JERUSALEM-the 50 sites you may overlook

In a historic and religious city like Jerusalem there is so much to see no matter how much you tour. When time is a limiting factor, even the most efficient tour guides have to compromise while deciding what to incorporate in the itinerary. Although it depends on the interest of the individual visitor as well, there is still a huge must-see-list in Jerusalem that cannot be avoided. At every stop so much information is thrown on a visitor that sometimes s/he tends to forget the details after leaving the place.

I remember when I first visited the Church of Holy Sepulcher, it appeared to me more like a small museum than a church. I was virtually clueless inside a dark and dull overcrowded massive complex of more than 25 chapels with several curious artifacts and antiques scattered under some dusky arches and dingy columns. It took me at least three visits with a proper map in hand to understand the Church complex. A normal visitor for instance would be satisfied with Golgotha, the ‘Stone of Unction’ and the ‘Holy Sepulcher’, but the oldest part of the complex, viz. the first century tombs inside the Syrian Orthodox Chapel could be easily missed.

In the upcoming posts I plan to upload 50 such sites from Jerusalem that I believe can be easily overlooked or go unnoticed by an average visitor. I am incorporating the following sites from my previous visits, again with no specific order of importance. I am sure that a serious traveler who loves history, traditions and the Bible has noticed or been to most of them.

Monday, October 4, 2010


One of the major tourist attractions in Northern Israel is Rosh Hanikra Grottoes (Head of the grottoes). These grottoes are actually underwater caves created by prolonged effect of sea waves penetrated into the cracks of cliffs made of soft white chalk. Located at the border of Israel and Lebanon, these caves are 3-7 M below sea level. A short cable car ride (2 minutes) located 70M (210 ft) above sea level takes you to the grottoes. Today, visitors can enjoy the beauty of the grottoes by walking the artificial 200M-long tunnel, constructed in 1968-1969 by Israel.

Some identify Rosh hanikra with biblical "Misrephoth-Maim"-the area where Joshua chased the Canaanites (Joshua 11:8, 13:6). Another legend relates that it was from here Abraham entered the Promised Land and God first gave him the assurance: "To your seed will I give this land." Rosh Hanikra remained to be the entry point to Israel and part of a trade route since ancient times. It is also believed that Alexander the Great entered the Land of Israel through Rosh Hanikra (333 BC). Many armies of the ancient world passed here including the Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and the Crusaders. At the time of British, a railway line and a bridge were constructed through the rocks of Rosh Hanikra whose remains are still visible.

Jewish sages referred to the cliff of Rosh Hanikra as "The Ladder of Tyre" (Sullam Ẓur). Although "Ladder of Tyre" is not mentioned in the Old Testament or the New Testament, it is described in Apocrypha-in the first book of Maccabees 11:59. In Talmud, "Ladder of Tyre" is the northern limit of the Holy Land. For Muslims it is A-Nawakir (the grottoes) and the present name, Rosh Hanikra, is a hebrew version of the Arabic Ras-A-Nakura. The sound, waves, colour and shades inside the grottoes make a fantastic experience and I suggest one should never miss Rosh Hanikra if gets a chance to be in Israel. Do also go through the uploads made at my earlier visit to the site in April 2008.

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