Posted by Gil Travel on Oct 23, 2019 3:45:00 PM
If you ever wanted to walk on a path that leads through various places associated with Abraham/Ibrahim, you’re in luck, as such an exciting and enriching path really exists. This cultural route called Abraham’s Path is comprised of several regions. It offers a hugely important experience, because it allows those who walk on it to connect with their fellow travelers, but also reconnect with their origins. What we find here is great hospitality and kindness, as well as knowledge about each site we visit and its peoples, and how those two are connected to Abraham. We’ll meet the wonderfully diverse communities that live in these areas, which themselves are linked by their common heritage and Abraham/Ibrahim as their common ancestor.
The Path’s Origins
Ibrahim/Abraham is an immensely important religious figure who is believed to have lived in the Bronze Age. During his life, he travelled with his family and flock throughout the Fertile Crescent, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Nile Valley. This is what connects a great number of communities, including Kurds, Muslim, Jews, Christians, Alevi, Bedouin, Fellahin, Samaritans, and others. The Path was created in the early 2000s by a U.S.-based nonprofit, the Abraham Path Initiative. Endorsed by a number of international organizations, the Initiative is a non-religious and non-political organization.
The Abraham Path has been created as a symbol of the tradition of walking, as well as of the kindness and hospitality to strangers; as a place for people from the Middle East and those from across the world to gather, connect and share the stories of their heritage and cultures, but also as a place that will support and fuel the region’s socioeconomic development and tourism.
Sites on the Path
Are you ready for an adventure of a lifetime? Here we go. There are actually eight regions on this path: Urfa, Harran, Nablus, Jericho, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron and Negev. Amazing, right? If we zoom in on the main sites, we find: Urfa as Ibrahim’s birthplace according to Islam; Harran where, the Hebrew Bible says, Abraham lived and received the call to begin his journey; Jerusalem, where the binding of Isaac happened according to Judaism; and Hebron, where the tomb of Abraham and his wife Sarah are located, according to Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.
Whichever of the eight regions you choose, you won’t regret it. Here’s why. On your Urfa path, you can visit places like Urfa itself, officially known as Şanlıurfa, situated in south-eastern Turkey, about 80km of the Euphrates River, which is a multiethnic city called home by Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian and Arab peoples. Nearby, you’ll visit the wonderful archeological site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Göbekli Tepe , aka "Potbelly Hill“. Going further, you'll be welcomed by Harran, a major ancient commercial, cultural, and religious city in Upper Mesopotamia, as well as the amazing Bazda caves.
The path takes us into the next region, this time the West Bank, moving towards the Negev, and you’ll see many geographical and historical wonders on the way, such as Nablus, Awarta, Kafr Malik, Auja, etc. You’ll go all the way to Jericho, one of the world’s oldest cities, whose famous sites will warmly welcome you, such as Zacchaeus’ Sycamore tree, Mt. of Temptation, and Tel Jericho where twenty-five ancient cities were uncovered. And further still you go, to Nabi Musa where the tomb of Moses is believed to be, followed by Mar Saba – a Greek Orthodox monastery overlooking the Kidron Valley, located between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea.
Our next stop is one of the world’s most beautiful and famous cities – Jerusalem. There’s a myriad of sites to visit in this World Heritage Site, such as: the Old City, Western Wall Tunnels, the Temple Mount, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Dome of the Rock, al-Aqsa Mosque, the Via Dolorosa, the Mount of Olives, the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens, the Rockefeller Museum, the Italian Jewish Museum, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, the grave of Oskar Schindler, and so much more! After this wonder, we proceed to the next – Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, and home to many awe-inspiring sites, such as the Church of St. Catherine, the Grotto of the Nativity, the Manger Square, and the Shepherd’s Field Chapel.
Next up, Hebron. This city in the Judaean Mountains is a site of great importance to Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike. Among other sites, you’ll find the Cave of the Patriarchs here. You’ll then reach the Negev, which includes some truly splendid sites and sights, such as the archeological mound Tel Arad, the Bedouin town Lakiya, the Moshav shitufi Har Amasa, a multi-religious and multicultural town Arad, and a small, but socio-economically very significant Israeli town Meitar. Your last stop is Masada, near the Dead Sea, which is a rock plateau holding another World Heritage Site – a brilliant fortress with accompanying structures, mostly built by King Herod around 30 BCE, as well as the Masada Museum.
We are at the end of this journey, but one thing is certain: this enriching experience has something greatly valuable to offer to any type of traveler.