Where To Go
Visitors to Palestine seeking a unique and unforgettable journey can dive into the history of the earliest human settlement in Jericho and Wadi Khareitoun. They can trace the advent of urban society, the footsteps of prophets, or the path of Jesus Christ from birth to resurrection. Simply travelling from one city to the next offers an eclectic mix of heritage. In Bethlehem, travellers can visit the Grotto of Nativity where Jesus Christ was born, then travel southeast to the village of Beit Sahour where they can see the Shepherd’s fields. Then, on southward along Hebron Road travellers will find the remains of an ancient water system; Solomon’s pools and their extensive water canals. Further down the road is Hebron city, a vibrant economic centre, it is also home to the burial place of six of monotheism’s patriarchs, and the fourth sacred city of Islam.
East is the Jordan River, where John baptized Jesus Christ. The sycamore tree that Zacchaeus climbed so he could see Christ on his walk to Jerusalem sits just in the new city of Jericho, and west of the city are the high cliffs known as the Mount of Temptation, home for centuries to a Greek Orthodox monastery. Beyond the biblical, the Jordan Valley plays host to several important and attractive sites including the Dead Sea, where the Dead Sea scrolls were found at Qumran, the oldest city on earth Tell al-Sultan, the sugar mills, and the nearby Hisham’s Palace; sites dating from the Prehistoric Periods through to the Bronze, and Iron Ages, up to the Persian, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Crusader, Umayyad, Abbasid, Fatimid Ayyubid, Mamluk, and Ottoman times. With bicycle rentals in the town center and a cable car to the mount, hundreds of thousands of years of human history can be taken in during an afternoon.
Then turning north, is the city of Jenin; one of the oldest places of habitation on the ancient plain of Marj Ibn Amer. At the south-eastern edge of the plain, a few kilometres west of the city stands the fourth century Church of Burqin, erected to mark the spot where Jesus healed the lepers. The city would have been one of those in the path of Mary and Joseph as they travelled on their way to Bethlehem from Nazareth. Along this path, olive trees –more common in the central and northern districts—gradually give way to vineyards, which are dominant in the south, especially on the Hebron and Bethlehem hills. Stone terraces enclose the trees and vines, and watchtowers are distinctive features of the rolling hills. Fieldstones used to terrace the hills make use of the mountain terrain, and additionally retain moisture and prevent soil from eroding. Watchtowers were themselves important for seasonal agricultural, used to guard the fields and crops, and are living testimonies of the relationship between the Palestinian farmer and his land.
South of Jenin is Nablus, nestled between two round mountains along the floor of the valley between, homes over the years have crept up the hills offering spectacular views of the city core. In its center, visitors can walk through the historic market and dense old city, with its fabric shops, mosques, and churches. With a working olive oil soap factory, and home of Palestine’s favourite desert, Nablus is the capital of the north. Nearby are sister cities Tulkarem and Qalqilia, found on the fringe of Palestine’s central mountainous ridge south of Marj Ibn Amer, and represent the central zone of Palestine. The area played an important role in the past as a crossroad between the sea and the northern region, and today is the site of hundreds of archaeological features (Tell Taannek, Tell Jenin, Khirbit Bal’ama, Tell Dothan, Khirbet As-Samra, and Wadi Qana), which provide information about the region’s cultural history. This area is known as the breadbasket of the area, with farmers growing wheat, olives, almonds, figs, and citrus.
Traveling southwest towards Palestine’s coast is Gaza. Its old city market is a top attraction, as are archaeological sites like Tell Al-Ajjul, Tell As-Sakan, Tell Al-Blakhyia, and Umm Amer, as well as the newly excavated Byzantine churches dating back to the fourth and fifth centuries AD, only recently unearthed and renovated.
The heart of Palestinian culture is, of course, Jerusalem. The city where Jesus Christ walked and spread his message of peace and love, where he spent his last days with loyal disciples, and where he was crucified, buried, and resurrected. It is also in Jerusalem where visitors can visit the magnificent Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, two of Islam’s holiest and the most beautiful shrines that make the skyline of Jerusalem so unique and iconic.