• Jericho City

    The oldest city but without any of the urban pressures which one finds elsewhere. To all senses, Jericho is an oasis.

  • Jericho City

    The oldest city but without any of the urban pressures which one finds elsewhere. To all senses, Jericho is an oasis.

Jericho is allegedly the oldest city in the world. But its 10,000 years of history have reached a mellow stage. For ages, Palestinian families in Jerusalem have owned houses and land here to escape the winter higher up. Temperature differences up to 10°C are not uncommon. Historically, Jericho as a refuge was not much different: King Herod the Great and the Umayyad Caliph Hisham established their winter palaces there, probably as much for their personal and physical comfort as to expand their legacies as great builders of their time. In its sheer spaciousness and laid-back atmosphere, Jericho is Jerusalem’s mirror image on all counts: a flat drawn out city with wide roads, sidewalks and an abundance of green space.

Looking down from the Mount of Temptation, there is nothing really urban with small dots of built-up space spread around green and fallow lands. Jericho’s road network covers the flattest part of Palestine and is a haven for bikers and walkers, big and small. A day of leisure in Jericho can be combined with a visit to some of the most remarkable heritage sites in the West Bank. Tel al-Sultan is a mound that showcases layer upon layer of Jericho’s ancient remains starting with the neolitihic period 10,000 years ago –give or take a few years. Though the extensive excavations might not speak to everyone’s imgaination, Jericho is one of the oldest cities in the world and the tel demonstrates this layer by layer. The 8th century ruins and bathouse mosaics of the enormous Ummayad Palace of Hisham are breathtaking:  only the celebrated Tree of Life figure is presently visible but there are plans afoot to uncover the entire bathhouse floor of some 850 m² of continuous classical mosaics. Further mosaics can also be admired in the Coptic Church of St. Andrew and in the remains of two decorated synagogue floors, one near Hisham’s Palace, the Shalom al-Israel Synagogue, and the other in north Jericho, the Ain Duyuk (or Na’aran) Synagogue. Located near the city’s main entrance, the Jericho Mosaic Center is the city’s main resource and activity center on Jericho’s varied heritage of classical mosaics.

Spectacular views over the city and the Jordan Valley can be obtained from the Mount of Temptation where the Monastery and Temptation Church is a highlight for both secular and religious visitors as it barely hangs on from the cliffs overlooking the city. A stroll through Jericho’s small town center is worthwhile and so is a visit to its latest tourism draw there, the somehwat grotesque and Kremlin-like Russian Museum, built on land once owned by the Tsar.

Sites in the Jericho Region:

St. George’s Monastery

Hanging on the cliffs of Jericho’s most famous wadi route is an ancient monastery open to all.

Nebi Musa

The desert sanctuary of Nebi Musa is said to be the last resting place for the Prophet Moses. Its white domed roof has been witness to centuries of pilgrimage.

Mar Saba Monastery

Hidden in an uninhabitable valley, Mar Saba desert monastery has provided refuge and solitary isolation to thousands of ascetic monks who dedicate their lives to prayer, their lives and routines largely unchanged for over 1500 years.

Mount of Temptation

Trek up a steep path or take a ride on a cable car to reach the clifftop Monastery of Temptation. There, treat yourself to a breathtaking panoramic view of Jericho, the Jordan Valley, and the bluish waters of the Dead Sea.

Hyrcania

Hike through the alternating hills and valleys of the remote wilderness to reach the ruins of the strategically situated and mysterious fortress of Hyrcania, experiencing the solitude and quietness of the surrounding desert on your way.

Hisham’s Palace

When passing through Jericho, make sure to visit the impressive ruins of Hisham’s Palace, a truly beautiful example of early Islamic architecture and home to one of the most stunning mosaics in the world.