Top tourist attractions in Israel
Here is a list of top tourist attractions in Israel. Only the topmost tourist destinations are presented here. To see other destinations, please check the images from Israel section.
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The Western Wall, Wailing Wall or Kotel is located in the Old City of Jerusalem at the foot of the western side of the Temple Mount. It is a remnant of the ancient wall that surrounded the Jewish Temple's courtyard, and is arguably the most sacred site recognized by the Jewish faith outside of the Temple Mount itself. Just over half the wall, including its 17 courses located below street level, dates from the end of the Second Temple period, commonly believed to have been constructed around 19 BCE by Herod the Great, but recent excavations indicate that the works were not finished during Herod's lifetime. The remaining layers were added from the 7th century onwards. The Western Wall refers not only to the exposed section facing a large plaza in the Jewish Quarter, but also to the sections concealed behind structures running along the whole length of the Temple Mount, such as the Little Western Wall–a 25 ft section in the Muslim Quarter. It has been a site for Jewish prayer and pilgrimage for centuries; the earliest source mentioning Jewish attachment to the site dates back to the 4th century. From the mid-19th century onwards, attempts to purchase rights to the wall and its immediate area were made by various Jews, but none was successful. With the rise of the Zionist movement in the early 20th century, the wall became a source of friction between the Jewish community and the Muslim religious leadership, who were worried that the wall was being used to further Jewish nationalistic claims to the Temple Mount and Jerusalem. Outbreaks of violence at the foot of the wall became commonplace and an international commission was convened in 1930 to determine the rights and claims of Muslims and Jews in connection with the wall. After the 1948 Arab-Israeli War the wall came under Jordanian control and Jews were barred from the site for 19 years until Israel captured the Old City in 1967 and three days later bulldozed the adjacent 770 year old Moroccan Quarter.
Yad Vashem is Israel's official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, established in 1953 through the Yad Vashem Law passed by the Knesset, Israel's parliament. Yad Vashem is located on the western slope of Mount Herzl on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem, 804 meters above sea level and adjacent to the Jerusalem Forest. The memorial consists of a 180-dunam complex containing the Holocaust History Museum, memorial sites such as the Children's Memorial and the Hall of Remembrance, The Museum of Holocaust Art, sculptures, outdoor commemorative sites such as the Valley of the Communities, a synagogue, a research institute with archives, a library, a publishing house, and an educational center named The International School for Holocaust Studies. When Yad Vashem came into being a core goal of its founding visionaries was to recognize gentiles who, at personal risk, and without a financial or evangelistic motive, chose to save their Jewish brethren from the ongoing genocide during the Holocaust. Those recognized by the State of Israel as Righteous Among the Nations are honored in a section of Yad Vashem known as the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations.
Sea of Galilee
The Sea of Galilee, also Kinneret, Lake of Gennesaret, or Lake Tiberias, is the largest freshwater lake in Israel, and it is approximately 53 km in circumference, about 21 km long, and 13 km wide. The lake has a total area of 166.7 km² at its fullest, and a maximum depth of approximately 43 m. At levels between 215 metres and 209 metres below sea level, it is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth and the second-lowest lake overall. The lake is fed partly by underground springs although its main source is the Jordan River which flows through it from north to south.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Christianity Place of Worship
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, also called the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, or the Church of the Resurrection by Eastern Christians, is a church within the Christian Quarter of the walled Old City of Jerusalem. It is a few steps away from the Muristan. The site is venerated as Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified, and is said also to contain the place where Jesus was buried. The church has been a paramount – and for many Christians the most important – pilgrimage destination since at least the 4th century, as the purported site of the resurrection of Jesus. Today it also serves as the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, while control of the building is shared between several Christian churches and secular entities in complicated arrangements essentially unchanged for centuries. Today, the church is home to branches of Eastern Orthodoxy and Oriental Orthodoxy as well as to Roman Catholicism. Anglican and Protestant Christians have no permanent presence in the Church – and some have regarded the alternative Garden Tomb, elsewhere in Jerusalem, as the true place of Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection.
