Israel Travel Blog


Couples Vacation in Israel

Israel is a fantastic destination for a couples get-away, there is gorgeous countryside, exotic deserts, crystal clear sea, sandy beaches, romantic restaurants and many unique places to stay. Avoid the large hotels during the Israeli school holidays when Israeli families take over with screaming kids in tow. Stick to the smaller, intimate boutique hotels, B&BS and rural hideaways or the exclusive city hotels. Here are a selection of top romantic things to see, do and experience as a couple in Israel.Young couple on a beach. Photo by Toa Heftiba on UnsplashTop 10 Romantic Things to do in Israel. Where to Eat and Where to StayIsrael has so many small and intimate mamma and papa establishments that you are bound to discover your own favorite romantic restaurant. However, a few of the most famously romantic Israeli eateries include Cavalier, a French restaurant in Jerusalem; Zuni with its balcony seating in Jerusalem; Adora in Tel Aviv and Shiri Bistro in the quaint town of Rosh Pina. Aladin is a restaurant perched on the cliff of Old Jaffa with views of the sea and coastline all the way back to Tel Aviv. If you want to indulge yourselves then try Max Brenner’s Chocolate Bar is Herzliya. You will feel like you are walking into Charlie’s Chocolate Factory!A happy couple traveling. Photo byCarly Rae HobbinsonUnsplashTo find a secluded and intimate “zimmer” try searching on zimmeril.com where they list many romantic B&Bs where the room is a separate suite in the garden or surrounded by beautiful foliage. These zimmers are geared towards couples looking for some quality time along. They often have candles, a jacuzzi, soft lighting, chocolates, and wine to make the occasion even more romantic. Other renowned romantic hotels include the prestigious King David Hotel in Jerusalem overlooking the Old City; the French chateau-style romantic suites of Bayit Bagalil in the Upper Galilee and the Herods Hotel in Eilat.Romantic sunset with cocktails. Photo by Kaur Martin on Unsplash1. Spa Experience in IsraelIsrael-SPA-stone-massageIsraeli’s love spas! You will find a spa in every reputable hotel as well as spa treatments offered in the smallest of B&B. In every mall and on every high street there are day spas offering couple’s treatments which usually include an aromatic bath together, snacks and massages. Carmel Forest Spa Resort is the crème de la crème of Israeli spa experiences. Nestled in the greenery of Mount Carmel overlooking Haifa they offer indoor and outdoor pools and a myriad of pampering spa treatments. Israel also has a few hot spring resorts including Ramat Gader’s SpaVillage Hotel in the Golan Heights.Spa & Wellness Center.Photo byRaphael LovaskionUnsplash2. Wine Tasting in IsraelIsrael has over 80 wineries, some on the doorstep of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Some of the wineries welcome guests without a prearranged appointment and others require a booking. The wineries offer tours and wine tastings. There are 5 main wine-making regions in this small country – Galilee-Golan, Shomron, Samson, Judean Hills, and the Negev. Among the wineries which welcome visitors, there is the Neot Semadar Winery, Dishon River Winery, and the Agada Cheers Winery.3. Banias – The Garden of EdenIf you are the outdoor type take a trip to the Golan Heights and the Banias a natural spring surrounded by lush vegetation. This is said to have been the Garden of Eden. The Hermon Stream is within Banias National Reserve and there are marked routes for you to follow through the forests, over Roman bridges, passed Crusader ruins and ultimately you will reach the romantic Banias waterfall.Banias Nature Reserve, Israel. Photo credit: © Oksana Mats4. Desert Experience in IsraelIf you’re up for an adventure why not stay in a Bedouin tent overnight and enjoy true Bedouin hospitality in the desert. Kfar Hanokdim is one of the places where you can have a Bedouin desert experience which includes camel rides, meals, and overnight accommodation. If you are less keen on the overnight stay then you can always just go for an early morning or late night camel ride across the desert. Mitzpe Ramon is a romantic place to start your desert adventure. This elevated ridge overlooks the Ramon Crater, a magnificent sight that will take your breath away. You could stop just for the view or stay at one of the romantic hotels at Mitzpe Ramon.Camel Riding in the Negev, Israel.Photo byJames BallardonUnsplash5. Endless BeachesIsrael’s long Mediterranean Sea coast offers wide sandy beaches, some of which have lifeguards on duty and others which are more secluded. A few favorite beaches for lovers include Beit Yannai, Aqueduct Beach in Caesarea,and Dor Habonim beach. Take your loved one down to the beach to watch the sunset.6. Renew your VowsJerusalem is a holy city for Jews, Muslims, and Christians and it is home to so many exquisite churches. Why not find your favorite church and renew your vows.7. Shopping in JaffaThis one might be more for the women than the men but it can make a romantic outing. Jaffa is the site of an outdoor antique and junk market - Jaffa Flea Market. It is perfect for bargain hunters or newlyweds looking for unusual items for their new home. If you like shopping then you are not alone as Israeli’s love shopping. You will find many malls, stores, and markets across the country.Jaffa Flea Market. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin8. Eilat DivingEilat in general is a wonderful destination for couples; it has the beautiful translucent water of the Red Sea, luxury hotels, water sports, beaches, TAX-free shopping, attractions, spas, and even a mall with an ice rink in the middle. For something really special go on a diving excursion and explore the coral reefs together.9. Wohl Rose Garden JerusalemTake a romantic walk through this fragrant rose garden where there are more than 15,000 rose bushes and 400 varieties of roses. There are benches along the path where you can sit undisturbed and have a few romantic moments.10. Hot Air BallooningTake an early morning hot-air balloon ride from Kibbutz Ruhama over northern Negev. The company organizing the experience can provide breakfast or spirits for your romantic trip above the Holy Land. Hot air ballooning is a wonderful way to make your partner's birthday memorable. The flight will be nothing short of epic: you will see the sunrise, spot some wildlife, admire Israel from a unique perspective, enjoy mesmerizing sceneries, and drink champaign.To book a customized tour in Israel feel free to check our Private Tours.Hot air ballooning. Photo byFrancesco UngaroonUnsplash
By Petal Mashraki

