Ancient Jericho Tell al-Sultan
The ancient city ofJerichois located 2 km from the northwestern outskirts ofJericho. Situated on a mound overlooking theJerichooasis, excavations at Tell al-Sultan uncovered 23 layers of ancient civilizations, dating back to 9000 BC. Many structures are visible, including the oldest known stairs in the world, the oldest wall, and the massive defense tower, dating back to 7000 BC.
Representing a sample of early Islamic architecture, the ruins of this impressive desert palace lie 3 km from the northern outskirts ofJericho. This country residence of the Umayyad Caliph Hisham (724-743 AD) is a complex of royal buildings, mosques, baths, and colonnaded courts. There are also spectacular mosaic floors can be seen including the “Tree of Life” mosaic, one of the most beautiful in the world. Another famous feature is a courtyard framework featuring the shape of hexagonal Umayyad star.
Quarantine – Monastery of Temptation
The summit of Mt.Temptation, rising to a height of 350 meters above sea level and commanding a magnificent view of theJordanValley, is the site where Jesus spent forty days and nights fasting and meditating during the temptation of Satan. A monastery was built in the sixth century over the cave where Christ stayed. The path leading to Deir Quruntel is very steep and difficult to climb, but is well worth the walk. The nearly 30-40 caves on the eastern slopes of the mountain have been inhabited by monks and hermits since the early days of Christianity.
Fountains of Jericho
Fountain of Eliseus Ain Es-Sultan
To the east of Tell es Sultan is Ain es Sultan, called by the Christians the Fountain of Eliseus, because the prophet, touched by the prayers of the inhabitants of Jericho, corrected the bitterness of the water and made it palatable by casting into it a handful of salt (2 Kings 2,19). The Byzantines built here a church in honour of St. Eliseus. It was the water of the spring which led to the early occupation of the nearby site, and today its water, regulated by law, accounts for the beautiful gardens of bananas, oranges, dates etc, in this most delightful of oases.
At the foot of themountainofQuarantinethere is a track that leads you to Ain Duq, which, however is more easily reached from the main road leading north from Tell es Sultan.
A short distance to the north ofJerichois Ain Nu’eima. Remains of the ancient aqueducts are to be seen on all sides.
Ain El Qilt
Ain el Qilt is located in the gorge of Wadi el Qilt south west ofJericho. The whole gorge is very picturesque, its precipitous sides rising to several hundred meters. It makes a pleasant and not over-strenuous walk.
Leaving the Castle of Hajla at the banks of the Jordan river, you meet with a pleasant garden due to the presence of the spring Ain Hajla which preserves the name of Beth Hoglah of the Bible (Jos.15,6; 18,19.21). The plantations belong to the Greek Orthodox. A track runs from Ain Hajla to meet the road fromJerichoto theJordan.
Sugar Mills Tawahin es-Sukkar
Production of sugar here dates to the Omayyad period (seventh-eighth centuries) but was at its height during Crusader days. There is a mediaeval mill east of the Mount of Temptation near Tell es-Sultan where remains of the hydraulic system, a forced conduit, or flying aqueduct, are partly preserved. Calcite deposits on the inside walls reveal the force of water from the Ein Duq springs. The pottery workshop here specialized in ceramic vessels for use in sugar production.
Heading just north of Ain es Sultan on the main road, you will find to the right a track leads into a clump of trees, and within the property of the Shahwan family can be seen the foundations and mosaic floor of a synagogue discovered in 1936. The date of the construction is believed to be the 8th cent and it is an interesting item for the history of the Jews at that time.
Herodium Jericho Tulul Abul-Alayeq
The site is made up of several low hills on both sides of wadi Qelt. It is located right at the southern entrance ofJericho, at the point where wadi Qelt meets the plateau of Jericho. The site can be reached either from the main Jerusalem-Jericho road, or better via the old road toJerichowhich lines the wadi. The oldest discoveries at Tulul Abu Al Alaieq date back to the Chalcolithic period 4500-3100BC, but the most impressive remains are either from the Hellenistic or the Roman periods in date. In Roman times,Jerichowas a garden of fruit and palm trees, it was given as a gift to Cleopatra by Mark Antony.
The city reached its peak under Herod the Great who built his winter palace at the site of Tulul Abu Al Alaieq. This palace is the best preserved and the most impressive structure at the site which seems to have served as the administrative center of the town ofJerichoat that time. It was built on both sides of the wadi to allow the inhabitants to enjoy the scene of the waters of the wadi in winter. A huge garden of palm trees and Balsam measuring 11000m2 was found during excavation works on the site to the north of the palace. It was called theRoyalGarden. The foundations of a wall surrounding the complex, several workshops, pools, ovens, a large wine press, sewage systems and liquid storage buildings, were also found in what is believed to be the industrial area of the city.
