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Dead Sea Attractions

The stunning Dead Sea region is full of incredible attractions waiting to be discovered by visitors. From the intriguing Qumran Caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered to the breath-taking Ein Gedi Botanical Gardens that is home to rare species of trees, shrubs and flowers from all over the globe. The one-of-a-kind Dead Sea is a must for every visitor, renowned for its healing properties and a trip to Masada takes one back in time to a tragic and heroic story of the mass suicide of Jewish zealots in the time of the Great Revolt against Rome. Visit the AHAVA factory in Mitzpe Shalem and purchase some souvenirs to take home and don't forget to visit one of the magnificent oases in the middle of the desert on the way…


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Masada is a majestically beautiful rugged natural fortress in the Judean Desert that overlooks the Dead Sea. Built as a palace complex by Herod the Great, it is the most complete Roman siege works surviving to this day. In addition to the sheer beauty of the place, Masada is also the setting of one of the most powerful and tragic stories in Jewish history.
The site was conquered by Jewish zealots at the beginning of the Great Revolt against Rome in the year 68 BCE and became their last stronghold. Four years later the Romans besieged Masada and a year later the 960 zealots chose to commit mass-suicide rather than to fall into the hands of the enemies.
The remains of the fortress have been impressively reconstructed and many historically-interesting structures have been preserved such as a large bath-house, ritual bath, the synagogue and many more, all of which relate the history of Masada.
Masada is extremely high and visitors can ascend by foot or by cable car from the tourist center at the bottom of Masada. A movie about the story of Masada, a model of the site and an exhibit of archaeological findings are all featured in the tourist center.
Those visiting the area simply cannot pass by this incredible experience and saga of courage, heroism and martyrdom left behind by the zealots.
Not to be missed;
•    Herod's Western Palace- the western palace at Masada was Herod's official royal residency. The building is over 37,000 square feet and included royal apartments, bathrooms, a cold-water pool and a large reception hall that featured a stunning mosaic pavement.
•    Herod's Northern Palace- Made up of three terraces, each fulfilling different purposes; the upper terrace was home to lavish living quarters with mosaic floors, frescoed walls and a balcony with breath-taking views; the middle terrace had two concentric rows of columns that created an ideal balcony for relaxation; the lower terrace, surrounded by low walls and columns with a roof between them, served as an open court. A bathroom on the eastern side of the lower terrace contained hot, warm and cold baths as well as mosaic floors. The walls that exist until this day that supported the lower terrace are testimony to the genius of Herod's engineers.
•    The Masada Museum- opened in 2007; the museum showcases archaeological finds unearthed at the site by the expedition from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. A theatrically- designed backdrop contains explanations of the findings that visitors hear through head-sets. Three-dimensional scenes, sculpted figures, architectural elements all conform with the real finds of the period.  
 




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The Dead Sea is also known as the Salt Sea; it is located 1,300 feet below sea level and is blessed with a huge amount of naturally forming minerals as a result of the incredibly quick evaporation rate of the sea. Due to the high concentration of minerals in the water, visitors can float effortlessly on it's surface. It has been proven that the waters of the Dead Sea as well as the surroundings and mud from the sea are therapeutic for many people with skin disorders, joint problems and respiratory illnesses.
How to get there: From Jerusalem, the Dead Sea is an hour drive along highway 1. Alternatively, one can drive from Tel aviv to Arad and then from Arad to the heart of the Dead Sea region, Ein Bokek.
 




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Nahal David (David's Stream) is a major attraction in the Ein Gedi Reserve. It is believed that at this place King David hid from the wrath of Saul some three-thousand years ago and it was here that he cut Saul's, (who was the king at the time) robe rather than killing him.
The trail is clearly marked and passes a number of pools and small waterfalls before arriving at the stunning upper waterfall. There are steps on the trail but nothing too tough. Hikers should allow at least an hour and a half so as to include a dip in one of the lower waterfalls.
Ibex can be spotted on the trail (especially in the afternoons), as can hyrax; leopards used to be commonly seen but unfortunately they face extinction because of breeding problems and are rarely seen nowadays.
For serious hikers, the trail breaks off to the right fifty yards down the return path from the top waterfall and this path passes through remains of Byzantine irrigation systems and offers incredible views of the Dead Sea. One doubles back on oneself on this trail and returns to the source of the Nahal David stream. Near the top one takes a short side path up to the remains of a fourth-millennium BC temple. The main path leads on to the streambed, turns east and reaches "Lovers' Cave" that was formed by boulders and is filled with crystal-clear water. Here, in this romantic and refreshing pool, one is directly above the waterfall of Nahal David.
How to get there: When travelling to Ein Gedi from the north, the first turnoff to the right is the parking lot at the entrance to Nahal David
 




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In 1948 a Bedouin shepherd-boy went looking for a stray goat and stumbled upon a cave. In the cave were hidden clay pots that turned out to contain treasured manuscripts that provided an insight into the lives of a mysterious sect that lived in the region from the second century BC until the year 68 AD. The site near these caves is called Qumran and was excavated between the years of 1952 and 1956.
The "Dead Sea Scrolls" was the name given to the scrolls that were found due to them being found in the Dead Sea region. The details of the sect that are revealed through the scrolls are fascinating; the sect lived a communal life and was an extreme section of the Isiim sect.
The Qumran area contains remains from various periods, most importantly those from the Second Temple period and from the Bar Kochba rebellion. The cave where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found can be seen and an audio-visual presentation tells the story of the site as well as the story of the people who lived here.
How to get there: From Jerusalem, take the road from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea until you reach the turn to route 90 towards Ein Gedi. Near to Kibbutz Kalia there is a sign pointing to the Qumran site.
 