Safed Klezmer Festival

Klezmer: a Yiddish word meaning musical instruments; it is an Ashkenazi and Eastern European Jewish musical tradition which originated in the 18th century among Hasidic Jews.saxophoneEach August the hilltop city of Safed welcomes thousands of local and international visitors to the biggest Jewish soul music festival in the world. This is one of Israel’s largest and most important festivals. At the festival there will be performances by numerous Klezmer groups and solo artists.The Klezmer musicians are mainly from Israel but there are also several international groups. Throughout the historic alleys and streets of Safed temporary stages are set up each year so that the festival can take place outdoors, on the streets for all to enjoy. Some of the performances will be given in Safed’s historic public buildings like the Red Khan. All of the performances at the festival are free.In addition to the musical performances of Klezmer music there will be other festival activities including “Klezmerim for kids” a workshop where kids can get involved creating and learning more about the Klezmer tradition. There will be workshops for professional musicians and Klezmer master classes conducted by leading artists in this field. There will also be tours of the city and workshops for those interested in Kabala, the mystical Jewish tradition which originated in Safed. Local artists will be selling their creations at market stalls and there will be food stands to provide delicious local delicacies. Visitors to Safed can come for one night or for all three of the festival days as there will be constant events, activities and performances. This festival is intended for both secular and religious visitors – so long as they like music!Practical Information: When: mid-August, annuallyWhere: Throughout the old city of Safed. If driving to Safed for the festival park your car at the designated parking lot outside the city and take the free shuttle.Admission: Free
By Petal Mashraki

Free Things for Families to Do in Israel this Summer 2016

During the summer there are always several free events and attractions organized for Israeli families and kids that are on school vacation. There is no reason why tourists shouldn’t join in and take advantage of these great activities – for free!Secondhand Market, Tel AvivThe summertime secondhand market can be found if you follow the Lahat Promenade along Tel Aviv’s coast towards Jaffa. Just as you reach the entrance to Jaffa you’ll find Charles Clore Park. Here there is a secondhand market where stalls are set up and you can buy almost anything for next to nothing. Not only is there plenty to buy but as part of the market there is also free entertainment, live music, stand-up comedy performances, dance, fashion shows, circus acts and food stalls. There are special performances geared towards kids with famous characters from kid’s TV programs.Fairy Tale, Tel AvivAt twilight time when you want to unwind and relax after a long day shopping and sightseeing what better than to sit the kids down in front of a good show and hang out in the park. Each Wednesday there is a children’s play performed (for free) in the peaceful setting of this Tel Aviv park.Yafui Magic, Ed Koch Tennis CourtsThis special evening is geared towards kids although parents are welcome. One of Israel’s top children’s entertainers will keep the crowd happy with performances of much-loved Israeli songs. Expect bright costumes, dance, music, lots of laughs and appearances by well known children’s TV characters.Street Ball, Tel AvivThe Israel Basketball Association is organizing an all night event at basketball courts across the city. There will be competitions, games and demonstrations where everyone can join in. In addition the areas around the courts will hold some activities, food stalls and more – all night long. This is perfect for older kids and teens.Kabbalat Shabbat at the Western Wall, JerusalemJoin locals in welcoming the Shabbat as the sun goes down at the holiest Jewish place of worship, the Western Wall (Kotel or Wailing Wall). You can observe or join in with those chanting the traditional prayers. There is singing, chanting of prayers and dancing by Jews from diverse backgrounds. See the traditional clothing of some of the sectors of the ultra-religious Jews and listen to the different melodies used by different Jewish sectors.BeachesIt goes without saying that you can enjoy the gorgeous Israeli beaches for free during the summer. Visit the beaches along the Mediterranean coast, those in Eilat on the Red Sea or on the Dead Sea or Sea of Galilee.Israeli ParksThere are many parks in Israel but a few stand out as being extra special. In Tel Aviv you have the Yarkon Park with the Yarkon River wending its way through the green lawn. Here there are several attractions including peddle boat and row boat hire, bicycles to hire, a climbing wall, paths, playgrounds and picnic areas. In Raanana (about 20 minutes north of Tel Aviv) there is a great park with a small zoo, a special playground for children with physical disabilities, a skate park, café, lake and playgrounds. In Herzalia (opposite the Sheva Kochavim/Seven Stars Mall) there is a park with a huge climbing apparatus. You can climb up ladders, cross rope bridges and slide down enclosed tubes. There is a café nearby, a regular playground, BBQ areas and a gorgeous wild marsh area with a boardwalk leading through it. This section has been left in its natural state. In Jerusalem the Teddy Park has a great way for kids to cool off, a flat surface will fountains that squirt up as kids run in and out of the water. During the day the fountain “show” takes place at 10am, noon and 4pm and in the evening at 8pm, 9pm and 10pm the water is accompanied by sound and lights.Fountain ShowsThere are several dancing fountains in Israel where music and the movement of the fountains have been synchronized with colored lights and laser effects creating an overall spectacle. The state-of-the-art presentations are all free and performed several times a night.Tel Aviv PortThe port area is great at any time of year but especially in the summer when there are street entertainers, balloon artists and special events. On the northeastern side of the Port boardwalk is a concert venue which stages children’s shows every Tuesday at 6pm for free. In addition there is a huge sandpit and a carousel. On Fridays from 10am-5pm there is Friday Live a special happening with live musical performances, a designer market, art exhibits and an organic food markets.Front Stage Festival, JerusalemThroughout the summer on Friday nights the downtown area of Jerusalem turns into a live concert venue complete with art exhibitions, food stalls, dancing and performances by famous Israeli bands and singers. The event starts at noon and everyone is welcome for free. See the Jerusalem Municipality website for more details.Israel Museum, JerusalemOk this one is not completely free as adults need to pay an entrance fee but throughout July kids enter for free on Tuesdays and entrance is free for kids every day throughout August. At the museum there is a lot to see; families will enjoy the Children’s’ Wing where there are regular activities for families especially in the summer. There is also the sculpture garden, modern art, classic art, Judaica and the Shrine of the Book holding the Dead Sea Scrolls.
By Petal Mashraki

