When you choose Israel as your next adventure, you'll find your bliss in the hallowed waters of the Dead Sea. Whether you’re looking for a sacred healing spa or a getaway fit for royalty, you won't be disappointed when you find yourself ankle deep in the magic of Dead Sea mud.
What's in a Name?
Although the name can be a little intimidating, the Dead Sea is one of the world's most ancient healing grounds, attracting thousands of tourists and locals annually. Located directly between Israel and Jordan, the Dead Sea is a natural phenomenon that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
So why is it called the "Dead Sea" anyway? This landlocked bit of ocean is so incredibly saline that plants and animals such as fish cannot thrive in its waters. It is, however, this very salinity that gives the Sea its healing properties. As earth's lowest elevation on land, the surface of the Dead Sea sits at about 1,400 feet below sea level.
Sand, Salt, Sun and… History
Though many come to test out the buoyancy of the water, those embarking on Dead Sea travel usually stay for the ruins, religious history and therapeutic value of the highly concentrated Dead Sea minerals. You will find there is an abundance of ancient areas to explore around the Dead Sea; cities and towns that have been located there since biblical times. The famed Dead Sea Scrolls, found in caves near the Dead Sea, may make mention of Jesus Christ himself: they refer to a "pierced messiah." You can draw your own conclusions, but nonetheless, this was a historical discovery that is still unrivaled. Be sure to explore the various locations that surround it, including Ein Gedi, Masada, Mount Sodom, Qumran, Mount Nebo, Jericho, Lot's Cave and many more historical - and maybe slightly esoteric - places.
The Ein Gedi, a desert oasis just off the shores of the Dead Sea, was first inhabited over 5,000 years ago. It had great significance with King David, as it stated in Samuel 23:29 that "David went up from thence, and dwelt in strong holds at Ein Gedi." It was in Ein Gedi that David found King Saul in a cave and cut off a piece of his garment, which proved that David had no intention of harming his King. Healing mineral springs, pure desert air and plenty of sunshine make this a perfect place to steep yourself in history and a healthy climate. How many places on this planet afford you the opportunity to actually experience an area that was written about over 2,000 years ago?
If you've got the bug to continue exploring the Bible's beginnings in person, you'll want to visit the famed Mount Sodom and then venture over to Lot's Cave. It is explained in the Bible in Genesis 19:21 how the sin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed and God allowed Lot, his wife and daughters to escape to the village of Zoar. "Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it" (Genesis 19:21-22). It was before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah that the Dead Sea was just a valley of tar pits, and David was hiding in Ein Gedi during this time.
From there, be sure to explore Masada. It has been regarded as one of the most famous fortresses and palaces that Herod the Great built along the western bank of the Dead Sea. The Masada, overlooking the Dead Sea, was the last Jewish stronghold against the Roman invasion. Over 2,000 years old, this fortress was carefully built to guard its inhabitants against not only human threats, but the overwhelming desert climate.
When you grow weary from your Israel travel adventures, find relief in the mineral-rich Dead Sea mud and salt water. Cleopatra the VII, supposedly the most beautiful woman in the world at the time, was so obsessed with its beauty-enhancing properties that she tried to actually purchase it. It isn't any wonder that throughout time people have been flocking to its waters, looking for relief from maladies such as rheumatoid arthritis to scars and skin discolorations.
Luckily for all of us, the sea is open to anyone who wants to try once in a lifetime Israel experiences. Boasting various resorts, wine and skincare, ancient ruins and of course a gorgeous sea, how could you not feel compelled to stay? If you are in search of religious enlightenment, luxurious relaxation or just plain fun, be sure to include the Dead Sea experience on your list.