Jericho, Qumran and the Dead Sea

28 Jan

We took a guided tour to Jericho and some nearby sites. We didn’t really get to see much of Jericho proper; our bus driver drove straight through the town to the ruins of Hisham’s Palace, 5 km north of Jericho. The palace, built in 743, had been quite a magnificent structure covered in mosiacs and stucco but not much remains today. The loveliest feature, a mosaic of the tree of life from the floor of the bath house, was barely visible from an upstairs window.

Hisham's Palace Window

One of the few remaining architectural details left of Hisham's Palace

From Hisham’s Palace we drove a bit further south to the Mount of Temptation where we visited a Greek Orthodox Monastery that was built atop a cliff in 1895. Access to the monastery was via cable car. We had a stunning view from atop the Mount of Temptation. The monastery was an architectural wonder…with a chapel filled with lovely painted icons. Alas, no pics allowed inside the chapel. From the monastery balcony we were looking into the sun, making photography a bit of a challenge.

Greek Orthodox Monastery of the Temptation

Greek Orthodox Monastery of the Temptation

There was a little cafe situated between the monastery and the cable car station where I had a most delicious freshly squeezed glass of pomegranate/orange juice. I wished the group would have stayed there for lunch but the tour guide took us to this horrible little souvenir/cafeteria complex where we had a rather unappetizing lunch.

Continuing south, we made our way to Qumran, an archaeological site with the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. We watched a film about the Essenes, the sect that wrote the text on the Scrolls then visited some of the remains of structures from the time of the Essenes. You can go hiking in the area, which I think would be a lovely day out as the scenery is stark but stunning. The best part of our day was when I turned around while viewing the caves at Qumran and saw a rainbow forming over the Dead Sea. The light was magical.

Dead Sea Rainbow

Dead Sea Rainbow

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2 Responses to “Jericho, Qumran and the Dead Sea”

  1. Domenica Genovese February 16, 2012 at 10:19 pm #

    Wow, fantastic post, Lenora. These are some of the places I would love to see. The rainbow was a special treat.

    • Lenora Genovese February 16, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

      Would love to take you to some of these places, too, though I can’t promise you a rainbow!

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