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The remains of a doorway with a view at Belvoir Fortress in Israel.

Defense (with a view) at Belvoir Fortress

The Crusaders, arriving in what is now Israel back in the 12th century, didn’t waste any time staking their claim. Their effort to dominate and control the “holy land” for Christianity was bloody and misguided and, in many ways, shameful. Yet it has left us some fascinating historical structures to study and enjoy. I’ve already…

The Torah ark at Um el Kanatir shows detailed carvings.

Um el Kanatir: ancient synagogue in the Golan Heights

When I write about off-the-beaten-path sights, I don’t necessarily mean that they’re hard to get to. I went to Um el Kanatir in the Golan Heights on the advice of Sara Zafrir, owner of Genghis Khan in the Golan, who insisted it was worth the effort. (Disclosure: I received two free nights in Sara’s hostel in…

This image, part of a larger mosaic in the Dionysus House, is called "the Mona Lisa of Zippori" according to the park's leaflet.

Zippori National Park and its spectacular mosaics

“Sixteen miles all around Zippori is a land flowing with milk and honey.” This sentence from the Jerusalem Talmud (Bichurim 71d) opens the text given to visitors to Zippori National Park, north of Nazareth. On the spring day when I visited, I could believe it: carpets of wildflowers covered the rolling hills in all directions….

a Mesopotamian matriarch from ca. 2000-1750 BCE in the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem.

Bible Lands Museum: The history behind the Bible

The premise, or perhaps I should say the Unique Selling Point, of the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem is to illustrate each and every civilization mentioned in the Bible. Unlike some Bible museums, this one is not dogmatic: it shows the actual history of each civilization. Here, the Bible isn’t just a religious document: the stories…

A man leads a donkey in Nazareth Village: Biblical Nazareth

Biblical Nazareth: my observations

In biblical Nazareth, a man, dressed like an extra from The Ten Commandments, wanders slowly by between the gnarled olive trees, leading a donkey by a rope. He lingers for a while near our assembled group. The camera-toting tourists, dressed in shorts and tank tops, crowd around. The effect of being in biblical Nazareth is…

A section of the border wall, with the Banksy Hotel just out of the frame on the left. Visiting Bethlehem.

Visiting Bethlehem for a Day

While visiting Bethlehem is mostly about seeing the birthplace of Jesus, it’s been in the news recently for a much more modern reason: the opening of the Walled Off Hotel. On a recent day trip to Bethlehem with a group of fellow bloggers, this hotel, designed by the mysterious graffiti artist, Banksy, was our first…

columns in the synagogue at Capernaum

Your Trip to Israel: 5 Christian sites near the Galilee

 Are you considering a trip to Israel? Certainly you should visit Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, and perhaps Masada and Bethlehem. While I’m not a Christian, all religions are interesting to me in terms of their cultural and historical importance. In Israel, I’ve visited Muslim sites, of which the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is…

The falafel part of my first "bite" on my Bitemojo tour.

Bitemojo: A new twist on culinary tours

If you ever take a Bitemojo tour, make sure you start with an empty stomach, good walking shoes and plenty of time. You’ll need all three. Disclosure: I took a Bitemojo tour in Jerusalem because I could do it for free as a participant in a TBEX conference for travel bloggers. It’s not something that…

Khan al-Umdan, near the port in Akko old city, as seen through the closed-off entrance. Built in 1784, it included 40 columns made from stone brought from ancient Caesarea and Atlit. It seems to be abandoned now.

Akko Old City: Jerusalem without the politics

Two separate people in two separate parts of Israel gave me the same advice: “Go see Akko old city; it’s Jerusalem without the politics.” They were right. Akko, also called Acre, looks much like Jerusalem’s old city. It has the same narrow, winding, stone-paved streets. The market streets have ancient arched roofs and the sellers…

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