Arrival at the Ben Gurion International Airport and transfer to your hotel in Jerusalem. Overnight in Jerusalem.
In order to get over the long flight, this day is not too stressed, so we can also start a little later than usual. We set out to Bethlehem, to visit the place where Jesus was born – the Church of Nativity. This church is the oldest existing church, were services were held without any break since St. Helen built the first church in the 4th century! In the afternoon we take a leisurely stroll through the picturesque village Ein Karem, where according to local tradition John the Baptist was born. Overnight Jerusalem.
We start our Jerusalem Tour with a panoramic view of the Holy City from the Mount of Olives. A leisurely walk takes us down, through the holy Jewish cemetery, to the “Garden of Gethsemane” with its “Church of all Nations” and ancient Olive trees, almost 2000 years old! We continue to the “Wailing Wall”, the last remnants of the holy Jewish Temple, and, if conditions permit, we will visit the Temple Mount itself, where we can see the Muslim Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque. Then we walk through the colorful “Suq” (Bazaar) and follow the different stations of the “Via Dolorosa”, the “Way of the Cross” according to Christian tradition. The Way of the Cross ends at the “Church of the Holy Sepulcre”, built traditionally on the site where Jesus was crucified and buried. In the afternoon, we visit Mt. Zion with King David’s Tomb and the Place of the Last Supper. Overnight in Jerusalem.
This day is dedicated to the New City of Jerusalem. We visit Yad Vashem, the memorial of the holocaust, and then the famous “Menorah” (Candelabra) located in front of the “Knesset”-Building, housing Israel’s Parliament. At the “Israeli Museum” we visit the Model of Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period. This is a 1:50 scale model of the city, as it was during one of its most important periods, when Judaism and Christianity, as we know them today, started to evolve. The model is built from the original materials, and is updated according to the most recent archaeological researches. We will also visit the “Shrine of the Book”, where the “Dead Sea Scrolls” are exhibited. In the afternoon we will spend some time at the Jewish “Machane Yehuda” Market, which is a more European-Style market, but with a Middle-Eastern touch. Overnight in Jerusalem.
Today we are southwards bound, into the desert! We walk through the Oasis of Ein Gedi, known since the days of King David. Ein Gedi, where four springs with fresh water meet the desert sun, is a place to enjoy the rich and unique flora and fauna that such an oasis can offer. We walk to the waterfall and back to the bus. We climb (by cable-car…) the famous cliff-fortress of Massada, where Herod the Great built a magnificent palace in the middle of the desert. Massada was then used as a fortress by the Jewish “Zealots” who fought, few against many, against the pagan Roman Empire. Their heroic struggle became a symbol for the modern State of Israel. We will not miss, of course, some floating (not swimming!) on the Dead Sea, the deepest point on earth!
After experiencing all this, we continue along the Arava-Highway to Eilat. Here we bid farewell to our Israeli staff, who will help us with the Border-formalities, and cross the border to Egypt. We will stay over-night in the nearby resort town of Taba.
After our Egyptian breakfast we drive along the shores of the Red Sea and then through an ever-changing area of bizarre Sandstone-Formations to the Sinai High Mountain Range. In the afternoon, we drive through the Sinai Desert and across the Suez-Canal to Cairo, where we will spend 2 nights. Overnight in Cairo.
We will start with the most famous sites in Cairo: The Pyramids of Giza, including the famous Sphinx (still silent…). Then we drive back to Cairo to take a look at the “Egyptian Museum” (the tour does not include the Mummies Room). Here a vast treasure of numerous objects made of gold, bronze, alabaster, silver and more from Egypt’s most glamorous times are exhibited. Then we drive to visit the Cairo Citadel built by Saladin, with its known “Alabaster Mosque”. You will spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure to stroll on your own through the famous market-area of Khan el Khalili. Overnight in Cairo.
After breakfast at your hotel we drive to SAKKARA, the ancient “Necropolis” of the Old Kingdom’s Capital, Memphis, where we will visit a few pyramids, large-scale statues and tombs, among them the known “Step Pyramid”, the oldest known Pyramid. In the early afternoon we will drive you to Taba, where we stay over-night. Overnight in Taba.
