Traveling Israel - Jerusalem (PDF) | Tel Aviv | Judaean Desert
Israel is a fascinating country.
The problem is that many of the sites are not impressive in themselves. The Wailing Wall is just a wall and you will have seen churches that are much more impressive than the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Without understanding what you’re looking at, you will get a lot less out of your trip.
If you want to enjoy Israel you need to know its history.
As a professional Israeli tour guide who has been to these places hundreds of times, I keep on testing new routes, trying out different sites and improving my guiding, based on the feedback of travelers.
I have written about three of the most popular day trips you can take in Israel: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Judaean desert (Masada and the Dead Sea).
Each booklet will lead you step by step through the most interesting sites (some well known and some less so) along with in-depth explanations, maps, photos and graphics which will allow you to understand and enjoy the stories Israel has to offer.
So if you’re an independent traveler planning a trip to Israel or if you just want to know more about the historical sites of Israel, then my booklets are perfect for you.
I really want to change and improve the way travelers experience Israel, to build something I myself would appreciate if I were to come to Israel as a foreign traveler. I think it’s starting to happen but there is still a long way to go. There is so much more information I want to share.
In the Jerusalem booklet my motto was less is more.
Instead of writing a small amount about dozens of churches and synagogues, I chose to write only about the most interesting ones, some of which are well known, others less so.
The first site in this booklet is the Chapel of Ascension, the holiest site for Christians on the Mount of Olives. It is here that Jesus spent his last week, and I also wrote about two more important churches located nearby: Dominus Flevit, where Jesus saw the temple, predicted its destruction and cried over it, and Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed the night before his crucifixion.
From there the tour continues to the Old City through the Lions’ Gate and along the Via Dolorosa, the route that Jesus took from the place he was judged by Pontius Pilate to where he was crucified, on which spot the Church of the Holy Sepulchre stands today.
Another chapter is dedicated to the Wailing Wall and the Temple Mount. I also added information about less well-known sites, such as a 2,000-year-old underground pool and the Syriac Chapel in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Tel Aviv – Jaffa booklet
The booklet begins at Summit Garden, a site that overlooks Tel Aviv, a city that grew out of the sand a hundred years ago to become a major city.
At the foot of the lookout is a small, almost unnoticed archeological site that has an amazing story behind it. The path continues to the main square of old Jaffa, where St. Peter’s Church stands. Although Jaffa doesn’t have the importance of Jerusalem or Nazareth, the church commemorates the beginning of the separation of Christianity from Judaism.
The tour continues through the alleys down to the port of Jaffa. The port is not impressive but it was nonetheless the gateway to Israel, the first thing that generations of pilgrims and pioneers saw. The point where reality met their dreams of the Holy Land, as each of them saw it.
The next stop is where Adolf Eichmann was held after being brought to Israel for a trial that shook Israeli society. From there the trail visits the American colony, three narrow streets that tell the story of the groups of Americans who attempted to settle in Jaffa. All of them failed miserably but three of the most prominent American writers – Herman Melville (Moby Dick), Mark Twain and John Steinbeck – had some connection to these settlements.
The trail ends at Neve Tzedek, the first Jewish neighborhood to lie outside the old city walls of Jaffa. I added two chapters about Rabin Square and Sarona, the newly renovated German colony.
Judaean Desert booklet
This booklet takes you to the three most visited sites in the Judaean Desert: Masada, Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea.
The Masada route takes in the main points of interest and tells two dramatic stories – the story of King Herod, a persecuted persecutor king who built himself a palace in the middle of the desert, and the story of the rebels, who 70 years later used the palace as their last fortress. Another story that my booklet deals with has nothing to do with the ancient history, but rather with the story we tell ourselves.
Masada is not only an archeological site, but it was also built as a national symbol that has its own story. I have also included a description of an unknown trail that surrounds Masada. It can be combined, in its entirety or not, with a visit to the top of Masada.
Ein Gedi offers a variety of walking routes and you can visit the main sites included in the booklet: the ancient synagogue with its mosaic floor, on which it is written that cursed will be the man who tells the town secret; the Chalcolithic Temple, and the flora and fauna of Ein Gedi.