SINE QUA NON ISRAEL

ONE The Western Wall, Jerusalem

TWO Temple Mount, Jerusalem

This is the place which holds the most religious significance in the world for Jews and Muslims alltogether. The Dome of the Rock harbours the planet’s most important rock, namely the one where the world was created and where Mohamed has risen to the heavens – for the Muslims, and where God created Adam and the world and where Solomon built the First Temple – for the Jews. Judaism considers this place as the most sacred of all, where God’s presence is most felt.

Temple Mount is only accessible to non-Muslims at very specific visiting times,  going through one checkpoint located on the right side of the Western Wall – the wooden bridge you see near the women’ s prayer section of the wall. Entering the Dome of the Rock is exclusively reserved to Muslims. Even so, a visit to the site is a must: Temple Mount is a large hilltop located on the other side of the Western Wall, which includes a vast, serene square, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

THREE Old Jaffo, Tel Aviv – Yaffo

The most beautiful area in Tel Aviv, its ancient fortress with winding cobbled streets and the old harbour hold the true soul of the city. 

FOUR Masada & Dead Sea, Judean Desert

FIVE Ghetsemane & Mount of Olives

Oh wow. What an otherworldly landscape, taking a roadtrip below sea-level, along the Dead Sea.

SIX The Old city, Jerusalem

Why isn’t this the number one of all musts? The Holy City reunites all the wonder places: the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock, the exponential quarters, Via Dolorosa, the City of David and so on; history has basically been written within its walls. Indeed the feeling you experience while walking its streets and discovering all these is intense and one-of-kind. But there is also a lot of disappointment that tones down all the excitement: the whole old city is a huge bazaar, souvenir shops and open air stands clutter the narrow streets and everything is crowded, messy and rushed. Whether you are a religious traveller or simply there to visit and retrace Jesus’s steps, walking the Via Dolorosa today loses all meaning.  The stations of Christ are poorly marked along the way, while tons of colorful pieces of clothing, fluffy toy-animals, magnets and crosses, thousands of bottles of “sacred” oil and countless stands of overpriced nuts, dates and spices make it hard to navigate the narrow, steep streets. 

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre holds the places of Jesus’s crucifixion, burrial and resurrection. It is insanely crowded at all times, and there is always a huge line of waiting to enter the Tomb. While I don’t find going inside the tomb mandatory, visiting the church is. It is fascinating to discover the place of the Golgotha, of the Cross and of the Unction stone. People from around the world kneel down here and touch the stone with their forheads and palms, but also with their clothes or scarves or familiar items as if they can take a little piece of grace home with them.

SEVEN Haifa & The Bah’ai Gardens

EIGHT The other wall or the Separation Wall

NINE The food

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