Israel – cities, attractions and rich history

Israel

The Israeli anthem

Israel is a state in the Middle East. This country of deeply revered religious shrines, eclectic culture, blooming cities and diverse natural landscapes, from high mountains to green valleys and arid deserts. It attracts a huge number of tourists, and the journey changes them as the Holy Land leaves no one indifferent.

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Video: Israel

Highlights

Israel, which stretches 423 kilometers from north to south and 114 kilometers at its widest from west to east, is a small country, but with an extremely diverse nature, from vast deserts in the south to fertile valleys in the north. A narrow strip of land along the Syrian-African rift, bordered by Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian territories, it lies at the crossroads of trade, at the junction of Africa and Asia.

For centuries the Holy Land has attracted pilgrims from all over the world with its numerous religious shrines, atmosphere of spirituality and mystery. Today, nothing has changed and Israel is rapidly becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

On a narrow strip of land along the Syrian-African Rift between the plains of Europe in the north and the sultry deserts of the south, all the riches of these natural areas are concentrated. In the north of Israel, the Golan Heights and the Galilee you will find pine forests, rumbling waterfalls and high mountains with snow caps, while the region of the central plateau and the Lower Galilee are gentle hills with developed agriculture and blossoming cities.

The Old Streets of Jerusalem

Israel is a Mediterranean country and its long coastline has long been inhabited by people. Major cities such as Tel Aviv, Haifa and Acre attract tourists with their warm climate and sandy beaches, and ancient structures that have stood the test of time, such as Caesarea, are unique archaeological sites. In the interior of the country, just an hour from Tel Aviv and the coast, is Jerusalem. Its heart is the Old City, a real treasure, which fascinates even the most unperturbed visitors.

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Much of the country is desert, where steep rocky mountains and valleys alternate with fertile oases and small kibbutzim. At the edge of the desert, which opens the way to Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, stretches the Red Sea, whose reefs teeming with coral and tropical fish.

The short history of the state of Israel, proclaimed more than 60 years ago, was bright and stormy; but the land on which it is located is unusually ancient and rich in a variety of events. Numerous remains of ancient civilizations have survived here, and the unique findings of archaeologists are displayed in the country’s first-class museums.

The influx of immigrants has resulted in a remarkably diverse and interesting culture with an abundance of languages, national cuisines, musical styles, and theaters. Despite political difficulties carefully documented by the world’s media, modern Israel is a peaceful country whose citizens work hard, love their families, and greatly value their free time, nature, and fellowship.

Dome of the Rock Mosque – one of the symbols of Jerusalem Judean Desert

Many people dream of a trip to Israel, and for an increasing number of people their dream is becoming a reality. In the past, a trip to this country was considered interesting but illogical and even dangerous. But these days, a four-hour flight from Europe has made a vacation, holiday or pilgrimage trip much more affordable.

Israel is a place where the question “Do you speak English?” you will hear the answer “of course”, where restaurants rival French restaurants, and the number of historical, archaeological and religious sites is unmatched.

Geography

Israel is geographically diverse. This green, forested north with snow-capped mountains, rivers and fertile valleys, Mount Hermon (2224 m), 250-km River Jordan, the Jezreel Valley and the Sea of Galilee. On the 270 km long Mediterranean coastline there are cities such as Tel Aviv, Haifa and Acre, and, far from the sea, on the border of the vast waterless desert that occupies the south of the country, Jerusalem.

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At the heart of the desert is the Dead Sea – the lowest place of land, a real geological miracle (433 meters below sea level) . The southern tip of Israel rests on the Red Sea, although the length of the coastline is only 14 km.

The political borders of this part of the Middle East are very complex and constantly changing. After the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel captured and continues to hold the Golan Heights, which belonged to Syria, although the area of 1790 km² is recognized by the UN as occupied territory.

Due to political tensions between Syria and Israel, the two countries are separated by a demilitarized zone under UN control. At the southern end of the Mediterranean coast, on the border with Egypt, there is Palestinian territory, the Gaza Strip, and to the east of the Jordanian border, another Palestinian area, the West Bank.

Since the Six Day War, when Israel seized Jordan’s East Jerusalem and part of the West Bank, these territories have remained under Jewish control (which the UN and much of the international community considers illegal) and Israeli settlements remain in the West Bank.

Cities

The capital of Israel is Jerusalem, although for political reasons most countries have their embassies in Tel Aviv. These two largest cities in the country are completely different from each other. Jerusalem – the tradition, ancient architecture, pious people, deep political and religious roots, while Tel Aviv – a young, fun, secular city with white sand beaches and boulevards, lined with numerous cafes. The third largest city in the country, Haifa is located in the north of the Mediterranean coast and the northern tip of the Carmel mountain range. This quiet and pleasant city is known for its large seaport, a naval base, a prestigious university and the headquarters of the Bahai religion.

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There are other major cities in Israel, but they are mostly residential areas and are of little interest to tourists. The exceptions are Tiberias on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, the holy Jewish city of Safed in the Upper Galilee, inhabited mostly by Christian Arabs, Nazareth in the Lower Galilee, the ancient port city of Acre north of Haifa, Be’er Sheva, considered the gateway to the Negev desert, and the Red Sea resort of Eilat.

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