Located in the Israeli-occupied West Bank near the northern end of the Dead Sea, Jericho is both the lowest permanently inhabited site on earth and the oldest continuously occupied city known to man. It is also a literal and figurative oasis of calm, culture, and contemplation in a region riddled with conflict and security concerns.
Accessible by bus and/or a sherut from Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Ramallah, Jericho has much to offer visitors and tourists. Though most famous for its biblical associations (“Joshua fought the battle of Jericho […] and the walls came tumbling down!”), the storied ramparts of song and legend have never been found. However, there are many sites that repay one’s curiosity.
The mosaic floor of the Shalom al Yisrael Synagogue (now the basement of a private residence) dates to the 6th century. The Wadi Qelt Synagogue in the Hasmonean Royal Winter Palace complex is thought to be the oldest synagogue in the world.
The summit of the nearby Mountain of Temptation is reputed (some would say erroneously) to be the site where Jesus Christ was tempted by Satan prior to his crucifixion. Today, it is the site of a beautiful ancient Greek Orthodox monastery and is accessible either on foot or by cable car.
Not far off, the archaeological park and visitors center at the Qumran Caves marks the spot where the famous Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered during the middle of the last century.
No trip to the region is complete without a pilgrimage to Tell es-Sultan (ancient Jericho), which is located a short stroll north of the modern city center. The ancient mound consists of remnants of various reincarnations of cities that have existed in the area for more than 9,000 years.