You wouldn’t quite believe that a small town like Jericho in Palestine holds two of the world records for cities. While the population of Jericho houses a mere 25,000 people, its worldwide appeal stretches to thousands and millions more as the tranquil settlement of Jericho is literally, “as old as the hills”. It’s the oldest city in the world, and it’s also the lowest city in the world. Backpacking your way through Israel and Palestine, this is one not to miss.
How low is Jericho?
At its lowest point, Jericho sits at 260 metres below sea level. My visit there completed another of life’s travel doubles for me. Back in 2010, you might have read how I did Potosi, the world’s highest city. From Potosi in Bolivia to Jericho in Palestine. Highest to lowest city in the world!
How old is Jericho?
I guess it’s anybody’s guess and you could argue that nobody really knows. I don’t really care to be honest, it claims to be the oldest continuously inhabited city on earth and most of us won’t disagree or argue. Evidence points to life here, 10,000 years B.C.
Top 10 Things to do in and around Jericho
There are a lot of things to do in and around Jericho to be honest and if you’re a biblical enthusiast, it would be wise to spend at least a night there to get everything done. I wasn’t up for ticking them all of as it happened so a day trip was suffice for me. We visited Jericho as part of a day long “Best of the West Bank Tour” with Abraham Tours and it was awesome. Here are some of the things I advise doing if you’re in Jericho.
1. Photo by the “World’s Oldest City” sign
Getting the obligatory photo by “the world’s oldest city” sign is a must – proof you were there as I see it. The sign is at the entrance car park at the foot of the Monastery.
2. Temptation Mountain
OK so the story says that on Temptation Mountain Jesus refused the three temptations aimed at him by the devil. One for those Bible enthusiasts. Included in the mountain, is also the Monastery itself.
3. The Walls of Jericho
Understandably, the walls of Jericho don’t really exist anymore. Well it’s so old, other things have been built and the walls are ruined. However parts of the walls are still there to see, having been excavated out of the soil to reveal layered walls.
4. Tel Es-Sultan
Again these are the remains of the old city, dating back 7,000 years or so. It doesn’t get much older than that!
5. Cable Car Ride
Despite being an ancient city, modern inventions, and especially tourism are rife here. You can get a cable car ride all the way to the Monastery.
6. View of the city of Jericho
Just to prove to you how low it lies, it’s nice to get a vantage point of Jericho looking down. Ask your tour guide for a decent spot to look down on the city. We did it from a raised part of the Tel Es Sultan, though the Monastery will probably beat that.
7. Hisham’s Palace
Hisham’s Palace is on the trek away from the tourist centre and car park, it’s a 3 kilometre walk. You’ll be rewarded with an old hunting lodge and a marvellous mosaic floor from the Byzantine period.
8. Zacchaeus Sycamore Tree
While this story may sound hard to believe, this tree in the city of Jericho is rumoured to be the same tree where Zacchaeus climbed to get a decent view of Jesus preaching. That was 2000 years ago. The tree, the same tree, is still there, in the same place. Hmmm…
9. King Hussein Bridge/Allenby Bridge
Don’t forget you are very close to the border with Jordan here in Jericho. Get your photo with the Jordan and Israel flags both within view and paddle in the water, this is the exit point for Palestinians if they want to leave their own country.
10. Jesus’s Baptismal Site/Qaser El Yahud
The main man that everyone talks about, Jesus, was apparently baptised on the edge of Jericho, and actually in an area which is now only separated from Jordan by a river. While crossing the border here isn’t an option, it’s a good historical spot to visit and nice to see how close Jordan is- basically – just a small river separates the two countries here!
As with most of my recent posts, I apologise for the lack of videos and the fact that some photos for once don’t even match the headlines above them. This alone,has taken me 3 hours to upload the post due to Apple being idiots, my hard drive only being able to work on Apple computers and using my girlfriend’s Chinese keypad to type. I’ll get them updated as soon as a sane person sorts my laptop out.