It’s the sea where you can’t sink. The geological wonder of the Dead Sea is one of the must-do tourist attractions in the Middle East. At more than 400 meters below sea level, this inland lake of the Great Rift Valley has an incredibly high salinity because evaporation is the only water discharge. This is the cause of the water’s bizarre buoyancy. Taking a float (you can’t sink) into the water is number one on the list of things to do here, but the surrounding escarpment is also full of excellent walking and some really interesting historical sites, including the dramatic Jewish Fort of Masada .
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The Qumran Caves are the site of one of the greatest religious discoveries of modern times. It was here that in 1947 a Bedouin herdsman found a cache of parchments and papyrus documents dating from the 1st century BC and the 1st century AD. Known as the Dead Sea Scrollsthey are the oldest extant manuscripts of the Bible and include all the books of the Old Testament (except Esther), along with Apocrypha and various writings describing life in the time of Jesus.
The manuscripts are all the work of the Essene community: a strictly observant and puritanical Jewish sect that emerged around 150 BC after conflicts in Jerusalem over superficial temple rituals and Hellenistic influences. They established their center at Qumran, and although it was destroyed by the Romans in AD 68, the Essenes managed to hide their library and records in the surrounding caves where they were eventually discovered. In total, more than 500 Hebrew, Aramaic and sometimes Greek manuscripts, ten of which are almost completely preserved, have been found in 11 caves in Qumran. Some are on display in the Israel Museum of Jerusalem, but because many of the scrolls disintegrate into fragments over the centuries, the work of scholars trying to piece together and decipher the texts is still ongoing.
The ruins here are not huge, but the kitchen-, scriptoriumin refectory can be seen together with two cisternsthe remains of a aqueductwhich fed the pools for ritual ablutions, and you can also visit one cave where some of the scrolls were found. There is also an excellent audiovisual presentation to help you understand the ruins.
2 Mineral Beach
Spa treatments (with the famous Dead Sea mud); sulfur pools; and, of course, the strand that salty Dead Sea water itself are all popular tourist attractions at Mineral Beach. There are plenty of resorts to choose from where you can get your Dead Sea experience, but this shoreline resort is a top pick and has everything you need for a few hours of floating. Facilities include a café, sun loungers and parasols, a swimming pool and the necessary fresh water showers for when you are out of the sea.
Official site: www.dead-sea.co.il
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3 Wadi David
Wadi David is one of two valleys to be included Natural Park And Gedi. This area of lush vegetation – in striking contrast to the surrounding desert hills – is a paradise for hikers and wilderness enthusiasts. Trek from the waterfall to And Gedi Spring, where the northwest of this contains the remains of a 4th-millennium BC. will find Chalcolithic Temple dedicated to the cult of the moon. In the center of the building is the round “moon stone”, while two gates of the holy precinct facing En Gedi Spring on one side and the Shulamite Spring on the other. From the Shulamite Spring, a trail continues north to the Dodim Cave above the waterfall. From the temple, the tracks run northwest to the Dry Canyon and west to a plaza Romans strong and a round Israeli stronghold.
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4 Wadi Arugot
Wadi Arugot is the southern valley of the En Gedi Natural Park. Like Wadi David, there are a multitude of pools and waterfalls along the trails here, although some of the hikes in this wadi are more difficult than in Wadi David, so it tends to get fewer visitors. If you don’t feel like sweating it out on a hike, make sure you stop at least in the 5th century synagogue (just northeast of the entrance to the wadi) to see the beautiful mosaic pavement here with a riot of faunal motifs and surviving inscriptions.
5 And Gedi Beach
This public beach is an option if you’re on a budget and don’t want to pay admission to take a dip in the Dead Sea (and don’t want to drive to A bokek). It’s a no-frills experience, and be aware that the beach is stones rather than sand, so wear sandals or flip flops to protect your feet. Just south, the private And Gedi Spa offers a more comfortable beach visit with spa treatments for visitors, as well as sulfur pools and a swimming pool.
