The Dead Sea and Masada#13 in Best Things To Do in Jerusalem
If you're planning on spending several days to a week in Jerusalem, consider taking a day trip to the Dead Sea. Located southeast of Jerusalem, along the Israel-Jordan border, the Dead Sea is the lowest point on the surface of the earth. Recent travelers describe a swim in these waters, which are so salty that no living organism can survive in them, as otherworldly; the salt causes you to float effortlessly on the surface. Many also believe that the Dead Sea (and its mud) has healing powers. Although that hasn't been proven, both the mud and the salty water have soothing effects on skin.
While in the area, you must visit Masada, which sits about 60 miles south of Jerusalem along the southeast coast of the Dead Sea. Overlooking the sea from its cliff-side perch, this archaeological site houses the remains of a Sicarii settlement. The Sicarri was a group of Jewish radicals that defeated the Roman troop stationed in Southern Israel. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D., the Sicarii fled Jerusalem and settled at Masada, but four years later, the Romans laid siege to their city. According to legend, rather than endure defeat, the Sicarii committed a mass suicide, leaving only an empty city for the Romans to conquer. Today, you can explore what remains of this community. According to one TripAdvisor user, "The view of the Dead Sea and the surrounding mountain ranges alone makes this hike/journey worthwhile."
You can reach the Dead Sea and Masada by Egged bus. The trip takes about an hour and a half and costs between 42 and 55 ILS (around $11 to $15 USD) each way. You can also drive, following Route 1 east out of Jerusalem and then Route 90 South. Depending on which beach you choose, you may have to pay to swim in the Dead Sea. Masada is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. between April and September and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. between October and March. Admission to Masada is 27 ILS (around $7 USD) for adults and 13 ILS (about $3.50 USD) for children. To learn more about the Dead Sea, visit the region's website. You can find more information about Masada at the park's website.
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#1 Old City
Chances are that you'll spend much of your time here. The Old City is home to many of Jerusalem's most sought-after attractions, including the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and Temple Mount. Originally built by King David in 1004 B.C., the walled Old City comprises four distinct areas: the Jewish Quarter (or the Cardo), the Muslim Quarter, the Christian Quarter, and the Armenian Quarter. Each quarter exudes its own unique atmosphere, with religious sites, shops, and food offerings reflecting its respective heritage. Yet the Old City's winding alleyways and ancient stone plazas allow mixing and mingling among these cultures, making a very eclectic environment.
It's easy to lose yourself (both metaphorically and geographically) in the Old City, but make sure you devote some attention to its boundaries. You can access the Old City from seven entryways: the New Gate, Damascus Gate, Herod's Gate, Lions' Gate, Dung Gate, Zion Gate, and Jaffa Gate. Each doorway marks a significant era of Jerusalem's history. For example, Jaffa Gate is where the Tower of David (the city's primary defense point) can be found.
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