Jerusalem’s Newest Attraction: The Friends of Zion Museum

Jerusalem’s latest attraction is the Friends of Zion Museum which highlights the little known story of the role Christians played in the return of the Jewish people to their homeland, Israel. The museum focuses on the role of supporters of Israel of all faiths from around the world and throughout history. The museum tells the story of how the dream to restore the Jewish people to their historic homeland became a reality and the non-Jews who helped the Jews realize this dream. Throughout history Christian Zionists have supported the Jews in returning to their homeland sometimes through personal sacrifice. This museum shows visitors the historic moments, courageous people and significant events which have led to the establishment of the State of Israel supported by Christians. The museum uses technologically advanced interactive methods to tell its story with bold, bright and engaging displays.Friends of Zion Museum ExhibitsVisitors go through several exhibition halls each focused on different aspect of Zionism. You begin with the Land of the Promise exhibit where there is a 12 meter long topographic floor map showing the layout of the land inhabited by the twelve tribes of Israel plus the main Biblical towns. The room darkens and the walls come alive with images of modern-day Israel and aerial views of the country as a beam of light traces the aerial tour of the country on the floor map relating what we see on the screen to the Biblical-era landscape of the map.Visitors take a Time Elevator through a sound and light show up to the upper floor and the Founders Theatre where a huge wraparound screen shows the story of the covenant made between the people of Israel and God using animation, light effects, music and narration. We meet Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the Prophet Ezekiel all promised the Land of Israel.The Hall of Dreamers features Professor George Bush (1796-1859), William Blackstone, the Ten Boom family and John Henry Dunant all gentiles who believed in the ancient prophecies promising Israel to the Jews. This section of the museum highlights the efforts of these leading Christian Zionists in supporting the Jewish dream.In the Hall of Visionaries we see a huge colorful mural created with hand-painted images transformed using advanced technology and incorporating motion and text upon touch. Visitors can touch the mural images of 11 heroes of Christian Zionism which triggers animation of the figure and text appears explaining a little of the heroes contribution to the Zionist efforts. The mural also incorporates Biblical quotes speaking of the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel. Figures that played a significant role in Christian Zionism include Churchill, Queen Victoria and President Woodrow Wilson. In this exhibition hall there are also screens showing original black and white footage of the early Jewish settlers in Israel.In the Light in the Darkness hall we learn of the deeds of the righteous among the nations, gentiles who saved the lives of Jews during the Holocaust. The images and animations tell the story of Christian personalities in Germany, Sweden, Japan and other country who exercised extraordinary bravery and endangered their own lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. The images of war, terror and those who could not stand by idly and watch the Jews be persecuted are brought to live in these images.In the Living Figures gallery visitors can walk right up to the images of heroes and the animated image begins talking “personally” to the visitors telling of his involvement with the people of Israel. This technique uses live actors reenacting the heroes’ stories as well as archive footage. Playing in the background is the actual recording of the vote in the UN which approved the partition plan in 1947 creating Jewish and Arab states in the Land of Israel.In the last section of the museum, the Promise Theatre visitors put on 3D glasses to see a presentation of many personalities from past and present who have worked towards the dreams of Zionism.Practical Information:Visiting the FOZ Museum is only with a museum guide and visits must be booked in advance online, by email or by phone. The tour is offered in 15 languages and lasts one hour. The museum is recommended for those over 7 years old. The museum is housed in one of the first seven homes built outside the Old City walls back in 1869. The house has been fully restored and now houses the museum and a beautiful café which is open to visitors to the museum and the general public. The FOZ Café is open six days a week and serves kosher dairy cuisine.Where: 20 Yosef Rivlin Street, JerusalemOpen Hours: Sunday to Thursday 9:30am-6pm; Friday 9:30am-2pm and Saturday 10am-6pm.Admission: Adults 44ILS; children (7yrs-18yrs) 33ILS; students and Jerusalem residents 33ILS; seniors, soldiers, handicapped, school groups 22ILS.Contact: 972 (0)2 532 9400
By Petal Mashraki

Tel Aviv Street Art

Thanks to Tel Aviv’s unique geographical location and cultural make-up which includes people from across the globe and across the religious spectrum the city’s graffiti holds many poignant political and social messages.Tel Aviv Graffiti.Photo credit: © ShutterstockThe quality and variety of the thought-provoking graffiti are also varied. Among the graffiti you’ll see there are works by famous Israeli artists including the renowned and prolific graffiti artist Rami Mairi; INSPIRE; street art photography artist Millikatz and by the MAS graffiti School. Tel Aviv is also home to the world’s youngest graffiti artist AYA.Art is often born out of difficult social, cultural, and political situations so it is no wonder that here in the Middle East so much art is produced. In Tel Aviv, the municipality has a tolerant attitude to graffiti and if it is deemed artistic it is often left untouched. The Tel Aviv Museum of Art even holds an annual exhibition featuring some of the top street artists.You can learn a little Hebrew even on a short trip to Israel just by noticing signs, graffiti, and bumper stickers. The most bohemian parts of Tel Aviv are known for their artistic graffiti and there are tours that take you on a walk through the streets of these areas pointing out the graffiti and explaining the Hebrew and social messages Graffiti in Tel Aviv, Israel.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin1. Tel Aviv Graffiti ToursA graffiti tour of areas like Florentin, Tel Aviv is an innovative and cool way of getting to know the city. Not only will you learn a bit of Hebrew but also get to know the social issues which artists choose to comment on. On a graffiti tour, your guide will also point out interesting street signs and bumper stickers. Tours of this kind are led by young and hip locals who know the best places to go and the most “in” neighborhoods. You’ll find out about the best cafes, bars, and nightclubs and can ask your guide for recommendations. Your guide will explain the artist’s “tags” and signature styles.There are works of art on the walls of Tel Aviv by international and local graffiti artists. Your guide will tell you about the local street art culture and contemporary art scene and the many forms it comes in. A tour of the city’s graffiti and hip neighborhoods usually takes about two hours. Other interesting and unusual tours on the streets of Tel Aviv include cooking tours, restaurant tours, market tours, pub crawl tours, and cycling tours. All of these tours add an extra dimension to regular tours and allow you to really interact with locals and get to know another side of the city and Israeli culture.A touA tourist taking a picture of Tel Aviv graffiti. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin2. Top Tel Aviv Street ArtistsIf you’d rather discover these hidden gems by yourself then take a self-guided tour of the city discovering the street art as you go. One of the top street artists is “Know Hope” who has been on the street art scene since 2004 and left his signature image of a man with his heart on his sleeve. He recently exhibited a project entitled Truth and Method at the Gordon Gallery. “Dede” painted the clever and witty piece entitled Wind up Teeth on the Tel Aviv Dolphinarium. His signature image is a band-aid which he says is a symbol of the search for solutions to personal and social problems. His work often comments on current events. He has also left his mark on the walls of New York, Germany, and Switzerland. “Sened” is a stencil artist recognizable by his images of little box people. His work is smaller than most street art and is often found in places you wouldn’t expect. Wonky Monkey is recognizable by the monkey which appears in most of his pictures. He likes to comment on the human condition. “Signor Gi” uses stencils, paste-ups, and painting. His signature mark is of a skull. “Dioz” paints large, colorful street art which fills up entire walls. His work is less political and more about fun and bringing a little light humor to the streets. Green Graffiti in Tel Aviv.Photo byAna KlipperonUnsplash“Nitzan Mintz” was named one of the country’s most prominent artists in 2013 and has since gone on to be mentioned in Timeout and Calcalist. She makes social comments in beautifully formed Hebrew text on the walls of Tel Aviv. “Klone Yourself” is a local artist whose street art often features creatures that are half-human and half animals. His work has been shown in New York. Maya is one of the few female graffiti artists in Tel Aviv. She exhibits in galleries, has featured in TED Talk, and paints on public walls. She uses a wide range of materials and in 2015 created a large-scale installation in Japan of her signature blackbirds.So get out your walking shoes and explore Tel Aviv’s street art either on an organized Tel Aviv street art tour or by yourself, you’ll be amazed at the art you discover!Graffiti in Tel Aviv. Photo byRonit ShakedonUnsplash
By Petal Mashraki