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The Botanical Garden in the Ein Gedi Kibbutz is the only botanical garden in the world that integrates residential buildings within it. The stunning garden is home to over 800 rare species of trees, shrubs and flowers from all over the globe. Plants mentioned in the Bible such as Myrrh and Frankincense feature alongside rare trees, tropical plants, palm trees, fruit trees, cacti and local plants.
One can visit this heavenly garden every day of the year except Yom Kippur and enjoy a guided tour (free for guests of the "Country Hotel"). The minimal entrance fee includes a short film about the settlement and information on the vegetation.
 




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The stunning Ein Gedi Nature Reserve is located to the west of the Dead Sea and is home to two year-round streams- the David Stream in the north and the Arugot Stream in the south. The combination of the location of the reserve and the fresh water sources makes for a large variety of plant and animal species. A number of trails are on offer in the reserve from easy, family-friendly ones to harder ones for more experienced hikers.




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The Ein Gedi Spa is situated on the Dead Sea shore and overlooks the stunning mountains of Jordan. The Spa is a natural wellness centre that combines the four special elements of the region; the water, the sun, the mud and the air. The spa is open every day apart from the ; eve and day of Yom Kippur and offers; pools of thermo-mineral sulphur water; a resting room; massages; the beach; a swimming pool; shopping opportunities; a snack bar; the Dead Sea and the sulphur springs.
A number of good reasons to visit the Ein Gedi Spa:
•    The Dead Sea is known to contain the highest concentrate of salt in the world and results in people simply "floating" in it's waters which is a remarkable sensation especially for those who can't swim!
•    The Sulphur springs are natural thermo-mineral springs that are situated beyond the mountains behind the spa complex and are divided into "mens", "womens" and mixed" pools, allowing maximum privacy.
•    The swimming pool is bright, beautiful and family-friendly.
•    The sun is this region is filtered with the ultra-violet rays being weak by the time they reach the lowest place on earth- the Dead Sea, allowing for warmth without the usual dangers of the sun.
•    The mud in the region is famous for it's therapeutic qualities and it is available freely at the spa. The mud cleanses, softens, exfoliates and relives joint pains.
The Ein Gedi Spa provides the ultimate spa experience and is the perfect place to go for fun, relaxation and good health!
 




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Just west of the Dead Sea shore is the stunning Ein Gedi Reserve, home to two year-round streams and a wide variety of plant and animal species. In addition, much evidence of human settlement has been uncovered at the reserve.
There was a Jewish presence in Ein Gedi for over 1,200 years beginning in the seventh century BCE. In the third century a synagogue was built and today the beautiful mosaic floor is truly a site to behold.
There are also a number of buildings that have been excavated that surround the synagogue that could possibly have been the houses of synagogue officials or may have served as study halls and an inn.
The mosaic floor also contains an intriguing inscription about a secret that some believe refers to the production of balsam- a scent and salve that was worth its weight in gold and was once cultivated on the nearby rock terraces.
 




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The desert oasis of Ein Feshka was renamed "Einot Tzukim" "Cliff Springs" by Israel when it fell into Israeli hands during the Six Day War. Today it is a nature reserve and archaeological site. Einot Tzukim is located approximately three kilometers south of Qumran on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea.
Einot Tzukim is the lowest nature reserve in the world and one of the most stunning nature reserves in Israel. In 1969 Einot Tzukim was declared a nature reserve and in the years that followed it was divided into three sections; the northern closed off area, the central open-to-the-public area and the southern hidden area.
The northern area, which covers about 2,700 dunam, cannot be visited and only professionals enter once in a while to check that nothing has been damaged. In this section nature is allowed to "do its thing", without being interrupted by human beings.
The central section covers about 500 dunam and this is where the natural spring pools are situated. Visitors are invited to enjoy, swim and hike. There are shaded areas, cloakrooms, bathrooms, picnic tables and abundant vegetation. Also found in this section is the archaeological site that dates back to the Second Temple period with fascinating findings such as a Herodian mansion and the only persimmon perfume-producing apparatus in Israel.
The southern 1,500 dunam section is where guided tours take place in order to allow the general public to enjoy the breath-taking natural beauty while ensuring that it won't be damaged. A guided tour has to be booked in advance.
 




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The Ahava Israeli Cosmetics Company manufactures skin care products made of mud and mineral-based compounds from the Dead Sea. Ahava is the only cosmetics company licensed by the Israeli government to mine raw materials at the Dead Sea. Ziva Gilad is a spa technician and she was the one who came up with the idea of marketing Dead Sea mud after seeing women tourists scooping up the mud to take home. The company was founded in 1988 as a single stand that sold bottles of body scrub to tourists.
Today the Ahava products line include products for all different skin types, anti-aging products, hand creams, foot creams, facial cleansers, body milk, facial nourishing cream, facial moisturizer, shower cream and body cream. The benefits of the products are far-reaching with thousands upon thousands of satisfied customers from all over the world.
When visiting the Dead Sea region, be sure to drop in to the official Ahava Store that is located approximately 10km north of Ein Gedi in Kibbutz Shalem, directly across Route 90 from the Mineral Beach.
 


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