Middle East - Judean desert, from Dead Sea to Jerusalem
72 images Created 16 Dec 2008
The incredible landscape of the Judean home to awesome hidden monasteries built into the rocks and discovering beautiful natural springs. Near the Southern end of the Dead Sea, not far from kibbutz farming in the southern border of the Judean Desert, Through the winding wadi Sodom and hidden canyons a rough track leads up to the top of the Mount Sodom, the highest peak, made of a salt crystals with impressive shapes, very unique and seen only in extremely arid areas. This is the place were in Biblical times the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that God resolved to strike down for their sexual promiscuity. Along the the Dead Sea, the Ein Gedi Natural Reserve is a vibrant oasis bursting with wildlife, rich vegetation and cool, clear streams and waterfalls. The Ein Gedi oasis has a long history, because the joung David fled here to escape king Saul as, later, Simon Bar Kokhba, leader of the second Jewish revolt (132--135 A.D.) against Roman empire. Not far, on the top of isolated rock plateau overlooking the Dead Sea , Masada, one of Israel’s must-see sites. The “fortress”, in hebrew, was built from the king Herod the Great, as a palace and fortress. Later, during the Great Revolt of the Jews against Rome, a group of Jewish rebels settled in the fort. After the destruction of the Second Temple (70 CE), the Romans continued to put down the revolt and laid siege to Masada. With the Roman army advancing, the Jews of Masada elected to suicide rather than surrender. According to Josephus, a Romano-Jewish historian of the first century, the siege ended in the mass suicide of 960 people, the rebels and their families. Another testimony of of Jewish history is the ancient settlement of Qumran revealing a wealth of information about the ancient Essenes Jews who lived here. In the hidden caves around in 1947 a young Bedouin shepherd found the world-famous Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest biblical books ever discovered, on display at the Shrine of the Book in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. From here a rough track off the beaten path of the Judean desert continues to Nabi Musa, a holy site for Muslims, considered to be the burial site of Moses. Lonely on the dramatic cliff of a Judean desert canyon is Mar Saba monastery, Almost a secret because of the relative difficulty in arriving at the site. 'The Great Lavra of St. Sabbas the Sanctified' after its founding saint, was founded over 1500 years ago, is one of the oldest inhabited monasteries, and definitely one of the most beautiful in the world. The awe-inspiring structure is inhabited by around twenty Greek Orthodox monks, who also meditate in the surrounding rock caves. From here through the incredible desert landscape the track leads to the road and to the Herodion, a man-made flat mountain, one of the world finest exemples of preserved Roman architecture. Built as fortress and summer palace by king Herod the Great.