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13 Things To Do in The Holy Land (Besides Pray)

One usually thinks of the Holy Land as a place for prayer, reflection and soul-searching.

However, it is also very much an entertainment mecca, historical time-capsule and religious Disney Land all-in-one; where instead of rides, you have places that you have only read about growing up.

Check out these amazing activities:

1. Go boating in the Sea of Galilee.

A charming wooden boat + cool and windy weather + lively Jewish music + dancing = Relaxation


Sea of Galilee

Sea of Galilee




Sea of Galilee

* Of course I have to have my “hero” shot.

2.  Check out the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Already the stuff of legend, the Dea Sea Scroll museum at Qumram is a must-see for its preserved 1st century AD writings and amazing system of caves. Bring sunscreen and shades though, as this can be found in the middle of a scorching desert.


Dead Sea Scrolls


Dead Sea Scrolls


Dead Sea Scrolls

3.  Go to a resort in the Golan Heights.

Who knew that in the middle of a patch of land highly-contested by Israel, Lebanon and Syria (and the site of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War), there lies an ancient Roman resort town where the citizens of Palestine used to vacation and is the source of all the water in the great Jordan River? Equally amazing is the drive going there, and the view of Israel, Lebanon and Syria from all sides.


Golan Heights


Golan Heights

4.  Take in the fantastic view of Haifa

One of Israel’s biggest cities and at the bottom of Mount Carmel is Haifa, an ancient city that has been ruled by the Phoenicians, Persians, Hasmoneans, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans, British and finally, the Isralis. A bustling Mediterranean seaport, Haifa is also the home of the Baha’i Faith.


Haifa


Haifa

5.  Admire the Roman/Crusader ruins found in the most random of places

Ancient Roman aqueducts, Crusader forts and castles, Biblical battlegrounds (such as the valley where David killed Goliath) and stand-alone monasteries can be found in the most random of places beside the highway.


Roman Aqueduct


Roman Aqueduct

6.  Get lost in the streets of Old Jerusalem

People tend to forget that Old Jerusalem is not just a place for prayer for three great faiths but also a city bustling with life and commerce! Be sure to check out the bazaars, beautiful courtyards, multiple ruins and plaques explaining how this random street/road/stone/pilar/tree used to be important.


Jerusalem Souk


Jerusalem Souk


Jesus Handprint

7.  Have a bite in the room of the Last Supper

The Cenacle, found on Mount Zion, is believed to be the site of The Last Supper and according to Christian tradition is the usual place where the Apostles stayed in Jerusalem and the site of the First Christian Church. Once a house, the Cenacle has been a church, Crusader headquarters, mosque and finally a tourist attraction. It’s only fitting that you have a bite where Christ and his Apostles ate. I know I enjoyed a bag of Doritos here!


Last Supper Room

8.  Wonder where the mythical and once-mighty Jordan River disappeared to.

Ahhh the Jordan, one of the most mythical locales in all of the Bible. The site of Christ’s baptism, John the Baptist’s ministry and border between Israel and Jordan, the Jordan River can slightly depress one expecting a massive, life-giving waterway. Due to the irrigation efforts of both Isreal and Jordan, this river now looks like a small creek.


Jordan River


Jordan River

9.  Enjoy the extreme techno/rave music and rejuvenating waters of the Dead Sea.

Who knew that aside from being a world-famous skin rejuvenating center, the most swim-friendly pool ever (as you float no matter what), as well as the saltiest “my-eyes-they-burn” place in the world, the Dead Sea is also the site of Israel’s mega-EDM music appreciation club?


Dead Sea


10.  Get astonished at the wonder of Petra

A must-see for every traveler! There really is nothing like seeing that first glimpse of the Petra Treasury after walking a couple of miles through a narrow cavern. And the fact that this was all made from rock over two thousand five hundred years ago makes this even more amazing.


Petra Jordan


Petra Jordan


Petra Treasury

11.  Shop!

From scarves and hijabs, to hookahs and religious icons; from swords and lamps, to touristy-souvenirs and arabic antiques; the Holy Land is a dream come true for shoppers looking for uncommon and unsual (think a scorpion trapped in amber) gift ideas.


Souvenir Shopping


Souvenir Shopping

12.  Pretend you’re in Rome while in the middle of a desert.

The ancient city of Jerash is the best preserved Roman ruin outside of Italy. Containing a collection of stone buildings, a couple of Arcs, an Auditorium, a bunch of temples, a lot of standing pillars and multitudes of field-tripping children who have never seen Asians before, Jerash in some ways can be even more impressive than Rome itself due to the smaller number (waaaaaay smaller number) of people/tourists in the area.


Jerash Jordan


Jerash Jordan



Jerash Jordan

13.  Spend hours just staring at the Old City from the Mount of Olives.

Definitely the best view of Jurasalem. Nuff said!
Mount of Olives

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