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Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built over Calvary – place where Christ was crucified, entombed and where he resurrected from, stands in a very central place within the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. However, as we can easily imagine, at the time of Jesus, the topography of the Holy City varied a lot from the present one.
The Gospels describe Golgotha (place of the Skull) as a garden just outside the walls of Jerusalem. That clearly means that the procession leading Jesus to death must have left the city through one of the city gates - the Judgment Gate.
Despite its small size, Palestinian village of Aboud has a lot of interesting sights to offer. From its beautiful natural countryside views full of olive and citrus trees, through various archaeological findings of great importance to the local legends and traditions.
People from Aboud state that the name of their village is given after the Biblical Prophet Obadiah (who is also said to be buried in Sebastiya). Aboud is also often called “city of flowers” for its rich nature. A document written by L.E.P. Lombarti in 1959 states that a priest Elias Al-Aboudi initiated this nickname.
Sabastiya, located in the northern West Bank, is a small Palestinian village with a charming old town consisting predominantly of Mamluk and Ottomoan style architecture. However, the complex history of the village traces its roots back thousands of years earlier, with significant archaeological remains in and surrounding the village.
“They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’” (Mark 14:23)
It was in the Garden of Gethsemane on the foot of the Mount of Olives where Jesus was pointed out by Judas Iscariot to be arrested by the Roman soldiers and the Temple guards, who were sent by the chief priests and the teachers of the Law. Christ knew that his hour was near, so he decided to speak to God the Father. In his prayer he hoped that he would not need to suffer much, however he agreed to all God’s will. “Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36)
“The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples? - He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready.” (Mark 14:14-15)
The Biblical Cenacle is the “large upper room furnished and prepared” that hosted the scene of the Last Supper, which was the Passover meal Jesus and his disciples ate together before Christ’s capture in Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives.
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John.” (Matt.3:3)
The Jordan River flows through the Jordan Rift Valley into the Sea of the Galilee and then continues down into the Dead Sea with no outlet. It is a place of many important biblical events. However, for most of Christians the first association with the river would be the scene of Jesus Christ being baptized by John the Baptist.
According to the Christian faith, the Jordan River is considered the third most holy site in the Holy Land,
An excavation at the 13th century Crusader fortress of Apollonia, situated along the central coast of Israe, approximately 4 miles north of Tel Aviv, has uncovered another gold treasure trove valued at over $100,000. The 400 gram stash of 108 coins was discovered by a team of diggers from Tel Aviv University and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. Apollonia is one of the largest Crusader fortresses and was built sometime between 1241 and 2165.
The treasure was found inside a broken vessel hidden under a tile in one of the castle's rooms. Hundreds of arrow heads and catapult stones were discovered and a nearby landfill imported Italian shards of rare glass untensils were dug up.
Apollonia was an important Crusader stronghold once ruled by the Christian order of the Knights Hospitaller and eventually captured by the Mamluks in 1265. Researches believe the treasure was buried there during the Mamluk siege. The impressive fortress lies overlooking the Meditteranean Sea and is surrounded by a wide moat.
Apollonia National Park is located just north of Herzliya Pituach, approximately four miles north of Tel Aviv. The site is highly recommended for those interested in general history, Crusader history and engineering.
The national park is opened as follows:
April-September 8 A.M.-5 P.M.
October-March 8 A.M-
A small ceramic stamp used to mark bakery produce may not seem like a significant archeological find, but Israeli archeologists are rather excited by such a discovery made near the northern coastal town of Akko.
In previous eras, Akko was known as Acre, and was a major Christian stronghold in the Holy Land. That is why interest has been piqued by the small ceramic stamp bearing an image of the seven-branched Temple Menorah, which was found in a controlled archeological dig at Horbat Uza just outside Akko. The stamp dates back to the 6th century AD, a time when Akko was a Christian-dominated city under the Byzantine Empire. Gilad Jaffe and Dr. Danny Syon, who are directing the dig on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, were pleased to be able to do definitely date the artifact:
Excavation site near Acre; courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority
"This is the first time such
A small Byzantine basilica that was in use between the 5th and 7th centuries c.e. was discovered southwest of Jerusalem last week. A beautifully preserved mosaic floor was uncovered at the site. According to the site leader the mosaic is very well preserved and is of a very high crafsmanship and depicts peacocks, lions, foxes, and fish.
Several months ago the IAA discovered that antiquity thieves were stealing from the ruins, known as Horbat Madras, and in December the excavation began.
Initially it was believed that the structure was a synagogue but further excavation revealed stones carved with crosses. The church was constructed on top of another structure, some 500 years older. This structure is thought to be Jewish.
According to the Israel Antiquities Authorites press release "Hirbet Madras is known as the site of a large, important Jewish community from the Second Temple period until its destruction during the Bar Kokhba Revolt in 135 CE.
Among the remains at the site are buildings, caves, agricultural instillations and extensive underground hiding tunnels. The site was identified by a number of scholars as the location of a major community."
Funding for the site is being sought so that the church can be opened to the public.
Once infamous as a hotbed of hostility and terrorism against Israel, Nablus is now thriving with a mall, a movie theater and the head offices of the Palestinian Securities Exchange. The city is also more recently becoming a tourist destination with key biblical sites like Joseph's Tomb, Jacob's Well and an ancient Samaritan community nearby attracting tourists through the checkpoints from Israel.
With biblical sites, a new cinema and an old city where merchants sell spices, olive oil and the famous cheese sweet knafeh, this Palestinian city is turning out to be a West Bank gem. Just a few years ago, unreachable by foreigners, Nablus' recent economic upturn has opened a new door to tourism. The city was isolated and inaccessible during the intifada as Israeli checkpoints cut off the area from non-Palestinians. Nablus was not alone in this predicament.
Fear of violence and the prospect of crossing military checkpoints kept tourists away from many Palestinian sites in the last decade. While the intifada raged from 2000 to 2005, holy sites in Palestinian areas fell by the wayside in terms of tourism. Even Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jes