Jericho

Overview

Introduction

Jericho, the City of Palms, is famous as the site where, according to the biblical account, Joshua blew his horn and caused the walls to come tumbling down. It is about 15 mi/25 km northeast of Jerusalem in Palestinian territory, so Israeli tour guides must hand visitors over to Palestinian guides at the border. A reliable tour company is Bein Harim; tours can be booked from either Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. http://beinharimtours.com.

Jericho is possibly the oldest city in the world, dating to nearly 8000 BC—it was already ancient when Mark Antony gave it to Cleopatra as a gift. The town itself is a desert oasis, and its lush greenery is striking amidst the harsh surroundings.

Visitors will find the excavations at Tel Jericho relatively unexciting. Nearby, however, are several biblical and historical sites, including the Mount of Temptation (where Jesus is thought to have fasted for 40 days) and its cliff-hanging monastery (a cable car takes you effortlessly from the mount to the monastery).

The seventh-century ruin of Hisham's Palace just north of town is famous for its mosaic floors and ancient bathhouses. The Tel el-Sultan, on the outskirts of town, is where Elisha purified water by putting salt into it. It affords a great view of the area. According to current thought, Jesus was immersed by John the Baptist at Bethabara, 7 mi/11 km southeast of Jericho.

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