Prehistoric Tourist Attraction in Israel

Yarmukian Culture at Sha’ar HaGolanAlthough the many ancient sites, Greek and Roman sites and medieval sites of Israel are quiet well known there are also approximately 30 pre-historic sites in Israel. The Yarmukian culture was perhaps the earliest prehistoric culture in the Southern Levant to use pottery; they existed in the 6th millennium BC (5600-500BC). They used pottery as household containers, tools, everyday items and produced them in a variety of shapes and sizes. The pottery was decorated making them distinct from other cultural units. The Yarmukians also used limestone flint to make their household items and in addition excavation uncovered a rich collection of art objects.The known sites of the Yarmukian culture in Israel include Wadi Muraba’at in the Judean Desert; in the region of Tel-Aviv’s Habashan Street where three layers of archaeological evidence was uncovered; Nahal Qanah Cave; Tel Farah North; at the base of Megiddo; Hazorea in the Jezreel Valley; Tel Qishon in the Lower Galilee; Hamadiya and Munhata in the Jordan Valley and the most significant discovery of the Yarmukian civilization was made in Sha’ar HaGolan in the Jordan Valley.Sha’ar HaGolanSha’ar HaGolanis the Yarmukian culture’s “type site”, the site considered the model for this particular archaeological culture. Although Yarmukian findings had previously been made at Megiddo, it was not until 1949 when Prof. Stekelis classified Yarmukian culture as a Pottery Neolithic Culture following his excavation at Sha’ar HaGolan. His excavations continued from 1948 to 1952. The site is located in the Central Jordan Valley not far from Sha’ar HaGolan Kibbutz at the foot of the Golan Heights, and close to the Yarmouk River which gave its name to the culture.Most of the Yarmukian remains lay 1-1.5 meters below the remains of a later Middle Bronze I village. Stekelis found the remains of two round huts, a grave, flint tools, art objects and pottery. The findings spread over several 100,000m² this revealed that the original settlement was extensive.Today visitors can see the findings from the Sha’ar HaGolan excavations in the Museum of Yarmukian Culture on Kibbutz Sha’ar HaGolan. Among the objects on display is part of a collection of 130 anthropomorphic figurines made of clay, these stand out as an impressive demonstration of Yarmukian artistic achievement. Other exhibits are of ritual objects, basalt stone tools, flint tools, pottery and an informative film presentation of the archeological findings and the history of the Yarmukian culture.
By Petal Mashraki

Sound and Light Show at Travel Destinations in Israel

Like all major travel destinations in the world Israel also has several Sound and Light shows. These are multi-media shows using images projected onto historic buildings accompanied by a narrative and atmospheric music. The Sound and Light Shows serve to bring history alive and make it more accessible and easier to understand.Tower of David, The Night Spectacular Show, JerusalemIn the Tower of David at Jerusalem’s Old City Jaffa Gate, ancient walls are used as a backdrop for the projected images which come from 20 projectors. The 45 minute show retells the history of Jerusalem starting with the Israelite kings and going on to King David, the Romans, Muhammad, the Crusaders, Suleiman the Magnificent and more. This is an incredible history lesson accompanied by an orchestral soundtrack with dramatic classical music to match the historic events.Caesarea, Travel Through TimeYou could call this a mini-Sound and Light Show, the Travel Through Time experience is divided into three stations chronicling the history of the city. The Caesarea Experience is a 10 minute film taking you through the history of the port; Caesarea Stars uses 3D images of leading historical figures to bring you face-to-face with them and the last station is The Tower of Time in a recreated fortress where computerized animation overlooking the city recreates the ancient buildings and allows you to take a virtual tour. Beit Shean National Park, She’an NightsThis is a large archeological site with 20 layers of different civilizations, the most dominant being the well preserved Roman city. The Sound and Light Show is the 4th biggest in the world and cost 3 million USD to produce. The show begins with a 10 minute multimedia presentation and then there is a guided tour of the city. During the guided tour images are projected on the Roman columns, walls, and in the amphitheatre. This makes it a unique kind of Sound and Light Show as the audience needs to walk around. The visual is accompanied by sound effects (Roman chariots, horses, crowds etc) and music. To book call +972-4-648-1122.Masada The show takes place on the western side of Masada and tells the story of the people who lived and died in the mountain top fortress, the battles and the historical events that took place here. The shows are from March to October on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9pm. Tiberias Fountain ShowNot exactly a Sound and Light Show but this is a spectacle of light, sound and fountains. Situated on the southern end of the promenade, fountains shoot up into the air moving to the music together with shows projected on giant water screens. The shows are about the history, art and Tiberias. The effects include shooting flames, lasers and colorful lights. The show lasts 15 minutes and plays three times a night depending on the weather and season.
By Petal Mashraki

The 54th Israel Festival Has Begun!

