The modern, cosmopolitan city of Tel Aviv is the second largest city in Israel, and is Israel’s cultural and commercial centre. Founded in 1909 on the outskirts of the ancient seaport of Jaffa, the city is a vibrant, modern metropolis, and home to almost 400,000 people. A portion of the city known as the ‘White City’ was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 2004 and presents some fascinating examples of 1930s Bauhaus architecture. With its street cafes, Mediterranean beaches and vibrant nightlife, Tel Aviv is rapidly gaining a reputation as one of the region’s most lively cities.
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Caesarea, Haifa, Acre & Nazareth
The ruins of the coastal city of Caesarea are approximately 45km from Tel Aviv. Caesarea was originally called Straton's Tower after its founder, who is believed to have been a ruler of Sidon in the fourth century BC. Once the site of a Phoenician port, over the course of 12 years Herod built Caesarea into a large, grand city which was renamed in honour of Augustus Caesar. Herod built a large harbour, several temples and an ornate palace. The ruins today include an impressive theatre, the oldest in Israel, and the remains of an aqueduct system that supplied the city with water. There is also a large hippodrome and several buildings, including the defensive walls that can be attributed to the city's time under the Crusaders.
Follow the Mediterranean coast for about 50km and you will reach the city of Haifa, located in the Carmel mountain range. See the golden domed Baha’i Shrine and Persian Gardens, and drive to a scenic viewpoint on Mount Carmel. Drive from Haifa to Acre, a distance of 30km. Here you will visit the Ottoman and Crusader city of Acre, also known as Akko. Highlights are the fortified harbour area and ramparts as well as the impressive Knights Halls and refectory.
Continue to the town of Nazareth, a journey time of approximately 1 hour 15 minutes. Nazareth is the town where Mary learnt from the Angel Gabriel that she was to have a child and was also the boyhood home of Jesus. The Church of the Annunciation was built in the 1960s on the site of numerous other churches to celebrate Mary's news. Also visit the Church of Joseph, the Church and Mary's Well and the Church of the Annunciation.
The biblical port of Jaffa
Thousands of years of history come together in Jaffa, an ancient city which is also the birthplace of Tel Aviv. One of the world's first ports, Jaffa was a centre of commerce and culture, agriculture and tourism. From Clock Tower Square, convoys of wagons and camels travelled out to all parts of the country and pilgrims made their way on foot to the holy city of Jerusalem. The historic clock tower was built by the Turkish sultan Abdul Hamid II in 1906, when the land was under Ottoman rule. Take a walk along the cobbled streets and visit St Peter's Church, a Franciscan church built over a medieval citadel and where Napoleon stayed in 1799 during his campaigns in Egypt and Syria.
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