6 Ein Bokek Beach
This resort, on the southwestern shore of the Dead Sea, has a mineral spring that has been used for therapeutic purposes since ancient times. The resort itself has a number of hotels and spas for both those seeking a treatment for Dead Sea skin conditions and travelers simply wanting a Dead Sea experience. It for free public beach here is excellent. In the north of the city are the remains of the Vesting Mezad Bokekbuilt by the kings of Judah to protect against Moabite attacks.
7 Wadi Bokek
Wadi Bokek is another great hiking experience in the Dead Sea full of beautiful greenery and gushing springs, which provide a pleasant and rather photogenic contrast to the sheer cliffs looming above us. The hiking here is relatively easy going and anyone with decent fitness levels can do hit the path through the wadi so it’s a good stop to stretch your legs – especially if you’ve spent most of the day lounging on the beach and want to break up anything floating around in the water with some exercise but not a challenging walk want to.
8 His name is Zohar
Neve Zohar has a spa, restaurant and several hot mineral springs to enjoy. It’s also worth the three-mile walk from here to Mezad Zohar, a stronghold located on a cone-shaped rock in the middle of a beautiful mountain landscape. This is an ancient fortress first built by the Nabataeans (the people who built Petra in Jordan) later held by the Byzantines. On the road between Neve Zohar and Arad there are two viewpoints where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the Dead Sea.
9 Mount Sodom
This rock salt mountain is a must for those who want to add a bit of adventure to their Dead Sea experience. As you may have guessed from the name, this is one of the places believed to be the Sodom of the Old Testament. There are plenty of hiking and mountain biking trails here for the active, and as the top of the mountain is still 176 meters below sea level, it might just be the lowest mountain you can ever climb.
Founded in 1961, this modern city is best known for the important Tel Arad archaeological site on your doorstep. The Canaanite city excavated here dates to the 2nd millennium BC, with a palace and temple precinct in the northwest of the site, and to the southwest, residential areas. A row of walls, which would have been reinforced by round towers and extended up to the citadel on the acropolis – can still be traced for considerable stretches. The structures on the acropolis that is visible today from the post-Canaanite period. They were built over a period of more than a thousand years, stretching from early Israelite to Roman times. The massive walls of the citadel have been rebuilt with original materials and the complex is entered through the east gate, which is flanked by massive towers. Inside the walls are the remains of several storage rooms and a Hellenistic tower. The most important building, however, is it Jewish temple to the northwest of the citadel. The Temple is the only Jewish sacred building of its kind to have been brought to light through excavation to date. Because excavation is not allowed on the temple platform in Jerusalem, the Arad Temple, which has been destroyed several times but rebuilt each time, is of great importance to archeology and the history of the religion.
History and information
The Dead Sea (Hebrew Yam Hamelach, “Salt Sea”, Arabic Bahr Lut, “Sea of Lot”) lies between Israel and Jordan, more than 400 meters below sea level, making it the lowest point on the surface of the earth. It is called a “dead” sea because of the high salinity (25-30 percent, compared to 3.5 percent in the Mediterranean) of the water, in which neither plants nor animals can live.
With a length of 65 kilometers and a maximum width of 16 kilometers, this inland lake is divided by a peninsula that protrudes from the eastern shore into a smaller southern part, with a depth of only four to six meters, and a larger northern part up to 433 meters deep . The main inflow of water into the Dead Sea comes from the Jordan River. It has no outlet, but in the warm climate of the area (annual average temperature of more than 25 ° C), the rate of evaporation is so high that the water level has remained almost constant. In recent years, however, so much water has been diverted from the Sea of Galilee that the inflow of water into the Dead Sea from the Jordan River has decreased and the water level has dropped. As a result, the northern and southern parts are now completely separated by the peninsula. The reduced inflow of fresh water means that salinity is increasing and there are serious environmental concerns that the Dead Sea may disappear completely in the coming years.