Saturday, May 22, 2010

Caesarea, Druze, and Tel Megiddo

Today's adventures included a journey to Caesarea, a unique lunch hosted by the Druze, and a walk around Tel Megiddo.

We left our hotel in West Jerusalem for Caesarea, a city located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea between Tel Aviv and Haifa. We watched a short video about the history of the city, which covered its construction, conquests, and modern development. After the video, we surveyed the city accompanied by our tour guide. We explored the ruins of Caesarea, which included ancient aqueducts, gladiator arenas, and performance stages. We then boarded the bus to go eat lunch.

We ate lunch in a Druze village just south of Haifa. The Druze are a splinter sect of Islam and are most prevalent in various countries in the Middle East. They provided us with a delicious meal of falafel and Mediterranean vegetables.

The next stop was a place called Tel Megiddo. The last battle before the Armageddon, as mentioned in the New Testament, is said to take place at Tel Megiddo. The site is actually a hill made up of 25 layers of the ruins of ancient cities, and the word "tel" in Hebrew literally means "hill". We took a look around the areas surrounding Tel Megiddo, where our tour guide Sam explained the history of the site. We then walked up the hill and viewed the ruins and beautiful landscape. Even though the sun was hot, the breeze coming off the Mediterranean Sea kept us cool. We then went through a system of underground tunnels where we saw underground wells, which were used to support life in Tel Megiddo. The ruined settlement is now a modern tourist attraction, but cattle and agriculture farmers still utilize the surrounding areas.

We boarded the bus after another long, but fascinating, day in the Middle East and headed to our new hotel in Haifa.