There you find Jerusalem, the holy city and the capital of Israel, as well as Tel Aviv, the financial and cultural center of the country. Bethlehem and the unique Dead Sea are also situated in this region.
In the old parts of Jerusalem there are several historic and holy sites for the three monotheistic world religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The most popular sight is the Wailing Wall (the Western Wall), the only remaining part of the two Jewish temples in Jerusalem. Many people go there to pray or to put a piece of paper with a personal wish in one of the cavities in the wall. Several tourists also follow in Jesus’ footsteps, on Via Dolorosa, on the way to the place of the crucifixion, where you nowadays find the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The beautiful and impressive Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque are also not far from there.
In the modern part of Jerusalem visits at the colorful open-air market, the Israel Museum (with the Dead Sea scrolls), the Knesset (the Parliament), Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Museum) and the pedestrian street Ben Yehuda are recommended.
Tel Aviv, the Israeli economic hub and the city that never sleeps, is located about 45 minutes by car or by bus from Jerusalem. Tel Aviv is the perfect destination for people looking for entertainment, parties and beaches. The city has 300 sunny days per year and the promenades and the beaches constitute the center for a very active night life with lots of bars, pubs, cafés, restaurants, discos, etc. The Mediterranean beach is within walking distance from most hotels in Tel Aviv and this is obviously appreciated by the large number of tourists visiting the city every year.
Tel Aviv also presents several opportunities for shopping, for example an oriental market, a few pleasant pedestrian malls and various enormous shopping centers. If you are interested in culture, you can also have your fill in Tel Aviv. The city offers an abundance of museums, galleries, concert halls, theaters, opera houses, etc.
Christian tourists often visit Bethlehem, about ten kilometers south of Jerusalem. The city is believed to be the place of birth of Jesus about 2000 years ago and many pilgrims visit the Church of the Nativity, erected at the birthplace. Bethlehem is also well-known for its handicraft, which can be found in booths in the streets, especially around Christmas when the city is full of visitors.
Not so far from Jerusalem and Bethlehem you find one of the most interesting natural phenomena in the world, the Dead Sea. The lake is located 400 meters below sea level and its salinity is approximately ten times higher than in other seas. Because of this, the Dead Sea is a perfect place for sunbathing, spas, recreation and different kinds of treatment. You can go there to relax, but also to ease rheumatism, psoriasis, etc.
Near the Dead Sea is Qumran, the area where the Dead Sea scrolls were found 60 years ago. The scrolls contain biblical and profane texts written about 2000 years ago. The scrolls, found in several caves in the area, are considered one of the most important archeological findings in Israel and they can be seen at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem (see above).
Another very interesting place next to the Dead Sea is Masada, a 400-meter-high cliff. On the plateau a fortress, a palace and several other buildings were erected about 2000 years ago. The UNESCO World Heritage Site includes several impressive remains from this period, for example barracks, a synagogue, Roman baths and water cisterns. You can walk up to Masada by “the Snake Path”, but there is also a cable car, if you do not feel like exercising in the sun.
To sum up, the small region of central Israel offers a very large range of activities for tourists: holy places, entertainment, shopping, sunbathing, archeology and lots more.
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