Jerusalem, Israel’s capital and its largest city, is a place ascribed as holy, not just because of its biblical significance but more because of it being home to the three great monotheistic religions in the world: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.
There is a notably harmonious co-existence among these three, as evidenced by the close proximity of these religions’ structures to each other. In fact, within the walls of the Old City, you will find the Western Wall, also known as the “Wailing Wall” that Jews regard as the most sacred spot in the world; the Dome of the Rock, an important Islam mosque built on the Temple Mount; and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, heralded by Christians as an important church complex for being the crucifixion and burial site of Jesus Christ.
Since it is where Jesus lived and died, Jerusalem naturally is a top pilgrimage destination for Christians around the world. Here you can pass through the Via Dolorosa, or the “Way of Sorrows,” which Jesus walked on as he went toward his crucifixion site.
There are other Christian sites outside the Old City that you can visit, including the churches of The Ascension, Gethsemane, and Mary Magdalene. The Jewish sites Western Wall Tunnels and Davidson Center are also worth visiting. Of course, your tour around Jerusalem is not complete without stopping by the markets, the New City, and its neighborhoods.
The Dead Sea is known primarily for its high saline content, which makes marine life impossible. An interesting result of this high saltiness is that humans inevitably float here. You just can’t sink below the water.
But the Dead Sea is not just a fascinating piece of natural wonder; it is also a world-renowned natural spa, attracting droves of visitors every year. Dead Sea salt, for one, is legendary for its therapeutic properties. The black mud deposit on its seabed has nourishing effects on the skin, while air around the Dead Sea has a good concentration of bromide that benefits the body.
Another interesting fact is that the Dead Sea is the lowest land surface on the planet, with a depth of 417 meters below sea level. This has earned for its the distinction of being “the lowest health spa in the world.”
The Dead Sea region has several accommodations that offer an easy access to the water and the shore. It also leads to other sites, including monasteries and historical structures.
Tel Aviv is a vibrant, active, and upbeat destination. It is the second largest city in the country and is the hub of modernity and commercialism.
Tel Aviv is set along the Mediterranean Sea, which makes the beaches the primary tourist-magnet in the city. The beaches are wide, the water is cool, and the sight of the urban seaside city is magnificent. But more than that, Tel Aviv beaches boast of an all-year summer weather. Even during winter, in fact, you can find people walking along the shore and playing in the sand.
Nightlife in Tel Aviv is an altogether different story. While other tourists hike to the hills and traverse different roads to observe solemnity, tourists in Tel Aviv take part in the world-renowned clubbing experience in this seaside city. Observers from different parts of the world have said that clubs and bars in Tel Aviv are much more liberal and energetic than those found in New York and some parts of Europe, and these clubs’ burgeoning number is testament that Tel Aviv is emerging as one of the best clubbing scenes in the world.
The Sea of Galilee
Galilee is one of the best pilgrimage destinations in Israel because it was the region for Jesus’ most important ministerial activities. It also offers a lot of important and beautiful sites; one of the most prominent is the Sea of Galilee.
Locally called “Kineret Lake,” the Sea of Galilee is where Jesus recruited his first disciples, miraculously caught a boatful of fish, multiplied fishes and bread loaves, calmed a storm, and walked on water. Apparently, visiting the Sea of Galilee brings visitors closer to the heart of Jesus’ ministry.
But aside from its biblical significance, the Sea of Galilee attracts visitors for its lovely view. Surrounding this freshwater reservoir – which, incidentally, is the largest in Israel – you will see lush mountains, hills, and rich vegetation.
To accommodate tourists, several hotels, hostels, and guesthouses have been built along the beaches, and different water activities, such as boating and canoeing, are available to action-obsessed tourists.
A visit to the Sea of Galilee is best punctuated with tours to the surrounding sites such as the Jordan Park, Khamat Gader, Beit Tsida Nature Reserve, Mount of Beatitudes, Galilee Boat, the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, and the Church of the Seven Apostles.
Located in Lower Galilee, Nazareth is best known as Jesus’ childhood city. Expectedly, this largest Arab city in Israel has become the cradle of the Christian faith and an important pilgrimage destination, where people can have a glimpse into the child Jesus’ everyday life.
Most of the pilgrimage sites are located in the Old City. Topping the list is the Church of the Annunciation, which is situated on the spot where Gabriel announced to Mary that she would conceive a child through the Holy Spirit. It was built from the remains of Crusader and Byzantine churches.
A short distance away is the Church of Saint Joseph, which is constructed on the place where St. Joseph’s carpentry shop used to stand.
The Church of St. Gabriel is also worth a visit. It is the Orthodox version of the Church of the Annunciation and is said to be, according to Orthodox beliefs, where the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary as she was fetching water.
Mary’s Spring runs through the altar of this Orthodox Church and is also used to supply water to Mary’s Well, a fountain that was constructed over the well where Mary drew water.