Israel may be small but it has much to offer. Whether it is following the traces of the crusaders in Akko, eating shawarma in Haifa, enjoying Tel Aviv’s lively city life, exploring Jerusalem’s dense history and tradition or enjoying stunning landscapes, there is something for all tastes.
Discover the old town of Akko
The old city of Akko, situated on a peninsula on the coastline north of Haifa, is one of the most fascinating places to breathe in ancient history and the clash of East and West. It is one of the few cities along the shores of the Mediterranean whose surrounding walls are still entirely intact, and strolling around them, you’ll feel the rich heritage of this ancient port city where several religions have left their marks. One of the most beautiful sites in the old town is the Al-Jazzar mosque. Its gorgeous courtyard, old trees, green domes, colourful decorations and dusty rugs lying around evoke ancient splendour and transport visitors instantly back to its glorious past. A visit of the fortress with its halls, courts and tunnels reveals a perspective on the Crusaders’ invasion and makes history come to life. The best way to explore the town is by foot. Small courtyards with painted walls, abandoned buildings and small shops that pop up as you turn the corner will complete the experience. Recommendations for walking tours with various thematic background as well as other useful information can be found on the city’s website.
Haifa is said to be one of the top spots for shawarma in the country and the city center is dotted with delicious street food. Bambino is just one of them to choose from in order to get the full charge of local flavour.
Embrace history and tradition in Jerusalem’s old town
Jerusalem is a city unique of its kind. There is no place where the coexistence of the religions of Judaism, Christianism and Islam can be experienced in such a deep way. The concentration of historic sites that are holy to the religions is overwhelming. A city walk will send visitors from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Christians worship the resurrection of Jesus to the dense tangle of an Arabic souq just by turning around the corner. Viewing The Western Wall, the holiest site of Judaism, and the Dome of the Rock from the rooftop of one of the buildings situated on the hill in front will leave you breathless. The city walls and the gates leading to the heart of the old town are impressive monuments of a centuries-old history. A guided tour may be a good option to get the most out of the city’s rich background.
Admire stunning views in Masada
Far away from the countries’ city hubs, in the middle of a barren desert scenery on top of a mountain plateau and overlooking the Dead Sea, Masada is a mystical place. Ruins are left of this ancient site, where almost a thousand Jews made a desperate stand to defend themselves after the Romans conquered Jerusalem in 70 CE and committed suicide to avoid enslavement when they realized that their attempts had failed. Surrounded by steep cliffs and declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2001, Masada is one of the highlights of Israel. Visitors can climb up to the summit by foot from the Visitor Centre or take the cable car to get there in just a few minutes. The site is surrounded by steep cliffs and offers breathtaking views as well as lasting impressions of the still visible Roman military encampments that encircle Masada and the ruins of the palaces that Herod the Great had built on top of the flat-topped mountain.
By Pia Staigmueller
Pia loves different cultures, languages and people and is always looking for new places to discover, to explore and to photograph. Originally from Germany she currently resides in Italy. With her gypsy soul combined with her passion for travelling she asks herself if she will ever settle down.
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