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Archive for israel

Spectacular Ruins in Israel

By Linda Tancs

Occupying a strategic location at the junction of the Jezreel and Jordan River valleys, the ancient city of Bet She’an was a leading city of the Decapolis in Roman times and a prosperous Christian city during the Byzantine era. Historically, the city was destroyed following the Earthquake of 749, and its ruins—some of the most spectacular Roman and Byzantine artifacts in the country—are now part of Bet She’an National Park.


To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

An Archaeological Journey in Jerusalem

By Linda Tancs

Jerusalem’s Terra Sancta Museum houses artifacts culled from excavations carried out for more than 100 years by a Franciscan order. Located in the Old City along the Via Dolorosa, the museum’s new archaeological wing boasts collections from the age of Herod and from daily life in the Holy Land during the time of the New Testament writers as well as a striking stone room used by Crusaders in the 13th century. The facility is open daily.

A Desert Gateway

By Linda Tancs

The Negev is Israel’s gateway to the desert. Accounting for over half of the country’s land area, the arid mass has been occupied since the dawn of history by nomads, Canaanites, Philistines, Edomites, Byzantines, Nabateans, Ottomans and, of course, Israelis. After the establishment of Israel, the new country’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, promoted the settlement of the Negev and moved to live in Sde Boker. Paula and David Ben-Gurion’s living quarters there have been preserved the way they were upon Ben-Gurion’s death in 1973. A visit to the house includes an exhibit that displays the connection between the prime minister and the Negev. Winter is an especially nice time to visit; despite the small quantities of rain, the Negev is covered with amazing flowers, including luscious red anemones.

Holiday of Holidays

By Linda Tancs

The largest city in northern Israel, Haifa is one of the country’s prettiest cities. Well known to cruisers, it also sports the nation’s largest port. During December weekends, it’s perhaps best known as the host of Holiday of Holidays, a festival at the crossroads of Hanukkah, Id al-Adha and Christmas. Street parties, performances, guided tours and exhibitions celebrate tolerance and unity among the three religions. Admission is free.

Monkeying Around in Israel

By Linda Tancs

At the Ben-Shemen forest near Modi’in is a monkey park containing 250 species of monkeys from locales around the world like Africa, Asia and South America. You’ll find one of the smallest monkeys in the world–the marmoset–here.  Another citizen is the crab-eating macaque, a medium species of monkey found in the tropical and subtropical forests and jungles throughout southeast Asia. The white-ringed eyes of the dusky leaf langur, a native of Thailand, Myanmar and Malaysia, give it the appearance of wearing eyeglasses. Located halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the park provides guided tours every half hour on weekends.

The Biblical Zoo

By Linda Tancs

There’s a veritable alphabet soup of animals mentioned in the Bible: from ants and bears to vultures and wolves. Those references come to life at the Biblical Zoo. Officially known as The Tisch Family Zoological Gardens in Jerusalem, the facility has amassed a vast collection of God’s creatures in every category: mammals, birds, fish, invertebrates, reptiles and amphibians. Noah would be proud; there’s even an ark-like visitors’ centre.

The Jesus Trail

By Linda Tancs

From Nazareth to Capernaum, Israel’s Jesus Trail is a 40-mile hike in the Galilee that strives to trace Jesus’s movement through the region. The multi-day trek incorporates Nazareth, Sepphoris, Cana, the Arbel Cliffs, Tabgha, Capernaum and the Mount of Beatitudes, Tiberias and the Jordan River. Overnight accommodations along the route range from hotels to campsites. The breathtaking scenery and pleasing year round weather are sure to interest pilgrims and non-pilgrims alike.

Jerusalem on Ice

By Linda Tancs

Jerusalem is celebrating its first ever ice festival from 6 March to 30 April at the Old Railway Station.   There you’ll enjoy sculptures of many of the city’s tourist sites, such as Jaffa Gate, the Tower of David, the Israel Museum, and the new Jerusalem Light Rail.  A family friendly event, the festival includes an ice skating rink.  Adults can enjoy a drink at the ice bar.  If you’re wondering how an event such as this fares well in the glorious Mediterranean sun, worry not.  The area is artificially cooled to about -10 degrees Celsius!

New Space at Tel Aviv Museum

By Linda Tancs

A new complex was recently unveiled at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.   At 20,000 square meters, the Herta and Paul Amir Building is a study in contemporary building technologies, combining 430 polished cement panels into a mix of linear and multi-layered dimensions that ultimately unite to form a striking orientation for the visitor.  Resembling a giant paper airplane, the space puts a fresh spin on the phrase “a new angle.”

100 Years of Green in Israel

By Linda Tancs

Israel’s Ministry of Tourism website says that “Israel is one of two countries on earth that has more trees today than it did 100 years ago.” That may seem surprising to those familiar with the Jerusalem hills, populated with natural forests, terraced hillsides and ancient agricultural settlements. Yet four centuries of Ottoman rule resulted in millions of trees cut down because property taxes were calculated by the number of trees owned by landowners. Now Israel celebrates its greening by promoting a host of eco-tourism activities. Visiting a Kibbutz is a classic way to experience the earliest impetus towards green living. Another highlight of green Israel is The Ariel Sharon Ayalon Park, a metropolitan park boasting tropical gardens located just outside of Tel Aviv, formerly the 2,000-acre Hiriya garbage dump. You can explore the city’s tree-lined boulevards by bicycle (another eco-friendly act) or camel trek through the wilderness to a quiet evening in a goat-hair Bedouin tent. Whatever you decide, a carbon-reduced date with history awaits you.


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