Also known as Ariha in Arabic, it stretches out about a mile east of the tell of ancient Jericho. This biblical city dates back to 10,000 years, and is most famous for the fall of it walls, caused by the holy ram’s horn trumpets blown by Joshua’s priests. Jericho was the first city to be conquered by the Hebrews after the Exodus. It was razed to the ground and cursed, then rebuilt by Ahabin the 9th century BC. It was later fortified by the Maccabees. Jesus passed through Jericho several times during his ministry, including the time he cured two blind people.
Jericho’s population of 17,000 work in local businesses and agriculture, and particularly in the refugee camp of Aqabat el-Jar to the south of the city. The tropical vegetation offers what might be the best citrus and bananas in the world.
Qasr Hisham (Hisham’s Palace) is located on the north bank of Wadi Nueima just outside Jericho. The palace, named after the eighth Omayyad caliph was built during his reign between 724 and 743 AD. It was inhabited by his heir, El Malik II during the winters. The palace is an excellent example of Islamic art and architecture of the eighth century. In 747, the palace was destroyed by an earthquake.
Mount of Temptation
After his baptism in the Jordan river, “Jesus was led into the desert by the Holy Ghost to be tempted by the Devil” (Mathew 4). Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights before being tempted three times by the Satan. According to lore, a mountain west of Jericho is the one which Jesus triumphed over the tempter. The Crusaders called it the “Mount of Forty” while Arabs call it Deir el Qarantal). At the peak is a Greek Orthodox Monastery restored in the 19th Century on the ruins of a Byzantine church. Its foundations contain the cave in which Jesus stayed for forty days.
St. George’s Monastery
Located in the narrow canyon of Wadi Qilt, the blue domes of one of the oldest monastic communities of the Holy Land pierce the arid landscape. Since the beginning of Christianity, these cliffs full of caves have been a refuge to hermits. The monastery’s present buildings date back to the 19th century, but has been occupied since the 5th century. The monks do allow visitors and will willingly act as guides. the most spectacular attractions are the 6th century mosaics in the floor of the church of St John. Travelers who walk from Jerusalem to Jericho following bed of Wadi Qilt should be in good physical shape and have plenty of water for the trip through the desert.