Friday, April 25, 2014
The city of Jericho claims to be the oldest city in the world. Two years ago in Syria we visited Damascus and Aleppo both which also claim to be the oldest city in the world. During Roman times Mark Antony gave the town to Cleopatra who leased it to Herod the Great who built a winter palace there as being at a lower altitude than Jerusalem was warmer in the winter.
Jericho is under control of the Palestinian Authority and you need a foreign passport to reenter Israeli controlled territory. The Palestinian population of around 25,000 is mostly Muslim but there are many Christian churches and monasteries such as the Greek Orthodox monastery halfway up the Mt of Temptation. There is even a cable car going up the mountain and a very large multistory restaurant and souvenir shop at the base of the mountain where all the tour buses stop.
Another stop for the tour groups is the Sycamore tree in the center of town which is said to be more than 2000 years old.