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ISRAEL


Location - Middle East; Capital - Jerusalem; Population - 7 million; Currency - New Israeli Shekel MORE ISRAEL

It's less than an hour's bus journey from Safed to Tiberias, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee - November 2014.

 

israelnote120 New Shekels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel268The Sea of Galilee is actually a lake fed by the waters of the Jordan River. It's the second lowest place on earth after the Dead Sea - Tiberias

 

israel271The water level surveyor provides the current level of the lake, somewhere between 208 and 213 metres below sea level - Tiberias



 

israel274Never trust a man with green skin - Tiberias

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel275A small harbour outside the Galilee Experience - Tiberias

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel280South Beach is one of the better beaches in the area but it was absolutely chucking it down. Back to the hotel to dry out! Tiberias

 

israel282Just over 10km south of Tiberias is Yardenit where the Sea of Galilee flows out to the Jordan River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel293A short walk away is the supposed site of Jesus' baptism - Yardenit
It's a hugely popular place for Christian pigrims to don white robes and immerse themselves in the Jordan River (there's one person at the bottom of the steps)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel302There's not too much public transport in the Upper Galilee and Golan Heights so I hopped on a day-tour, firstly to Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee's northern shore where Jesus lived during his ministry

 

israel305The remains of a 4th century synagogue - Capernaum

 

israel301This church is suspended over the ruins of a 5th century church - Capernaum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel314Another stormy view of the Sea of Galilee from the Mount of the Beatitudes, where Jesus is believed to have delivered the Sermon on the Mount

 

israel308Inside the Church of the Beatitudes are inscriptions of the eight beatitudes (blessings) referred to in the Sermon - Mount of the Beatitudes

 

israel318The clouds briefly clear over the Sea of Galilee for excellent views. Ten minutes later there was a deluge - Mount of the Beatitudes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel324Passing through the town of Kiryat Shmona in Upper Galilee, less than 5km from the Lebanon border

 

israel326Further east of Kiryat Shmona, in the Golan Heights, is Banias Nature Reserve

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel330It's very popular with day-tripping tourists - Banias Nature Reserve

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel333Our guide told us this town is Rajja - half in Israel, half in Lebanon. I've googled it and checked the maps but I can't find it..

 

israel337Close to the nature reserve are the ruins of the Temple of Pan, built by Agrippa II, Herod the Great's grandson. There's also a spring below - Banias

 

israel342We stopped off for lunch in the Druze town of Mas'ade. And yes there's lots of dairy produce available..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel339The Druze are an Arabic-speaking community who follow an offshoot of Islam, with most living in Syria and Lebanon - Mas'ade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel347The Golan is known for its vineyards and wine and we sampled a few good ones at the Odem Winery

 

israel352Just about visible through the rain from near Mt Bental is the UN compound next to the Syrian town of Quneitra. The Golan Heights was captured from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed in 1981. Quneitra now lies in the UN demilitarised zone buffering Israel and Syria. Unfortunately we didn't go up Mt Bental itself as the rain continued to pour and it was engulfed in cloud. Next time!

 

israel361We returned to Tiberias via Tabgha and the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, where Jesus multiplied the.. OK, the clue's in the title! But I know it as Feeding the 5,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel435After Tiberias it was straight to Jerusalem and the Old City, with the walls shown here near the Jaffa Gate entrance - Jerusalem

 

israel362It looks like the stallholders were still in bed at 08:30 in the morning - Jerusalem

 

israel368A few hours later and the Muslim Quarter has plenty of life - Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel534A party of Chinese Christian pilgrims pray along the route of the Via Dolorosa - Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel376The Via Dolorosa, or Way of Sorrows, is the path Jesus took while carrying his cross on his way to crucifixion. It comprises 14 Stations in the Old City, this one being the Third Station where Jesus is believed to have fallen for the first time - Jerusalem

 

israel379The Sixth Station (the door on the left) is where Jesus' face was wiped with a cloth by Saint Veronica - Jerusalem

 

israel380At the Eighth Station Jesus told crying women to weep for their children and not for him - Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel396Stations ten to fourteen are all within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of the world's holiest Christian sites - Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel387Pilgrims kneel in front of the Stone of Unction, where Jesus' body was prepared for burial - Jerusalem

 

israel383israel384

Stations Ten Eleven Twelve and Thirteen. The Twelfth Station is said to be the site of Jesus' crucifixion - Jerusalem

 

israel391The Fourteenth Station of the Cross, the tomb of Jesus, is inside the Holy Sepulchre itself. Join the queues.
Jerusalem is a fascinating city but I can't say the walk felt spiritual, just crowded, noisy and irreverent. But I'm not religious..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel625Queueing up to view an alternative site of Jesus' crucifixion at the Garden Tomb, a short walk from Damascus Gate in Arab East Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel399Spend time wandering the alleyways of market stalls and soak up the history. So you might be browsing plenty of tat but the city's history, both ancient and modern, is incredible - Jerusalem

 

israel401Just inside Jaffa Gate is the Citadel which includes the Tower of David. It began as Herod's 1st century palace but was destroyed, rebuilt and expanded over the years right up to the Ottomans in the 20th century - Jerusalem

 

israel407Climbing the Tower of David makes for great views of the Old City. This is the large dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre - Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel410The unmistakable Dome of the Rock with the Mount of Olives rising behind, topped by the spire of the Russian Chapel of the Ascension - Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel417For a different perspective walk the Old City ramparts, starting from Jaffa Gate. On the left is St James Cathedral in the Armenian Quarter - Jerusalem

