Bethlehem & West Bank
The area is fascinating to explore, whether for Christian Heritage, as part of a geo-political tour, or out of historical interest.
The West Bank & Christian Heritage
If Christian Heritage is a priority for you, then you will want to visit Bethlehem, Jesus’s traditional birth place. The site is marked by the Church of the Nativity, a site which is sacred for Christians, and monumental in significance for the history of the West. One should really refer to churches in the plural, as the site is home to both the Orthodox church and the Franciscan church – both very much worth a visit. We also recommend taking the time to visit the nearby Shepherd’s Fields, home to the remains of an ancient church established by Helena, Mother of the Emperor Constantine, and a beautiful chapel designed by the hugely talented Antonio Barluzzi. Jericho may also be of interest. This desert town is both the lowest city on earth. Enjoyed by the ancients, its mild winter temperatures have long made it an ideal resort away from the cold temperature of the hilly Jerusalem. This is where Herod the Great and later Muslim Caliphs built luxurious palaces. In the Old Testament, Jericho is of course the place where the children of Israel famously felled the city walls, and in the New Testament Jericho is mentioned as the town where Jesus would stop for the night during his journeys to Jerusalem.
The West Bank & Geo-political tours
For those interested in the geo-politics of Israel and the Middle East, a tour in the West Bank will be important and revealing. Following an overview briefing you will pass through security check points, crossing the “Green Line”, and entering the area controlled by the Palestinian Authority. You will cross the different “zones” of Israel/ joint/ Palestinian control, affording a first-hand understanding of the meaning of the complex, multi shaded maps of this part of the world. Among other sites, you will visit a Palestinian refugee camp, and the city of Ramallah including the new government offices and Arafat’s tomb. You will also visit Israeli settlements in various stages of development.
The West Bank & Historical tours
The West Bank is full of historical gems – one of our favourite sites is Herodian. Herodion is a treat of a Roman archaeological site buried deep inside the Judean desert, yet just twenty minutes east of Jerusalem. As your guide will explain, Herod was the great builder of the land of Israel in the time of antiquity, and Herodion was his self-designated crown jewel and final resting place. Herodion comprised a palace, a fortress and a lower city, all sustained by a series of huge water cisterns which now form an underground maze for the inquiring visitor.
Words can’t describe how much we enjoyed our visit to Israel … The sites so familiar with the story of Jesus we found to be very powerful and spiritual.
Connie M, New York
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