Israel Photo Gallery
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After arrival to Ben Gurion airport in the early morning hours, we were passing scanty dwellings of Beduin nomadic tribes on the way towards the Dead Sea.

They seem to live voluntarily outside of towns and villages and don't mind the truly primitive conditions they lead their daily life. They are looked down at by both Jews and settled Arabs.

First stop after leaving the airport, in the hilly desert near the old way between Jerusalem and Jericho. At a beatiful location overseeing the desert, we celebrated an open-air Sunday's Mass.

View towards the wide Jordan valley, where the town of Jericho can be seen, along with the high cliff where Jesus stayed 40 days fasting in the desert according to the tradition.

Caves in rocks where early hermits, predecessors of monks lead their solitary life, barely hiding from the scorching sun.

One can visit the caves and try to imagine what it was like to stay here alone and living from almost nothing for many years.

En Gedi, a famous Oasis at the edge of the Judean desert on the coast of the Dead Sea.

The oasis is a popular place not only for tourists, but also for Israelis. We met many school groups, surprisingly children bathed in with their clothes on.

En Gedi is known for the famous encounter of the king Saul and the future king David, whom he wanted to kill, but was almost killed (and spared) by David in one of the cave.

There is a series of waterfalls, and the abundant water feels like a miracle in the middle of barren desert landscape.

This is the highest waterfall in En Gedi and maybe in whole of Israel.

Beach with facilities at Dead Sea. Due to the constantly decreasing water-level (about 1 meter each year), a potential swimmer has to descend several tens of meters down.

Happy Michal, enjoying the delight of laying in water, which has such a concentration of salt, that one does not have to move and can just lay on the surface. Impossible to swim in such dense water.

Waters of the Dead Sea as seen from the bus driving on the western coast between En-Gedi and Jericho.

The opposite side of the Dead Sea belongs to Kingdom of Jordan.

Morning prayer on the slopes of Judean desert in the proximity of the Dead Sea, not far from the Kibbutz where we slept one night.

This is the coldest and wettest period of the year, but the landscape looks dry and barren - a true desert.

There can be seen something between a valley and a canyon, where the old route between Bethlehem and the Dead Sea once went.

A short meditation in the desert. Each from the group chose a solitary place on the hills above the valley.

Some of the hills in the desert ressemble a small mountain.

We had some nice 20 degrees Celsius, typical for February.

...Imagine how hot it must be here during the summer months!

The Qumran archeological site with caves, where the famouns Qumran scrolls were found in 1949. According to the most accepted theory, there was a settlement of Jews belonging to the sect of Essenes, who lived here about two thousands years ago.

A copy of the Qumran scrolls, the oldest preserved text of the Bible, written in Hebrew, which can be read without much difficulty by today's Israelis.

The Jordan river near Jericho, where a ford accross the river would be and where according to the tradition Jesus of Nazareth was baptized by John the Baptist.

Today little remains from once a powerful river, due to most water being stopped and redirected at the See of Galilee as source of water for large areas of Israel.

The ruins of a fortress-residence Herodium a few miles from Bethlehem, built by the King Herodes the Great. During the last years of his life Jesus was born.

Herodes is remembered for his cruelty, having ordered to kill all small babies in Bethlehem. However, he is also known as a great builder. Besides Herodium he also largely extended the Temple of Jerusalem.

There is a splendid view from Herodium to all directions. Today, there are more and more settlements eating the free land. The area is hilly.

One can clearly see the Judean Desert, which starts very near from Herodium. The frontier between cultivated area and the desert has been moving.

We have entered the city of Bethlehem, where the famous King David and his even more important descendant Jesus of Nazareth was born.

The Basilique of the Nativity of Jesus in Bethlehem. It is an old robust building in the heart of a vibrant Palestinian town.

The interior of the church, which is shared by various Christian confessions, biggest part belonging to the Greek Orthodox, but a part owner by the Roman Catholics and Coptic Church.

It is difficult to get into the church during the day due to the large crowds of tourists. It is much easier to get inside by taking part on a Mass during the night time. The town is safe and one can walk the streets at night.

Bethlehem is laid on hills and is a very charming town.

Waiting for the dawn, looking down from Bethlehem towards the east.

Bethlehem lies in the Palestinian Territoty sector A, which means it is under both civialian and military control of the Palestinian autonomy. The Jews are not allowed to enter here, but tourists can visit.

The controversial wall separating the various sectors of the Palestinian territories. The Israelies claim that the existence of this barrier contributed to the decrease of terrorist attacks in Israel.

The Town of Nazareth in Galilee, where Jesus was raised and spent the majority of his life. View of the Roman-Catholic basilique behind a small mosque, where a banner in broken English tries to convince the Christian visitors about the advantages of Islam.

The interior of the Basilique, built relatively recently and being an architectural master-piece. Nazareth is a predominantly Arab town (although laying in Israel since 1948), with its own democratically elected representation.

The old synagogue of Nazareth where Jesus would go during his childhood. Even though the current walls are built later, the floor is probably two thousand years old.

Visiting the nearby ruins of an old Roman town of Cipori in the vicinity of Nazareth. At Jesus's times this was the administrative center, while Nazareth being a small village.

The general view of Cipori, with ruins uncovered by the archeologists.

There are many beatiful mosaics, some of them nicely preserved till today.

