rock
An Islamic shrine and major landmark located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Dome of the Rock, being among a complex of buildings on the Temple Mount (the other principal building being the Al-Aqsa Mosque), is one of the holiest sites in Islam, following Mecca and Medina. Its significance stems from the religious beliefs regarding the rock at its heart. According to Islamic tradition, the rock is the spot from which Muhammad ascended to Heaven accompanied by the angel Gabriel. Further, Muhammad was taken here by Gabriel to pray with Abraham, Moses, and Jesus Christ. An important distinction is that this is to Islam what the Transfiguration of Jesus is to Christians, a fulfillment of scripture. After Muhammad's return, he called all that would believe him to join with him and be Muslim.
Holy Sepulcher Church
Photoby Jean-Michel BAUD
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, also called the Church of the Resurrection by Eastern Christians, is a Christian church within the walled Old City of Jerusalem. It is a few steps away from the Muristan.
The site is venerated by many Christians as Golgotha, (the Hill of Calvary), where the New Testament says that Jesus was crucified, and is said to also contain the place where Jesus was buried (the sepulchre). The church has been an important Christian pilgrimage destination since at least the 4th century, as the purported site of the resurrection of Jesus. Today it also serves as the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, while control of the building is shared between several Christian churches and secular entities in complicated arrangements essentially unchanged for centuries.
PhotoBy Sigh Lens
The Dead Sea has attracted visitors from around the Mediterranean basin for thousands of years. Biblically, it was a place of refuge for King David. It was one of the world's first health resorts (for Herod the Great), and it has been the supplier of a wide variety of products, from balms for Egyptian mummification to potash for fertilizers. People also use the salt and the minerals from the Dead Sea to create cosmetics and herbal sachets. In 2009, 1.2 million foreign tourists visited on the Israeli side.