Last night saw the opening of the 54th annual Israel Festival in Jerusalem with Shalom Hanoch hosting leading Israeli performers like Danny Sanderson, Yehuda Poliker and Berry Sakharof. The theme of this year’s festival is interdisciplinary performing arts.The festival aims to present audiences with non-commercial performances which are the cutting edge and the latest creations in the performance world. Among the unique venues there will be the Sultan’s Pool, the Israel Museum, the First Station, the Jerusalem Theatre, Machon Hartman, venues in Ein Kerem, the International Convention Center and the Gerard Behar Center.The line-up for the festival includes many European performers as well as local talent. Among the 12 visiting performers there are productions from Finland, France, China, Romania and the Czech Republic. Among the much anticipated performances there will be She She Pop’s, a post-dramatic (PDT) production from Germany which is based on Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. From Italy’s Romeo Castellucci comes Julius Caesar, Spare Parts, a new look at the Shakespearean classic which will be performed at the Jerusalem YMCA. Elementary Particles is a multi-disciplinary piece about the psycho-sexual complexities of the modern generation. The performance is four hours long and follows the experiences of two brothers. Mystery Magnet is the Belgian contribution to the festival presented by creator Miet Warlop and company. Another guest from abroad will be French dancer/choreographer Xavier le Roy performing a solo piece, Unfinished Self. Another dance performance is Snakeskin by Canadian dancer Benoit la Chambre. Famed American choreographer, Trisha Brown will also take part in the festival.Among the Israeli contributions is prize winning director Eyal Weiser’s drama How Is the Beast. At the Jerusalem Khan Theatre audiences can see Kineret Kineret, based on Nathan Alterman’s play. The Vertigo Dance Company will be performing their acclaimed piece Prades and Changes. The festival will present the premiere performance of Badad, a musical based on the life and music of Israeli legend Zohar Argov. The musical will be performed in the magical surroundings of the Tower of David. One of the most popular events of the festival which will be returning for the 10th consecutive year is a marathon of Tchaikovsky music. The Israel Festival will also present performances geared towards younger audiences. There will be the musical Bear in Mind based on Goldilocks and a dance piece, Carnival of the animals.Tickets for the festival performances are already on sale and some shows are sold out. Prices range from 80ILS to 155ILS. The 54th Israel festival will take place from May 25 to June 24 at the Jerusalem Theatre and other venues in the city. There will also be several free open-air performances at the First Station.
By Petal Mashraki

The Churches of Acre

The Old City of Acre is a delight. Among Acre’s fascinating and beautiful buildings you can see several picturesque churches, each with an amazing history. As the formal capital of the Crusader Kingdom, Acre was an important pilgrimage site for Christians in the 13th century. Its old churches still keep their local charm, it feels calm and peaceful inside today even though they are in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the port city of Acre.Aerial view of Acre port. Photo by Daniel Newman on UnsplashSt. Andrew's Greek Catholic Melkite Church, AcreThis church faces seaward in the southwestern corner of the Old City of Acre. It was constructed in 1765 on the ruins of the Crusader Period Church of San Andreas which was destroyed by the Mamlukes in 1291. The shell of the two-story Crusader church survived and later stones from this original church were used in the construction of the church we see today.The beautiful interior has thick stone columns and glistening gold, richly decorated iconostasis. There is a spiral staircase leading up to the choir and a high vault ceiling. The upper story of the original Crusader church remains and is still in ruins although plans have been made to restore these rooms. St. Andrew’s has a beautiful bell tower that juts out above the houses. The bell which once hung in the tower can be seen outside the church at the base of a staircase that leads up to the as-yet not restored second floor.A picturesque facade in Acre.Photo by Shalev Cohen on UnsplashSt. George’s Greek Orthodox Catholic Church, AcreThis church was built in Acre during the Ottoman Era. The church was constructed on the remains of a Crusader church which was probably destroyed at the end of the 13th century by the Mamlukes and stood empty for 400 years before being rebuilt. The church is named after the 1st century St. George of Lod (Lydda).The church has a plain exterior with a carving of St. George’s cross above the door. Above the main entrance on the southern side is a relief depicting St. George fighting the dragon. Embedded in the wall is a symbol from 1846 depicting the two-headed eagle. Facing the church you can see a small tomb of George the Cypriot, an 18th-century martyr but not the namesake of the church.Boats in Acre Port.Photo by Ameer Basheer on UnsplashSt. John’s Church, AcreJust 50 meters from St. Andrew's is St. John’s Church. This tall building is adjacent to the Acre lighthouse and is home to the Latin Franciscan community. The church has been tentatively dated to the 18th century due to an inscription on the wall of 1737. The original structure on this site was a church built as part of the Hospitaller Center and mentioned in documents from 1149. It is the only active Latin Catholic church in Acre. The church interior is sparsely decorated with exposed stone and a high vaulted ceiling.The Maronite Church of AcreThe Maronite Church of Acre is a little over 300 meters from St. Andrew’s and St. John’s. The Maronites are an Eastern Roman Catholic church with origins in the Middle East.The Franciscan Terra Sancta Church, AcreThis is one of the Franciscan churches in the city. The Franciscans place great importance on Acre as it is believed that St. Francis of Assisi visited the city from 1219 to 1220. The first Franciscan monastery was constructed in Acre in 1217 under Father Elia Da Cortona.A street in the Old City of Acre.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
By Petal Mashraki

