Jerusalem is a city of overwhelming emotions, a city that promises a religious and spiritual experience. At Jerusalem’s heart is the Old City, which is surrounded by a wall and divided into four quarters - Jewish, Armenian, Christian, and Muslim. Inside the walls are the important holy sites of the three major religions: the Western Wall, which is holy to the Jews, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount. East of the Old City is the Mount of Olives, where there are other important Christian sites, and several churches: The Ascension, Pater Noster Church, Dominus Flevit, Mary Magdalene, Garden of Gethsemane, Lazarus and Abraham’s Monastery.
All branches of the Israeli government are located in Jerusalem, including the Knesset (Israel's parliament), the residences of the Prime Minister and President, and the Supreme Court. Jerusalem is home to the Hebrew University and to the Israel Museum with its Shrine of the Book.
Bethlehem is a city located in the central West Bank, about 10 km south from Jerusalem.
It’s recognized in the gospels of Matthew and Luke as the birthplace of Jesus and is one of the religions holiest sites around the world. The story of Naomi, Ruth and Boaz from the book of Ruth is set primarily around the town of Bethlehem. King David, the great-grandson of Ruth and Boaz was born and raised in Bethlehem. Bethlehem eventually came to be called the City of David as the symbol of his great dynasty.
Not a great deal of archaeological excavations have been done in Bethlehem, so most of what is known comes from the Bible and local traditions.
Manger Square is the focus of activity of Christmas celebrations not once, but three times a year. In addition to the traditional Western celebration which begins on December 24, the Greek Orthodox mark their Christmas on January 6 and the Armenian observance is on January 19.
Beit Sahour is a town located on the east of Bethlehem. It’s reputed to be close to the place where an angel announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds. According to tradition, St. Helena built a convent at the site, which is today known as the shepherd's cave. There are two enclosures in the eastern part of Beit Sahour that are claimed by different Christian denominations to be the actual “Shepherds Field”: one belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church and the other, the Catholic site, to the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.
Tel Aviv began its history in Jaffa - the ancient 3,000-year-old adjoining city that lies to its southwest. The current Old City of Jaffa was built during the Ottoman Empire and its stone houses and narrow alleyways now house the picturesque artists’ quarter and tourist center. Tel Aviv is the fifth-most-visited city in the Middle East. It is known as "the city that never sleeps" due to its lively nightlife, dynamic atmosphere and famous 24-hour culture. Tel Aviv’s “White City” is a breathtaking UNESCO world heritage site. It has been reclaimed so because of its unique collection of Bauhaus architecture. There are also several important Christian sites in Tel Aviv, or particularly in Old Jaffa, such as the Church of Saint Peter, which dates back to the 17th century, the house of Simon the Tanner where Peter had his vision of the non-kosher animals, and the tomb of Tabitha, whose righteous deeds enabled Peter to raise her from the dead.
Herzliya is a city in the central coast of Israel, named after Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism. Its beachfront is one of the most popular among tourists, thanks to the many hotels, abundance of restaurants, beaches with swimming areas and organized marinas. Israel's largest television and film studio, Herzliya Studios, is located in Herzliya.
Haifa is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third largest city in the country. It is a home to the Bahá'í World Centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Over the centuries, the city has changed hands. It has been conquered and ruled by the Phoenicians, Persians, Hasmoneans, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans, British and the Israelis. Today, the city is a major seaport located on Israel's Mediterranean coastline in the Bay of Haifa. With residents from the three largest religions as well as from various minority faiths, Haifa is also a symbol of outstanding co-existence and tolerance. The Christian presence in Haifa, with its many churches, also contributes to the city’s image. A Maronite church is located next to Kikar Paris (Paris Square); adjacent to that is the Carmelite church dedicated to the Prophet Elijah; and not far from there is Saint Mary’s Greek Orthodox Parish Church. Atop the Carmel, holy to Christians, is the Stella Maris Carmelite Monastery. In the monastery’s church is the grave of the Prophet Elijah, and in the monastery is a small museum dedicated to his life.
Acre is a historic walled port-city with continuous settlement from the Phoenician period. The walls, fortresses and strongholds of the city bear the marks of many nations that left impressive buildings behind them. Thanks to these buildings, UNESCO declared Acre a World Heritage Site in 2001. Acre was once a leading port in the Middle East, in the same league as Alexandria and Constantinople. Today, it is home primarily to small fishing boats. In crusader times it was known as St. John d'Acre after the Knights Hospitaller of St John order who had their headquarters there. Under the citadel and prison of Acre, archaeological excavations revealed a complex of halls, which was built and used by the Hospitallers Knights. This complex was a part of the Hospitallers' citadel, which was combined in the northern wall of Acre. Today, the population of Acre is approximately 40,000 and has one of the higher proportions of non-Jews of any of Israel's cities, with roughly 25 percent Christians, Muslims, Druze and Baha'is.
Nazareth, which began as a small Jewish village about 2,000 years ago, became a stronghold of Christianity in the Byzantine period. During that time the name of Nazareth spread far and wide, and the yearnings to see the place where the Virgin Mary and Jesus had lived turned the city into a popular pilgrimage site. In the time of Jesus it was an isolated village with a population less than two hundred. Today Nazareth is home to more than 60,000 Israeli Arabs, and Upper Nazareth is home to thousands more Jewish residents. Here Jesus grew up from his infancy to manhood (4:16); and here he began his public ministry in the synagogue (Matthew 13:54), at which the people were so offended that they sought to cast him down from the precipice whereon their city was built (Luke 4:29).
