When debating a holiday vacation, Palestine, or the West Bank, is one of the places most people would never consider visiting.
Believed to carry the roots of three major religions, Palestine is a sacred land, a place where civilization has dwelled for millennia.
It is a small country located in the Middle East, a beautiful land of faith with an abundance of important religious and historical events, and despite of the stereotypical belief, millions of tourists from all over the world visit the holy land throughout the year.
Three such important religious and historic monuments are The Dome of the Rock, The church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Western Wall. All three structures are located, side by side, in the old city of Jerusalem.
What is so important about these three places?
Aside from being historical monuments built and rebuilt and renovated for over a millennium, these places carry religious values such as:
- The church of the Holy sepulchre is a holy place for the church because it contains the spot of two major event in the history of the church –1) the place where it’s believed Jesus, son of Mary was crucified –2) and the place where the empty tomb of Jesus is located.
- The Dome of the Rock, a shrine built around the seventh century, is a place where Muslims believe the prophet Mohammad ascended to heaven. Edges of the sacred rock can be seen under the dome, and although surrounded by railing, the chamber where the sacred rock is located can be reached through a staircase on the south side of the mosque.
- The Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, is a site for Jewish praying and pilgrimage.
Aside from Jerusalem, a large concentration of pilgrims from all over the world visit Bethlehem for the midnight mass on Christmas, in the Church of nativity. The church was originally built in the fourth century, on the spot where it’s believed that Jesus Christ was born.
Also in and around Christmas, tourists visit Nazareth, located in the North West part of Palestine. Nazareth is home to the Church of Annunciation, built on the site where both the Bible and the Quran states the angel informed the birth of Jesus to virgin Mary.
As well as Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth, tourists also take the opportunity to visit other historically known places such as Jericho, the Dead Sea, Lake Tiberias and Hebron.
- Hebron, the largest city in Palestine, located in the south about thirty km of Jerusalem, is the burial site for Abraham, his wife Sarah, Isaac and Jacob. The Ibrahimi mosque, also known as the cave of the Patriarch, built more than two thousand years ago for praying, is one of the oldest buildings in the world still standing that still serves its original purpose.
- Jericho, located about twenty six km north east of Jerusalem is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, around eleven thousand years. The Dead Sea, about thirty three km from Jericho has the lowest elevation in the world, as well as the largest and deepest hypersaline lake in the world. The Dead Sea is also a source of asphalt, also known as Bitumen, and natives sometimes carve pieces into shapes and sell them as local crafts.
- Lake Tiberias is famous for its natural beauty and therapeutic hot springs. Like the Dead Sea, it’s one of the lowest bodies of water in the world, second only to the Dead Sea, but unlike the Dead Sea, Lake Tiberius is a source of fresh water, and it’s rich for fishing.
Palestine might be a small place compared to other places in the world, but because of its smallish size, it is easier for a tourist to visit all around within a short time and experience all the wonders this historic and beautiful place has to offer.