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Discover Magical Israel

The appeal of Israel's ancient and holy past may be obvious, but many new arrivals are surprised to discover that Israel is much more than a lesson in history. While Jerusalem is a dazzling amalgam of past and present, the whole country is a tightly packed ball of attractions, from Mt Masada to taking a float in the Dead Sea.

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• Jerusalem

Jerusalem, Israel

People have been writing about Jerusalem for the better part of its 3,000-year history, but your first glimpse inside the ancient walled city is guaranteed to leave you speechless. Jerusalem is a spiritual center, holy to the three great faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam …

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» Acre

Acre, Israel

Frequently referred to as 'Akko,' Acre is situated in the Western Galilee region of northern Israel. Populated with beautiful ancient buildings, Old Akko, a subset of Acre, has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its cultural vibrancy makes it a prime place for visitors. Hosting festivals and markets year-round, the port of Acre is lively and beautiful. Steeped in history, you can visit the ancient walls and fortresses of the city that tell the complicated story of the area …

» Ashdod Cruise Port

Ashdod Cruise Port, Israel

When you step off a cruise in Jerusalem, you can practically feel the sense of history and spirituality that embodies one of the world's most historic cities. Ashdod, the Biblical home of giants, is today a giant of industry and the gateway to Jerusalem, a sacred site to three of the world's great religions. Since Jerusalem sits inland, passengers must disembark in Ashdod and make the hour-plus transfer into the city to see the main attractions s …

» Bethlehem

Bethlehem, Israel

Bethlehem is a small city in the West Bank, and attracts millions of visitors every year for its historical and religious significance. Known in the Christian faith as the birthplace of Jesus, its attractions are chiefly religious, but are intriguing even for people outside of the faith. The most popular destination in Bethlehem is undoubtedly the Church of the Nativity on Manger Square. Allegedly the exact place of birth of Jesus, the church dates back to the Roman Emperor Constantine in 330 CE …

» Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Church of the Holy Sepulchre , Israel

Set within the Christian Quarter of the old walled city of Jerusalem - which it itself the larger World Heritage Site -- this church is considered by many Christians to be the site of Jesus' crucifixion, burial and resurrection. A popular stop on the pilgrimage trail since the 4th century, the church itself is now the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Church. Commissioned between 325-6 by Emperor Constantine I, and his mother, Saint Helena, the church was built on the former site of a temple dedicated to Aphrodite …

» Church of the Nativity

Church of the Nativity, Israel

The oldest continuously operating church in the world, the Church of the Nativity was commissioned in the year 327 by Emperor Constantine I and his mother, Saint Helena, built over the site considered by most Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus. Destroyed by fire and then rebuilt in the 6th century, the church was used until 1131 as the coronation site for European Crusades-era kings, and has since been widely expanded. The 4,000-foot complex now includes the main basilica, run by the Greek Orthodox Church …

» Dead Sea

Dead Sea, Israel

The Dead Sea is famous for being the lowest point in the world, sitting 1,269 feet (383 meters) below sea level. It is also one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world, and as such, bodies will naturally float in the water. Because of this hyper-salination that is so unique to the Dead Sea, visitors come from all over the world to swim in the sea, as well as access the nutrient-rich mud on the banks. There is a 4-star spa hotel that utilizes the mud from the bank on the Jordanian coast …

» Dome of the Rock

Dome of the Rock , Israel

As both the oldest and most famous Islamic shrine in the world, the Dome of the Rock is one of the most sought pilgrimage destinations in the world. Constructed on top of the site of the Second Jewish Temple around 690 CE, its historical and religious value is unprecedented. The exterior detail of the dome is in the shape of a Byzantine martyrium, built for the purpose of housing holy relics. It is also jacketed in over 100,000 melted Dinar gold coins, covering the entire done and making it a gem of middle Byzantine art …

» Ein Gedi Nature Reserve

Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, Israel

An easy day trip from nearby Jerusalem, the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve is located in the Judean Desert, close to the Dead Sea coast, and is one of Israel's most popular hiking areas. Ein Gedi is a natural playground for outdoors enthusiasts, with several well-marked hiking trails traversing its wadis, waterfalls and desert oases, and linking landmark sights like the atmospheric Dodim's Cave ('Lovers' Cave') and the photogenic David Waterfall. …

» Garden of Gethsemane

Garden of Gethsemane, Israel

In Jesus' day, the Garden of Gethsemane at the base of the Mount of Olives was an olive grove, and according to some botanists, some of the ancient olive trees still growing in the gardens likely predate Christianity itself. While the word 'gethsemane' means 'oil press,' the Garden of Gethsemane is much better known for its prominence in New Testament scripture as the site where Jesus was betrayed and arrested after the Last Supper. Ihe center of the garden sits the Church of All Nations …

» Golan Heights

Golan Heights, Israel

A rocky plateau straddling the borders of Israel and Syria, the Golan Heights is one of Israel's most scenic regions, with its hilly landscape dotted with ancient ruins and biblical sites. Despite the long-standing dispute over Syrian and Israeli occupation of the territory, the Golan Heights are still an increasingly popular tourist destination, home to Mount Hermon, Israel's highest peak at 2,284 meters, and the Gamla Nature Reserve, renowned for its population of rare birds …

