Jericho (Arabic أريحا Arīḥā Hebrew יריחו Yəriḥo) , the "City of Palms", is a small city within the Palestinian Territories and Israeli-occupied West Bank, close to the northern end of Dead Sea and some 55 km (34 miles) from Jerusalem. A relatively tranquil town, Jericho's recent reputation for calm and lack of security incidents in the midst of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, have made it a natural target for visitors to areas administered by the Palestinian National Authority. Jericho is touted as the world's oldest city. Jericho is believed to be 10,000 years old
The modern town of Jericho includes the ancient mound known as Tell es-Sultan, the accumulated remains of cities that have existed on the site for some 9,000 years - the Neolithic period. Archaeology reveals that Jericho is one of the oldest human settlements in the Middle East.
Jericho, of course, is probably best known for its Biblical associations: (song) "Joshua fought the battle of Jericho - and the walls came tumbling down!"
Remnants of Hisham's Palace
The best way to get to Jericho from Jerusalem is to take bus 36 or 63 from the Arab bus station nearby Damascus gate; it costs 7 NIS. Ask for Jericho and the driver will drop you off at Al Ezariya where you can get a shared taxi to the center of Jericho for 10 NIS.
There are also buses from the bus stations Bethlehem and Ramallah. The "shrut" van from the bottom floor of the Bethlehem bus station takes around an hour to get to the central square of Jericho (20 NIS one way). The return trip could require you to transfer through another town to get back to Bethlehem, and this other route will cost around 22 NIS.
- Tell es-Sultan (ancient Jericho) - the large city mound is located some 2 km north-west of the modern city centre, overlooking the natural spring of Ein Sultan. It costs 10 NIS to enter.
- Shalom al Yisrael Synagogue Mosaic Floor- In between Tel es-Sultan and Hisham's Palace, there is a synogogue floor from the 6th century C.E. Look for the bent, orange sign that says Synagogue or בית כנסת, look straight across the street and there is a road going diagonal towards some Palestinian flags. The synagogue floor is in the basement of a private house belonging to a Jerusalemite family the Shahwans at the end of the street. It costs 10 NIS to enter. The family discovered the site and kept maintaining it until the Israelis confiscated the land and the house in 1987.
Excavations at Tell es-Sultan
- Hisham's Palace - 2 km north of modern Jericho, this winter palace was built by the Omayyad Caliph Hisham Ibn Abdul Malek, before being destroyed by eathquake soon after completion in 747 CE. The extensive site contains royal buildings, a mosque, water fountains and spectacular mosaic floors. It costs 10 NIS to enter.
- Tomb of Moses/ Maqam an Nabi Musa This Muslim monument to Moses is originally thought to have been built as a site to view the traditional burial spot of Moses on Mount Nebo from Jericho. However, local Palestinian Muslim folklore later on attributed the site in Jericho as the actual resting place of Moses who's remains were brought across the Jordan River from Mount Nebo by Salahaddin during the Crusades. The complex is open to the public and contains a coffin decorated in colourful carpets that is said to hold the remains of Moses. Local Bedouins call the rocks surrounding the complex Moses rocks (Arabic: احجار موسى, ihjar Mousa) and make them into protective amulets to sell to visitors.
- Mountain of Temptation. Hike up to or take the cable car up to the mountain believed to be the site where Jesus was tempted by the devil. On the top of the mountain is an ancient Greek Orthodox Monestery.
- Jesus' Baptismal site/ Qasr al Yahoud. Located nearby Jericho on the Jordan River is the site where Jesus was baptised by John in the Jordan River. It is also believed to be the spot where the Israelites crossed the river to enter the Holy Land.
- Qumaran Caves, (nearby the Israeli settlement of Kalia). This complex of caves is the site where the "Dead Sea Scrolls" were discovered. It is now an archaeological park and visitors tourist center that is managed by the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority.
- Wadi Qelt Synagogue. This synagogue is thought to be the oldest synagogue in the world. It is part of the "Jericho Royal Winter Palace" complex that was constructed in the Second Temple Period.
- Naaran Synagogue. This ancient synagogue also contains a floor decorated with mosaics. It's definantly beautiful to see!!
- 'Quruntal mountain' - this is a Greek Orthodox monastery situated high in the rocks, and is the biblical setting for Jesus' temptation by the devil. It houses two Greek Orthodox priests - one aged c.30 arrived from Greece in November 2010 and will stay there for the rest of his life. The other has been there for decades. From this precarious rocky spot you get a great view of Jericho and the Jordan Valley over towards Amman.
- Get to the Mountain of Temptation by using the world's longest cable car below sea level at Jericho Cable Car Company located at the base of the mountain
- Spend the day having fun at the Banana Land amusement park
- Participate with visiting archaeologists in the many archarological digs taking place in the Jericho area.
- Hike the trails surrounding Jericho. Jericho is known to the local population as an area surrounded by beautiful surroundings. There are numerous hiking trails that have beautiful views of the oasises surrounding Jericho. Make sure to bring lots of water, Jericho is also known to the locals for it's hot weather!!
There are Bedouins selling a variety of goods in Jericho, but the prices for them aren't much cheaper than other places. Food, however, is significantly cheaper in Jericho.
Near the Central Square, there are many places for quick bites, especially in the direction of the Sycamore Tree or Hisham's Palace.
It worth a visit to Qurantal mountain where Jesus fasted 40 days and 40 nights after the devil's temptation to him, where you will find a very nice restaurant at the bottom of the mountain, you will have your lunch in front of an amazing panaromic birds eye view of Jericho city ,the mountains of Jordan and the Dead Sea.
You can reach this restuarant by using the Cable Car of Jericho, it costs ( ~$15 )55 NIS / Person for a 7 mintues trip of about 1.35 Km.
Jericho is famous for it's tasty fruits, especially banannas!!
The town is pretty much alcohol free.
Greek Orthodox Monastery of the Temptation north of Jericho
- Zeytouna Guest House, ☎ +972 02 994 3038.
- Hisham Palace Hotel, ☎ +972 02 232 2414.
- Jericho Intercontinental Hotel, ☎ +972 02 231 1200, . A 5 star hotel and casino located right after the Palestinian checkpoint at the entrance to Jericho. The hotel was built before the second intifada and is one of the nicest in Palestine and also the tallest building in Jericho giving each beautifully appointed room views for miles. The hotel boast 3 swimming pool, a water slide and a pool with dead sea water. However as of May 2011, the casino remains closed (it has been closed since the second Intifada)
- Jericho Tourist Village, ☎ +972 02 232 1255. Built in the last 1990s the Jericho Resort Village is a 4 star hotel boasting multiple swimming pools, fine dining, poolside bungalows and a rooftop spa. The hotel also has a small conference centers and a poolside bar.