The main street of Cipori. One can see that the main language of the city dwellers was Greek.

Cana of Galilee and the church of Revelation, where Jesus made his first miracle...

... by turning water into wine while attending a family friend's wedding.

The tradition location of Mount Tabor, a mountain where according to the Gospels Jesus and his main disciples climbed.

We climbed the mountain via a nature trail avoiding the main road. It was a nice climb through beautiful nature awarded by a nice view of the surrounding area.

After reaching the summit, a great Swedish table serving oriental delicacies was prepared for us.

On top of the mountain there are several churches, the biggest one being the Basilique of Transfiguration.

Mons. Tomas Halik celebrated a Mass in the basilique, where each group having made a reservation is alloted with 30 minutes.

Travelling further east to the See of Galilee, we visited the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus hold his famous preaching on the mount.

Capharnaum, the city of Jesus. Once a small fishing village on the Lake of Galilee, where Jesus gathered his disciples. This is the ruin of the house belonging to apostle Peter's month-in-law. Jesus lived and preached here and the place became the first church.

The synagogue of Capharneum, not far from Peter's house. The current structure is of a later date, but built on the location of an earlier synagogue, therefore probably visited by Jesus at his time.

A hill not far from the See of Galilee, where the famous battle of Hattin took place, where Saladin defeated the cruisaders and after which Jerusalem fell to islamic hands.

The shore of the See of Galilee near Capharneum. Also called Lake Kinnaret or Lake Genesereth. It is here where Peter and his brother went fishing.

The lake is a popular pilgrims' destination and tourist attraction.

There is a road going around the lake, especially nice for a bicycle trip.

Water from the lake is used as a vital source of water for many parts of Israel, both for drinking water as well as for irrigation purposes.

The other side of the Lake make part of the Golan Heights, part of Syria annected by Israel during the 6-days war in 1967.

Michal could not resist swimming in the lake. Due to the cold weather, he head to warm himself up by doing push-ups.

After the exercice, walking slowly to the deep area for a short swim.

Church of Peter's primacy at the lake of Galilee.

According to the tradition, Jesus named Peter as the leader of his apostles here.

On the way from the Lake of Galilee through the Jordan valley towards the Dead See on the way to Jerusalem.

While going southwards, the landscape gets drier and becomes a desert.

Finally reached Jerusalem. Walking down from Mount Scopus towards the old city.

The church in the garden of Getsemane.

It was here where Jesus went with his best disciples after the Last Supper.

On this rock Jesus prayed short before being found and caught by the priest soldiers, betrayed by Juda.

The small garden in the premises of the church.

It was very cold on Saturday morning, and started to snow. Michal throwing a snow ball in Jerusalem.

Cenacle, the place where Jesus had the Last Supper with his disciples.

Decalogue, or the Ten Commandments, written in Hebrew.

The Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, where Saint Mary passed away.

Typical sight in Jerusalem, with Jews wearing their traditional hats.

The Dung Gate of Jerusalem, the closest gate from the Western Wall.

The picturesque fortification walls of the old city of Jerusalem, built in the 16th century by the Ottomans.

The Jaffa Gate, the most important and beatiful gate of Jerusalem, where the residence of Pilates stood.

View from the Jewish quarter towards the Western Wall, the last remains of the Jewish second temple.

The Western Wall is the holiest place of Judaism. Since the Jews are not allowed to enter the Temple Mount, they pray at the wall.

The eastern side of the fortifications, protecting the Temple Mount. A muslim cemetary can be seen here.

View of the Temple Mount from the direction of the City of David, where the oldest part of Jerusalem once stood.

Graves of the muslim cemetary, which is freely accessible to everyone.

The muslim cemetary as seen from the Temple Mount in the direction of Mount of Olives.

The valley of Kidron, the main valley in Jerusalem, separating the old city from the Mount of Olives.

On the right, one can see the former City of David, where archeological excavations show the earliest remains of Jerusalem.

Via Dolorosa, a path where Jesus was led to crucifiction. Today a busy stret full of pilgrims, tourists and street vendors.

The court and dome of the Armenian church at Golgota hill.

And this is a Coptic church.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchure, the site of crucifiction, burial and ressurection of Jesus Christ.

The interior of the church, which is large and shared by many confessions, not always in harmony.

Our group in front of the Western Wall.

Jewish people praying in front of the Western Wall.

When people pray, they touch the wall with their hands or the head...

... and leave small papers with their wishes to the God.

We entered the Temple Mount, the former site of the Jewish temple, now a sacred place for Muslims.

With the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest place of Islam.

The spatious courtyeard on the Temple Mount.

An arcade of one of the building on the Temple Mount.

The Israeli riot police shortly fighting with some radicals on the Temple Mount. We saw one bleeding nose of a Palestinian as the result.

The Chapel of Ascension on the Mount of Olives, which is actually a place owned by Muslims.

Jerusalem seen almost from a bird's perspective, with a bird. View from the Mount of Olives.

One of the last pictures of our group, with the view of the Old Town and the golden dome of the Temple Mountain.

This is the most popular location for taking pictures of Jerusalem. It was extremaly cold while posing for the photo.

The western slope of Mount of Olives is beset with Jewish graves. It is one of the oldest cemetaries in the world.

Shop specialized in kippah, or yarmulka, the Jewish traditional cap.

Holy Land T-Shirts sold in a tourist shop in Jerusalem.