Jericho is known as the oldest town in the world, and at 230 metres below sea level, it is also the lowest point on Earth. Jericho (Riha or Ariha in Arabic) is mentioned in ancient historical and biblical sources. The site of Tell Es-Sultan is identified with ancient Jericho.
Jericho is located in the lower part of the Jordan Valley, ten kilometres west of the Jordan River and twelve kilometres north of the Dead Sea.
Jericho – City of the Moon
A modern sculpture stands at the entrance of Jericho flanked by the Latin Cathedral and the Blue Domed Mosque. The sculpture is symbolic of Jericho and encapsulates Palestinian history from Canaanite and Ummayyad periods to modern Palestine. A sign in both Arabic and English announces: “Jericho: The City of the Moon.”
The Arabic appellation of the oldest city on earth, Ariha, is derived from Yarikh, the name of the Canaanite god of the moon. Among his many attributes, Yarikh is the provider of nightly dew. Married to the goddess Nikkal, his moisture enables her orchards to bloom in the desert. From the same root of the Canaanite word, reah is derived with the referential value of fragrance. The modern Arabic Ariha unites both referential values of the Canaanite word, that of fragrance and the name of the moon god.
Jericho – the Oasis of Palestine
Jericho and nature are synonymous in Palestinian thought. Vibrant colors, soothing aromatic fragrance, and a comforting sense of warmth are conjured at the mention of the name of the most ancient city on earth. Flanked by the Moab Mountains to the east, and the Jerusalem Mountains to the west, the expansive horizon creates a subtropical ecological niche wherein wild fauna and flora thrive.
What to see in Jericho?
- Tel es Sultan – ancient Jericho: Many structures are visible here including the oldest known stairs in the world, the oldest wall, and the massive, round, defense tower dating from before 7000BC at the center of the site.
- Deir Quruntal & the Monastery of Temptation – The monastery marks the site of the third temptation of Jesus and provides a breathtaking view of Jericho. Here, Jesus spent 40 days and nights fasting and meditating during the temptation of Satan.
- Herod Palace – The city reached its peak under Herod the Great who built his winter palace at the site of Tulul Abu Al Alaieq. This palace is the best preserved and the most impressive structure at the site which seems to have served as the administrative center of the town of Jericho at that time.
- Hisham Palace – Jericho thrived during the early Islamic period. The wealth of the city is evident the remains of the Umayyad palace “Qaser Hisham”.
- Sycamore Tree in Jericho – This sycamore said to be more than 2000 years old and is featured in the biblical tale of Jesus and Zacchaeus, the tax collector of short stature who, according to the Gospel of Luke, climbed the tree to get a better look at Jesus.
And many – many more !!
The VIC wishes you a great time in Palestine!