We start our trip from the Timna Park, a unique combination of bizarre sandstone-formations like “The Arches”, “The Mushroom”, “The Sphinx”, “Spiral Hill”, “Salomon’s Pillars” and archaeological excavations of copper mines dating back to the stone-age! You are invited to crawl through the ancient mines, create your own “masterpiece” from colored sand, and enjoy a free cup of tea near the Timna-lake. We drive through the Negev Desert to view the “Ramon Crater”, a unique geological phenomena, only to be found in the Negev desert. Then we drive past Beer Sheba, “The Negev’s Capital”, and arrive at the Beth Guvrin National Park, where we walk through a variety of man-made caves, carved for different purposes during the Greco-roman periods. From here we head to “The city that never stops” – Tel Aviv. After check-in at the hotel and dinner, you can “hit the town” and enjoy the pulsating night-life Tel Aviv has to offer!
We continue to explore Tel Aviv by bus, and then make a foot- tour of the old city of Jaffa, one of the ancient gateways to the Holy Land: Through its port the Cedar trees for Salomon’s Temple (Bait el Muqqades) were brought, the prophet Jonas tried to flee God, and it was in Jaffa where Allah’s word began to be spread among the nations through Nabi Butrus. Today Jaffa’s renovated alley-ways attract many artists, who have their galleries there. We then drive along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea to the magnificent port-city Caesarea, built by Herod the Great, King of Judea. Among the well-preserved Roman buildings we can mention the palace, built into the sea, the Hippodrome, where horse-races and gladiators fought, the tall fortifications built by the crusaders, the 24-Km long Aqueduct, and, of course, today’s romantic port, that only vaguely reflects the majestic port built by King Herod to compete with the port of Alexandria. We end the day in the modern port-city Haifa, built on the slopes of the ever-green Mt. Carmel. From the famous Panorama-Street we can enjoy a view of the Haifa Bay and the beautiful “Baha’i Gardens” – a UNESCO world-heritage site.
Drive to the oriental city of Akko (Acre), an ancient, well preserved port-city, full of controversies. After entering the Old City through the thick walls that symbolize the Islamic victory over the “Emperor” – Napoleon Bonaparte, we visit the very well-preserved “Knights Halls” which were buried under the Muslim city. We will also visit the Turkish “Hammam” (Bath) where a state-of-the-art audiovisual show leads you through its chambers, and make the “good old days” come alive… All those sites are in, around, and under the living oriental Bazaar with its colors and odors of the East.
We will not miss, of course, a visit and a prayer at the glorious Al Jazzar Mosque, which became one of the symbols of the city. The mosque is also famous for keeping some hairs of the Prophet’s beard! Continue to Rosh Hanikra near the Lebanese Border, where a cable-car takes us into natural grottos, carved by the sea-waves into the soft, white chalkstone. A scenic drive through the woods of Upper Galilee takes us to Tiberias/Nazareth, where we will spend the next two nights.
After breakfast we visit Nazareth. Here you will visit the glorious Basilica of the Annunciation, standing right on the House of Mary, where Jesus spent most of his life. Surprisingly, this is a modern church, built in the 20th Century according to the most recent beliefs of the Catholic Church. We continue driving through the city of Nazareth, passing by “Mary’s well”, were according to the Orthodox tradition the Annunciation took place. A short drive through the Land of Galilee brings us to Cana, where according to Christian tradition Jesus performed his first miracle, by turning water into wine at a wedding. We walk through Cana’s main street, were local merchants offer “Cana Wine” and visit one of the three churches commemorating this event.
After another short drive through the Galilee, Lake Kinnereth, the “Sea of Galilee”, unfolds below us. On the “Mt. of Beatitudes” we can enjoy the special church built by the Italian architect Berluzzi, as well as the wide view over the Sea of Galilee. We also visit the archaeological excavations of Capernaum, “The Town of Jesus”, with St. Peter’s House and its well-known Synagogue. We will also see the reconstructed Church of the Multiplication with its very unique mosaic-floor, dating back to the 6th Century. If time permits, we will visit the Tomb of Nabi Shuaib (Jethro) – The father-in-law of Nebi Moussa, who helped him in fighting the infidel Midianites, and fled from them to hide in this cave. This place is also a very holy place for the Druze.
Leaving Galilee, we drive along the Jordan Valley to Jericho. Here we visit the Hisham’s Palace, built in the glorious ‘Umayyad period, and famous for its mosaics, that look as if they were still alive today! By the ancient Tel of Jericho, considered to be the oldest city in the world, we board a cable-car that will take us up to the Qarantal-Monastery, hanging from a cliff overlooking the city of Jericho, the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea. We can also visit on the way the site of Nebi Moussa, where a medieval tradition places the tomb of Nabi Moussa (Moses). Until the time of the British mandate in Palestine this place was famous for “Ziyarat Nabi Moussa” that was held here during the spring, and included a colorful march from Jerusalem to this site, and a week of prayers and other festive activities. Now we ascend to Al Quds – the Holy City of Jerusalem! From the Mt. of Olives we have a panoramic view of the Old City, a perfect opportunity for an introduction to Jerusalem’s rich history.
We will have a guided tour of the Haram esh-Sharif, learning about its historical & architectonical background, as well as the many legends told about the holy Al Aqsa Mosque & The Dome of the Rock. We will also not miss the Wailing Wall, one of the most holy sites to the Jews. Here you can meet variety of Jews, coming from all over the world to worship at this holy place. Then we continue through the Suq (market) to the Church of the Resurrection (Holy Sepulcher) – the place where the prophet ‘Issa (Jesus) was crucified and buried. This is the holiest place for the Christians, so you usually see the different Christian pilgrims from all over the world praying there. In the New City we visit the Israel Museum, with the 1:50 model of Jerusalem just as it was during the time of the Second Temple (1st Century) and the specially designed “Shrine of the Book”, were some of the original “Dead Sea Scrolls” and other ancient copies of the Bible are exhibited. We end the day by the “Menorah” – a candelabra that symbolizes the spirit of the Jewish People, situated outside the “Knesset” – Israel’s parliament.
In Hebron we visit the holy burial place of Ibraim el Khalil, Isaac, and Jacob and their spouses. We will also seize this opportunity to pray at this holy place. We will try our best to enable you to visit at this important site. However, this visit can be cancelled without prior notice due to the regulations of security forces at the site. We continue southwards towards Arad, and then climb Masada from an unusual side: through the well-preserved Roman siege-ramp! Here, on top of this steep cliff, overlooking the Dead Sea, King Herod the Great built a magnificent fortress in the middle of the desert. This fortress became the last refuge for some Jewish rebels, who fought here a heroic war against the Romans – a war that made Masada to a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a national symbol for the modern State of Israel.