The ancient history and fascinating culture of Israel make it a popular tourism destination. The spectacular birdlife is another draw card, particularly among seasoned birders who travel the world in pursuit of their hobby. There have been reported sightings of more than 500 species of birds in Israel, which is on the migration route between Western Asia/Europe and Africa. Studies conducted over the past decade reveal that around 500 million migrating birds travel through Israel twice a year, and work is currently underway to develop a network of birding centers along the migration route, as well as upgrading some of the existing facilities, including Eilat, Kfar Rupin and Ma'agan. The new centers are planned for Hatzeva, Ein Gedi, Lotan and Sde Boker and will be overseen by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI).
Clinging to the side of a steep cliff at an altitude of around 1200 meters, the Sümela Monastery overlooks the verdant Altindere valley in Turkey's Trabzon Province. Located within the Altindere National Park, the monastery is a popular tourist attraction and an example of man's ingenuity in constructing a complex of buildings in such an inaccessible location – especially when you take into account the that monastery was founded during the reign of Emperor Theodosius I who ruled from 375 to 395.
Located on Haifa Bay in Western Galilee, the city of Acre was historically an important link to the geographic region and cultural zone known as the Levant – including most of modern-day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Cyprus and the Palestinian Territories of the West Bank and Gaza. Acre is also thought to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in Israel, with a history spanning more than 4,000 years. The huge sandstone fortresses and strongholds of the city bear testimony to its antiquity, resulting in Acre's Old City being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.
Located around forty kilometers to the east of the modern city of Antalya in Turkey, Aspendos was the most important city in Pamphylia, the historic Roman Province between Cilicia and Lycia in the south of Asia Minor. Lying on the banks of the Eurymedon River, which was navigable from the Mediterranean Sea to the Greco-Roman city in the 5th century BCE, Aspendos served as a trading station for precious commodities, including salt, oil and wool, with merchants of the city amassing great wealth through this trade.
Between the years 1453 and 1923, the city of Istanbul, in Turkey, served as the capital of the Ottoman Empire, and today the Sultan Ahmed Mosque is one of its most valued historical treasures. Ahmed I commissioned the construction of the mosque, with the building of this magnificent structure taking place from 1609 to 1616. The locals refer to the Sultan Ahmed Mosque as the Blue Mosque due to the interior walls of the building being adorned in detailed blue tiles. The mosque is still in use as a religious site today.
One of the most astonishing attractions in Turkey is the Derinkuyu Underground City, which is located near the city of Nevsehir. The discovery of the Derinkuyu Underground City happened purely by accident, when a local man decided to renovate his house-cave in the year 1963. During the labor intensive task of breaking down a wall in his home, he discovered a room on the other side. The further he explored, the more he found. This was a significant find, and excavations to the underground tunnels began, exposing the skill of its builders and the enormity of this hidden city.
The Jesus Trail is more than just a hiking experience for travelers and pilgrims; it is a historical and educational glimpse into the life of Jesus, provided by following the route he once traveled. Focusing only on the known locations and Biblical routes, the Jesus trail opens a doorway to beauty and strives to promote understanding and tolerance of different religions and cultures. The trails are also part of a conservation initiative, developing a leave-no-trace approach to discourage the destruction of the trails and of nature.
Travelers to Turkey should simply not overlook the chance to visit Dolmabahce Palace. Located in the magnificent city of Istanbul on the shore of the Bosphorus, this attraction is one of the finest examples of grand living to be found. You will find yourself simply blown away by the magnificence and opulence of this grand edifice.