The Israel Museum was founded in 1965 as Israel's national museum. It is situated on a hill in the Givat Ram neighborhood of Jerusalem, near the Bible Lands Museum, the Knesset, the Israeli Supreme Court, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Among the unique objects on display are a carved female figurine considered the oldest artwork in the world; the interior of a 1736 synagogue from Suriname; necklaces worn by Jewish brides in Yemen; a mosaic Islamic prayer niche from 17th-century Persia; and a nail attesting to the practice of crucifixion in Jesus’ time. An urn-shaped building on the grounds of the museum, the Shrine of the Book, houses the Dead Sea Scrolls and artifacts discovered at Masada.
Islamic Place of Worship
The Temple Mount, known in Hebrew as Har haBáyit and in Arabic as the Haram al-Sharif, is one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. It has been used as a religious site for thousands of years. At least four religions are known to have used the Temple Mount: Judaism, Christianity, Roman religion, and Islam. Biblical scholars have often identified it with two biblical mountains of uncertain location: Mount Moriah where the binding of Isaac took place, and Mount Zion where the original Jebusite fortress stood; however, both interpretations are disputed. Judaism regards the Temple Mount as the place where God chose the Divine Presence to rest; according to the rabbinic sages whose debates produced the Talmud, it was from here the world expanded into its present form and where God gathered the dust used to create the first man, Adam. The site is the location of Abraham's binding of Isaac, and of two Jewish Temples. According to the Bible the site should function as the center of all national life—a governmental, judicial and, of course, religious center. During the Second Temple Period it functioned also as an economical center. From that location the word of God will come out to all nations, and that is the site where all prayers are focused. According to Jewish tradition and scripture, the first temple was built by Solomon the son of David in 957 BCE and destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. The second was constructed under the auspices of Zerubbabel in 516 BCE and destroyed by the Roman Empire in 70 CE. Jewish tradition maintains it is here the Third and final Temple will also be built. The location is the holiest site in Judaism and is the place Jews turn towards during prayer. Due to its extreme sanctity, many Jews will not walk on the Mount itself, to avoid unintentionally entering the area where the Holy of Holies stood, since according to Rabbinical law, some aspect of the Divine Presence is still present at the site. It was from the Holy of Holies that the High Priest communicated directly with God.
Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock is a shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. The domed central plan structure was patterned after the Christian Church of the Holy Sepulcher. It was initially completed in 691 CE at the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik during the Second Fitna, becoming the first work of Islamic architecture. The site's significance stems from religious traditions regarding the rock, known as the Foundation Stone, at its heart, which bears great significance for Jews, Christians and Muslims. It is considered “the most contested piece of real estate on earth.”
Masada is an ancient fortification in the Southern District of Israel situated on top of an isolated rock plateau on the eastern edge of the Judaean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea. Herod the Great built palaces for himself on the mountain and fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BCE. The Siege of Masada by troops of the Roman Empire towards the end of the First Jewish–Roman War ended in the mass suicide of the 960 Jewish rebels and their families hiding there. Masada is located 20 kilometres east of Arad. Masada is Israel's most popular paid tourist attraction.
Caesarea Maritima is a national park on the Israeli coastline, near the town of Caesarea. The ancient Caesarea Maritima city and harbor was built by Herod the Great about 25–13 BCE. The city has been populated through the late Roman and Byzantine era. Its ruins lie on the Mediterranean coast of Israel, about halfway between the cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa, on the site of Pyrgos Stratonos. The national park is a popular location for the summer period, having a developed promenade with restaurants and coffee shops. The access to the Caesarea Maritima national park is via the coastal road. Caesarea Maritima was named in honor of Augustus Caesar. The city was described in detail by the 1st-century Roman Jewish historian Josephus. The city became the seat of the Roman prefect soon after its foundation. Caesarea was the "administrative capital" beginning in 6 CE. This city is the location of the 1961 discovery of the Pilate Stone, the only archaeological item that mentions the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate, by whose order Jesus was crucified. The emperor Vespasian raised its status to that of a colonia. After the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, Caesarea was the provincial capital of the Judaea Province, before the change of name to Syria Palaestina in 134 CE, shortly before the Bar Kokhba revolt. In Byzantine times, Caesarea remained the capital, with brief interruption of Persian and Jewish conquest between 614 and 625. In the 630s, Arab Muslim armies had taken control of the region, keeping Caesarea as its administrative center. In the early 8th century, the Umayyad caliph Suleiman transferred the seat of government of the Jund Filastin from Caesarea to Ramla.
