Biblical and Archeological sites
Israel is dotted with archaeological sites—a fascinating setting for a history spanning thousands of years. Traveling this time machine, you will find large manmade mounds (tells), consisting of horizontal layers with remains from Prehistoric settlements, biblical towns, Roman and Byzantine walled cities with churches, mosques and synagogues.
About 20,000 archaeological sites exist in the country, so don’t expect to see them all…
Christian, Jewish and Islamic heritage
Israel has for many centuries been the inspiration and focus of the three monotheistic religions. In Jerusalem, within a radius of 500 m, one finds the Western Wall, close to where the Jewish Temple once stood, the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest place in Islamic tradition, and the Holy Sepulcher, the place of the crucifixion and tomb of Christ. The resulting ethnic and cultural diversity creates a unique mosaic of local inhabitants brushing shoulders with foreign visitors.
Flora and Fauna
Israel is located on a narrow land bridge between Europe, Africa and Asia, bordered by seas, deserts and forested hills.
Hence, you will find there a great variety of flowers, trees and animals, some native, while others originated in other parts of the world. During spring time, the country becomes a virtual carpet of flowers, and it is crossed by millions of migrating birds on their return from Africa to Europe.
With its extremely varied landscape, Israel is considered a geologist’s and geographer’s paradise. The Rift Valley, a geological fault line that runs from Turkey to Africa, created extreme differences in local climates and landscapes. At -400 m below sea level, in the lowest part of the Rift Valley, lies the Dead Sea, with its unique properties, surrounded by moon-like landscapes. In the Negev and Judean deserts are spectacular canyons, geological craters, hidden springs, oases and surprising geological formations. The central mountain range, which runs north–south, forms a barrier between the deserts in the east and the cultivated areas to the west, bordering on the Mediterranean Sea. The graceful green hills of Galilee in the north are similar to the Mediterranean landscapes of Cyprus and Turkey. The Golan Heights in the northeast are a high plateau consisting of basalt layers dotted with cones of non-active volcanoes.
In this old-new country, the constant drive to preserve and interpret the past has resulted in the establishment of more than 100 museums. Some are local museums, exhibiting antiques that were found while establishing a new village or during agricultural work in the fields, others are large museums located in central cities. Among the best known are the IsraelMuseum, with its huge archaeological exhibition, the YadVashemHolocaustMuseum, the DiasporaMuseum and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
Israel in 2013 is a young, modern country, a vibrant democracy, and with 8 million inhabitants it is the world’s largest immigrant society. It has a strong and diversified economy and is facing and dealing with big challenges on many levels.
World Heritage sites inscribed on the World Heritage List:
an ancient fortification, constructed atop an isolated rock plateau in the JudeanDesert, overlooking the Dead Sea. Herod the Great built there palaces for himself and fortified the site between 37 and 31 BCE. The Siege of Masada by troops of the Roman Empire towards the end of the First Jewish Revolt ended in the mass suicide of the 960 entrenched Jewish rebels and their families.
Old City of Acre
Akko is a characteristic Ottoman-period fortified town, dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, including a citadel, mosques, khans and baths. Remains of a Crusader town, with a large monastery, lie almost intact below and above today’s street level.
White City of Tel-Aviv: the Modern Movement
Tel Aviv was founded in 1909 and developed as a metropolis under the British Mandate. The buildings of the WhiteCity, constructed between the early 1930s and the 1950s were designed by architects trained in Europe, reflecting the Modern Movement or Mediterranean Style.
Biblical Tels: Megiddo, Hazor, Beer Sheba
Tells, historic settlement mounds, are characteristic of Lebanon, Syria, Israel and eastern Turkey. There are more than 200 tells in Israel—Megiddo, Hazor and Beer Sheba are the most well-known of them, with substantial remains of biblical cities. These three sites also serve some of the best examples in the Levant for elaborate, Iron Age underground water-collecting systems, created to serve large communities. As such, they reflect the wealth and power of Bronze and Iron Age cities in the fertile biblical lands.
Incense Route: Desert Cities in the Negev
The Incense Route is a 2000 km long network of trade routes that was used in the transportation of frankincense and myrrh from Yemen and Aman to the Mediterranean. Four towns—Haluza, Mamshit, Avdat and Shivta, and four fortresses—Kazra, Nekarot, Makhmal and Grafon, as well as two caravanserais, in Moa and Saharonim, lie along this trade route. The Incense Route, starting from Petra, capital of the Nabatean Empire in Jordan, runs through the Negev in its final 100 km towards the Mediterranean ports. Remains of sophisticated irrigation systems, urban construction, forts and caravanserais in the harsh desert reflect the prosperity of the Nabatean settlements over a 700-year period of time, from the 3rd century BCE to the 4nd century CE.
Sites of Human development at Mount Carmel: The Nahal Me’arot / Wadi el-Mughara Caves
On the western slopes of the Mount Carmel range, one finds prehistoric caves with early burials representing the transition from a hunter-gathering lifestyle to agriculture and animal husbandry. Ninety years of research have revealed insight in the development of human life in South West Asia.
Bahá’i Holy Places in Haifa and the Western Galilee
The two most holy places in the Baha’i religion are in Israel: the Shrine of Baha’u’llah in Acre and the Shrine of the Báb in Haifa. Both are well-known for their beautifully tended gardens, buildings and monuments.
The Old City and City Walls of Jerusalem
Situated at the crossroads between the Way of the Patriarchs, stretching along the Judean Hills, between Nablus and Hebron, and the coastal Via Maris (Way of the Sea), running eastwards toward the Jordan Rift Valley, Jerusalem has historically won its strategic importance. The Ottoman city wall defines the limits of 16th-century Jerusalem. Within the wall are enclosed the quarters of four communities: Jews, Muslims, Christians and Armenians.
The Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Palestinian Authority)
The Church of the Nativity stands in the old center of Bethlehem, a large Palestinian town south of Jerusalem. It has been identified as the birthplace of Jesus in the 2nd century AD. Its construction was completed in 339 AD. The present 6th-century church exhibits beautiful mosaic floors, many convents, bell towers and gardens, as well as a pilgrimage route.
Other World Heritage Sites
Early Synagogues in the Galilee
Sea of Galilee & its Ancient Sites
White Mosque in Ramle
Region of the Caves & Hiding: bet Guvrin-Maresha