Israel: In Pictures

Posted by Iris Hami

Jan 13, 2009 11:58:07 AM

Israel is home to a variety of cultures and a surprisingly diverse collection of religious beliefs. The history of the country has many facets and due to its historical record, the political and religious landscape of the region is ever-shifting. Israel offers a wide variety of sites and scenes for potential travelers and here we'll focus on a few:

Jerusalem

Jerusalem, as we know, is the capital of Israel and one of the world's oldest cities. Jerusalem is Israel's largest city, both in population and area, and is in many ways the cradle of Judaism. The historical and religious value of the city are awe-inspiring. The land has been fought over, time and time again, exchanging political and cultural hands repeatedly. According to sources, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times. To walk within its walls is to walk amongst history.

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Bethlehem

Located about 10 kilometers south of Jerusalem, Bethlehem is believed to be the birthplace of Jesus and David. David is also said to have been crowned King of Israel here. Bethlehem, much like other parts of Israel, has had several rulers. The city's primary source of income is tourism, with the height of the season arriving along with Christmas. Pilgrimages to the Church of the Nativity and to Rachel's Tomb, an important Jewish holy site located near the city's entrance, are a couple of Bethlehem's primary attractions.

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    Haifa

    Haifa is one of Israel's largest and most progressive cities. It has exciting nightlife, gorgeous beaches and significant historical value. Home to a mix of Jews and Arabs, Haifa also boasts the Bahá'í World Centre, a Bahá'í pilgrimage site located on the slopes of Mount Carmel. This port city was settled as early as the 14th century and has been conquered by multiple groups. These include the Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans, Egyptians, and the British. Following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the city has been governed by the Haifa Municipality.

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    Nazareth

    According to the New Testament, Nazareth was the childhood home of Jesus. The city is located amongst a range of hills and nestled at their bases. Nazareth is another of Israel's common Christian pilgrimage sites.

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    Masada

    Masada, or "fortress," is the name of an area located in southern Israel. It was once home to fortifications and palaces that overlooked the Dead Sea from the lofty vantage point of a huge plateau. A siege of the fortress by Roman soldiers during the First Jewish-Roman War led to Masada's inhabitants committing mass-suicide in an effort to avoid capture and torture.

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Topics: Israel Travel