Tel Aviv Museum of Art
The Tel Aviv Museum of Art is an art museum in Tel Aviv, Israel. It was established in 1932 in a building that was the home of Tel Aviv's first mayor, Meir Dizengoff. The Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art opened in 1959. The museum moved to its current location on King Saul Avenue in 1971. Another wing was added in 1999 and the Lola Beer Ebner Sculpture Garden was established. The museum houses a comprehensive collection of classical and contemporary art, especially Israeli art, a sculpture garden and a youth wing.
Jerusalem Biblical Zoo
The Tisch Family Zoological Gardens in Jerusalem, popularly known as the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, is a zoo located in the Malha neighborhood of Jerusalem, Israel. It is famous for its collection of wildlife featured in the Hebrew Bible, as well as its success in breeding endangered species. According to Dun and Bradstreet, the Biblical Zoo was the most popular tourist attraction in Israel from 2005 to 2007, and logged a record 738,000 visitors in 2009. The zoo had about 55,000 members in 2009.
Eretz Israel Museum
The Eretz Israel Museum is a historical and archeological museum in the Ramat Aviv neighborhood of Tel Aviv, Israel. Eretz Israel Museum, established in 1953, has a large display of archaeological, anthropological and historical artifacts organized in a series of exhibition pavilions on its grounds. Each pavilion is dedicated to a different subject: glassware, ceramics, coins, copper and more. The museum also has a planetarium. The "Man and His Work" wing features live demonstrations of ancient methods of weaving, jewelry and pottery making, grain grinding and bread baking. Tel Quasile, an excavation in which 12 distinct layers of culture have been uncovered, is on the grounds of the museum.
Mount Herzl, also Har HaZikaron, is the site of Israel's national cemetery and other memorial and educational facilities, found on the west side of Jerusalem beside Jerusalem Forest. It is named for Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern political Zionism. Herzl's tomb lies at the top of the hill. Yad Vashem, which commemorates the Holocaust, lies to the west of Mt. Herzl. Israel's war dead are also buried there. Mount Herzl is 834 meters above the sea. Every plot section in Mount Herzl has a broad plaza for memorial services. Most state memorial ceremonies for those killed at war are conducted in the National Military and Police cemetery.
Tower of David
The Tower of David is an ancient citadel located near the Jaffa Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem. Built to strengthen a strategically weak point in the Old City's defenses, the citadel that stands today has ancient foundations and was constructed during the 2nd century BC and subsequently destroyed and rebuilt by, in succession, the Christian, Muslim, Mamluk, and Ottoman conquerors of Jerusalem. It contains important archaeological finds dating back 2,700 years, and is a popular venue for benefit events, craft shows, concerts, and sound-and-light performances. The name "Tower of David" is due to Byzantine Christians who believed the site to be the palace of King David. They borrowed the name "Tower of David" from the Song of Songs, attributed to Solomon, King David's son, who wrote: "Thy neck is like the Tower of David built with turrets, whereon there hang a thousand shields, all the armor of the mighty men."
Port of Haifa
The Port of Haifa is the largest of Israel's three major international seaports, which include the Port of Ashdod, and the Port of Eilat. It has a natural deep water harbor which operates all year long, and serves both passenger and merchant ships. It is one of the largest ports in the eastern Mediterranean in terms of freight volume and handles about 24 million tons of cargo each year. The port employs over 1,000 people, with the number rising to 5,000 when cruise ships dock in Haifa. The Port of Haifa lies to the north of Haifa's downtown quarter on the Mediterranean, and stretches to some 3 kilometers along the city's central shore with activities ranging from military, industrial and commercial next to a nowadays-smaller passenger cruising facility.
Israel National Trail
The Israel National Trail, is a hiking path that was inaugurated in 1995. The trail crosses the entire country of Israel. Its northern end is at Dan, near the Lebanese border in the far north of the country, and it extends to Eilat at the southernmost tip of Israel on the Red Sea, a length of 580-620 miles. The trail is marked with three stripes, and takes an average of 45-60 days to complete. It does not enter the Golan Heights or the West Bank. The Israel National Trail has been listed in National Geographic's 20 most "epic trails." It is described as a trail that "delves into the grand scale of biblical landscapes as well as the everyday lives of the modern Israeli."
