By Jason Frederic Gilbert
10 reasons you should stop everything you’re doing and head on down to Jericho (unless you’re a heart surgeon in the middle of surgery, in which case, please go ahead and finish up, doc – we’ll wait for you):
1. The shuk. Falafel and a soft drink for 6 NIS. That’s a buck fifty. The shuk in Jericho is relatively small compared to the open air markets in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv but you won’t believe the prices.
And the shwarma, I hear, is excellent. But I’m a vegetarian (don’t judge) so I couldn’t tell you.
2. Hisham’s Palace. The ruins of a once spectacular pleasure palace of a 7th century caliph is still largely intact. Don’t miss the original mosaic floors. Or the complimentary movie in the adjacent museum, if for no other reason than to enjoy a few moments of conditioned air.
3. Mountain of Temptation – Quruntal Mountain. This beautiful monastery and cave complex is perched high up on a mountain. Once inside you’ll have a chance to see one of the most amazing views of Jericho – and the mountain. This is where Jesus was supposedly tempted by the devil. I too was tempted. By more falafel. And could not resist.
4. The lowest cable car below sea level in the world. You can walk up to Quruntal mountain – and probably should to burn off the calories from the seven errr two falafels you had – but I would take the beautiful and inexpensive cable car. You’ll have the most spectacular view of Ancient Jericho and the modern city.
5. Camels. Yes. Who doesn’t like camels? Take a picture with a camel. Preferably one wearing a cowboy hat.
6. Ancient Jericho. This is the Jericho from the Bible. See it. Touch the wall. The wall. You know, the one the Israelites knocked down. Even if you’re not a bible banger you’ll appreciate a story that involves espionage, prostitution and military strategy.
7. Figs and Bananas. Did I mention how much I love eating? Well, if you love figs and bananas then you’ll love this place.
8. Local hospitality. The people I met in Jericho – both at the historical sites and at the shuk were remarkably hospitable and friendly.
9. Herod’s Palace. More archaeological ruins from my main man King Herod. Walk around and see the relics of his winter palace.
You may get to see a stray goat. Please give him my regards.
10. The Monastery of Gerasimus is a beautiful Greek Orthodox monastery. Walk around and appreciate the amazing relics and paintings. Don’t make a pass at the old nuns. They don’t appreciate it.
11. Wait, I’m done. I said 10.
Jericho has always been on my bucket list of cities that I have to see. It’s considered one of the most ancient cities in the world and is the lowest city below sea level.
Head on down there and you’ll fall in love with this desert oasis.
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