The longest continuously inhabited city in the world… the lowest city in the world… Jericho certainly has a lofty reputation to live up to – this lively and energetic city does so spectacularly. The ancient city is located in an oasis in the hot, dry desert, with plenty of quirky sites and attractions for visitors to drink in. But beware, Jericho can also feel like the hottest place on earth, due to the fact that – at 274.02m below sea level – it has its own microclimate. Located just 10km east of Jerusalem, and very close to the Dead Sea, Jericho is one of the most popular destinations in Palestine and has the restaurants, hotels and facilities to cater for it.
Where many Palestinian towns and villages are yet to realise their tourism potential, Jericho is already capitalising on it, and a small fee is charged for almost every site in the city. These range from the spectacular cable car to the top of Mount Temptation to the new and informative Russian museum and gardens, from the Ein as-Sultan spring to the wonderful archaeological remains of Hisham’s Palace. There is an extremely helpful tourist information centre in the central square, where staff will provide maps and details of all the best sites to see.
Jericho’s relative lack of conflict with Israel has cemented its position as a safe and friendly tourist hot spot over the last few decades. Its claim of being ‘the oldest city in the world’ is not hollow; archaeologists have discovered the remains of at least 20 successive settlements dating back as far as 9000 BCE. The city oozes a sense of the ancient; even the sycamore tree in the gardens of the Russian museum is 2,000 years old and earns a mention in the Bible. The Hebrew Bible also refers to Jericho as the ‘City of Palm Trees’, and the current plantations of luscious palms show that this city is determined to hold on to its epic reputation.