The Uniqueness of Israel
Finding Quiet in Israeli Cities
If you have spent any time in Israeli cities, then you probably do not think of them as very quiet. Israelis are known to be loud and as such, the cities are too. However, no matter what part of the country you are in, there are always spots where you can be almost sure of enjoying a bit of peace and quiet.
For instance, within Jerusalem there are a few spots that are not exactly secret, but are certainly off the beaten track. A great example of this is the roof of the Austrian Hospice in the Old City. The roof is easy to access and offers some stunning views together with a bit of peace and quiet, which is in stark contrast to the streets below. You have to ring the bell to gain entrance, but there is no charge and you can simply head up via the stairs or the lift.
Another excellent spot to visit in Jerusalem is the amphitheatre on the Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus. The amphitheatre was first built in 1925; it was a wooden structure prepared for the university’s opening ceremony. The current stone version was built around a decade later and while sitting there, you can enjoy amazing desert views that reach all the way to Jordan. Furthermore, you could also pay a visit to the nearby university botanical gardens.
If you are based in Tel Aviv then you can also find some equally impressive spots. For example, Saint Peter’s Church, a bright pink Russian Orthodox Church, can be seen rising above the treetops in south Tel Aviv. The complex, which was built in the 19th century, includes a church and a monastery and it is open to the public for just a short period each week. If you are in Tel Aviv and you are looking for a bit of greenery to escape the city, then it is definitely worth a visit.
Not far away in Jaffa, you can find the Midron Slopes beach. As the name suggests, the beach slopes down towards the sea and it is in the Ajami neighbourhood. It is home to large grass lawns, bike paths, walking trails, and some sand. Despite this, somehow it fails to draw the large crowds found at other beaches in the area, making it the perfect place to relax. If you head there on a Friday night then you will likely find families enjoying dinner in a truly friendly atmosphere.
About half an hour south of Tel Aviv is Ashdod. As a coastal city, it of course has beaches and one of the beaches is home to a fortress. Arab rulers built the fortress in the seventh century, and it was then used hundreds of years later to help defend the country from the Crusaders. This was ultimately unsuccessful and the Crusaders themselves took over the fortress. Today it is a lovely area to walk around, and it is even used by some couples as a wedding venue thanks to its beautiful views.
If you want to escape the madness while on your gap year, consider a visit to one of the above, as you are sure to find it highly relaxing.