Jericho is a city located near the Jordan River in the West Bank. It is believed to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world.
Jericho is located 258 metres (846 ft) below sea level in an oasis in Wadi Qelt in the Jordan Valley. The nearby spring of Ein es-Sultan produces 3.8 m3 (1,000 gallons) of water per minute, irrigating some 10 square kilometres (2,500 acres) through multiple channels and feeding into the Jordan River, 10 kilometres (6 mi) away. The constant sunshine, rich alluvial soil, and abundant water from the spring have always made Jericho an attractive place for settlement.
The ancient city of Jericho is located 2 km from the northwestern outskirts of Jericho. Situated on a mound overlooking the Jericho oasis, excavations at Tell al-Sultan uncovered 23 layers of ancient civilizations, dating back to 9000 BC. Many structures are visible, including the oldest known stairs in the world, the oldest wall, and the massive defense tower, dating back to 7000 BC.
Representing a sample of early Islamic architecture, the ruins of this impressive desert palace lie 3 km from the northern outskirts of Jericho. This country residence of the Umayyad Caliph Hisham (724-743 AD) is a complex of royal buildings, mosques, baths, and colonnaded courts. There are also spectacular mosaic floors can be seen including the “Tree of Life” mosaic, one of the most beautiful in the world. Another famous feature is a courtyard framework featuring the shape of hexagonal Umayyad star.
Quarantine – Monastery of Temptation
The summit of Mt.Temptation, rising to a height of 350 meters above sea level and commanding a magnificent view of the JordanValley, is the site where Jesus spent forty days and nights fasting and meditating during the temptation of Satan. A monastery was built in the sixth century over the cave where Christ stayed. The path leading to Deir Quruntel is very steep and difficult to climb, but is well worth the walk. The nearly 30-40 caves on the eastern slopes of the mountain have been inhabited by monks and hermits since the early days of Christianity.
Fountain of Eliseus
To the east of Tell es Sultan is Ain es Sultan, called by the Christians the Fountain of Eliseus, because the prophet, touched by the prayers of the inhabitants of Jericho, corrected the bitterness of the water and made it palatable by casting into it a handful of salt (2 Kings 2,19). The Byzantines built here a church in honour of St. Eliseus. It was the water of the spring which led to the early occupation of the nearby site, and today its water, regulated by law, accounts for the beautiful gardens of bananas, oranges, dates etc, in this most delightful of oases.
Heading just north of Ain es Sultan on the main road, you will find to the right a track leads into a clump of trees, and within the property of the Shahwan family can be seen the foundations and mosaic floor of a synagogue discovered in 1936. The date of the construction is believed to be the 8th cent and it is an interesting item for the history of the Jews at that time.
Herodium Jericho Tulul Abul-Alayeq
The site is made up of several low hills on both sides of wadi Qelt. It is located right at the southern entrance of Jericho, at the point where wadi Qelt meets the plateau of Jericho. The site can be reached either from the main Jerusalem-Jericho road, or better via the old road to Jericho which lines the wadi. The oldest discoveries at Tulul Abu Al Alaieq date back to the Chalcolithic period 4500-3100 BC, but the most impressive remains are either from the Hellenistic or the Roman periods in date. In Roman times, Jericho was a garden of fruit and palm trees, it was given as a gift to Cleopatra by Mark Antony.
Good Samaritan Inn – Al-Khan al-Ahmar
Located 10 km east of Jerusalem, on the main road to Jericho, al-Khan al-Ahmar is a 16th century structure where travelers on this ancient trade route stopped to rest. On the other side of the road are the remains of St. Euthymius Church, built in the fifth century to commemorate Jesus’ famous proverb of the Good Samaritan.
St. George’s Monastery & Wadi Qelt
Wadi Qelt is a natural rift in the hills with high, sheer rock walls, extending 45km between Jerusalem and Jericho. Hermits have inhabited the Wadi since the third century. Today, it is a wonderful place for hiking tours, especially in winter. The Monastery of St. George, Deir al-Qelt, is carved out of the rock and clings to the canyon walls impressively. Built in the fifth century, the monastery was destroyed during the Persian invasion of Palestine. Most of the present monastery dates back to the 1901 restoration by the Greek Orthodox Church.
Jordan River – Baptism Site
Jordan River, the great holy river of Holy Land, the Jordan, rises in several headstreams near Mount Hermon in the mountains of Syria and Lebanon and flows more than 322 kilometers south through the Great Rift Valley to the Dead Sea. It is one of the world’s most remarkable rivers because of its association with Hebrew and Christian history and the unique descent in its course from 79 meters above sea level to 391 meters below sea level. From ancient times the river has marked a dividing line between settled and nomad peoples.