Safed it’s a small town located in Northern Israel, 900 meters above sea level in the mountains of the Upper Galilee. Since the 16th century, Safed has been considered one of Judaism's Four Holy Cities, along with Jerusalem, Hebron and Tiberias. Safed is a picturesque city of spiritual people and artists, wrapped in mysticism and mystery, and steeped in sacred atmosphere. It has been a spiritual center of the country since the 1600s when it was the center of Kabbala, Jewish mysticism. The Kabbalist mystics lived, studied, taught, and wrote in the city and many of the graves are objects of veneration.
Located on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, old city of Tiberias is Israel's lowest city at 200 meters below sea level, and it attracts thousands of tourists and travelers. Tiberias was founded in 18 AD by Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great and Jewish ruler of the Galilee. He made the new city his capital, and named the city after the Roman emperor, Tiberius Caesar. In the 2nd–10th centuries, Tiberias was the largest Jewish city in the Galilee and the political and religious hub of the Jews of Palestine. It has been known for its hot springs, believed to cure skin and other ailments, for thousands of years.
Netanya was originally a moshava – a small agricultural village with citrus groves and a flourishing tourist trade. Since the 1930s it has also become a center for the diamond cutting industry, which provide work for many of its residents. Today Netanya is an energetic resort city. It has dozens of hotels and guesthouses, coffee shops, restaurants offering a variety of tastes and styles, shopping centers, galleries, and entertainment spots. It was decided to name the city in honor of Nathan Straus (1848–1931), co-owner of Macy’s department store, New York City Parks Commissioner, and president of the New York City Board of Health, who gifted two-thirds of his personal fortune to projects benefiting Jews and Arabs in Palestine. The finest feature of Netanya is its beautiful beaches that extend for 12 kilometers along the city's seacoast.
The village of Taybeh, one of the few remaining Christian villages in Israel, holds fast to its memory of Jesus seeking refuge there shortly before his Crucifixion. The Gospel of John says that Jesus went to Taybeh, then called Ephraim, after he raised Lazarus to life and the Jewish authorities planned to put Jesus to death (John 11:54). Taybeh has been identified as the site of Ophrah, a town of Benjamin, which was later renamed Ephraim. However the word "Ophrah" was close in sound to "afrit" meaning "demon" in Arabic. Under Saladin, the name was changed to "Taybeh", "The goodly". On our day in the village we can visit its ancient and modern churches and visit the world famous brewery. The Taybeh Brewery was established by two brothers in 1995. Taybeh has developed a local reputation among beer connoisseurs from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.
The "City of Palms" spreads out on the west side of the Jordan River at 252 meters below sea level. Jericho is believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of more than 20 successive settlements in Jericho, the first of which dates back 11,000 years (9000 BCE), almost to the very beginning of the Holocene epoch of the Earth's history. For Christians, Jericho took on importance because of its association with John the Baptist, who has been baptized by the banks of the Jordan on the eastern boundary of the city (Matthew 3:13-15), and the story of the temptation of Christ (Matthew 4:1-4).
Hebron is the largest city in the West Bank with a population of around 170 000 people. The name "Hebron" traces back to two Semitic roots, which coalesce in the form ḥbr, having reflexes in Hebrew and denoting a range of meanings from "colleague", "unite" or "friend". In the proper name Hebron, the original sense may have been alliance.
The city is divided into two sectors: one controlled by the Palestinian Authority and another one, roughly 20% of the city, administered by Israel. The city is most notable for containing the traditional burial site of the biblical Patriarchs and Matriarchs,within the Cave of the Patriarchs. It is therefore considered the second-holiest city in Judaism after Jerusalem.
Eilat is a desert resort on the shores of the Red Sea. Over the year it’s became a paradise for tourists, travelers and vacationers, with a variety of hotels and restaurants. It's also a good place to shop because the city is a free trade zone with no VAT. The bay is one of the major attractions, thanks to the beautiful beaches, the developed water sports and some of the best diving spots in the world. In the south of the city is the Coral Reserve, with splendid tropical fish among the reefs. Less well-known is the fact that Eilat is one of the best places in the world for bird watching. Twice yearly, millions of birds fly over Eilat on migration between Europe and Africa, above the stunning red mountains and azure waters of the Red Sea Gulf.
Ein Bokek is a hotel and resort district on the shore of the Dead Sea. Archaeological findings at Ein Bokek include the ruins of Metzad Bokek, a small Roman fortress commanding the main road, and the remains of an ancient partly reconstructed perfume and medicine factory. The Bokek Stream, for which the district is named, is a canyon-like gorge with water springs and unique fauna and flora. The world's lowest installed ATM is at Ein Bokek. It was installed independently by a grocery store at 421 metres below sea level.
This is the wilderness where man met God. Here Abraham communed with God, and, centuries later, the prophet Elijah came to the Mountain of God for a momentous encounter with the Creator. The name Beersheba comes from "The Well of the Oath" that Abraham made to Abimelech (Genesis 21:27-31). Modern-day Be’er Sheba was founded at the start of the twentieth century by the Ottomans, and was the only city that the Turks built in the Land of Israel. Remains of buildings from this period and from the time of the British Mandate can be seen in the Old City, located in the south of the city. Today the city is called the capital of the Negev.