» Haifa

Haifa, Israel

Haifa, the third largest city in Israel, is a very modern city with many different attractions. In addition to religious destinations, there are many other cultural centers to visit. The Baha'i Gardens and World Center acts as the holiest site of pilgrimage for members of the Baha'i Faith, and the surrounding gardens are some of the most impressive in the country. There are also gorgeous botanical gardens adjoined to the Haifa Zoo. The Cave of Elijah is also considered to be an interesting place to visit …

» Haifa Cruise Port

Haifa Cruise Port, Israel

Haifa, Israel's third largest city, is also one of the most underrated. Where Jerusalem gets the lion's share of attention as a religiously significant destination, Haifa flies under the radar with multiple faiths living in relative harmony -- most notably the headquarters of the Baha'i faith. As the country's largest and busiest commercial port, Haifa can dock three ships at once …

» Jericho

Jericho, Israel

Located within the Israeli occupied West Bank, Jericho is a city apart from the Palestinian Territories 34 miles (55 kilometers) southeast from Jerusalem, near to the Dead Sea. Although known to be a target caught in the midst of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Jericho is none-the-less one of the earliest known sites of human civilization. If you feel inclined to visit the territory, you will find that the small city contains remnants of past settlements that date as far back as the Neolithic period 9,000 years ago …

» Masada

Masada, Israel

The incredible fortress of Masada, located in the astonishing Judean Desert near the Dead Sea, has been symbolic to the Israeli people since the Roman era, symbolizing bravery and self-sacrifice in the face of adversity. The plateau is surrounded by rocky cliffs on all sides, and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001. Upon arriving, you can either walk to the entrance or take a cable car lift. While the cable car is the fastest way to reach the site …

» Mount of Olives

Mount of Olives, Israel

Just east of the Old City, separating Jerusalem from the Judean Desert, sits the Mount of Olives, one of the city's most famous scriptural sites. The famous mountain is referenced in both the Old and New Testaments, first as the escape route David used during his son's rebellion, and again by the prophets. The New Testament recounts Jesus addressing his pupils from the Mount of Olives …

» Nazareth

Nazareth, Israel

Located in northern Israel, Nazareth is the largest Arab city in the country, but enjoys a diverse population of about 60,000 people. Best known for its religious significance in the Christian faith, Nazareth is thought to be the home of Joseph and Mary, and as such there are many holy places that draw people from all over the world. Nazareth is not only a destination for the devout, however, and is home to some of the most beautiful churches in the Middle East …

» Rosh Hanikra

Rosh Hanikra, Israel

The dramatic white cliffs of Rosh Hanikra are one of Israel's most visited natural attractions, looming 210 feet over the Mediterranean coast and close to the border of Lebanon. Preserved as part of the Achziv Natural Reserve, the soft rock of Rosh Hanikra has been sculpted over millenniums by the action of the waves to form a warren of sea caves and limestone grottos ripe for exploring …

» Temple Mount (Haram ash-Sharif)

Temple Mount (Haram ash-Sharif) , Israel

The Temple Mount ('Haram ash-Sharif' in Arabic) is an elevated plateau located in the Old City of Jerusalem that houses some the most important structures and relics in the history of religion, including Dome of the Rock, the retaining wall of Herod's temple, the Western Wall, and one the oldest and most beautiful mosques in the world, Al-Aqsa Mosque. In Judaism, the area is considered the center of the world, and the point from which all humanity originated …

» Via Dolorosa

Via Dolorosa, Israel

The Via Dolorosa is the path within the Old City of Jerusalem that Jesus is said to have took carrying the cross to his crucifixion. Known in Catholicism as the Stations of the Cross, the entire path is marked on the streets and major landmarks it passes through in order for pilgrims to retrace. Although the path has changed several times over the course of history, today the main route is taken with 14 stations along the way, as it was done by early Byzantine pilgrims …

» Wailing Wall

Via Dolorosa, Israel

Another element of the World Heritage Site in old Jerusalem, the Wailing Wall at the foot of the Temple Mount. Babylonians destroyed this temple in 425 B.C., and since then it has been a sacred site for Jewish pilgrimage; the name 'Wailing Wall' was coined by non-Jews who witnessed the weeping of devoted Jews who had come to mourn and pray with a rocking motion. Long a hotly-contested symbol for Jews, Muslims and Christians (all three groups have, over time, built houses of worship on this site) …

» Western Wall

Western Wall , Israel

Perhaps the most significant landmark of the Jewish people and symbol of the Old City of Jerusalem, the Western Wall (or the Wailing Wall) is the last remaining remnant of the Second Temple built by Herod the Great around 19 BCE. Jewish pilgrims from all around the world visit the site and pray to the embodied spirit of the holy presence while mourning the fall of the temple by kissing the wall and putting notes into its crevices …

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Israel is one of the world's oldest travel destinations. Everyone from Moses to Mark Twain has dreamed of coming here. Travelers still come in droves to this land, considered holy by countless millions from many religions …

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Contrary to popular belief, Israel is not a war zone to be avoided, and it has such rigid security that travel is surprisingly safe. Enter the Holy Land on a clean slate and you'll never watch the nightly news the same way again …

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