The Churches of the Mount of Olives

The Mount of Olives overlooks Jerusalem’s Old City it is home to some of the most beautiful and historic churches in the city. This mountain also plays an important role in the last week of Jesus ' life and encompasses the sites connected with his Ascension.The Russian Orthodox Church ofMary Magdalene, Jerusalem. Photo credit: © ShutterstockChurch of Mary Magdalene (The Russian Orthodox Church)The distinctive seven gold onion domes of the beautiful Church of Mary Magdalene shine out on the landscape of the Mt. of Olives. The building was constructed in 1888 in honor of the Russian czar’s mother. The church has a traditional Russian 17th-century tent structure and within the church are exquisite mosaics.Russian Orthodox Convent and Church of the AscensionThe 64-meter tall tower of this site stands out from its location in the village of A-Tur located on the Mount of Olives. According to Russian Orthodox tradition, this was the site of Jesus’ ascension. The church and convent were built in 1870-1887 and there is also a chapel dedicated to John the Baptist.Augusta Victoria Lutheran Hospital, Church and TowerThe Augusta Victoria Lutheran Hospital (AVH) tower is a prominent feature of the Mount of Olives' skyline. The AVH was established in 1950 and since then has been involved in helping Palestinian refugees and providing services to the Palestinian community in cooperation with UNRWA and the UN. The building was constructed in 1910 and was the first in Jerusalem to have electricity.Chapel of the Ascension (Dome of Ascension)Situated at the highest point in Jerusalem, the small octagonal Сhapel of Ascension has a distinctive dome and was constructed in 392AD; it marks the place where Jesus is thought to have ascended to heaven (Acts 7-11). A stone with an embedded footprint is believed to be the footprint of Jesus as he stepped up to heaven. TThe original structure was destroyed by Persians in 614AD and reconstructed by the Crusaders. In 1198 it was purchased by Saladin and functioned as a mosque. Today it belongs to the Islamic Waqf of Jerusalem and a mosque has been constructed adjacent to the Chapel which draws many Christian visitors.Church of All Nations (Basilica of the Agony)This is theMount of Olives’most prominent and most beautiful church, it is recognizable by the stunning gold mosaic on the church façade. The church is adjacent to the Garden of Gethsemane and marks the place where Jesus prayed on the night of his arrest. A large rock near the high altar is said to be where Jesus prayed. The church’s construction was funded by 12 nations, hence the name of the church. Within the Church of All Nations, each of the nations is remembered by a mosaic inlaid in the gold ceiling of the church's 12 cupolas.Church of All Nations, Mt. of Olives.Photo credit: © ShutterstockDominus Flevit (The Lord Wept)This church was designed by Anton Barluzzi and constructed in 1955; it resembles the shape of a teardrop in memory of the moment when Christ wept as he foresaw the destruction of Jerusalem. The Dominus Flevit Franciscan church is located between the Tomb of the Prophets and the Church of St. Mary Magdalene.Pater Noster (The Church of the Lord’s Prayer)The Church of the Pater Noster is built on the site where Jesus is thought to have taught his disciples the Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:2); the cave adjacent to the church is the actual site where the biblical event is thought to have occurred. The present church was built in 1874 after the destruction of earlier churches on the site. The church is run by the Catholic Carmelite Cloistered Sisters who reside in the adjoining convent.Other sites on the Mount of Olives include the Tomb of Mujir al-Din al-Ulaymi; the Tomb of the Prophets; Mary’s Tomb; Brigham Young University – Jerusalem Campus; Burial Crypt of Rabiya al-Adawiyya, Pelagia, Hulda; the Ibrahimieh Community College; Garden of Gethsemane; International House of Prayer; Jerusalem Princess Basma Center for Disabled Children and the Little Family of Resurrection.To visit the churches of the Mount of Olives join Jerusalem In the Footsteps of Jesus Tour. For a customized itinerary book Mount of Olives Churches Private Walking Tour.Pater Noster Church. Photo credit: © Shutterstock
By Petal Mashraki