It is not clear when the site was abandoned, this might have happened after the earthquake which shook the area around the middle of the AD 1st century. Some remains at Tulul Abu Al Alaieq from the Byzantine and Islamic periods indicate that the site was never completely abandoned but rather shrunk in size. There are no entrance fees at the site and visiting is possible all day long
The maqam of Nabi Mousa is considered a holy place because it houses the grave of prophet Moses according to local tradition. Moses is recognized by Moslems as one of the great prophets of Islam. The bituminous rocks around the shrine add to its mystique and sanctity since they are flammable. This remarkable property is due to their mineral content of qatraan or tar, with its distinctive smell. Pilgrims used the stones as fuel for warmth and cooking.
The tomb has been the site of annual pilgrimage festival or mawsim at least since the time of the great Muslim leader Salah Al Din ( Saladin ) who liberatedJerusalemfrom the Crusaders in the twelfth century AD. Muslims believe that Moses is buried here, although, according to the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 34), Moses never enteredPalestine, the ”Promised Land”, but rather died atMountNeboin modern-dayJordan.
The main body of the present shrine-the mosque, minaret, and some of the rooms – was completed in AD 1269 during the reign of the Mamluk Sultan, Al Thaher Baybars who reigned from AD 1260 to 1277.
The mawsim of Nabi Mousa
The development of the annual pilgrimage and festival of Nabi’ Musa (15-30 April) goes back to the time of the liberation ofJerusalemby Saladin from the crusaders. As a show of Muslim strength and good will to the Christians, Saladin allowed, under the terms of the agreement, the Crusades and another Western pilgrims to visit the Christian holy places at Easter time. That is the reason why the pilgrims and festival of Nabi Musa falls always on the week proceeding Easter.
Good Samaritan Inn – Al-Khan al-Ahmar
Located 10km east ofJerusalem, on the main road toJericho, al-Khan al-Ahmar is a 16th century structure where travelers on this ancient trade route stopped to rest. On the other side of the road are the remains of St. Euthymius Church, built in the fifth century to commemorate Jesus’ famous proverb of the Good Samaritan.
St. George’s Monastery & Wadi Qelt
Wadi Qelt is a natural rift in the hills with high, sheer rock walls, extending 45km betweenJerusalemandJericho. Hermits have inhabited the Wadi since the third century. Today, it is a wonderful place for hiking tours, especially in winter. The Monastery of St. George, Deir al-Qelt, is carved out of the rock and clings to the canyon walls impressively. Built in the fifth century, the monastery was destroyed during the Persian invasion ofPalestine. Most of the present monastery dates back to the 1901 restoration by the Greek Orthodox Church.
The Téléphérique cable cars offer visitors a short but scenic ride up the Mount of Temptation. The cars, which drop off passengers just a few hundred feet from the Greek Orthodox Monastery of Temptation, save tourists from the traditionally long –and tiring- walk or donkey ride up the mount.
The Spanish Park
The Municipality of Jericho has accomplished a very important project which is a public park called theSpanishPark. This is a nice place for the people ofJerichoas well as for the tourists to spend their time.
Jordan River – Baptism Site
Jordan River, the great holy river of Palestine, the Jordan, rises in several headstreams near Mount Hermon in the mountains of Syria and Lebanon and flows more than 322 kilometers south through the Great Rift Valley to the Dead Sea. It is one of the world’s most remarkable rivers because of its association with Hebrew and Christian history and the unique descent in its course from 79 meters above sea level to 391 meters below sea level. From ancient times the river has marked a dividing line between settled and nomad peoples.
Dead Sea, located in the south of theJordanValley, the salty closed sea 400 meters below sea level is the lowest spot on Earth. The scenery on the shores of the sea in enchanting.
The Dead Sea is famous for its extraordinary salt and mineral content, which many people say makes it a natural healing agent for skin problems. People from around the world have been visiting theDead Seafor many years for curative treatments and to enjoy its relaxing waters.
Qumran: Caves and Monastery of theDead SeaScrolls
Qumran is located on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea where theDead Seascrolls were uncovered in the 1940s.
The Dead Sea Scrolls constitute one of the major archeological discoveries of the 20th century. They incorporate the earliest known manuscripts of the Bible as well as other important historical documents describing the life of the Essene community. At the same time, they are a main source for the study of the history ofPalestine: the Dead Sea Scrolls have shed light on Judaism and the roots of Christianity on the shore of theDead Sea.