During your gap year you will visit a number of well-known sites in Israel as well as some lesser known ones. In addition to the famous sites, such as the Old City in Jerusalem, there are a number of heritage sites that tell some fantastic stories about both ancient and modern Israel. Ranging from the ancient town of Katsrin in the Golan Heights to Be’er Sheva in the south, there is far more to see in Israel than just Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and here is a small selection of what the rest of the country has to offer.
Acre, or Akko, is a Crusader-era port town in the north of the country. It is a unique melting point of East and West and home to some magnificent structures from the Crusader and Ottoman periods. There are mosques and Christian monasteries with underground passages and high walled alleys. It is also worth seeing the fortified city walls, the Turkish bath, the halls built by Knights Templar and more.
Close to Jerusalem is the village of Abu Gosh, which is mainly famous for its hummus. However, it is also a fantastic example of coexistence. It is a Muslim village that is home to a Romanesque and early Gothic-style 12th century Crusader church that today is a Benedictine Monastery. The monastery is run by a group of priests and nuns with shared co-operation with the local Muslim population, which makes the place unique in the region.
Further south is Be’er Sheva which is home to numerous sites of historic importance. There is the walled city from the Israelite monarchic period in Tel Be’er Sheva, a UNESCO Heritage Site, as well as things to visit from the Ottoman Period through to the British mandate. Be’er Sheva was founded more than 3,700 years ago and the modern city is home to centuries-old structures such as the Governor’s House, now the Negev Museum of Art, and Government House, today a police station. The Turkish railway station and hundred-year-old traditional Bedouin market are also among the main attractions.
At the other end of the country on the Golan Heights in the old city of Katsrin. It is a Talmudic-era town which is surrounded by beautiful scenery. You can visit archaeological sites of the Middle Bronze Age which prove there has been 4,000 years of Jewish presence on the land. You can also visit a magnificent 6th-century synagogue. The remains of the ancient village and reconstructed homes are sure to transport you to the Talmudic era and afterwards you can go for a wine tasting session at the Golan Heights winery just down the road.
This is of course a tiny selection of what Israel has to offer and during your time here there will be opportunity to explore all of this and far more. Each one of these sites presents a fascinating insight into the rich history of the land, both modern and ancient, and you are sure to enjoy your time learning about it first-hand.