The “Holy City” is one of the oldest cities in the world (about six thousand years old), the political and administrative capital of Israel and is the largest city in the country with about 750,000 inhabitants. It is also considered sacred by the three great monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, possessing for this account an infinity of holy places and temples of universal interest. Many of them are in the Old City of Jerusalem, traditionally divided into four neighborhoods: Armenian Quarter, Christian Quarter, Muslim Quarter and Jewish Quarter. The most important attraction in the Old City is the Temple Mount, known in Arabic as Haram ash-Sharif (the “Noble Sanctuary”) and in Hebrew as Har Ha-Bayit, site of the ancient Jerusalem Temple. Wall of Lamentations.
Other sites in East Jerusalem are the Mount of Olives, with its belvedere; The Tomb of Absalom, in an old Jewish cemetery of two thousand years; The churches of Gethsemane, Dominus Flevit and the Church of Mary Magdalene (Russian Orthodox Church). Several sites in Jerusalem are designated as the Tomb of Jesus Christ. The most traditional of these sites is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, near Golgotha, the hill where it would have been crucified. To the south of the Jewish Quarter is the City of David with archaeological excavations, including the Hezekiah Tunnel. West Jerusalem is the youngest part of Jerusalem, built mainly after the independence of the State of Israel in 1948. Some points:
– Mea Shearim, a quarter created in the 19th century and inhabited largely by ultra-Orthodox Jews (Haredim). Mea Shearim retains the taste of Eastern European villages (shtetl).
– Yad Vashem (Holocaust Museum), memorial to six million Jewish victims massacred by Nazism.
– Ein Karem, the birthplace of John the Baptist, is one of the four most visited Christian pilgrimage sites in Israel.
– Mount Zion, the resting place of King David.
– Mount Scopus, site of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, located 834 meters above sea level. Mount Scopus offers a privileged view of the city including the Temple Mount and the Dead Sea.
Tel Aviv is the cultural and financial capital of Israel. Its metropolitan area has about three million inhabitants, representing about 40% of Israel’s total population. The city is also an architectural landmark, as it boasts the most extensive set of Bauhaus-style buildings in the world. In 2010 the magazine “National Geographic” chose Tel Aviv as one of the ten best coastal cities in the world.
The natives call Tel Aviv “the city that never sleeps” because of its intense and varied nightlife, with the most diverse types of programs for all types of people. In addition, the city does not hide pride by being the “gay capital of the Middle East”.
The “Cradle of Kabbalah”, where much of the Talmud of Jerusalem was written. Famous for its craftsmen and pilgrims who come to visit their synagogues and the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in Meron.
Acre (or Acco) is famous for housing the Fortress of St. John of Acre, the walls of the Sultan and for being the resting place of Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Bahá’í faith. Unesco considers the city as a world heritage site.
Shrine of the Báb, Bahai faith temple, with its terraced gardens (UNESCO World Heritage).
Tiberiades - Sea of Galilee
Lar de São Pedro (Cafarnaum).
Mount of Beatitudes, where the Sermon on the Mount was written.
The old city has Roman and Crusader ruins, such as the Amphitheater (where concerts are still held), as well as the port where St. Paul was taken as a prisoner to Rome.
The country is rich in places of archaeological interest. Beer Sheva, Tel Hazor and Tel Megiddo (the site of Armageddon) are recognized as Unesco World Heritage Sites.
Parks and Reserves
Israel has 67 national parks and 190 nature reserves. Some of them are located next to important archaeological sites. Maresha is a large archaeological complex in the Judean mountains. Tzippori is an ancient Roman city with elaborate mosaics and a historic synagogue. Ein Gedi, is the starting point for excursions to Massada and the Dead Sea.
The National Trail of Israel is a walking route of 940 kms. Which crosses the whole country. At its northern end lies “Kibbutz Dan”, near the Lebanese border, and extends to Eilat, at the southern tip of Israel, by the Red Sea. The trail takes between 30 and 70 days to complete in continuous walking.
Jerusalem Trail – 40 km, part of the National Trail that crosses the Holy City.
Trail of Jesus – 65 km of pilgrimage. Historic route through which Jesus is believed to have traveled and that crosses many places quoted in the Bible. The trail begins at Nazareth and passes through Sepphoris, Kana, Mount Arbel, Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, Tabgha, Mount of Beatitudes, Tiberias, the Jordan River, Mount Tabor and Mount Precipice.
Golan Trail – A 125-kilometer course along the slopes of Mount Hérmon. It crosses many towns and settlements, including Majdal Shams, Nimrod, Massada, Buq’ata, Odem, Merom Golan and Ein Zivan.
Jordan Valley Trail – 120 km route around the Jordan Valley, ending at Beit Shean and Mount Gilboa, near the “Kibbutz Meirav”. The trail connects numerous springs (for which the area is famous) to other historical and natural attractions.
There are numerous kibbutzim throughout Israeli territory, several of them with cheap lodging. Many of these former collective farms are undergoing a process of modernization and reorganization in order to adapt to the changing times. The Kibbutzim are known worldwide for their way of life inspired by the socialist ideals and for being the pioneering nuclei in the consolidation of the Jewish recolonization of the old Palestine.
Israel has the largest number of per-capita museums in the world, with millions of visitors annually:
– National Museum of Israel in Jerusalem. It attracts 800 thousand visitors every year.
– Historical Museum of Jerusalem in the Tower of David.
– Yad Vashem. Holocaust Memorial.
– Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
– Museum of the Diaspora.
– National Museum of Science, Technology and Space of Haifa.