Things to See and Do in Acre

Acre is one of the most fascinating and beautiful cities you could visit in Israel. It is reminiscent of the Old Port of Jaffa and of Jerusalem as the Old City of Acre is also built from magnificent stone. The Old City is “living history”; the ancient houses within the Old City walls are still occupied and alive with activity. Almost all the things to see and do in Acre are located in the Old City on the edge of the Mediterranean. The Old City of Acre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On arrival in Acre head straight to the undeground Crusader City.Nargilas (hookas) at Acre Port.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinAs you approach the Old City on your left will be a car park next to a Police Station. At the far end of the car park is the entrance to the Enchanted Garden or Festival Garden an entrance courtyard to the Hospitaller Fortress. The courtyard is surrounded by walls and you enter through an arched doorway in the wall. Inside you are immediately covered by the shade of massive, ancient trees and in the center of the courtyard is a beautiful fountain.In the garden, you can find the ticket booth where you buy tickets for attractions in Acre, Western Galilee, and Upper Galilee. It is also the site of the Visitors Center and Reservation Center. Purchase your tickets here for several sites which can be explored from here. With your ticket, you get a free audio guide (you have to leave your ID as a deposit). Your ticket includes a 7-minute film introducing you to the sites of Acre which is screened in the Visitors Center. From the Enchanted Garden head into the Hospitaller Fortress.Inside the Crusader Citadel, Acre.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinHospitaller Fortress, AcreThe military monastic order of the Knights Hospitaller was dedicated to caring for the sick and specifically pilgrims who had arrived in the Holy Land from Europe to visit Holy sites. The Hospitallers constructed their fortress from the late 12th century to the early 13th century. The Hospitaller Fortress also called the Knights’ Hall was created when the Hospitaller Order was forced to move their headquarters from Jerusalem to Acre during the Second Crusader Kingdom (1291-1191) because of Muslim forces occupying Jerusalem. They constructed two or three floors around a central courtyard as well as an underground reservoir and sewage system. Visitors enter the cool first floor of the Hospitaller Fortress as the upper levels were destroyed by later Muslim conquerors. The ancient chambers are expansive with dramatic arches above each entrance. In the Hospitaller refectory, you can see massive 3 meter thick pillars supporting the groin-vaulted ceiling. The central courtyard covers 1200m² and is surrounded by arches supporting what was the upper level. You can see a long ramp leading down into the courtyard. This was for riders to enter on horseback. The Northern Hall is divided into 6 smaller halls and has a 10-meter high barrel vault ceiling supported by arches. The Sugar Bowl Hall is similar. It was constructed over the reservoir which was divided into two interconnecting halls. The courtyard ofHospitaller Fortress, Acre.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinSugar production utensils were found in the storeroom; the Hospitallers were leaders in the sugar industry. The Hall of Pillars covers 1300m² covered by an 8-meter high groin-vaulted ceiling supported by square stone pillars. This was the Hospitaller conference room and storage room. You can also walk along the Southern Street of the Hospitaller Complex and visit the Hall of the Imprisoned. While in the Knights’ Fortress you can visit the Okashi Art Museum where temporary exhibitions are on display within the historic halls. Perhaps the most exciting section of this site is the narrow, low ceilinged escape tunnel that the Hospitallers carved out of the rock from their fortress to the sea. This is the only section of the complex which is not wheelchair accessible. Once you follow the tunnel to the end you will reach an open area where there is a small souvenir store. Through the store, you reach the Turkish Bazaar. The Hospitallers are not to be confused with the Knights’ Templar who built their acre fortress in another part of the Old City during a different period of history.Ceramics for sale at the Acre Old City Market. Photo credit: © ShutterstockTurkish Bazaar, AcreAcre Old City Market (also known as the Turkish Bazaar) is today a gentrified quaint narrow stone lane lined with restaurants and specialty stores housed beneath arched entrances which once would have been Turkish stores. You can grab a bite to eat or continue on to your right to the Turkish Baths and Citadel or your left to the main Market Street.Heading back through the Turkish Bazaar you reach the main market street/Via Regis/Kings Way which runs north to south from the entrance of the Old City to the port. This would have been the main throughway during the Crusader period. Here you can enjoy the local color, buy souvenirs, eat delicious local sweetmeats and dine in authentic restaurants. It is not geared towards tourists but rather the local community coming to buy their vegetables, fish, meat, clothing, and household items. At the southern end of the market street is Chaim Parchi’s home ( former al-Jazzar’s Minister of Finance and the Pasha’s right-hand man during the 18th-19th century), and the Ramchal Synagogue.Ramchal Synagogue, AcreThis synagogue is named after the Acre Rabbi who lived here from 1743 to 1747. In 1758 the Bedouin ruler Dahar el-Omar took over Acre and confiscated the building which was one of the finest in the city. He constructed the el-Mualek Mosque on top of the synagogue. The Jews were given a replacement building north of the mosque. The new Ramchal synagogue was much smaller and today it has been restored and can be visited by the general public.A street in Acre Old City.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinUnderground Prisoners Museum, AcreIn the former Citadel, the British set up their prison where they held members of the various Jewish underground resistance organizations. The Jews were fighting for an independent Jewish state and to get rid of British Mandatory rule. Among the prisoners was Zeev Jabotinsky, Commander of the Jewish Defense of Jerusalem.Other “guests” in the prison were members of the Haganah and Etzel including Moshe Dayan, Moshe Carmel. The museum features statue figures of prisons arranged as they would have been when imprisoned. The prison offers a comprehensive introduction to this period of history and the Jewish resistance groups which fought for the establishment of Israel.Hammam al-Basha (Turkish Bath), AcreVisitors enter this restored 18th century Turkish Bath from a small courtyard. Each visitor has an audio guide and enters with a group every half hour for a half-hour visit. The Turkish Bath was an addition to the city during the Ottoman Period. The leading Pasha al-Jazzar made many changes to the city turning it into a powerful stronghold. Visitors to the Turkish Baths see an informative film in the first room (summer dressing room) where traders visiting Acre would come to relax and wash. Then you move on to the intermediary rooms where traders would get massages and special treatments. Finally, there is the large steam room with a fountain in the middle and a magnificent ceiling with small air holes. Throughout the baths, there are statues of bathers in various activities.Hammam al-Basha (Turkish Bath), Acre. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinAcre PortOnce you reach the Acre port you can take a boat excursion out to sea or a pleasant ride in a horse-drawn carriage. The port area is lined with restaurants and cafes. The port was first mentioned in 527-525BC when the port was a base for a massive fleet. During the Muslim Period under Sultan Muawiya, the sea walls were fortified and a large shipyard was built here. Soon the Egyptians took the port and undertook further renovations. In the Crusader period, the port was an essential link to the west. Next, the Ottomans took the city and the port fell into disrepair and was used mainly by fishing boats until being rejuvenated under Daher el-Omar. The port was destroyed when shelled by the British and Austrians in 1840. The Acre Port has long been an entry point for pilgrims arriving in the Holy Land. From the Crusader Period onwards Acre became a major port and this continued into the early 20th century.Templars Tunnel and the Tunnel ExperienceThe Templars were a military-monastic Christian order originally based in Jerusalem on Temple Mount (hence the name). When Salah al-Din conquered Jerusalem in 1187 they relocated to Acre. They built a fortress on the edge of the sea protected by two towers. Today the remains of the Templar fortress are beneath the water at the southern end of the Old City. A 350-meter long tunnel runs from the port where the fortress would have stood inland beneath the Khan a-Shune and almost reaching the Khan al-Umdan ("Caravanserai of the Pillars"). Part of the tunnel is hewn from natural rock and other parts are covered with a semi-barreled dome. Visitors can enjoy animated screenings throughout the tunnel. The screenings reveal interesting stories about life during the Crusader Period.The Templars' Tunnel, Acre. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinAl-Jazzar MosqueThis is the largest mosque in Israel outside of Jerusalem. It was constructed during the Turkish Period and inaugurated c.1781 in the early period of Al-Jazzar’s rule of Acre. The architecture incorporates Byzantine and Persian styles. It has a beautiful green dome and minaret. The mosque was called the white mosque because of the dome that was once white but now painted green. The Al-Jazzar mosque holds Sha’r an-Nabi a lock of hair from the beard of the Prophet Muhammad. Before entering the mosque you will see a small circular “kiosk” topped by a green dome constructed for dispensing cool drinks to the worshipers. Next to the mosque are the family tombs of El-Jazzar and his successor Suleiman Pasha. If you are interested in visiting other mosques in Acre there is El-Raml Mosque, El-Mualek Mosque, El-Majadalah Mosque, El-Bahar Mosque and El-Zeituna.Tomb of Cafarelli, AcreIn 1969 the tomb of Caffarelli was discovered in what is today the Yad Natan Agricultural College. Caffarelli was a colorful character and an engineer in Napoleon’s army. He lost his left leg in a battle in Europe but continued to serve the French army. The popular general was nicknamed “wooden leg” and “dad on crutches” by his soldiers.Caffarelli was one of the engineers tasked with designing Napoleon’s attack on Acre. He was wounded by a Turkish sniper shot and had to have his arm amputated up to the elbow. Unfortunately, the wound turned gangrene and he died two weeks later. Napoleon visited Cafarelli on his deathbed. The French Embassy in Israel holds an annual memorial ceremony by the tomb.Acre Seafront. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinAcre ChurchesThere are several charming churches in Acre. San Andreas Church is an early 18th century Greek Orthodox Christian church. The Crusader Period church was built when the community settled in the southwestern part of the city. Next to the San Andreas Church is the Maronite Church. The Maronites are said to have descended from the Armenians and they were banished from Acre at one point only to return under the rule of Fakhr al-DinII. He allowed the Maronites to renovate their church in 1666. Next to their church is the Notre Dame de Nazareth Monastery. Terra Sancta Church is a Franciscan church. It is believed that the founder of the Franciscan order, Francis of Assisi visited Acre in 1219. Records from 1673 show thatFakhr al-Din II allowed the Franciscans to settle in Acre and build their church and monastery. The church has a distinct red steeple. St. John’s Church is adjacent to the lighthouse and is used by the Franciscans. It is thought to have been constructed in the 18th century and today is Acre’s only functioning Latin-Catholic church. The Greek Orthodox church of St. George is thought to have been the first Christian place of worship in Acre. It was established during the Ottoman Period. The church has a richly decorated traditionally Eastern Orthodox interior.View of Acre from the ramparts. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinOr Torah Synagogue (Tunisian Synagogue/Jariva)This Tunisian synagogue was constructed in 1955 and inspired by the El-Ghriba Synagogue in Djerba. The building's interior has rich mosaics and 140 stained glass windows. The mosaics depict scenes from the Bible, Palestinian flora and fauna, the Israeli Army, and more. It is a one-of-a-kind structure because of the interior decoration and has four floors and 7 Torah arks.Khan al-Umdan (el-Omdan or Pillars Inn and Clock Tower)This is the country’s best-preserved khan (the Persian name for caravanserais or inn where travelers could rest on the various ancient trade routes). The khan was built under el-Jezzar’s rule in 1784 and was one of four such khan’s in Acre. The khan has multiple columns which earned it the name Caravanserai of Pillars or Inn of Columns. The granite columns were brought to Acre from Caesarea and Atlit. Later this was where Bah’aullah of the Baha’i faith would receive guests. A clock tower was added in 1906 in honor of Ottoman Sultan Abd al-Hamid’s silver jubilee. The Jaffa Clock tower was built for the same purpose. The khan is open 24/7 to visitors and is a major performance venue during festivals.Wooden masks on the wall in Acre Old City.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinShrine of Baha’u’llah and Bahai GardensMost visitors to Israel know about the Baha'i Gardens in Haifa but in Acre, you can see where the Baha’i prophet Baha’u’llah lived for 12 years and was buried. The major sites here are the Manor and the Shrine of the Prophet. The shrine is the holiest site in the Baha’i faith and when believers pray they face this site. Baha’u’llah was born in 1817 in Iran and despite his superior position in the Sheikh’s court he chose to devote himself to the poor. The mansion covers 740m²; the ground floor was built in 1821 and the upper floor was added by a prosperous merchant in 1870. The merchant fled from Acre during a plague in 1879 and the property was acquired by Baha’u’llah. Similar to the Haifa gardens the Acre Baha’i gardens are exceptional.Treasure in the WallsThis Ethnographic Museum displays artifacts in the northeastern walls of the Old City of Acre. The walls were originally constructed during the Ottoman Era under el-Jazzar following the failed siege by Napoleon in 1779. The Commander’s Tower now holds an exhibition of life in Galilee during the 19th-20th century. The artifacts on display include furniture, locks, clocks, and household items. One wing of the tower has been turned into a recreation of historic artisan workshops and market stalls including a blacksmith, hat maker, pharmacy, and carpentry.Visit Acre with a group day tour or book an individual excursion in Acre with a private guide.Cannons in Old Acre walls.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
By Petal Mashraki