 

israel415Look out for the 19th century Montefiore Windmill from the ramparts - Jerusalem

 

israel418Outside the city walls on Mt Zion is the Dormition Abbey - Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel609Mt Zion is the highly disputed site of King David's Tomb, the king of Israel in the 10th/11th centuries BC - Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel610Close by is the Cenacle, better known as the Last Supper Room where Jesus shared his final meal with his apostles before crucifixion - Jerusalem

 

israel612Also on Mt Zion is the final resting place of Oskar Schindler, the German who saved over 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. The events are told in Steven Spielberg's film Schindler's List - Jerusalem

 

israel426Unfortunately it's no longer possible to walk the ramparts past the Dome of the Rock, but you can get this close - Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel422The sheer walls hide much of the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount, while the greenery on the right is the Jerusalem Archaeological Park & Davidson Centre - Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel424A tour party get into the spirit of a Jewish song and dance - Jerusalem

 

israel431The golden Dome of the Rock as seen from the city walls, again with the Russian Chapel of the Ascension behind - Jerusalem

 

israel430There's more excellent views from Golden City Cafe's rooftop - Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel620Female Israeli soldiers pose for photos near Jaffa Gate, with the backdrop of a very entertaining street musician - Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel437Until recently Haredi Jews, or Ultra-Orthodox Jews, were exempt from military service. However a controversial law passed in 2014 sets an annual quota to serve in the army - Jerusalem

 

israel449The Old City is divided into Armenian, Christian, Jewish and Muslim quarters. Here the presence of Israeli flags indicate a Jewish area, near the remains of the Roman remains of the Cardo (main street) - Jerusalem

 

israel451After going through a security checkpoint complete with x-ray machines you'll walk down the steps to the Western Wall Plaza.
The covered walkway, back right, leads up to the Temple Mount - Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel464The holiest Jewish site is the Western Wall, all that remains of the Second Temple, built in the 6th century by Herod - Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel463Praying at the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall or Kotel in Hebrew, on the Sabbath - Jerusalem

 

israel468Earlier there was heavy rain but this guy was prepared. Notice the white prayer notes lodged in the wall crevices - Jerusalem

 

israel477The Second Temple was destroyed in 70 AD leaving only the retaining wall of the Temple Mount, the Western Wall. But there's more to the Western Wall than that visible at the Plaza.
Book a fascinating Western Wall Tunnel tour and see how it extends nearly 500metres, beneath the ground level of today - Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel479This is the closest point to the Holy of Holies where it is said the Ark of the Covenant, containing the Ten Commandments, was stored in the First Temple. Only women can pray here - Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel482The excellent guide talks through the history of the construction of the Temple Mount including the building of the Western Wall, as well as everyday life on the streets of Jerusalem centuries ago - Jerusalem

 

israel538Back on present-day street level, this is the Dung Gate entrance to the Old City close to the Western Wall - Jerusalem

 

israel541Outside the Old City near Dung Gate is the City of David, where remains of settlements 3,000 years old have been excavated - Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel546Take in views of the Kidron Valley (and the Mount of Olives) from the City of David - Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel486A security checkpoint sign at the Western Wall Plaza - Jerusalem

 

israel489The covered walkway leads to the Har HaBayit as it's known by Jews (Temple Mount), or Al-Haram ash-Sharif by Muslims (Noble Sanctuary). Security is pretty tight here and delays can be expected, especially when Jewish visitors are in the queue - Jerusalem

 

israel494An Israeli security presence on the Temple Mount - Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel497Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam, after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia - Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel496Muslims shelter from the rain in Al-Aqsa Mosque. It's the closest I got to the mosque as only Muslims are allowed inside - Jerusalem

 

israel500An arched walkway on the edge of the Temple Mount/al-Haram ash-Sharif - Jerusalem

 

israel506The Israeli police/military look on as Muslim women congregate nearby - Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel504A group of Jewish visitors (right), with Israeli security in close attendance, provoked cries of 'Allah Akbar' from Muslims whenever they walked close by.
In 2014 tensions heightened following increasingly vocal demands by Jewish religious lobbies to pray on the Temple Mount, which currently isn't allowed - Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel515The stunning 7th century Dome of the Rock is the big draw for visitors to al-Haram ash-Sharif - Jerusalem

 

israel516Immediately to the left of the mosque is the small Dome of the Chain - Jerusalem

 

israel521As the name suggests the Dome of the Rock houses a stone, the Foundation Stone, sacred to both Muslims and Jews - Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel526The beautiful, intricate blue tiles were added in the 16th century by Suleiman the Magnificent - Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

israel522The gold was donated by the late King Hussein of Jordan. Not sure about the ladders though - Jerusalem

 

israel529Though the Old City is controlled by Israel the al-Haram ash-Sharif is administered by Jordan's Jerusalem Islamic Waqf. Back in the 1990s I was allowed inside the mosque and I met several non-Muslims who entered this time, but on the days I went I was told Muslims only. All about timing! Jerusalem

 

israel533A market entrance opposite the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer - Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Website and content Copyright © 2008-2015 Mark Wilkinson. All rights reserved.

 

LINKS

http://bus.co.il - bus timetables, including the main bus company Egged

www.goisrael.com - Israel tourist board

www.rail.co.il - train timetables

 

I am not responsible for the content of external websites.

 

 
 


 
   
 
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