What to see in Palestine: cities and attractions not to be missed

Who I am
Martí Micolau
@martimicolau
SOURCES CONSULTED:

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

Palestine, since ancient times, is considered a magical place where religion, cultures and ancient traditions meet. Christianity and Judaism originated here, but it is also a land loved by Baha'is, Muslims, and also by tourists who are captivated every year by a variety of unique territories and landscapes: from the sea to the cities , from ancient fortresses to places of worship of the most important religions in the world.
Here what to see in Palestine: cities and attractions not to be missed.



Index

  1. Dead Sea
  2. Western Wall or Western Wall (Jerusalem)
  3. Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher (Jerusalem)
  4. Baha'i Gardens and Terraces, Haifa
  5. Masada
  6. Ramallah
  7. Ancient Jericho
  8. The Dome of the Rock (Jerusalem)
  9. Tzfat (Safed)
  10. Bethlehem
  11. User questions and comments

1 - Dead Sea

Un incredible landscape with blue waters surrounded by salt deposits, deep gorges and majestic waterfalls up to the Judah Desert. In the south, near the area of ​​Mount Sodom, you can instead make beautiful bike tours in the dried up river beds. In particular, the Dead Sea is the lowest point in the world, a large salt lake located on the border between Israel and Jordan, has no emissaries and is fed by the waters of the Jordan.

One of the most spectacular tourist spots: all the east coast is in fact a heart of religious tourism, well-being and health with many hotels, spas and archaeological and spiritual sites. Thanks to the high density of salt contained in its warm waters, they make your stay extremely relaxing and healthy as they are rich in minerals such as magnesium chloride, sodium, potassium and bromine salts. Don't miss a special too famous black mud massage.



2 - Western Wall or Western Wall (Jerusalem)

Erected two millennia ago with the function of place where you can pray and mourn the destruction of the First and Second Temples, the Wall is surrounded by gigantic stones now practically smoothed by the touches and caresses of the millions of hands that have approached it in order to have a sort of contact with God. Among the interstices of these stones you can also notice some pieces of paper containing the prayers written by the faithful waiting to be heard.

Today the Western Wall is definitely the holiest place dedicated to Judaism: located in the Old Town, at the foot of the Esplanade of the Mosques, near a large square that looks more like a large synagogue. The southern area is reserved for women's prayers, smaller and more reserved, the north one for men. The visit is allowed to the faithful belonging to all religions, free of charge.

3 - Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher (Jerusalem)

Il holiest place for Christians around the world, built right where Saint Helena (mother of Constantine the Great) believed that Jesus had been crucified and buried. Every year it is destination of millions of pilgrimages by faithful from all over the world.

It stands on the site of Golgotha, also known as the Calvary Hill, and was built in the th century at the behest of Emperor Constantine: on the south side of the main altar there is the staircase leading to Calvary, the most decorated room in the sacred complex , while at the entrance of the church there is the Anointing stone where, according to tradition, the body of Christ was placed once brought down from the cross to prepare him for the burial. Tradition has it that pilgrims wash it or sprinkle it with oil.

There are also two other rooms, one where the royal tomb is located inside the Aedicule of the Holy Sepulcher, the other which contains the Angel's Stone which, according to tradition, was used to seal the tomb.
Entrance to the Basilica is free.



4 - Baha'i Gardens and Terraces, Haifa

Baha'i was the place where Bahá'u'lláh lived, the prophet who in the last 12 years of his life, founded the Bahai religion, also the place of his burial. For this reason it is considered a place of worship for Bahai from all over the world.

The complex consists of the manor and the shrine of Bahá'u'lláh, the holiest site and center of pilgrimage where the faithful turn their hearts precisely in this direction while reciting their prayers. The gardens, on the other hand, have the function of creating a level access to the sanctuary, they are made up of different paths that all lead to the center of the complex and each visitor is free to choose his favorite. It consists of 19 splendid terraces with geometric flower beds, sculptures, fountains, and perfect green lawns. Don't miss the magnificent view over Haifa.
Admission is free, open every day from 9:00 to 17:00.

5 - Masada

Masada was a 'ancient fortress located on a rock at 400 meters above sea level. The walls were 5 meters high on a 1 and a half kilometer perimeter with 40 towers another 20 meters. A fortress made truly impregnable by enemies also for its snake-shaped conformation.

Masada became famous for being under the siege of the Roman army in the First Jewish War and for the its tragic epilogue: after having destroyed Jerusalem, in fact, they went to the fortress and with a ramp they managed to enter the walls finding themselves in front of a few survivors; the others preferred suicide to the life of slaves.

The landscape in which the complex stands it is immersed in the depression of the Dead Sea, a truly spectacular scenery especially at the first light of dawn where the sun seems to rise from a rocky wall. In 1998, a cable car was built connecting the fortress with a valley station. The site is open every day from 8:00 to 17:00, on Fridays it closes at 16:00. The cost of the ticket is 76,00 NIS (approximately € 19,40) - book the tour online



6 - Ramallah

Palestinian Arabs regard Ramallah as their capital al-Quds ("the Holy", ie Jerusalem). The Palestinian capital is also the seat of the Palestinian Parliament, the Ministries, the foreign diplomatic representations and the Muqāṭaʿa (the Separate), the complex with the headquarters of the Palestinian National Authority, the office of President Abu Māzen and the mausoleum that preserves the body. by former Palestinian leader Yāsser ʿArafāt.

In addition to this, Ramallah is a vibrant city full of nightlife and entertainment. As for culture, the museum dedicated to the poet Mahmoud Darwish and the museum of Yasser Arafat are definitely not to be missed.

