30 May Religious places to visit in the Holy Land (if you are not religious)
by Fernando Palhares from Brazil
As the van approaches the end of the road, the sweat starts to build up, as I live in Saudi Arabia but am about to walk out of Jordan and walk into the West Bank, the Holy Land, the Occupied Territories or however you prefer to call them. If the Jordanians or Israeli border control guards decide to stamp me in te Allenby Bridge checkpoint, I will be unable to return to my home, work or friends, since there are no diplomatic ties between the State of Zion and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. But through smiles and explanations, we are able to leave immigration without a trace of ink in my passport.
Holy Land, the adrenaline buildup on way to the city by Fernando Palhares
Approaching Jerusalem from the Jordanian Border, you soon cross some biblical places like Jericho (the lowest city on Earth on the foot of Mount of Temptations), Aqabat Jabr (Palestinean city that thrived on tourism until it became a no-go zone for Israeli nationals) and Nabi Musa, a Muslim caravan resting place that stood still in time since 2000 years ago. But it is only after you suddenly enter Derech Har Hatzofim Tunnel below Mount Scopus that the landscape quickly transforms into the bustling quasi-European city that is Jerusalem.
Holy Land, the Jewish by Fernando Palhares
Holy Land, the Muslim by Fernando Palhares
Holy Land, the Christian by Fernando Palhares
Holy Land, Church of Annunciation by Fernando Palhares
Holy Land, View from the Octagonal Church, Capharnaum by Fernando Palhares
The Holy Land is commonly associated with Israel, but isolating it would be extremely unfair to the neighboring countries which also make part of history. Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Jordan, of course, are also very important entities of the Holy Land, and this is evident when we start to visit the sites on the other side of the Jordan River. One of the favorites is the Memorial Church of Moses in Mount Nebo (pictured), and in the distance, it is possible to catch a glimpse of the Dead Sea and the surrounding valley. Considering Mount Nebo is ~800m above sea level, and the Dead Sea is ~400m below it is easy to understand how the view is so great in this spot.
Holy Land, Church of Moses on Mount Nebo by Fernando Palhares
After diving headfirst into this mythical Holy Land, it is time to go home. The moment we drive back into the city it become evident again why this place is so special – among the crystal clear chaos of the Muslim and Arab world, clashing with Palestine and the West Bank, across the street from the settlements and the occupied territories, and attracting visitors left and right, from different religions, with different beliefs, distinct world views and motivations, the Holy Land is still a place of peace, comprehension, and where it is possible to believe in a time where people all around the world will live in harmony.