Category Archives: Travel Tips

Nebi Samwil — Can I see the Dome of the Rock from Here?

Nebi Samwil is the highest and most prominent landmark located 5 mi. [8 km.] northwest of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  Although not on the route of typical tours, serious tours may indeed stop there, for the view from there is terrific in all directions.  In the past we have been able to ascend to the roof of the mosque to view the country side, but even without this, the views from the foot of the mosque are still very good.

NebiSamwil01Where else can you get a view of the Central Benjamin Plateau (which is one of the busiest areas in the Historical Books of the Old Testament)?   Besides viewing Gibeon and Ramallah to the north, Gibeah to the east, the modern city of Jerusalem is spread out in all its glory to the south.  To the southeast the three towers on the Mount of Olives are clearly visible in the distance.  But students invariably ask, can we see the Temple Mount from here?

We have peered through binoculars in all kinds of weather trying to find the Gold Dome of the “Dome of the Rock” that now stands where the First and Second Temples stood.  On very very rare occasions someone has said, oh, there it is!  But it has never been that clear!#$@!

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Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

Well, sorting though some of my photos taken from Nebi Samwil I thought I would see if the Golden Dome of the Rock appeared in any of them.  Voilà!  It does!  Note that Nebi Samwil is at 2906 ft. above sea level while the Dome of the Rock is at 2437 ft.  And that the City of David (= the Old Ancient Core) is to the south of the Dome and decreases in elevation as one goes south.

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Here is a full image of the above photo — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

More on the Biblical significance of Nebi Samwil in a future post (next Wednesday?).

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Changes: Nebi Samwil, Jacob’s Well, Mount Gerizim

On our current trip to Israel I have noted a few changes (that may be “old news” to some of you) but I thought I would mention them.

The staircase to the roof of Nebi Samwil is now open—after being shut for a number of years—you can see the Dome of the Rock from here.

We can now take pictures at Jacob’s Well in Nablus—in my experience this was not permitted previously.

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Jacob’s Well near Sychar (John chapter 4). Click on image to Enlarge and/or Download.

And then, students always seem to inject some surprises along the way!

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Examining the ruins of the Byzantine Church on the top of Mount Gerizim.

Locked Luggage? — Just for “fun”!

Hey travelers (a lot of your are)!  Do you “lock” your luggage?  Consider this!

So . . . . keep all your valuables in your carry on luggage and use “twisties”—yes like on a loaf of bread—to “secure” your luggage.

A “go to” web site for visiting Istanbul

A very interesting web site called “magiccityistanbul,” that focuses on Istanbul, has just came to my attention.  It treats historical, cultural, religious, and practical matters (riding in a taxi, useful telephone numbers for example—but some [one?] like the “Museum Pass” have special stipulations [be careful]).  The pictures and the commentary are very informative.

Most (all?) of the entries that I have checked are dated “December”—so it looks to me that this site is relatively new.  Just click on the Thumb Nails and enjoy.

Nemea — A Marvelous “PanHellenic” Site to be Closed

NemeaMap030708One of my favorite sites in the Peloponnese area of Greece is the site of Nemea.  Nemea is located only  11.6 mi. southwest of Corinth.  There, one of the four PanHellenic festivals was held every two years in the stadium of Nemea.  The other locations of these festivals were Delphi, Isthmia, and Olympia.

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The Temple of Zeus at Nemea
Click On Image to Enlarge/Download

Nemea has been well-excavated and presented to the public.  Its museum is outstanding for the extraordinary finds, and their presentation, contain therein.  It is a shame that this place is slated for closing (!#$%@!)  as the Greek government tries to balance its budget.

However (personal confession), on my typical trip to the Peloponnese, within the context of a 17 or 21 day trip, we typically do a day excursion from Athens where we visit the Diolkos, Corinth, Mycenae, and Cenchrea.  Because of time (the Greeks close their archaeological sites at 3:00 PM —Ugh [more !#$@!]) and traffic constraints we have not visited Nemea in several years (sigh!!).

[Aside—how in the world can a tourist/academic group get to Corinth or Mycenae by the 8:00 AM opening time — what in the world are the guards/ticket takers doing at that time???  At sites like Corinth, Mycenae, and Nemea, why in the world don’t they open later and close later—hello??]

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Heracles and the Nemean Lion — From Perga (Turkey)
Note on his left side the “skin” of the lion — its head and claws
Click On Image to Enlarge/Download

Nemea is also well known in Greek mythology as the site of the first of the twelve labors of Heracles (Herakles).  Heracles was the son of the god Zeus and a mortal Alcmene.  Although originally a mortal, he eventually attained divine status and was widely worshiped throughout Greece.  As punishment for killing six of his children he had to perform 12 “labors” (= very difficult tasks).  The first of which was to kill the Nemean Lion.  He wrestled with the lion, strangled it, and subsequently used its pelt as a cloak.

Saint Peter’s Church in Antioch Has Reopened

In January 2015 I was told that Saint Peter’s Church has reopened to the public!

In April (2013) I revisited Antioch on the Orontes (= Syrian Antioch) as part of a personal tour in the area.  Not many tour groups visit the area but when they do one of the “must see” places is “Saint Peter’s Church” — where Christians have worshiped since the fourth or fifth centuries A.D.

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St. Peter’s Church in Antioch on the Orontes
Click on Image to Enlarge

While there, people usually reflect on the fact that there followers of Jesus were first called “Christians” (Acts 11:19–26) and from there famine relief was sent to Jerusalem (Acts 11:27–30).  Paul began all three of his missionary journeys from Antioch (Acts 13; 15:35–41; 18:22–23).

I knew that the church was under repair but I drove up to it any way in order to get a fresh/clear image of Antioch from that vantage point.  Well, the “repair” is under way and the church, and even the approach to it, is closed—and rocks Continue reading