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Must-See UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Israel

Posted by Gil Travel on Sep 2, 2019 10:01:00 AM

Must-See UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Israel

Israel might be a small country, but there is a myriad of world-renowned, one-of-a-kind, treasured wonders here, listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, for you to see and admire. These are inspiring places, ought to be visited at least once in a lifetime. Some were created by nature, others by people living in the area centuries ago, but what they all have in common is a long, significant history each encompasses. Whether we talk about the Old City of Jerusalem, Tel Hazor, Tel Beer Sheva, Masada, or Bahá’í Shrine and Gardens in Haifa, they all tell a story of society, history, culture and religion, which is several thousand years old and certainly worth hearing. Let’s take a look at some of these magnificent sites located across the country.

White City of Tel Aviv

Let’s start with one of the most popular cities in the world – the amazing and welcoming Tel Aviv. It too has its very own Heritage Site, called the White City. This must-visit site was built between 1930-1950, according to the plans by architect Sir Patrick Geddes. As a matter of fact, numerous renowned European architects who immigrated to Israel worked hard to make this project into what it is today. This is important, as each of these people contributed to this ‘city within the city’ with trends from the countries and cultures they came from and the ideas inspired by it. It’s no wonder they’ve created such a unique masterpiece.  What you’ll find here are 4,000 buildings constructed in the recognizable Bauhaus style, though the climate, as well as certain local traditions, have altered the original design somewhat, only adding to its uniqueness. It was listed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003.

Old City of Akko

No time to rest from inspirational sites, as you are now in the special and historic Akko, which has been constantly populated since the Phoenician period (1550-300 BCE). You will see many brilliant wonders here. For example, above and below street level, you can marvel at the almost intact remnants of the Crusader city from the period between 1104 and 1201. You can walk down Akko’s charming streets and marvel at the celebrated merger of East and West in this ancient town, as you pass by the Ottoman fortified walls, a Turkish bath, a Christian monastery, mosques, citadels, and khans, all showing you the life within the fortified Ottoman city of the 18th and 19th centuries. 

Bet Guvrin Caves

Time to visit the fascinating Judean Valley. Here, beneath Maresha and Beit Guvrin, you will find a site of great importance, also listed as protected by UNESCO. Located at the very crossroads of trade routes to Mesopotamia and Egypt, this captivating archeological finding encompasses over 3,000 chambers carved into the soft chalk. You will have a chance to experience first-hand the bell-shaped caves and what it was like to use these underground quarries for a large variety of societal functions.

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People once used them as a place of worship. They used them as storerooms, but also for burials. Another thing you’ll be able to witness is the great many civilizations and cultures that once lived here, and which formed the rich history of the region between the 8th century BCE and the Crusader period.

The Nahal Me’arot / Wadi el-Mughara Caves

We are not done with the caves protected by UNESCO yet, as there is still so much history to witness. For a look into the human existence and evolution, starting with the Neanderthal period, visit the Wadi el-Mughara Caves, located in the Carmel mountain range near Haifa.  These four caves are called Tabun, Jamal, el-Wad and Skhul, and they showcase over 500,000 years of human presence. Thanks to almost a century of excavation, the contemporary human can see the life of our ancestors through the many artefacts found here. These immensely significant items depict the time the primitive hunter-gatherer lifestyle transitioned to early forms of agricultural civilizations. The caves house unique evidence of early burials, while one of Israel’s most ancient human skeletons was found here as well – a 120,000-year-old female.

Negev Incense Route

And for the end, one more awe-inspiring World Heritage site. The Negev Incense Route encompasses incense, spice and luxury goods roads, which connected Arabia to the Mediterranean in the Hellenistic-Roman period. Between the 3rd century BC and the 2nd century AD, it served as the main route between the ancient towns. The end of the incense route in the Negev region has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, and it includes forts, caravanserai, the irrigation system, and four Nabataean towns: AvdatHaluzaMamshit, and Shivta. These towns prospered during the period from 300 BC to 200 AD, and you can see here how amazingly skilled Nabateans were at engineering in such difficult conditions. 

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Topics: Israel Travel