Christian Heritage

Christian Heritage

Indicative price guide

from $ 3,599 per person

(Based on 2 adults sharing a room) for mid-range and boutique hotels, and $ 4,599 per person for 5 star accommodation

Itinerary

You will focus on Jerusalem, the Judean Desert, and the Galilee.

Day 1

Arrival and private transfer to your hotel

Jerusalem

Ben Gurion International Airport

Ben Gurion International Airport

We hope you had a good flight. Arrive at Ben Gurion International Airport where you will be met by our representative. You will be driven to Jerusalem in a comfortable air-conditioned vehicle with plenty of room for luggage.

“The view of Jerusalem is the history of the world; it is more, it is the history of earth and of heaven”

Day 2

Explore the Old City of Jerusalem

Old City of Jerusalem

A full tour of the Old City of Jerusalem will introduce you to this place of intense sanctity to Jews, Christians and Muslims, where holy sites tumble over each other. You will visit the sites most holy to the non-Christian faiths; the Kotel (Western Wall of the Second Temple), and you will visit or view the Dome of the Rock.

Your expert guide will unpeel layers of history and provide an overview of what Jerusalem means to the three monotheistic religions. You will then explore the Christian heritage of the Old City more deeply, exploring sites such as the Garden of Gethsemane, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, sections of the Via Dolorosa, and Mount Zion including the tomb of King David and the room of the last supper. You will also enjoy iconic views over Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, an important heritage site mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments as the place from which the resurection of the dead will occur, and as a place from which Jesus preached and ascended to heaven. Throughout your tour you will focus on Jesus’s acts in the holy city, his crucifixion and ultimate rising.

Day 3

Visit Bethlehem, and Yad Vashem, and enjoy a chef-led market tour

Jerusalem, Bethlehem

Today you will visit Jesus’s traditional birth place which is marked by the Church of the Nativity at Bethlehem, a site which is sacred for Christians and monumental in significance for the history of the West. The nearby Shepherds Fields can also be visited.

Following Bethlehem, you will visit Yad Vashem, Israel’s official monument to the Holocaust, which brings a weighty but meaningful note to today’s touring. The museum has justifiably achieved international acclaim for its in depth and powerful portrayal of extremely challenging material.

SPECIAL EXPERT LED TOUR: Following the sober Yad Vashem, you will see how today Jerusalem is a vibrant centre of life. Visiting Mahane Yehuda market you will find yourself surrounded by a plethora of sights, smells and tastes, and the colourful hustle and bustle of Jerusalem life. Your expert culinary guide will show you little known, hidden away gems, and will also explain how Mahane Yehuda serves as a symbol of Israel’s immigrant culture. You will see foods from all parts of the world, and will understand how culinary trends have mixed and influenced each other, just as immigrants from the four corners of the world have preserved their own traditions, and yet integrated to create a unified Israeli culture.

Day 4

Highlights of the Judean Desert

Masada, Qumran, the Jordan River and the Dead Sea

Arguably Israel’s most dramatic site, Masada’s mountain top ruins, set against the extraordinary backdrop of the Judean desert, are but a stage for the retelling of an heroic and ancient tale, now engrained in national mythology. With your expert guide as storyteller, you will hear about the lives of the final Jewish resisters to Roman rule, relive their struggle against the mighty Roman army, and wonder at their heroic end. Masada is a totally unique site, well deserving of its UNESCO world heritage status.

Take a dip in the Dead Sea! The waters shimmer like nowhere else on earth. Full of good-for-you minerals and surrounded by air which is naturally rich in oxygen, the Dead Sea should leave you feeling full of energy. Best of all, here you really will float! Please take flip flops along for the Dead Sea and avoid taking your best bathing suits as the minerals in the water may damage the material.

Qumran is the site of one of the most significant archeological discoveries of the twentieth century. This is the place where the most well-known texts among the Dead Sea Scrolls were found – the ancient religious writings hidden in jars in eleven caves near the site of Qumran. Ten miles south of Jericho en route to the Dead Sea and Masada, Qumran was on a “dead-end street” and provided a perfect location for the isolationist sect of the Essenes to live. Here your expert guide will unfold the events of the discovery and eventual recovery of these precious scrolls.

Qasr al-Yahud lies on the banks of the Jordan River.According to tradition, this is the site where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was therefore “spiritually born”. In addition, according to tradition Qasr al-Yehud marks the location of Elijah’s ascension to heaven in a fiery chariot after he and Elisha crossed the Jordan: “Now Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up, and struck the water; and it was divided this way and that so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground.” (2 Kings 2:8). Lastly, this is also the place where the Children of Israel crossed the Jordan River and entered the Holy Land after their 40 years of wandering in the desert. It was here that: “…as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap.” (Josh 3:13)

Day 5

Travel North

Zippori, Nazareth and Mount Tabor

Your guide will take you to an incredibly beautiful site – Zippori, described by Josephus as “the ornament of the Galilee”. Zippori was the Galilee’s major centre of commerce from the time of the reign of Herod, through the birth of Jesus, and it is probable that Jesus would have worked in Zippori as a craftsman. In Jewish terms, Zippori is hugely important as the place where the Mishna was redacted by Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi in 220 CE, and modern Judaism was therefore given shape. Evidence of the city’s former glory and sophistication is today seen in the stunning mosaic floors which remain. Of major interest are the ‘Mona Lisa of the Galilee’ (pictured below), the Nile Mosaic, and the floor of the 6th century synagogue. Zippori’s remains also include a Crusader fortress and Roman theatre which once seated 4500 people. In Christian heritage the site has significance as the town of origin of the Virgin Mary and her parent

