Ancient History and Deep Spirituality Merge in Israel and Jordan
Thursday, February 20, 2014
When it comes to a rich religious history and truly unbelievable archeological wonders, no place can match Israel and Jordan. Of course, the world's major faiths-Christianity, Judaism, and Islam-took shape in these Holy Lands. But civilizations that pre-date what we know as modern religion also had major impacts on the lands we know today. Canaanites, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines all left their mark here, creating one of the most diverse and fascinating cultural and historic tapestries in the world.
An Intoxicating Blend of Modern and Ancient, Secular and Spiritual
You might think seaside Tel Aviv is one of Israel's ancient cities, but in fact it is a modern metropolis in every sense of the word. Just 100 years young, it was founded as the first Jewish city of its time. Today, it is known more for its Bauhaus architecture and trendsetting than for its religious sites. In fact, locals are fond of pointing out that while "Jerusalem prays, Tel Aviv plays." Suffice to say that the city is a mere infant compared to the nearby sacred civilizations whose ages are measured in millennia. One of those ancient places-the port of Jaffa-is actually part of Tel Aviv, founded more than 7,600 years ago. Needless to say, a visit to this coastal city makes for a remarkable march through time, whether strolling the promenade of Jaffa Port, browsing contemporary art galleries, or lingering in hip cafes.
Given Tel Aviv's round-the-clock culture of restaurants and bars, you might never guess that its most famous neighbor, Jerusalem, is the center of three of the world's major religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. No other city in the world boasts such a dense concentration of religious sites, each more moving and powerful than the last. Mt. Zion, on the western hill, provides a sweeping view of the origins of world religion.
Jesus is said to have walked along Jerusalem's Via Dolorosa, or Way of Sorrows, while bearing His cross. You can walk in His footsteps with Gate 1, and pause at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the fabled site of His crucifixion. It's an especially moving experience, particularly since we also visit the city of His youth, Nazareth, with its Church of the Annunciation, and-on an optional tour-the place of His birth, Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity.
The gilded Dome of the Rock crowns the Old City of Jerusalem. Here, Temple Mount is said to shelter the Talmudic source of life, the site from where God gathered dust to create man. In Islamic faith, it is the place from where Mohammed ascended to heaven. At the adjacent Western (or Wailing) Wall-believed to be the last remnant of the Second Temple of Jerusalem-the devout gather to insert their written prayers into the mortar. This is one of the holiest and most pensive places on earth, and we'll examine it as closely as religious law allows. Nearby, the Roman Cardo-where shops and vendors once fueled ancient commerce-offers a more secular view of Jerusalem's rich history.
ISRAEL & JORDAN Deals
11 Day Classic Israel
12 Day Israel, Ancient
& Modern Culture
14 Day Israel & Jordan
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|All prices are per person based on twin occupancy. Prices are valid as of February 20, 2014 and subject to change without notice. Book by March 6, 2014. Not valid on existing reservations.|
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14 Day Israel & Jordan
Everything was great! Guides were excellent, especially Hazim in Jordan. Hotels were very good, the one in Jerusalem had a wonderful location. We could walk to the Old City any time we wanted for extra sightseeing. Petra was unbelievable and we had enough time to enjoy it. This trip provided enough free time so that you had time to "stop and smell the roses" along the way.
-- Jimmie S. Zephyrhills, FL
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