The site is 2km north of Jericho and was built by the Omayyad Calif, Hisham Ibn Abdul Malek. The remains are of a magnificent winter palace which was destroyed by an earthquake in 747A.D. shortly after construction. The site contains royal buildings, a mosque, water fountains and spectacular mosaic floors.
Located 20km south of Jericho, on the western shore of the Dead Sea, is the site where the famous Dead Sea Scrolls were found. The discovery of the Scrolls was made in 1947 by an Arab shepherd looking for a stray goat in the western region of the Dead Sea. Seven scrolls were found, the most famous being the scroll of Isaiah, which is one foot wide and 24 feet long. Excavations at the site found more than 900 pieces of scrolls in more than 30 caves. Except for two scrolls written on copper, all the scrolls were written on leather and papyrus. Covering a period of 300 years, the writings in the scrolls include the birth of Christ and offer insights and a background to the teachings of Christ.
Deir Quruntal and Monastery of Temptation
The summit of Mt. Temptation, rising to a height of 350 meters above sea level and commanding a magnificent view of the Jordan Valley, is the site where Jesus spent forty days and nights fasting and meditating during the temptation of Satan. A monastery was built in the sixth century over the cave where Christ stayed. The path leading to Deir Quruntel is very steep and difficult to climb, but is well worth the walk. The nearly 30-40 caves on the eastern slopes of the mountain have been inhabited by monks and hermits since the early days of Christianity.
Tell as-Sultan (ancient Jericho)
The ancient city of Jericho is located 2km from the northwestern outskirts of Jericho. Situated on a mound overlooking the Jericho oasis, excavations at Tell al-Sultan uncovered 23 layers of ancient civilizations, dating back to 9000 BC. Many structures are visible, including the oldest known stairs in the world, the oldest wall, and the massive defense tower, dating back to 7000 BC.
Wadi Kilt & Monastery of St. George (Deir al-Qelt)
Wadi Qelt is a natural rift in the hills with high, sheer rock walls, extending 45km between Jerusalem and Jericho. Hermits have inhabited the Wadi since the third century. Today, it is a wonderful place for hiking tours, especially in the winter. The Monastery of St. George is carved out of the rock and clings to the canyon walls impressively. Built in the fifth century, the monastery was destroyed during the Persian invasion of Palestine. Most of the present monastery dates back to the 1901 restoration by the Greek Orthodox Church.
The Jordan River is an unusual stream that flows from 3,000 feet above sea level at Mt. Hermon in Syria to the Dead Sea at 1,300 feet below sea level. With an average width of 100 feet, the Jordan River twists and curves for 160 miles but covers a straight-line distance of only 65 miles. Jesus came to the Jordan River from Galilee to be baptized by John. Since then, the river has been important to all Christians, the many of whom get baptized there.
Visit the Basilica of the Nativity.
When Joseph and Mary came to Bethlehem, they could not find room in the inn and so Jesus was born in a cave that was used as a stable. Above the cave was built a magnificent church - The Basilica of the Nativity. The first Church was built in the first half of the fourth century A.D. by the Byzantine Emperor. The present church was built in 530 A.D. It looks like a fortress from the exterior. The entrance is low and narrow in order to protect it from invaders and prevent them from entering on horseback.
As the name suggests, the sea is devoid of life due to an extremely high content of salts and minerals.
En route a stone marker indicates 'Sea Level', but the Dead Sea itself is not reached before descending another 400 meters below this sign.
Drive past a date palm plantation in the Jordan Valley.
Desert landscape and palm trees and the moon rising over Jordan and the hot desert air....aaaaahhh
They also provide the raw materials for the renowned Palestines and Jordanian Dead Sea Bath Salts and cosmetic products which are marketed world wide.
When you're in the Church of the Nativity, you cannot avoid entering the Cave where, supposedly, Christ was born. Silly me, I always thought he was born in a stable...
Jerusalem Hebron Road, PO Box 1167, Bethlehem
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Jericho Jerusalem Road, Jericho
Good for: Solo
Nablus Road Albireh, P.O.BOX 2169, Ramallah
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