It’s no doubt that Israel has been in the limelight for its political situation over the past years but no matter what the mainstream media shows us, there’s always the other side of the story and the other side of the country which avid travelers are unaware of. With its rich culture and history, Israel holds a significant place for the Abrahamic faith. Coming here you’ll be exposed to a myriad of cultures, diverse people, and of course historical and religious landmarks such as the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock, or the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. But there’s also some worth visiting places like the White City of Tel Aviv or the old Port of Jaffa, and one of the most enchanting gardens in the country the Baha’i Gardens in Haifa. And if you’re already smitten by this country then below find out some of the free things to do while visiting Israel with your family:
Take a historic tour in the Old City of Jerusalem in Israel
There is something special when you walk in the Old City of Jerusalem, of course, its more than 3000 years of history makes it undoubtedly unique in its own right, but there is also the ambiance, the environment and its people that make this historic city even more alluring. Encompassed by a 4,018-meter (2.5 miles) wall which was first built by Suleiman the Magnificent in 1538, the Old City of Jerusalem is the epicenter of the Abrahamic religions notably Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Home to the holiest sites such as the Western Wailing Wall, the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, this holy city has the power to take its visitors back in time. The city is composed of four different quarters-the Jewish Quarter, Muslim Quarter, Christian Quarter and the Armenian Quarter. There are eight gates to access the city, but the most popular is the Jaffa Gate which will take you through winding alleys where you’ll discover religious sites, markets, shops, and restaurants.
Basking in the incredible view of Jerusalem at Mount Zion
Touted as the holiest place for Jews and referred to as the Temple Mount in Bible, Mount Zion has always been a prominent place to those who still have faith for a better life in a better land (religiously speaking). This iconic hill is located outside the south side of the Old City of Jerusalem where you’ll find many sacred and historical sites including King David’s Tomb, Dormition Abbey, graveyards and churches. The place is equally visited for its incredible view of Jerusalem from atop.
Learn about the Holocaust at Yad Vashem- Israel
As you stepped in the Yad Vashem (Holocaust History Museum) you will find a fascinating collection of photographs, artworks, original documents and letters related to the unfortunate Holocaust event. One of the most popular exhibitions at the museum is certainly by photographer Michael Rovner who documented the life of Jews dating back to the 1920s and early 1930s. And as you keep on exploring the maze-like interior you’ll end up understanding the story of the victims of the Holocaust. Other heart-touching exhibits of the museum consist of the cattle-cars which were used to carry the jews to campsites, artifacts that were donated by survivors and artworks such as that of Nathan Rapoport depicting the sacrifice of these people.
Enjoy the laid-back ambiance of the Jaffa Port in Israel
You cannot skip visiting the Jaffa Port if you’re coming to Israel. This old port is believed to be founded by Noah’s Son and was the prime Mediterranean port towards the Middle East. Unlike the buzzing Tel Aviv City, Jaffa takes you on its winding cobblestone alleys leading to pleasant surprises where you’ll get to see art masterpieces by local artists, and admire unique antique objects, but you will also get to taste the delicious coffees and the Levantine cuisine which of course reflects the area’s culture and history. Today this charming port is also known for its Shamouti oranges which were first grown by Ottoman farmers in the mid-19th-century.
Experience the serene environment at the Garden of Gethsemane
Besides offering a breathtaking view of the Dome of the Rock, the Gethsemane Garden is one of the few places that offers solace and it’s no wonder why Jesus preferred to come here to meditate with its disciples. The garden which literally means ‘oil press’ is made up of lush green olive trees which were grown back in ancient times. It is the very place where Jesus came here with his disciples after the Last Supper, thus holding significant religious importance. It was here where he was said to be betrayed by Judas and was arrested before his crucifixion. The garden is also home to many holy sites such as the Church of All Nations, the tomb of the Virgin Mary and the Russian Orthodox orchard.
Feast your eyes on the fine architectures of the White City in Tel Aviv
If you’re someone who is fascinated by refined architecture then strolling along the White City in Tel Aviv will take you on a trip where you’ll get to understand the evolution of modernist architecture in Israel. The sublime White City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site listed in 2003 where visitors can marvel at the distinct Bauhaus-style buildings decked out with eye-popping asymmetry, vertical stairwell windows, and pillars. Thanks to the Jewish architects in the 1920s and 1930s who came back to Israel from Europe to recreate the European modern architectural designs in the city.
Visit the unspoiled Capernaum – the ‘town of Jesus’
It is no wonder that the rustic and unspoiled Capernaum has become one of the most sought-after attractions among visitors who come to visit religious landmarks such as the House of Peter or the 4th-century White Synagogue. It was here where Jesus was mentioned to perform many of its miracles. Located on the north-west side of Lake Galilee, Capernaum is made up of sublime lakes and mountains which makes it an ideal place to enjoy solitude in a blissful way.
Enjoy the buzzing ambiance of Carmel Market in Israel
The Carmel Market or the Shuk HaCarmel is one of the few places in Israel where you’ll get to experience the local culture in its entirety. Think narrow alleys buzzing with people, stalls of kaleidoscopic displays of local produce which includes a variety of olives, mounds of spices, Middle Eastern pastries, and the wonderful fragrance of grilled food at the restaurants-all of which makes it quite an experience. The market is also known for supplying groceries, fresh vegetables and fruits at an affordable price. It is recommended to skip visiting on Fridays which can be overwhelmed with crowds of people.
Tour the enchanting garden-the Baha’i Gardens in Haifa
Usually dubbed as the ‘Hanging Garden of Haifa’, the Baha’i Gardens is one of the most popular attractions in Israel, which was designed by the Iranian architect Fariborz Sahba. Located on Mount Carmel this gorgeous terraced garden is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a holy place for the Baha’i faith. The site is made up of 19 terraces of beautiful flowers and is adorned with intricate sculptures and waterworks. Smack in the middle there’s the majestic golden-dome shrine of Bab, also the resting place of the Prophet-Herald.