Nazareth is home to the imposing and modern Church of the Annunciation. Together with your guide you will view gifts of Mother and Child art sent by nations from the four corners of the globe. You will also see the Grotto of the Annunciation, believed by many Christians to be the remains of the original childhood home of Mary. Nazareth is also Israel’s largest Arab town, presenting a good opportunity to ask your guide about the country’s rather complex demographics. It is also a great place to eat traditional Arab food, be it street food or something more formal at one of the delicious local restaurants.

Mount Tabor (Har Tavor in Hebrew) is home to Antonio Barluzzi’s masterpiece; the Church of the Transfiguration, marking the mountain top on which according to Christian tradition Jesus was metamorphosed with rays of light, alongside the prophet Elijah and Moses. Your expert guide will remind you of the significance of the transfiguration in the New Testament. The drive up the mountain is dramatic, with stunning views of the lower Galilee refreshed anew at each hairpin turn. The Church itself is an exquisite piece of architecture which holds an atmosphere of serenity.

Day 6

Explore the Sea of Galilee and the Banias

Sea of Galilee, Banias

It was around the Sea of Galilee that Jesus lived and preached, and the area is replete with important Christian sites. Your expert guide will lead you to key sites including the Mount of the Beatitudes (where Jesus delivered the famous Sermon on the Mount); Capernaum, interesting both for the early octagonal church built around the house of Peter, and for the later and ornate 5th century synagogue; the Church of the Primacy of St Peter, beautifully set on the shores of the lake; the Church of the Multiplication of Fish and Loaves at Tabgha where beautiful mosaics remain to signify commemoration of Jesus’ associated miracle; and, last but certainly not least, the extremely impressively preserved “Jesus Boat” – a fishing boat dating back to the time of Jesus – at Kibbutz Ginosar.

The Banias Spring emerges at the foot of Mount Hermon and flows powerfully through a canyon for 3.5 km, eventually leading to the impressive cascade of the Banias Waterfall. Access to the Waterfall is via an easy and pleasant family friendly path, refreshing to walk through on a hot day. The Banias combines history with nature and boasts the wonderful archaeological remains of Caesarea Philippi, the city built by Herod’s son Philip. The site also contains Crusader ruins and the remains of a far older pagan temple dedicated to the god Pan. For Christians, the Banias holds particular significance as the place where Peter recognised Jesus, and Jesus named Peter the “rock” on which his church would be built.

Day 7

Discover Stella Maris Monastery, Caesarea and Ancient Jaffa

Nazareth, Caesarea and Jaffa

Today you will check out of your hotel before traveling towards Tel Aviv with your guide. On the way you will visit the following sites:
Stella Maris Monastery is a beautiful 19th century monastery perched atop the slopes of Mount Carmel with wonderful vistas to the sea. The history of this monastery dates back to the 12th century when religious hermits began to occupy the caves in this area, in imitation of Elijah the Prophet. These hermits were the founders of the order that was later known as the Carmelite order, spreading over Europe. After suffering exile from this area during the time of the Mamluks, finally they started to build the monastery and basilica in the 19th century. ‘Elijah’s cave’ can be found below the altar within the church.

Caesarea was King Herod the Great’s imposing port town, where Rome was honoured with temples, gladiators fought each other to the last, and games were played in celebration of the King and the empire. Later, Caesarea became a thriving Byzantine town, and then a Crusader conquest, each civilisation leaving its archaeological gems. For Christians Caesarea is of significance because of the stone tablet found near the amphitheater which is inscribed with the name Pontius Pilate, and dedicated to Tiberius Caesar who nominated him as procurator. Caesarea is also the place where the Apostle Paul was sent to stand trial, and as a Roman citizen demanded judgment in front of the Emperor. Your expert guide will tell the tales of this once centrally important place, while you enjoy the fresh sea air.

You will explore the ancient city of Jaffa, which is a wonderful contrast from the modern Tel Aviv. Here you will explore one of the most ancient ports in the world, replete with history from Biblical (Jaffa is mentioned in the story of Jonah), ancient Egyptian, Roman, Napoleonic eras and more. A visit to Jaffa will also give you the opportunity to gain wonderful views of Tel Aviv, and to understand the strategic positioning of both cities. Today Jaffa is a thriving port city with a mixed population and a relaxed, oriental vibe.

Day 8

Day at leisure, and then transfer to airport

Tel Aviv

Today is your final day in Israel. Check out of your hotel, and enjoy your remaining time in this extraordinary country, before your flight home. You will be transferred from your hotel in Tel Aviv to Ben Gurion Airport in good time for your flight, in a comfortable air conditioned vehicle.

We hope that you will be leaving Israel with many special memories and that you will come back to visit us again soon.

Everything is wonderful here. We are having a great trip and very impressed with how the itinerary you created aligned geographically and spiritually.

Richard S, Seattle

Stay longer

This itinerary can be extended with extra nights in Tel Aviv, the Negev Desert, or a visit to Petra.

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