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Caesarea

Ancient Caesarea. IsraelCaesarea, located about forty minutes south of Haifa, was built by King Herod in honour of Caesar Augustus. The Roman, Byzantine and Crusader remains that can be found on the location, include a port, aqueduct, city walls and a moat as well as sporting arenas. The reconstructed Roman amphitheatre is the site of the world renowned Israel festival. During Crusader times Caesarea was the centre of the Crusader activities. For more information about the national park, click here.

Akko

AkkoAkko, located in the western Galilee half an hour north of Haifa, is the most ancient of Israel’s cities and has one of the oldest ports in the world. The city is unique in its original style, with all the buildings having been preserved throughout history. Unique for Israel, Akko is surrounded by a fortified wall which even proved an obstacle for Napoleon’s troops. Whilst Akko is further protected by the sea on one side, access from the land is restricted by large dugouts running all around the side of the city facing the land. The old town still operates the same as it has in former times, with its bustling shops and markets. Akko also offers a wide variety of tourist sites such as the underground crusader city, the old port, the Templar’s tunnels, many museums including the Museum of Underground Prisoners, the Al-Jazzer mosque, the Baha’i Shrine and Gardens, the Khans and Turkish markets and the Knight Banqueting Halls. Fore more information about the old city, you can go here.

Kibbutz Lohamey Hagetaot Museum

Kibbutz_Lohamey_HagetaotKibbutz Lohamey Hagetaot is located about 5 minutes north of Akko. The unique and impressive Holocaust and Resistance museum located there shows that despite a difficult life, resistance in the ghettos of Europe was alive. Even though they knew they were going to die, the ghetto fighters (in Hebrew: lohamey hagetaot) initiated attacks on the Nazis, fighting against the odds. The museum is unique, because no other museum focuses on that particular aspect – the struggle and bravery of people who understood the inevitability of their death and decided to go down fighting. Near this museum there is another unique museum: Yad Layeled – a museum solely dedicated to commemorate the millions of children who lost their lives during the holocaust. For more information about the museum, you can go here.

Rosh Hanikra

Rosh HaNikra bay and the railway tunnel entranceIn Rosh Hanikra, a natural wonder, visitors can enjoy the spectacular grottoes created in the chalk rock by the rain and the sea. To get to the grottoes, the main way is a short cable car ride, described as the steepest cable car in the world. Once down, there is a walking track of roughly 200 meters to take visitors through the grottoes, which create a fascinating attraction both in summer and in wintertime. At Rosh Hanikra visitors can also see part of the train tracks that connected Haifa with Beirut and Tripoli, enjoy a lights and sounds show about the grottoes, take a small train for a tour of the area and of course, enjoy the breathtaking view from the lookout point, just a short distance away from the Israeli border with Lebanon. Rosh Hanikra is only some twenty minutes north of Akko. To read more about this site and the attractions it offers, go here.

Nazareth

Exterior of Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth, Israel.This historical city in the Galilee – linked to many aspects of the life of Jesus – needs no introduction. A forty minute ride from Haifa will bring you to the heart of the city, which has around two dozen monasteries and churches. Among these, visitors shouldn’t miss the Church of the Annunciation, the largest Christian church building in the Middle East. This church was built on the location of Virgin Mary’s house where, according to Roman Catholic tradition, she received the announcement of the future birth of Jesus. St. Gabriel’s Church is built on an alternative site for the annunciation – the spring where the Eastern Orthodox Church believes Gabriel appeared before Virgin Mary. The Old City market is also home to other churches and mosques, notably the Synagogue Church – a synagogue where Jesus announced his ministry, later turned into a church; St. Joseph’s Church – built on what is traditionally believed to be the location of Joseph’s carpentry, sharing the compound of the Church of the Annunciation; and the White Mosque. You can go here for more information about what Nazareth has to offer.

Beit Shearim

Beit ShearimJust half an hour outside of Haifa, one will find a place that can be described as the Petra of Israel. Although not as extravagant as Petra from the outside, Beit Shearim – a necropolis – is a lot more interesting and impressive from the inside. Like the saying goes “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Following the burial of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, head of the Sanhedrin, in Beit Shearim, and after the Jews were banned from the Mount of Olives – the most desired burial place – Beit Shearim became the best alternative. More and more burial chambers were etched into the stone, creating a beehive of chambers and sarcophagus. You can read more about the history of Beit Shearim here.

Megiddo (Armageddon):

The Tel Megiddo National Park is perhaps one of the most famous attractions in Israel. This is probably because it’s believed that the end of days (the Armageddon) will begin there. There’s more to Megiddo than just this story, though. Tel Megiddo – the small hill of Megiddo, is in fact made of layers upon layers of ancient cities that were built on a strategic location. Megiddo is located on a narrow pass through the Carmel ridge, which was an important, ancient trade route. Megiddo is located only twenty minutes south of Nazareth.

Ein Hod Artists’ Village

Ein_Hod_Artists_VillageLocated in the heart of Mount Carmel, a village with unique identity in which all the residents are artists. The village boasts an art gallery and the “Yanko Dada” museum which hosts exhibitions of the artist’s work and workshops. Occasionally concerts and shows are performed in the local amphitheatre. For more information about Ein Hod, you can have a look at their website.

Illegal Immigrants Camp in Atlit

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Twenty minutes south of Haifa, a detention camp was built by the British in 1938 to house illegal Jewish immigrants. Today, the camp operates as a museum. Most of the buildings in the camp have been restored to how they used to be in those days and a multi-media show gives an account of the day-to-day life of the prisoners and their many daring escapes, including the most famous one in 1945, organized by the Palmach: the main Jewish underground organization during the time of the British Mandate.

You can read more about the camp here.

Zichron Yaakov

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Founded in 1882 by the Baron Edmond de Rothschild, and named in memory of his father (Zichron Yaakov literally translates to Jacob’s Memory) this town, located about fifteen minutes south of Atlit, was one of the first Jewish settlements in Israel. One of the main attractions in the town is the Aharonson House: Nili Museum, which recreates the period of WW1, when the Aharonson brothers and sister were spying for the British forces against the Ottomans. Another attraction is the original Carmel Mizrahi Winery, which when established in 1885 was the first winery in Israel. The winery still operates today.

Read more about Zichron Yaakov here.

And even more

Druze Villages: At the top of Mount Carmel are two Druze villages, Daliyat el-Carmel and Ussefiyah. The Druze religion is very unique and these villages are the two most famous in Galilee. Both have several restaurants boasting some of the best Druze cuisine. In the centre of Daliyat is a busy market which is open daily except Fridays, selling souvenirs and handicraft. The views across the forests and mountains from these villages are breathtaking.

Muchraka Carmelite Monastery: Beyond the Druze villages is Muchraka, a Carmelite monastery. It is located on a site, where, according to history, Elijah was fighting the 400 prophets of Ba’al.

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