Top Water Parks in Israel

The Israeli weather is so good that you can virtually visit a water park in Israel at any time of year – well almost! There are parks throughout the country from the north to the south; here is a list of some of the best!Shefayim ParkMay-October, 09:00-17:00/18:00, Kibbutz Shefayim, 106ILS for all visitors over 2 years, check your credit card company and the Shefayim website for discountsMarketed as one of the best water park in the country, the site covers 24 acres and includes water activities and pools, a motor park complex and a paintball complex. On site are restaurants and booths selling a number of water-related products. The park offers a photo service where candid shots are taken of visitors splashing in the water and then sold at a kiosk at the exit. Shefayim has a large wave pool, open and enclosed water slides, inner tube rides, a regular swimming pool and a large kid’s pool with mini-water slides.MeymadionGanei Yehoshua Park Tel-Aviv (opposite the Luna Park), 31st May – 27th September,09:00-16:30/17:00 closing times vary, 109ILS or 93ILS when entering after 13:00, all visitors over 2 years old require a ticketThis large water park covers more than 25 acres and includes perhaps the widest variety of water activities in the country. There are pools in all shapes and sizes and for all age groups. There is a meteor slide, slalom slides, inner tube slides, a wave pool, toddler’s pool area and a lazy river. In addition there are a number of dry activities like basketball courts and beach volleyball courts. There are restaurants and a small store. There is a games arcade with about 30 video games for those who are tired of the water.Gai Beach Water ParkGai beach Water ParkGai Hotel Tiberias, Sea of Galilee, Open from Mid-March (Passover) – end of October, 09:30-17:00, free for Gai Hotel guests and visitors under 3 years old, 70ILSThis water park is part of the Gai Hotel on the shore of the Sea of Galilee but non-hotel guests can also visit the park. Visitors to the water park also get use of a private sandy beach on the Sea of Galilee. In the park there are 7 water slides, a unique wave pool, loop-the-loop slides, 70° slide, kid’s slides, playgrounds and expansive lawns.
By Petal Mashraki

UNESCO Sites of Human Evolution at Mount Carmel

The latest addition to the list of UNESCO sites in Israel are the caves on Mount Carmel which were honored in 2012 for their outstanding universal value as significant sites of human evolution. The caves show the longest sequences of human inhabitation in the region – up to half a million years of human evolution. Dating back to the Middle and Lower Paleolithic Ages, 500,000 BP ago, the sites were occupied by the Mousterian culture (250,000-45,000BP) and the Natufian culture (15,000-11,500BP).Mount Carmel, Carmel grand mall.The sites are unique in demonstrating the existence of both the Neanderthals and the Early Anatomically Modern Humans within the same Paleolithic framework. This makes the sites invaluable in research into human evolution. The caves have universal value as a central site of Natufian culture and shed light on the transition from nomadic Paleolithic life to hunter-gatherer settlements of the Neolithic life.Archaeological findings show the various adaptations made in the move towards agricultural life and animal husbandry. The Nahal Me’arot/Wadi al-Mughara cluster of caves is located on the western slopes of the Mount Carmel range along the south side of the Nahal Me’arot/Wadi el-Mughara valley. They include the caves of Tabun (Oven Cave), Jamal, el-Wadi (Stream Cave), and Skhul. The site covers 54 hectares and the archaeological findings represent cultural deposits of human life covering a duration of about 500,000 years. There is evidence of Natufian burials as well as stone structures and terraced agricultural areas. Excavations uncovered artifacts, skeletal material, and fossils.Luckily the caves and their surroundings have preserved their integrity, they are intact and have not been damaged (except for graffiti in the Skhul Cave and trees grown around a water pumping station) or removed. Pollen traces and sea sand found in the caves indicate a warm climate in the region at one time and another layer of clay and silt indicates the colder climate during a period of glaciers. In the Tabun Cave, the remains of a female Neanderthal were found dating back to c. 120,000 years ago. Findings of a variety of types of flint, hand-axes, and arrowheads indicate the hunting and farming methods and the way these methods changed over time. Excavation of the sites began more than 90 years ago; findings have confirmed the site’s authenticity and yielded insight into the early human culture, biology, and lifestyle. Further archaeological investigation continues and more remarkable discoveries are predicted.
By Petal Mashraki