Category Archives: For Children

Day Tour Jerusalem

For costs, questions, queries and other related information, click here.

This tour is for any visitors to Jerusalem (or locals). This tour will bring you to all the important and well-known touristic sights the Jerusalem has to offer. The tour is designed for the individual, as for groups, with or without a professional guide.

In this itinerary are always alternatives and added sights. Click on More Info or Things to do behind the sigh. Restaurants in the neighborhood of the sights are available in this itinerary each day. Click on Restaurants.

Click here for the day tour map.

  1. Jaffa Gate at the Tourist information boot (tour starts here)
  2. Tower of David
  3. Qishle – police headquarters and prison during Ottoman times
  4. St. James Cathedral Church
  5. Zion Gate
  6. King David’s tomb
  7. Mount Zion
  8. Dormition Abbey

BREAK

  1. The Western Wall Excavations
  2. The Davidson Center
  3. City of David
  4. Gihon Spring
  5. Hezekiah’s and Siloam Tunnels
  6. Zecharias’ Tomb
  7. Church of the Assumption (Mary’s Tomb)
  8. Lions’ Gate
  9. Church convictionRestaurants.

BREAK

  1. Church of St. Mary of agony
  2. VIA DOLOROSA
  3. The Ethiopian PatriarchateRestaurants.
  4. Church of the Holy Sepulchre
  5. Old City Bazaar
  6. Lutheran Church of the Redeemer
  7. Church of St. John the Baptist
  8. Cardo

BREAK

  1. Burnt House
  2. Western wall
  3. Al-Aqsa Mosque
  4. Temple Mount
  5. Dome of the Rock (tour ends here) – Restaurants.

The Foundation Stone of the World

The Foundation Stone is the name of the rock at the heart of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Jews traditionally face it while praying, in the belief that it was the location of the Holy of Holies in the Temple. Muslims believe that angels visited the site 2,000 years before the creation of Adam, the place to which Muhammad traveled in the Night Journey and it’s the place where Israfel, the angel of the trumpet, will sound his horn on Resurrection Day. Map.

Foundation Stone
Foundation Stone

Many sages from the Talmud were mentioned about the Foundation Stone.

  • God took the Foundation Stone and threw it into the depths and from it the world expanded. It’s the center point of the world and the first part of the Earth to come into existence.
  • Also it was close to the Foundation Stone, that God gathered the earth and created Adam.
  • It was on this rock that Adam—and later Cain, Abel, and Noah—offered sacrifices to God.
  • Jewish sources identify this rock as the place mentioned in the Bible where Abraham fulfilled God’s test to see if he would be willing to sacrifice his son Isaac.
  • It is also identified as the rock upon which Jacob dreamt about angels ascending and descending on a ladder and consequently consecrating and offering a sacrifice upon.
  • When (according to the Bible) King David purchased a threshing floor owned by Araunah the Jebusite (Canaanites), it is believed that it was upon this rock that he offered the sacrifice mentioned in the verse.
  • He wanted to construct a permanent temple there, but as his hands were “bloodied”, he was forbidden to do so himself. The task was left to his son Solomon, who completed the Temple in c. 950 BCE.
  • Situated inside the Holy of Holies, this was the rock upon which the Ark of the Covenant was placed in the First Temple.
  • During the Second Temple period when the Ark of the Covenant was not present, the stone was used by the High Priest who offered up the incense and sprinkled the blood of the sacrifices on it during the Yom Kippur service.
Foundation Stone
Foundation Stone

The rock itself is 90-million-year-old and quite different compared with rocks surrounding it. The southern side of the Foundation Stone forms a ledge, with a gap between it and the surrounding ground; a set of steps currently uses this gap to provide access from the Dome of the Rock to the Well of Souls beneath it.

Foundation Stone
Foundation Stone

The rock has several human-made cuts in its surface, created by the Crusaders. Flat sections on the stone indicates foundation trenches on top of which the walls of the original temple were laid.

Foundation Stone
Foundation Stone

Sodom Day Tour

By tradition, this area is the site of Sodom and Gomorrah, the biblical cities that were destroyed in a storm of fire and brimstone, punishment from God because of their people’s depravity (Genesis 18-19). These days, Sodom is much better known for its desert hiking and cycling trails than for sodomy. And for that we have this day tour. Normally, a day tour occupies about a half day, but I added several hiking opportunities to this day you and that means you will be busy the whole day. It’s breathtaking nature in action. Look also for the stories behind the cursed cities in Israel. See also the maps of the Dead Sea.