Before the outbreak of the First Intifada, the city was even considered "the Paris of the West Bank" because it is full of life, restaurants and clubs. It is a capital open to different cultures and religions, just think of the fact that in many restaurants you can order wine (impossible in other areas of the West Bank), and that different films are also shown in cinemas in addition to those of the Arab circuit.

7 - Ancient Jericho

A trip to the West Bank would not be the same without spending time in the ruins of Ancient Jericho, considered by many scholars to be the oldest city in the world, dating back to about 10 thousand years ago. The name Jericho means for some "perfumed", other theories affirm that it means "Moon" because a cult dedicated to the moon was celebrated in the area.

Located near the Jordan River and surrounded by the desert of Judah, Ancient Jericho was conquered by the State of Israel in the Six Day War in 1967, since 2005 it has returned to Palestinian control.

Among the attractions not to be missed i numerous archaeological sites that have brought to light the oldest parts of the city as in Tell Es-sultan, with the ancient source of Elisha and the ancient city conquered by Joshua. Not far away are the ruins of a synagogue dating back to the th-th century with beautiful mosaics. The tour continues with Hisham's Palace, in Tutul Abu Al-Alayiq, the part of the city that Herod decided to transform by constructing imposing Hellenistic buildings; the palace was the residence of the Umayyads, Muhammad's successors.

8 - The Dome of the Rock (Jerusalem)

One of the most sacred places in the world, object of worship from all monotheistic religions. A rock that rises for about 2 meters considered sacred since according to Jewish legend it constitutes the foundation stone and the axis of the world, place where Abraham would have decided to sacrifice his son Isaac to God; according to Islamic legend, however, it is the place where Muhammad made his ascension to heaven.

Formed by the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, it was founded in 961 by the Caliph Abd al-Malik, and is undoubtedly one of the symbols of Islamic civilization. The interior of the dome is covered with a mosaic in gold and glass paste with four portals marking the cardinal points. The internal walls are instead completely covered with marble slabs, the columns have capitals of different architectural orders including composite and Corinthian. Open from 7:30 to 10:30 and from 12:30 to 13:30, free admission.

9 - Tzfat (Safed)

The city located in the highest position in Galilee, among the coldest locations in Israel, the capital of Kabbalah, an esoteric mystical discipline belonging to Judaism; this atmosphere can be felt in all corners of the city, especially in the Synagogues Quarter, in the Artists' Quarter and in the numerous sacred buildings present.

Tzfat in 1948 became in effect an Israeli city with a very religious population and a very lively historic center characterized by numerous craft shops; Tzfat comes from the Hebrew word Tazpit (panoramic view) since the city rises from the mountains of Galilee, managing to offer spectacular views, especially from the former Crusader fortress.

10 - Bethlehem

One of the most popular tourist destinations, especially for Christians who want to retrace the life of Jesus. The city was first mentioned in the Hebrew Holy Scriptures, and is known to have been the burial place of the matriarch Rachel and the birthplace of King David, later after the birth of Christianity, as the birthplace of Christ.

Bethlehem is a very open city with hospitable people, not yet developed according to modern architectural canons but which it embodies the true history and tradition of Christianity. In its historic center you will find numerous restaurants and souvenir shops as well as, of course, many Christian places of worship. Among the main attractions we find the Basilica of the Nativity, the place where Jesus would be born, which stands in the center of the city and overlooks the Piazza della Mangiatoia. Here there are also the Milk Grotto and the Shepherds' Field: the first is the place where Mary nursed Jesus when the family was on the run, the second, a building covered by a dome built in honor of the shepherds who abandoned their flock to follow Jesus. Before entering the city you can also visit Rachel's Tomb.

Where it is

The State of Palestine is a state in the Middle East bordering to the west, north and south with Israel, to the east with Jordan and to the south-west with Egypt, composed of the territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Besides the capital Ramallah the main cities are Bethlehem, Gaza, Jericho, Hebron, Genin and Nablus.

Travel informed: useful information

  • Inhabitants: 4.148.000
  • Capital: Ramallah
  • Languages: Arabic, Palestinian dialect, Hebrew
  • Local currency: Israeli shekel (NIS) / € 1,00 = NIS 3,92
  • Weather: steppe and mediterranean; average temperature 25.4 ° C; average rainfall of 1.154 mm per year
  • Time zone: + 1h compared to Italy
  • Travel / health insurance: recommended.

    Security, visa and necessary documents

    • Entry requirements: passport valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry; a visa is not required, but must be accessed from Israel through crossings, called check points, where you must show your passport and the coupon received at the airport by the Israeli authorities
    • vaccinations: no vaccination required
    • Restrictions: in mosques it is mandatory for women to cover their heads (or the entire face in some cases), in some places it is forbidden to enter with shorts or if you have bare shoulders; be respectful of Islam, Christianity or Judaism, never disturb prayers and do not wear too skimpy clothing, avoid talking about the Israeli occupation with residents, also avoid symbols related to them such as the Star of David, which can be considered an insult, as is driving with an Israeli license plate
    • Safety: very precarious and delicate political situation due to the conflict between Palestine and Israel; the Palestinian Territories must therefore be visited with extreme safety; the Gaza Strip is highly discouraged; always stay informed by consulting the Farnesina website in the Farnesina website in the Palestinian Territories section
    • Useful Tips: the population is very tied to their traditions so it is very rude to refuse, for example, invitations to dinner or lunch in a private house, considered as an offensive gesture; food is always taken with the right hand since the left one is considered impure; the greeting takes place with a handshake and gestures of affection in public between men and women are not allowed

    Tours and excursions in Palestine


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