Gan HaShlosha National Park
Gan HaShlosha National Park, also known by its Arabic name Sahne, is a national park in Israel. Located near Beit She'an, it has naturally warm water where visitors can swim all year. The spring water that emerges in the western part of the park maintains a constant, year-round temperature of 28 degrees Celsius. Amal Stream, which crosses the park, has been widened into pools. An old water-powered mill operates at the site and an adjacent madafeh, or Arab hospitality room, has been restored. A model of Tel Amal, one of the Tower and Stockade settlements set up by Jewish pioneers on the night of 10 December 1936 after the British banned Jewish settlement, is located in the park. The Museum of Regional and Mediterranean Archaeology is located on the grounds of the park. It houses a display of rare Greek tools, artifacts from excavations in the Beit She’an Valley and an exhibit about the Etruscans. "The Garden of Eden," a film about Gan HaShlosha, premiered at the Jerusalem Film Festival in July 2012 and won Israeli filmmaker Ran Tal an award for best director of a documentary. The film will be screened at the DocAviv Galilee festival in Ma'alot-Tarshiha in November 2012.
Ramat Gan Safari
The Ramat Gan Safari, officially known as the Zoological Center of Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan, is a safari park and zoo in Ramat Gan, Israel. It opened to the general public in 1974 as an African animal park. In 1981, a zoo was established in the middle of the park to replace the former Tel Aviv Zoo, which had closed down. Ramat Gan Safari covers an area of 100 hectares, and has 1,600 animals of different species: 68 species of mammals, about 130 species of birds, and about 25 species of reptiles. It has the largest collection of species in the Middle East, many of which roam freely in the park. Among others, Ramat Gan Safari has African and Asian elephants, hippos, gorillas, orangutan, and lions. Ramat Gan Safari participates in several breeding programs and research projects. The Ramat Gan Safari has sent animals to the Kalkilya Zoo and maintains close ties with the veterinarians in the Palestinian Authority.
The Rockefeller Museum, formerly the Palestine Archaeological Museum, is an archaeological museum located in East Jerusalem that houses a large collection of artifacts unearthed in the excavations conducted in Mandate Palestine, in the 1920s and 1930s. The museum is under the management of the Israel Museum and houses the head office of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Tomb of the Virgin Mary
Church of the Sepulchre of Saint Mary, also Tomb of the Virgin Mary, refers to a Christian tomb in the Kidron Valley – at the foot of Mount of Olives, in Jerusalem – believed by Eastern Christians to be the burial place of Mary, the mother of Jesus .
Bible Lands Museum
The Bible Lands Museum is a museum in Jerusalem, Israel, that explores the culture of the peoples mentioned in the Bible, among them the ancient Egyptians, Canaanites, Philistines, Arameans, Hittites, Elamites, Phoenicians and Persians. The aim of the museum is to put these peoples into historical context. The museum is located on Museum Row in Givat Ram, between the Israel Museum, The National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel, and the Bloomfield Museum of Science.
Shrine of the Book
The Shrine of the Book, a wing of the Israel Museum in the Givat Ram neighborhood of Jerusalem, Israel, houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in 1947–56 in 11 caves in and around the Wadi Qumran.
Israel National Museum of Science, Technology, and Space
The Israel National Museum of Science, Technology, and Space is a science and technology museum in the city of Haifa, Israel. The museum, established in 1984, is housed in a historic building that was designed as the first home of the Technion — Israel Institute of Technology, until it relocated to its current campus. The architect was Alexander Baerwald, a German Jewish immigrant, who began working on the building in 1912. On a visit to the Technion in 1923, Albert Einstein planted one of the palm trees in the courtyard, which can still be seen today. The museum has approximately 200,000 visitors annually.
Tomb of Absalom
Tomb of Absalom, also called Absalom's Pillar, is an ancient monumental rock-cut tomb with a conical roof located in the Kidron Valley in Jerusalem. Although traditionally ascribed to Absalom, the rebellious son of King David of Israel, recent scholarship has attributed it to the 1st century CE.
Shrine of the Báb
The Shrine of the Báb is a structure in Haifa, Israel where the remains of the Báb, founder of the Bábí Faith and forerunner of Bahá'u'lláh in the Bahá'í Faith, have been buried; it is considered to be the second holiest place on Earth for Bahá'ís, after the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh in Acre. Its precise location on Mount Carmel was designated by Bahá'u'lláh himself to his eldest son, `Abdu'l-Bahá, in 1891. `Abdu'l-Bahá planned the structure, which was designed and completed several years later by his grandson, Shoghi Effendi. Crowning the design, as anticipated by `Abdu'l-Bahá, is a dome, which is set on an 18-windowed drum. That, in turn, is mounted on an octagon, a feature suggested by Shoghi Effendi. An arcade surrounds the stone edifice. A restoration project of the exterior and interior of the shrine started in 2008 and was completed in April 2011.
