More sites and attractions

Massada

A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001, Masada is the site of ancient palaces and fortifications in the South District of Israel on top of an isolated rock plateau, or large mesa, on the eastern edge of the Judean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. According to Josephus, a 1st-century Jewish-Roman historian, Herod the Great fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BCE as a refuge for himself in the event of a revolt. Josephus also writes that in 66 CE, at the beginning of the First Jewish-Roman War against the Roman Empire, a group of Judaic extremist rebels called the Sicarii took Masada from the Roman garrison stationed there. The site of Masada was identified in 1842 and extensively excavated between 1963 and 1965 by an expedition led by Israeli archaeologist Yigael Yadin. Due to the remoteness from human habitation and the arid environment, the site has remained largely untouched by humans or nature during the past two millennia. Many of the ancient buildings have been restored, as have the wall-paintings of Herod's two main palaces, and the Roman-style bathhouses that he built. A synagogue thought to have been used by the Jewish rebels has also been identified and restored. Inside the synagogue, an ostracon bearing the inscription me'aser kohen ("tithe for the priest") was found, as were fragments of two scrolls. Also found were eleven small ostraca, each bearing a single name. One reads "ben Yair" and could be short for Eleazar ben Yair, the commander of the fortress. Excavations also uncovered the remains of 28 skeletons. Carbon dating of textiles found in the cave indicate they are contemporaneous with the period of the Revolt. The remnants of a Byzantine church dating from the 5th and 6th centuries CE, have also been excavated on the top of Masada.
 
 
Tel Be'er Sheva
A UNESCO World Heritage site since 2005, Tel Be'er Sheva is an archaeological site in southern Israel, believed to be the remains of the biblical town of Be'er Sheva. Archaeological finds indicate that the site was inhabited from the Chalcolithic period, around 4000 BCE, to the 16th century CE. This was probably due to the abundance of underground water, as evidenced by the numerous wells in the area. Excavated by Yohanan Aharoni and Ze'ev Herzog of Tel Aviv University, the settlement itself is dated to the early Israelite period. Probably populated in the 12th century BCE, the first fortified settlement dates to 1000 BCE. The city was likely destroyed by Sennacherib in 700 BCE, and after a habitation hiatus of three hundred years, there is evidence of remains from the Persian, Hellenistic, Roman and Early Arab periods. Major finds include an elaborate water system and a huge cistern carved out of the rock beneath the town, and a large horned altar which was reconstructed using several well-dressed stones found in secondary use in the walls of a later building. The altar attests to the existence of a temple or cult center in the city which was probably dismantled during the reforms of King Hezekiah.
 
 
Sebastia
is a Palestinian village of over 4,500 inhabitants, located in the Nablus Governorate of the West Bank some 12 kilometers northwest of the city of Nablus. The village's total area is 4,810 dunums, the built up area of which comprises 150 dunums. Much of the village lands (42%) are located in Area C under the Oslo Accords.
Sebastia is home to a number of important archaeological sites.The ancient site of Samaria-Sebaste is located just above the built up area of the modern day village on the eastern slope of the hill. The ruins dominate the hillside and comprise remains from six successive cultures dating back 10,000 years: Canaanite, Israelite, Hellenistic, Herodian, Roman and Byzantine.
The city was destroyed by Alexander the Great in 331 BCE, and was destroyed again by John Hyrcanus in 108 BCE. Pompey rebuilt the town in the year 63 BCE. In 27 BCE, Augustus Caesar gave it to Herod the Great. Herod expanded and renovated the city, and named it "Sebaste", meaning "Augustus", in the Emperor's honor.Herod the Great had his sons Alexander and Aristobulus brought to Sebaste, and strangled in 7 BCE after a trial in Berytus and getting permission from Caesar.
Sebastia was the seat of a bishop in the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. It is mentioned in the writings of Yaqut al-Hamawi (1179–1229), the Syrian geographer, who situates it as part of the Filastin Province of Jerusalem, located two days from that city, in the Nablus District. He also writes, "There are here the tombs of Zakariyyah and Yahya, the son of Zakariyyah (John the Baptist), and of many other prophets and holy men.
In modern-day Sebastia, the village's main mosque, known as the Nabi Yahya Mosque, stands within the remains of a Crusader cathedral that is believed to be built upon the tombs of the prophets Elisha, Obediah and John the Baptist beside the public square.There are also Roman royal tombs,and a few medieval and many Ottoman era buildings which survive in a good state of preservation.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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