Early in the morning we cross the border to Israel, and after a short drive we reach the Arava (Rabin) border crossing where we cross the border to Jordan. Our Israeli staff will help you with all border-formalities. Once in Jordan, our Jordanian Guide will welcome you, and together we will drive to “The Rose Red City”, Petra, recently declared one of the new “Seven Wonders of the World”. Petra is cut out of the sandstone by the ancient Nabatheans, a nomad people who used this site as their religious and political capital and as a center for the caravans on the “Incense Road”. We start walking through the narrow “Siq” (gorge) until we suddenly see the famous monument the Bedouins call “Hazane” – Pharaoh’s Treasury! From the “Treasury” we enter the central valley of the “Lost City”, where we visit some more of its ancient monuments, such as “The Colonnaded Street”; “Pharaoh’s Daughter Temple”, the Theater, and more. At the end of the day, we will drive to Amman. Overnight in Amman.
A short drive from Amman brings us to Madaba. Here, in the Greek-Orthdox church we can see the famous 6th century mosaic floor showing the Holy Land just a it was more than 15 centuries ago! We continue to Mt. Nebo, from which Moses could see the Promised Land, but was never allowed to enter. Beside the view that also Moses saw, Mt. Nebo is also famous for the colorful mosaics, also dating back to Byzantine days. We drive along the ancient “King’s Highway”, mentioned already in the Old Testament, to Jerash, a well-preserved Greco-Roman city, one of the “Deca Polis” – an alliance of the richest cities of the region in classic times. Then we drive to the Sheikh Hussein Bridge where we cross the Jordan River to the Holy Land – Israel. Overnight in Tiberias/Nazareth.
Today we visit the places where Jesus acted around the Sea of Galilee: Capernaum, with Peters House and the famous Synagogue, enjoy the view from Mt. of the Beatitudes, where the “Sermon on the Mount” was given, and the reconstructed church at Tabgha, where tradition puts the miracle of the Bread and The Fish. We will also sail on the sea in a boat similar to the boat used by Jesus and his disciples. We end the day at “Yardenit”, the Baptismal Site on the Holy River Jordan.
Overnight in Tiberias/Nazareth.
Our day starts with a scenic drive through the Land of Galilee and then up a steep road to the top of Mt. Tabor. The magnificent view from this mountain made it a holy place since early Biblical times. The Christian tradition places here the miracle of the Transfiguration, commemorated by a special church built by the genius architect Antonio Berluzzi. We continue to Nazareth, where we visit the glorious Basilica of the Annunciation, built in the 20th Century according to the most modern representation of the Catholic Church. The Basilica houses dozens of specially-designed icons of Mary, representing catholic communities from all over the world. Time permitting; we can renew our romantic relationships in one of the churches of Cana, where Jesus performed his first miracle by turning water into wine at a wedding. Overnight in Tiberias or Nazareth.
After driving through a landscape of scattered Arab villages, where Christians, Druze and Moslems live together, we arrive at the coast of the Mediterranean Sea to the ancient port-city of Acco (Acre). During thousands of years this city has maintained its character, and there are a lot of extraordinary well-preserved sites in Acco, which made it a “UNESCO World Heritage Site”. Here we will visit the “Knights Halls” that were built by the Crusaders and stayed underground, preserved fully, up to their roofs!! We will also visit the Turkish “Hammam” (Bath) were we will hear the “Last Bath-Attendant” telling us the History of the City through its Legends and Myths… We shall also visit the colorful oriental Bazaar, with its odors and colors of the East, the ancient port, and more… From Acco it is a short distance to the modern port-city Haifa, situated on the slopes of the evergreen Mt. Carmel. The view from this mountain is famous for its beauty. We drive to Caesarea Maritima, the magnificent port-city built by King Herod the Great. From here St. Peter went to Rome and started with his first miracles. Near Caesarea’s well-preserved theater an inscription of the procurator Pontius Pilate was found. We end the day in the pulsating city Tel Aviv, where we walk in the old city of Jaffa, one of the ancient gateways to the Holy Land. Today Jaffa’s romantic alley-ways attract many artists, who have their galleries there. Overnight in or around Tel Aviv.