Old Jerusalem Tour & New Jerusalem Tour
We begin touring Israel by an exciting day with a panoramic overview of both the old and new city from the Mount of Olives. From here you will be able to see the Temple Mount Esplanade, as well as the entire old city and its surroundings. The Mount of Olives offers one of the most breathtaking views of Jerusalem.
We then travel along the Kidron Valley to visit the Garden of Gethsemane, on the sight where Jesus and his disciples prayed the night before his crucifixion. We then proceed to enter the old city via the Armenian Quarter. Our first stop will be the Wailing Wall and the square in front of it.
We will then stroll through the local Bazaar to the Christian Quarter, to follow the Stations of the Cross, otherwise known as the Via Dolorosa, a professional guide explaining and bringing to life every stop along the way to the memorable Church of the Holy Sepulchre, sight of the crucifixion.
From the Chruch of the Holy Sepulchre, we walk along the 1700 year-old Byzantine main street, until we reach the Cardo and the renovated Jewish Quarter. We Ascend to Mount Zion and on Saturdays visit the Hall of the Last Supper and David’s Tomb.
Leaving the Old City we proceed to tour the new city by car en route to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum.
* Modest dress: Covered shoulders / No shorts required.
** On Fridays, Saturdays & High Holidays – Holocaust Museum is closed. Instead visit King David’s Tomb, Hall of the Last Supper & Garden of Gethsemane.
City of David and Underground Jerusalem
From the elevated position on the Mount of Olives we have a panoramic view of the holy City of Jerusalem. We look out beyond the Jewish cemetery on the mount’s slopes towards the Temple Mount where the Second Temple once stood until it’s destruction in 70AD.
Our drive along the Kidron Valley takes us past the ancient cemetery and at the foot of the mount we see the burial tombs of Absalom, King David’s 3rd son; Zechariah, a First Temple priest and the tomb of the sons of Hezir. We also have a view of the Church of All Nations in the Garden of Gethsemane.
We reach Mount Zion where we visit the Tomb of King David. Within the tomb is David’s cenotaph covered with a velvet cloth with embroidered symbols of a lyre and crown. Men and women sit in separate areas in this holy Jewish site where they can recite prayers facing the cenotaph.
We continue our tour into the Old City through the Zion Gate and into the Jewish Quarter where we see a complex of four Sephardic synagogues which date back to the 17th and 18th century. The Yochanan ben Zakai Synagogue, Istanbuli Synagogue, Emtsai Synagogue and the Eliahu Ha’Navi Synagogue were found desecrates, burnt and in disrepair when the Israelis reclaimed Jerusalem following the Six Day War. The historic buildings have since been fully renovated and restored.
Our next stop is at the Byzantine Cardo, once the main thoroughfare of the city, today we can see the findings of ongoing archaeological excavations and in part of the restored Cardo, ancient Crusader stores are used for modern shops.
Through the Jewish Quarter we pass the excavated foundations of an ancient wall which stood 2,700 years ago during the reign of King Hezekiah (Is 22:10). We go beneath the present day streets to discover the 2000 year old Herodian mansions. The original mosaics and the ritual bath can be seen clearly. The complex of mansions gives great insight into the lifestyle at that time.
We arrive at the Kotel, the 2000 year old Western Wall, part of what was once the outer walls of the Second Temple which stood on Temple Mount until the Temple’s destruction in 70AD. Here you’ll have a chance to place a prayer note between the cracks of this ancient wall.
We exit the Old City through the Dung Gate where we can explore the excavation site of the City of David which dates back 3000 years. We can marvel at the ingenuity of the Canaanites and Hezekiah who constructed tunnels to bring a water supply to the people within the city walls. These tunnels are described in Chronicles II 32:2-4 and in Kings II 20:20 – “…the acts of Hezekiah and all his might, and how he made the pool and conduit, and brought water into the city…”
We rest at the Spring of Gihon and contemplate that it was here that Zadok the priest anoint Solomon king of Israel. (Kings I 1:38-39).
* Dress code: Shoulders to be covered / No shorts allowed
* Entrance fee to the city of David is not included.