‘The Situation of Man’

The Situation of Man
The Situation of Man

Atop a bluff overlooking the Dead Sea Works stands this modern sculpture, a rusty steel column with old steel railway ties striving to climb it like desperate worms.
Next to the sculpture, a viewpoint looks out over a crazy juxtaposition of smoke-spewing heavy industry, electric-blue evaporation pools, green farm fields (over in Jordan) and the wild, tawny beauty of the desert.

Mountains of Moab
Mountains of Moab

Views are best in the late afternoon, when the setting sun turns the mountains of Moab a reddish gold.

Mountains of Moab
Mountains of Moab

The 600m-long access road intersects Rte 90 250m north of the main entrance to the Dead Sea Works. Turn off at the white-on-brown sign reading ‘Plant Viewing Point’ (ignore the yellow ‘no trespassing’ sign) and follow the green signs marked (in Hebrew) ‘LaMitzpeh’ (‘to the scenic lookout’). Beyond the sculpture, a 4WD road continues to the Amiaz Plateau.

Lot’s Wife

Lot's Wife pillar, Mount Sodom
Lot’s Wife pillar, Mount Sodom

About 11km south of the southern end of Ein Bokek, high above the west side of Rte 90, a column of salt-rich rock leans precariously away from the rest of the Mt Sodom cliff face. It is popularly known as Lot’s Wife because, according to the Bible, Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt as punishment for looking back to see Sodom as it burned (Genesis 19:17 and 19:26).

Dead Sea Works

Dead Sea Works
Dead Sea Works

Israel’s only major natural resource – other than sunlight and the gas fields off the Mediterranean coast – is the Dead Sea, from which products ranging from magnesium chloride and anhydrous aluminium chloride to table salt and cosmetics are extracted. Founded in the 1930s, the DSW is now the world’s fourth-largest producer of potash, an important component of agricultural fertiliser.
By day, the rusty (from the salt air) smokestacks, pipes and holding tanks of the DSW complex look like a mid-20th-century industrial dystopia, but by night, when the sprawling facilities are lit by thousands of yellowish lights, the site has a mysterious, otherworldly beauty.

Mount Sodom

Mount Sodom
Mount Sodom

Two trails head down the steep flanks of Mt Sodom from a lookout point, reachable by 4WD, whose views are at their best in the late afternoon.

Ma’aleh HaSulamot (Ladders Ascent; 1½ hours to walk down), named after its many stairs, connects with Rte 90 across the highway from the sun-blasted huts of the Dead Sea Works’ first workers’ camp, built in 1934.

Another descent to Rte 90 is Shvil HaDagim (Fishes Trail; 1½ hours down), so named because of the many fossilised fish you can see in the rocks.

Mt Sodom, 11km long and up to 2km wide, is one of the world’s stranger geological formations. Start with the fact that it’s made almost entirely of rock salt, a highly soluble material that in any other climate would have melted away. In fact, over the millennia the area’s rare rainfalls have dissolved some of the salt, creating deep in the bowels of the mountain a maze of caves (closed to the public) up to 5.5km long.

Many are connected to the surface by shafts that hikers need to make sure they don’t fall into, and some are filled with delicate, eerie salt stalactites. And then there’s the matter of Mt Sodom’s summit.

A respectable 250m above the surface of the Dead Sea – the views of Jordan’s Moab Mountains are gorgeous – it also happens to be 176m below sea level.

West of Mt Sodom, Wadi Sodom is ideal for mountain biking. If you start at the top (accessible by 4WD), it’s about two hours, mostly downhill, to the Neve Zohar area.

A round-trip circuit that connects with beautiful Wadi Pratzim (Wadi Perazim), whose upper reaches pass the famous Flour Cave (closed to the public), is another option.

Sleeping

The Mt Sodom area has several well-marked camping zones (chenyonei layla) without facilities, including one up on the Amiaz Plateau (Mishor Amiaz) and another further north at Wadi Tze’elim.

Mt Sodom International Bike Race: www.desertchallenge.co.il

Map of Dead Sea - Sodom Day Tour
Map of Dead Sea – Sodom Day Tour

The Mysterious Well of Souls, the Holy of Holies

The Well of Souls is a partly natural, partly man-made cave located inside the Foundation Stone under the Dome of the Rock shrine in Jerusalem. For Muslims, the spirits of the dead can be heard awaiting Judgment Day. For Christians, the site is known as the Holy of Holies and is venerated as a possible “site of the annunciation of John the Baptist”. The Well of Souls has also other names: Pit of SoulsCave of Spirits, and Well of Spirits in Islam.

