People say Israel must be visited at least once in their lifetime. It is a journey for everyone, especially travelers who love history, Bible stories, ancient people’s legends, and impressive architecture. It’s a land of great contrasts between ancient and modern, spiritual and profane, clearly recognizable in its two largest cities which represent a unique blend of spirit, culture, history, geography, climate, and gastronomy. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s take a look at the things that could make five perfectly justified reasons to go to a travel agency and buy a ticket to Israel as soon as you finish reading this article!
Jerusalem is a divine ancient city located in the Middle East in Israel and is its capital. It’s located in the mountains of Judea at 770 m above sea level between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. Jerusalem is an Israeli cultural and spiritual center that gives visitors endless opportunities to observe cultures and mentalities from many angles. That’s why tourists say it’s hard to find a city like that as you can step from modern life to the past and lose yourself in the ancient atmosphere. The city of prophets and kings, various biblical personalities, a place of pilgrimage sacred to Christians, Judaists and Muslims, should certainly be experienced and allowed to slowly enchant and conquer you. And when that happens – you are irreversibly in love with this place full of old and new wounds, colorful, hectic, cheerful, warm and energetic.
Jerusalem consists of a new part of the city and ancient Jerusalem surrounded by high stone walls, into which you can step through one of the seven gates leading to the old city. The old city itself is divided into four quarters, of which the Muslim Quarter is the largest and extends from the Lion’s Gate to the Damascus Gate. In the center of the Muslim Quarter, the path followed by Jesus Christ carrying a cross to Golgotha named the Path of Pain begins and here you can often meet pilgrims who follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ. Of course, some of the most attractive places to see in this beautiful town are those biblical sights like The Mount of Olives, Gethsemane garden and also a Garden Tomb, which is believed to be the place where Jesus Christ was buried. This neighborhood is very lively for most of the day, offering you to taste oriental specialties or test your bargain skills by buying spices, teas, souvenirs and handicrafts at an Arab market. Jerusalem also has a Bible Zoo where you can spend hours enjoying the sightseeing of beautiful nature and different animals. This zoo also possesses a replica of Noah’s ark in its garden. From this city, you can take a trip to Bethlehem since there are many agencies like Elijah Tours that offer relatively affordable excursions to this and many other places.
2. Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv, the second-largest city, is in stark contrast to Jerusalem. The Israelis jokingly say that “in Jerusalem, they pray, but in Tel Aviv they have fun.” Modern, vibrant, cosmopolitan, luxurious and dazzling, this sunny city on the Mediterranean coast is a place where coffee and culinary innovations are a local obsession, where residents speak many world languages and live their life to the fullest. The city is more than a century old, lives 24 hours a day, offers numerous opportunities and opens vistas. When night falls over the city, life just goes on and it doesn’t matter what day of the week it is. One of the factors that make this city so popular and what has brought more tourists is the nightlife. Spectacular clubs, restaurants, bars that close when the last guest leaves the venue, no matter what time it is, really offer ultimate entertainment. Tel Aviv just doesn’t stop. A special charm and icing on the cake is Tel Aviv Beach, also rich in high-end content. A bunch of great scenes and luxury hotels, jogging, biking, sunbathing or simply walking around and enjoying the charms of Tel Aviv will reveal your romantic side.
What’s especially captivating is the historic port of Jaffa, which carries a strong Arab heritage with elements of all Mediterranean styles. There you can see the Wishing Zodiac Bridge, a wooden bridge underneath a stone mosaic displaying 12 zodiac signs. Legend has it that it was built on the site of an old fountain that was considered a wishing fountain. Crossing the bridge, you have to find and touch your sign, make a wish, look into the sea – and it’s believed that your wish will come true.
Nazareth or Nastrat (as pronounced in Hebrew) is the cradle of Christianity, a city where, according to legend, the angel Gabriel told the Virgin Mary that she had conceived with the help of the Holy Spirit and the place where Jesus Christ spent his childhood and youth. Nazareth, in the southern Galilee, is located in the heart of a valley surrounded by mountains that house some of the most famous Christian sites in the world. This is a city of religion and faith, spirituality and holiness, but it’s also a city rich in history, fascinating archeology, modern culture and the Middle East charm. Visiting Nazareth is like going through different epochs. Every era you leave behind is a powerful symbol that has become a fantastic and popular destination for tourists in the modern era. Most of these places are located in the old part of the city, which was built in the mid-19th century in a beautiful Middle East architectural style. Walking through the narrow streets, among the picturesque cottages, is an amazing experience worth a leisurely stroll in which you will enjoy the beauty of this part of town.
4. Red Sea
The Red Sea is actually a bay within the northern Indian Ocean, between Asia and Africa. To the North, there are the Suez Canal, the Sinai Peninsula and the Gulf of Aqaba. In the southern part of the Red Sea – Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, which otherwise divides this sea from the Gulf of Aden.
Whether its name is due to the enchanting sunrise and sunset scene or the pale red color it gets when cyanobacteria algae blooms, the Red Sea is a favorite destination for many tourists and nature lovers. The abundance and diversity of underwater life in crystal clear water make this area the perfect destination for divers. For those who don’t really like close encounters with sea turtles or dolphins, there’s an option to dive into the depths of this sea in a small submarine with a glass bottom and observe its beauties. In addition to these animals, there are many other different types of fish, corals, sea lions and other magnificent plant and animal species.
The city on the Red Sea is called Eilat and it’s the only city in Israel to be found on the shores of this sea. There’s an international bird study center there, and to the north of that city are salt marshes rich in migratory birds that fly to Eurasia in the spring and return to Africa in the fall. Also north of Eilat is Timna National Park and Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve, which are highly visited by tourists.
Haifa is the third-largest city in Israel and one of the most visited ones. It’s the largest port in the country, which is why many call it the “gateway to Israel”. It’s very eye-catching as it’s located both on the hill and at the sea, and was created by the merger of several smaller settlements. One of the most notable attractions is the Bahai Gardens, symmetrical gardens located on Mount Carmel that offer incredible views of the city and the harbor. The gardens consist of nineteen terraces that step down, with the Baba Temple in the center. It’s interesting that there are over 450 species of plants in the gardens, and that the gardens are funded solely by the voluntary income of the Baha’is themselves. If you are not a believer, it’s just not possible to give a voluntary contribution.
At the foot of the Bahá’í Gardens, in the direction of the sea, there’s a quarter called the German Colony. The German colony is the most beautiful quarter of Haifa. The architecture is very interesting and there are many cafes and restaurants. Haifa also houses the Stella Maris Monastery, one of the largest and most crucial monasteries for the Carmelites. The Carmelites are the only Catholic order established in the Holy Land in the 12th century. Also, you should visit Elijah’s cave located nearby. This cave was believed to have been home to St. Elijah. Likewise, there is a legend that says Mary, Jesus and Joseph found refuge in this cave upon their return from Egypt. Near the monastery, there’s the cable car of the same name that leads to the promenade and beach “Bat Galim” which in Hebrew means “daughter of the wave”. From here, you can enjoy a great selection of cafes and restaurants as you listen to the waves hit the coast.
If the stories you’ve heard about this wonderful country so far haven’t made you take a passport and head to Israel, we hope this article will change your mind. Whether you’re a believer who wants to bring to life the image of significant religious objects and or just a curious tourist, this can be a wonderful experience for you. It will allow you to enjoy the beautiful desert landscapes, sea reefs, salt water, green oases, to witness the stories of its inhabitants about the wonders that have taken place in that country that will awaken mystical feelings in everyone.