Masada and The Dead Sea
We begin our journey by taking the route down from Jerusalem descending below sea level through the Biblical wilderness towards the Dead Sea. On the way we can see the Inn of the Good Samaritan and stop on route to look out across the desert as we pass the point marking “sea level”. The ancient city of Jericho can be seen in the distance where Joshua’s troops caused the walls to fall (Joshua 6) and where Jesus healed the blind (Mark 10:46-52).
We reach the shores of the Dead Sea encrusted with white salt and follow the shoreline towards Masada. Although it’s possible to climb the ancient Snake Path up Masada as the Romans did 2000 years ago, we take the convenient cable car up to the mountain top plateau. It was here that King Herod built a fortified palace complete with every convenience. Herod had built a swimming pool, water cisterns, two palaces, store rooms and even a synagogue.
Following Herod’s death the mountain top was the last outpost of Jewish zealots when the Romans tried to rid the land of Jews. The Jewish zealots maintained their position for three years before the Romans finally managed to scale Masada using a ramp built by slaves. The 960 Jews didn’t wait for the Romans to successfully reach the summit, instead they killed themselves becoming religious martyrs. Shortly afterwards the Second Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 70CE.
It was on Masada that the first parchment from this era was discovered in an Israeli archaeological excavation. On the parchment was the prophesy of Ezekiel “…I will take the children of Israeli from among the nations…and bring them into their own land…” (Ezekiel 37).
Heading back to the Dead Sea we pass the desert oasis of Ein Gedi where there is lush foliage and hidden waterfalls and where David hid from angry King Saul. We also pass by Qumran were the 2,000 year old Dead Sea scrolls were discovered in a number of hillside caves.
To end off a perfect day we stop at the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth and a contender for the title of one of the Seven Wonders of the World. People come from across the globe to enjoy the therapeutic mineral rich waters. And don’t worry if you don’t know how to swim, the high salt content will keep you afloat.
Golan and Galilee
Drive up through the Golan Heights passed Hamat Gader. From this elevated vantage point get sweeping views across the Sea of Galilee. Then continue ascending the Golan Heights to the Shalom Observation Point and visit the remains of a Talmudic village at the Katzerin Museum. We visit the former Syrian stronghold on Mount Bental which is now a lookout point.
Stay overnight on a Kibbutz.
Day 4 + 5
Golan and Galilee
We visit the Banias (Caesarea Philippi) at the base of Mount Hermon where there is one of the largest springs which runs into the Jordan River. The area is covered with thick vegetation and was the site of an ancient Roman settlement. We continue on to Kal’at Nimrod, a cliff top fortress and to Birkat Ram a beautiful lake. We end off with a visit to Safed, the mountain top city which was the birthplace of Kabala.
Caesarea, Acre and Rosh Hanikra
The city of Caesarea was constructed under Herod and named after the Roman Emperor, Caesar. From what remains of the ancient city we can see that it was a prosperous and luxurious city. Among the archaeological excavations we can see gateways, a moat and well preserved walls and rooms. There is a perfectly preserved Roman amphitheater which is still used today for performances by Israeli and international artists. The Roman remains were preserved for centuries by the sea sand which covered and protected the stones.
Next to the amphitheater is part of what was once a hippodrome. We can see the remains of a Roman Temple which stood above the port overlooking the busy commercial ships which carried treasures from the east and the Nabatean caravans which were on route to Rome. Following the Romans the city stood neglected for centuries until the Crusaders arrived but in the years after the Crusaders the city once again sank into oblivion.
We continue driving north passing through Haifa where we stop to see the breathtaking Baha’i Shrine and gardens. The terraced gardens cascade down the mountain towards the city below, each of the 19 terraces bursts with colorful flowers and landscaped designs.
Our next stop is at Rosh HaNikra, the most northerly point along Israel’s Mediterranean coast. We descend by cable car into the network of limestone grottoes created by the constant bombardment of waves against the rocks.
On our return journey south we stop at Acre (Acco), the largest Crusader city in the country. The city is extremely well preserved and you can’t help being impressed by the incredible architecture and how it has survived.
Part of the city is alive with markets and people still living in the ancient buildings. We see the walls and moat which was reconstructed and repaired by El Jazzar at the end of the 1900s. The mighty walls prevented even Napoleon conquering the city. We can see the Crusader remains, the prison used under Turkish rule and the gallows which were later used under the British Mandate to hang Jews who broke the British law limiting Jewish immigration to Palestine following World War II.