Haifa Museum of Art
The Haifa Museum of Art, established in 1951, is located in a historic building built in the 1930s in Wadi Nisnas, Downtown Haifa. The museum focuses on Israeli and international contemporary art, and its collection includes 7,000 items, mostly of contemporary Israeli art. Other institutions under the auspices of the Haifa Museums iunclude the Mané Catz Museum dedicated to paintings from the School of Paris and Jewish artifacts; and the City Museum of Haifan History, located in the Germany Colony. Also under the Museum's aegis are the Museum of Prehistory, the Israeli National Maritime Museum and the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art. The Museum of Ancient Art, housed in the university of Haifa, which specializes in archeological finds discovered in Israel and the Mediterranean basin, was inaugurated in 1984.
Monastery of the Cross
The Monastery of the Cross is an Orthodox monastery near the Nayot neighborhood of Jerusalem, Israel. It is located in the Valley of the Cross, below the Israel Museum and the Knesset.
The Palmach Museum is a museum located in Ramat Aviv, Israel dedicated to the Palmach, the strike-force of the pre-state underground Haganah defense organization, which was later integrated into the Israel Defense Forces.
Ticho House is a historical home in Jerusalem, Israel, now a museum. It was one of the first homes built outside the Old City walls at the end of the nineteenth century.
Museum of Underground Prisoners
Museum of Underground Prisoners is a museum in Jerusalem, Israel, commemorating the activity of the Jewish underground—Haganah, Irgun and Lehi—during the period leading up the establishment of the State of Israel.
Independence Hall, originally the Dizengoff House is the site of the signing of Israel's Declaration of Independence. It is located on the historic Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, Israel. From 1932 to 1971 housing the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, it is currently a museum dedicated to the signing of the Israeli Declaration of Independence and the history of Tel Aviv-Jaffa. .
L. A. Mayer Institute for Islamic Art
The L.A. Mayer Institute for Islamic Art is a museum in Jerusalem, Israel, established in 1974. It is located in Katamon, down the road from the Jerusalem Theater. The museum houses Islamic pottery, textiles, jewelry, ceremonial objects and other Islamic cultural artifacts. It is not to be confused with the Islamic Museum, Jerusalem.
Islamic Museum, Jerusalem
The Islamic Museum is a museum on the Temple Mount in the Old City section of Jerusalem. On display are exhibits from ten periods of Islamic history encompassing several Muslim regions. The museum is located adjacent to al-Aqsa Mosque. It is not to be confused with the L. A. Mayer Institute for Islamic Art, also a museum in Jerusalem.
The Burnt House is an excavated house from the Second Temple period situated six metres below current street level in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.
The Southern Wall is a wall at the southern end of the Temple Mount and the former southern side of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. It was built during King Herod's expansion of the Temple Mount platform southward on to the Ophel.
Janco Dada Museum
The Janco Dada Museum is located in Ein Hod, Israel. It is a museum that exhibits the work of Marcel Janco as well as art from the Dada movement and contemporary art too. The museum was established in 1983, by a group of Marcel Janco's friends, with the purpose of conserving the works and ideas of the sole Dadaist living in Israel. Marcel Janco thought of Ein Hod as the right place for a museum. He conceived the idea of establishing the artists' village, and invited in the first group of founders in 1953.
Tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai
Tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai is situated in Meron.
Siebenberg House is a museum below a house on 5 Beit HaShoeva Alley in the Old City of Jerusalem Theo and Miriam Siebenberg bought the house in 1970 and Theo was convinced that it was built over significant archaeological remains. But archaeologists were skeptical, so he conducted and financed the excavations himself. The excavations carried out underneath the Siebenberg home in the course of 18 years have revealed remains of ancient dwellings, rooms cut from rock, Mikvah's aqueducts, a huge cistern and burial vaults, reaching back 3,000 years to the days of King Solomon and the first temple period, as well as of the Second Temple, and Byzantine periods. It also shows rare artifacts, including pottery, glass, mosaics, coins, jars and weapons.