The holy land of Israel is a conflation of three major religions of the world: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. However, keep in mind that the country is currently stuck in political complexity and traveling to certain areas could be dangerous. We strongly suggest travellers to follow government guidelines before planning a trip to Israel. Apart from its religious and historic importance, what other significance does Israel have? Let’s find out.
The capital, Tel Aviv is a potpourri of ancient and modern architecture and culture. The city centre, known as the White City is a UNESCO world heritage site dotted with Bauhaus architecture – some of the best examples of which are the buildings of Cinema Hotel, Rubinsky House and Krieger House. The Old City of Israel (also known as Old Jaffa) is home to several Ottoman-era landmarks like the Clock Tower and St. Peter’s Church, as well as a fishing and yacht harbor. Tel Aviv is the pulsating heart of Israel – a technology and business hub with vibrant nightlife, great art galleries like the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, rich theatre culture and a sophisticated lifestyle. There are some great outdoor markets if you want to go out and buy some souvenirs and local products. And did we mention the gorgeous Tel Aviv beach? Located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, this family friendly beach is where the city hangs out.
One of the oldest cities in the world – Jerusalem, is believed to have been colonized by humans as early as 3500 BC and has seen the rise and fall of numerous kingdoms. Even in modern times, Jerusalem remains surrounded by conflict but still attracts millions of tourists and pilgrims each year from all over the world. The city’s Western Wall, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and Dome of the Rock are sacred to the world’s three major religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam respectively. Believed to be the birthplace of Jesus, Bethlehem, is full of stories of Mother Mary and Jesus. When you are in the city, don’t miss the UNESCO world heritage site of Church of the Nativity, believed to be one of most ancient surviving churches. About 20km from Bethlehem is Mar Saba Monastery – a 5th-century monastery hanging dramatically off a cliff.
The port city of Haifa is the third-largest city in Israel and makes a good base for exploring the Sea of Galilee, Caesarea and Nazareth. The city is known for its Mediterranean Sea beaches and is home to one of the most sacred places for the Baha’i people – Shrine of the Bab. This gold-domed shrine is located in the center of the picturesque Baha’i gardens (also known as Hanging Gardens of Haifa). From Haifa, you can visit the UNESCO world heritage listed historic city of Akko (also known as Acre) – a port city guarded by Crusader walls. In the historical city of Nazareth is the Basilica of the Annunciation – the place where angel Gabriel announced Jesus’ incarnation to the Virgin Mary. From here, you can visit the lowest freshwater lake on earth – Sea of Galilee. It is where Jesus is believed to have performed the miracle of walking on water. Nowadays, the lake and its surrounding areas are famous for its relaxed beaches and various outdoor activities like cycling and hiking. Not far away, the highest city in Israel, Tsfat (also known as Safed and Tzfat) is a mountain-top town with pleasant weather, where you will discover ancient synagogues, winding cobblestone lanes, stone houses and art galleries
Shared by both Jordan and Israel, the Dead Sea is the lowest place on the planet and has a high salinity level that makes people float. Ein Bokek is the most popular resort destination on the shores of the Dead Sea. It is packed with luxury hotels and resorts and has some beautiful beaches. Located just 20km away from Ein Bokek, the extensive Roman ruins of Masada is a must-visit site for archaeology buffs. Caesarea and Beit She’an also have Roman archaeological treasures. The ruins of Beit She’an date back to the 5th-century BC and is the most extensive Roman site in the country, while Caesarea National Park, located on the Mediterranean coast, features ruins from Roman- and Crusader-era, including a large Roman amphitheater.
In Israel’s south lies the mighty Negev Desert, with a vast barren and dry landscape. Here you will find the desert town of Mitzpe Ramon – overlooking the world’s largest erosion crater, Makhtesh Ramon. The serene atmosphere of Mitzpe Ramon attracts travellers who are looking for tranquillity or seeking some desert adventure. At the extreme southern tip of Israel lies the Red Sea resort town of Eilat. This family-friendly place offers some great diving and snorkelling opportunities, thanks to its remarkable coral reefs. Hiking in the desert is also popular among travellers.
With a long coastline, a landscape that ranges from verdant hills and valleys to the inhospitable Negev Desert, tremendous historical and religious importance and ultra-modern cities, Israel stands out from its other Middle Eastern neighbors. No wonder, it is visited by more than four million people each year.
Israel is a conflation of three major religions of the world: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.