Israel in Pictures: 15 Beautiful Places to Photograph
When it comes to photogenic destinations, Israel is certainly near the top of the world list. This tiny Middle Eastern country is filled with an incredible range of photographic environments, from the ancient alleyways of Jerusalem to the Martian-like landscapes of the Negev Desert.
Israel offers a wide range of photo subjects, from the history of places like the Old City of Jerusalem to the ruins of ancient towns like Avdat and Caesaria. There is modern beauty here as well - the resort beachfront of Tel Aviv and its modern skyscrapers serve as perfect subjects for photographers.
A holy place for Muslims, Jews, and Christians, Jerusalem is a fascinating place to visit and photograph. A good perspective of the walled Old City and the Temple Mount can be seen from atop the Mount of Olives. The observation area is known as the Gandhi Overlook and allows a wide perspective of the entire city skyline, old and new.
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2. The Western Wall
Believed to be the last remaining part of the sacred Jewish temple complex referred to in the Bible, this site is a pilgrimage site for those of the Jewish faith. If you climb up the stairs to some of the terraces of the building complex opposite the Wall, you can get a wide perspective of the entire site, including the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount above.
3. The Dome of the Rock
Visible from its prominent position atop the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount), this Islamic shrine is known as a place of worship and for its geographic religious significance. Visually and architecturally, it's a beautiful building with an incredible golden dome, one of the oldest, existing examples of Islamic architecture in the world.
4. The Dead Sea
The lowest land point on Earth, the shore of the Dead Sea is part resort, part health clinic, and all geologic wonder. There's a row of resorts on the Israeli shore and more resorts on the Jordanian shore across the sea. The flat, smooth shimmering water along with the striking colors, caused by mineral deposits, make for great photographs. The land around the Dead Sea is also beautiful, filled with towers and other geologic forms, much uncovered as the water level has declined.
This mountaintop fortress continues to hold a prominent place in the hearts of Israelis and Jewish people. It was the site of a legendary uprising and siege during the time of Ancient Rome. Today, it's one of Israel's biggest tourist attractions, about a 90-minute drive from Jerusalem.
You can get some good, overall perspectives from the highway, Route 90, as you approach the huge site. Once at the top of the mountain, there are epic vistas in every direction.
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The ancient Nabateans are best known for their incredible rock city of Petra carved in a canyon in Jordan. Their network of incense trading routes extended through modern-day Israel, and the town of Avdat was an important stop on that trade route between Petra and the Mediterranean. You can visit the Avdat ruins, which include a Nabatean temple and an ancient Byzantine church.
The impact of King Herod can still be seen across Israel (Masada was constructed under his rule). Herodium is the ruin of his ancient hilltop palace/fortress, built into the top of a mountain he had constructed.
There are two parts to the complex: the underground palace structure at the top of the hill, which includes a theater, various rooms, and huge cisterns to store water, as well as a lower pleasure complex. The lower complex includes a large pool and bathing area, surrounded by columns. Herodium is about 12 kilometers south of Jerusalem.
8. Tel Aviv
Israel's largest city is a modern metropolis. There are some incredible opportunities for architectural photography here, as the city is filled with incredible buildings. There are some beautiful modern skyscrapers, as well as a huge collection of Bauhaus architecture from the 1920s-1940s. The city sits on a long, curving stretch of beachfront, and there are also some great photo opportunities there.
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Caesarea is an Ancient Roman Mediterranean seaport on the northern Israeli coast. It was the capital of what was then the Roman province of Judea and retains many ruins and structures from the era. The remains of the Roman port exist, as does a large amphitheater. The dramatic seaside location makes for great photography with the blue Mediterranean Sea in the background.
Jaffa is the Old City seafront area of Tel Aviv. It's the original city, dating back thousands of years, and modern Tel Aviv has grown around it. The area retains ancient alleyways and buildings along with a beautiful seafront and harbor area.
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11. Makhtesh Ramon
For some incredible photographs, head to one of Israel's makhteshes. These are giant semi-spherical zones of erosion, first thought to be volcanoes or meteorite craters. Makhtesh Ramon is the core of the Ramon Nature Reserve, which includes the surrounding landscape. The giant crater-shaped landform is 40 kilometers long and two to 10 kilometers wide with a depth of almost 500 meters. You can hike in the makhtesh but the best way to see and photograph it is to take a jeep tour.
12. Ein Gedi Nature Reserve
This national park is an oasis in the Judean Desert, located near the Dead Sea and Masada. Ein Gedi has its own unique ecosystem due to its natural water sources. It's one of the country's most popular hiking spots and gives visitors a chance to take some great wildlife photographs. The reserve includes many animal inhabitants who are quite used to visitors.
The highlight is a tall waterfall, falling into a pond of clear water (swimming is allowed). The entire setting is within a rock canyon. Also, you can get some great photos of the Dead Sea from some of the hiking trails along the mountaintop.
13. Church of the Holy Sepulchre
This sacred Christian church rewards visitors with a deeply spiritual experience due to its religious significance. Outside, the ancient architecture of the church is a great place for photographs. Inside, the dome and dark-colored marble make great subjects for available light shots.
Some areas of the church are lit by candlelight. The church is part of Jerusalem's Old City and the Via Dolorosa.
This southern Israeli city is a resort town on the Red Sea. It's a popular diving destination and has some incredibly clear, blue water. It's a great place for beach and nature photography and one of the best places in the world for underwater photography. There are underwater trails, marked by buoys, that take divers (and snorkelers) through fish-filled coral reefs.
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Israel's third largest city is a Mediterranean port on the northern coast of the country. The city is at the base of Mount Carmel, and many areas offer amazing views of the sea. Haifa is home to the Shrine of the Bab, a center of the Bahai faith, and its spectacular hanging gardens of terraces with Greco-Roman buildings, columns, and statues.
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