There's Something About Mary

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Middle East » Israel
December 16th 2006
Published: December 20th 2006
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Grotto of the AnnunciationGrotto of the AnnunciationGrotto of the Annunciation

The cave where Mary is believed to have lived and where the angel Gabriel heralded the impending birth of Jesus
Next stop was Nazareth, the place where the angel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary to inform her that she was to be the mother of the son of God, and where Jesus spent most of his growing years. The Old City (Natzeret Ha-Atika) is really cool, with all the sights within easy walking distance. Also took a side trip to Tel Megiddo (aka Armageddon), the supposed site of the last great battle of the world, but there's not much to see there.

Another day was spent visiting the Bahai Shrine and Gardens in Haifa (stunningly beautiful landscaped gardens down the slope of Mount Carmel), and the Crusader City in Akko (so-so). These towns are approx 30-50kms from the Lebanon border. Speaking with some TA locals there was quite a bit of damage sustained in this northern area in the recent conflict, but they considered it to be really far away as Haifa is an hour from TA. I reckon I would be freaking out if someone decided to fire a few missiles or bombs say in the Blue Mountains.

Tourism in Israel appears to have been badly affected by the recent Lebanon conflict. Whilst there is hardly anyone
Basilica of the AnnunciationBasilica of the AnnunciationBasilica of the Annunciation

Built on the site believed to be Mary's home. The bronze front door depicts the life of Jesus.
around (most hostel dorms I have either been alone or with another occupant) it's been kind of nice to see the sights without a horde of tourists jostling for photo opp's.

Finally spent a great weekend with Itay and his friends by hiking up to Masada near the Dead Sea.

Additional photos below
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Australia's intrepretation of the Annunciation
Mary's WellMary's Well
Mary's Well

Located in the crypt of the Greek Orthodox Church of St Gabriel, it is where Mary used to draw water.

Pilgrim kissing a painting depicting the Annunciation in St Gabriel's church

According to Revelations, Tel Megiddo is marked as the site where the forces of Good will defeat the forces of Evil in the Final Battle at the End of Days
Tel MegiddoTel Megiddo
Tel Megiddo

Site excavations have uncovered 20 layers of ruins ranging from 4000BCE to 400BCE. This fortress town was at the crossroads of major ancient trading routes, and the site of many great battles even up to World War I when the British finally overcame the Turks in 1918.
Round altarRound altar
Round altar

Remains of a Canaanite temple circa 20th century BCE
Bahai Gardens and ShrineBahai Gardens and Shrine
Bahai Gardens and Shrine

The Shrine is the resting place of the Bab, an independent Messenger of God and Herald of Baha'u'llah, the Founder of the Bahai faith.
Best steak since ArgentinaBest steak since Argentina
Best steak since Argentina

Enjoyed a delicious veal steak with sour cream and pistachio sauce, tomato and cucumber salad, and banana & strawberry fruit shake, all for approx A$26. Fattoush restaurant in the German Colony near the base of the Bahai gardens.

Crusader tombstone circa 1290
View of Dead SeaView of Dead Sea
View of Dead Sea

Looking towards Jordan
Dead Sea desert landscapeDead Sea desert landscape
Dead Sea desert landscape

Remains of Roman garrison at the base of the Masada fortress in the foreground
Masada Masada

Itay and I from the other side of the canyon
Roman siege rampRoman siege ramp
Roman siege ramp

Romans built this ramp across the canyon in order to storm the Masada fortress, which was the last bastion of the Jewish Zealot rebels during the Second Temple period.
Western PalaceWestern Palace
Western Palace

Living quarters
End of Great Road TripEnd of Great Road Trip
End of Great Road Trip

Dinner with Lior, Ronit and Itay at cool bookshop/cafe "Tmol Shilshom" in West Jerusalem

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