Fully escorted tour includes:
- Return scheduled flights with regional departures available
- Seven nights in four-star hotels with dinner
- Guided tour of Caesarea, ancient Roman capital of Judea
- Walking tour of Acre, the only fully-preserved crusader city in the world
- Boat cruise on the Sea of Galilee
- Visit the serene site of the Sermon on the Mount and the Church of the Multiplication
- Visit the spectacular fortress of Masada
- See Nazareth and the Church of the Annunciation
- Guided visit to the holiest site in Christendom, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem
- See the famous Dome of the Rock and the Western Wall, holy sites of Islam and Judaism
- Visit Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity
- Walking tour of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim quarters of the Old City of Jerusalem
- See the Dead Sea Scrolls & the Yad Vashem, the moving memorial to the Holocaust
- Stay on the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth
- Escorted by our experienced tour manager
We fly to Tel Aviv and transfer to the four -star Grand Beach Hotel for one night, with dinner.
Today we visit the ancient city of Caesarea, built by King Herod as capital of Roman Judea to honour Caesar Augustus, thus ensuring he was appointed Governor, a position subsequently held by Pontius Pilate. It was the biggest port in the Eastern Mediterranean, the site of one of Herod’s magnificent palaces and today it has a host of superb remains to explore. Next we have the 12th century, thoroughly amazing Crusader city of Acre: the beautifully vaulted and huge Knights’ Halls are in a state of almost unrivalled preservation and admirably display medieval European military architecture at its magnificent best. Captured by Saladin, it was retaken by Richard the Lionheart, but Napoleon with all his might failed to breach its majestic fortifications. We stay in Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee at the four-star Leonardo Plaza Hotel for one night with dinner.
This morning we’ll be immersed in some of the most important events in Jesus’ early life. Crossing the Sea of Galilee by boat we arrive at Capernaum where Jesus lived, healed the sick and recruited his first five disciples. Nearby is Tabgha, the site of the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. Overlooking the whole area is the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount. A simple octagonal church has been built, surrounded by beautiful gardens with wonderful views of the Sea of Galilee. We then visit Nazareth, where Jesus grew up and visit the great church of the Annunciation. Our hotel tonight is the four-star Daniel on the shores of the Dead Sea.
Today you can enjoy one of life’s must-do experiences - ‘bob’ like a cork in the Dead Sea, surrounded by the haunting desert scenery of the lowest point on earth! Your hotel also offers relaxing spa treatments using salt extracts from the mineral-rich waters. Then we have the opportunity to visit the spectacular Masada fortress– site of one of the ancient Romans’ greatest sieges. After three years, the desperate defenders preferred mass suicide to capture and subsequent slavery or crucifixion. Reached by cable car, there are stunning views across the Dead Sea towards Jordan. The desert climate has preserved the whole site and the eight Roman encampments surrounding the fortress – the only place, uniquely in the world, where a complete Roman military campaign is visible. We continue to Jerusalem and the four-star Grand Court Hotel for four nights.
There is such an enormous amount to see, experience and absorb in this most remarkable of cities, it is almost overwhelming. Firstly we visit the Mount of Olives, the world’s oldest continually used cemetery, for a panoramic view of the ancient city, punctuated by the startlingly beautiful Dome of the Rock where Muhammed rose to heaven. After touring the Garden of Gethsemane, we enter the remarkable warren of streets and alleyways that make up the Old City. Here, and in such amazing proximity lie some of the holiest places for over half the world’s population! We visit the Western Wall. Walking along the Via Dolorosa we finally come to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre built over Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified. The richness of decoration is astounding and the atmosphere is indescribably moving. Containing the final five Stations of the Cross, the church is uniquely shared between the Catholic, Orthodox and Armenian churches.
Today we drive to Bethlehem to visit the Church of the Nativity. One of the oldest churches in holy land still in use, it marks the site where the Virgin Mary is said to have given birth to Jesus. For centuries it was one of the most fought over holy places. It was seized and defended by a succession of armies - including Muslim and Crusader forces - yet still retains fragments of mosaics and paintings fromthe 4th and 12th centuries. On the way we’ll also stop at the village of Ein Kerem to see the Church of the Visitation, built over the home of Zacharias. Back in Jerusalem we visit the Yad Vashem, the humbling Holocaust memorial and the Shrine of the Book where the Dead Sea scrolls are displayed.
Today is at leisure to allow for a second, more detailed exploration of the numerous sights in and around the Old City. The Tower of David museum built on the remains of another of Herod the Great’s palaces provides a particularly impressive history plus spectacular views over the unchanged cityscape. Then you will just love to explore under your own steam: you can see Roman shops still being used and the place where Lazarus was healed, shop in the bazaar, sample middle-eastern cuisine or wander into some of the quieter churches – still spectacular and where the choir’s gentle harmonies resonate throughout the alleyways – it’s enchanting!
At the appropriate time you transfer to Tel Aviv airport for the flight to the UK after a truly remarkable tour.