There was never an archeological investigation because of political and diplomatic sensitivities. And that means that the mystery only gets more mystified!

Well of Souls
Well of Souls

For Christian Pilgrims it’s one of the places to visit. It’s not for nothing the Holy of Holies. It’s also the place covered in mysteries …

The Well of Souls, located on Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, may contain the fabled and elusive Ark of the Covenant. This is the sacred vessel that, according to biblical account, contained the original Ten Commandments tablets that God gave to Moses at Mount Sinai as the ancient Israelites wandered the desert.

The Well of Souls is purportedly located below a natural cave under the rock upon which Jewish tradition says Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac. Islamic tradition indicates Muhammad ascended to heaven from this same stone.

No one knows with absolute certainty whether the Well of Souls—or the Ark of the Covenant—actually exists. Though knocking on the floor of the cave under the Muslim Dome of the Rock shrine elicits a resounding hollow echo, no one has ever seen this alleged chamber. The Temple Mount itself is rife with a network of some 45 cisterns, chambers, tunnels, and caves.

Well of Souls
Well of Souls

There has never been any proper archaeological exploration of the site, which is under control of the Waqf Muslim religious trust.

The famed 19th-century British explorers Charles Wilson and Sir Charles Warren could neither prove nor disprove the existence of a hollow chamber below the cave. They believed the sound reportedly heard by visitors was simply an echo in a small fissure beneath the floor.

Well of Souls
Well of Souls

Shimon Gibson, senior fellow at the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem, published a definitive review together with colleague David Jacobson called Below the Temple Mount in Jerusalem: A Sourcebook on the Cisterns, Subterranean Chambers and Conduits of the Haram Al-Sharif. “Since the 19th century, no Westerner has been allowed access to the subterranean chambers on the Temple Mount,” Gibson said.

The Temple Mount and the natural cave below the Dome of the Rock are periodically open to tourists, depending upon the local security and political situation.

History

Well of Souls
Well of Souls

Both Jewish and Muslim traditions relate to what may lie beneath the Foundation Stone, the earliest of them found in the Talmud in the former and understood to date to the 12th and 13th centuries in the latter.

The Talmud indicates that the Stone marks the center of the world and serves as a cover for the Abyss containing the raging waters of the Flood.

Muslim tradition likewise places it at the center of the world and over a bottomless pit with the flowing waters of Paradise underneath. A palm tree is said to grow out of the River of Paradise here to support the Stone.

Noah is said to have landed here after the Flood. The souls of the dead are said to be audible here as they await the Last Judgment.

Well of Souls
Well of Souls

The Crusaders recaptured Jerusalem in 1099 and converted the Dome of the Rock into a church, calling it the Templum Domini, or the Temple of the Lord.

They were cutting away much of the rock to make staircases and paving the Stone over with marble slabs. They enlarged the main entrance of the cave and probably are also responsible for creating the shaft ascending from the center of the chamber. The Crusaders called the cave the “Holy of Holies” and venerated it as the site of the announcement of John the Baptist’s birth.


Reference

  • The earliest reference to a “pierced rock” (the shaft in the cave’s roof) may be that in the Itinerarium Burdigalense by the anonymous “Pilgrim of Bordeaux” who visited Jerusalem in 333 AD.
  • References to the “Well of Souls” under the Foundation Stone date back at least to the 10th-century Persian writer Ibn al-Faqih who mentions it as an Islamic sacred site.
  • The 11th-century Persian writer and traveler Nasir-i Khusraw related the traditional story of the origin of the cave in his classic travelogue Safarnama:

They say that on the night of his Ascension into heaven, the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, prayed first at the Dome of the Rock, laying his hand upon the Rock. As he went out, the Rock, to do him honor, rose up, but he laid his hand on it to keep it in its place and firmly fixed it there. But by reason of this rising up, it is even to this present day partly detached from the ground beneath.

  • The 16th-century rabbi David ben Solomon ibn Abi Zimra attested to the existence of a cave found under the Dome of the Rock and known as the “Well of Souls”.
  • The definitive modern review of the Well of Souls, along with other underground openings beneath the Temple Mount, is in Shimon Gibson and David Jacobson’s Below the Temple Mount in Jerusalem: A Sourcebook on the Cisterns, Subterranean Chambers and Conduits of the Haram Al-Sharif.