Petra, Jordan, Middle-East, Asia

Petra, name Semitic or Raqmu or Rekem, is a pre-Islamic Nabataean city of present Jordan located in Wadi Rum, World Heritage of UNESCO. Located halfway between the Gulf of Aqaba and the Dead Sea, at 3 hour drive from Amman, the Jordanian capital. Founded in ancient times towards the end of VIIIᵉ century BC by the Edomites, then it was occupied by the Nabateans in the sixth century who took advantage of its position on the caravan route to transport incense, spices and other valuable goods between Egypt, Syria, South Arabia and the Mediterranean. Unfortunately, two centuries later, it was seen in the gradual abandonment by its inhabitants due to earthquakes and changing trade routes. In 1812, Swiss explorer Jean Louis Burckhardt rediscovered the site. In 1830, the site became a place to visit, additional religious pilgrimages and source of profits for many heads of neighboring tribes.
The numerous buildings, including the monumental facades are directly cut into the rock, make it a monumental and unique set surrounded by a National Archaeological Park.
The situation of Petra, hidden between rocks and steep walls with a safe water supply makes it an ideal location for the development of a prosperous city. The place is accessible only by a narrow mountain trail from the north-west or east through a canyon of about 1.5 kilometer long and up to 200 meters deep, the Siq, access main, which in the narrowest point, has only two meters wide. Collection and water distribution facilities to store and transport water by overcoming the steep terrain are still visible today.
Tourism began after the Second World War, in the past, the city was only accessible to tourists and researchers, accompanied by local guides and armed escorts. The Bedul nomads living in the ruins of Petra until 1980; they are now tourist guides or traders established around. But unfortunately, the tourism sector is dependent on economic and political stability of the region.

Tips

Before departure obtain your required tourist visa at the embassy or consulate or upon arrival at the airport in Amman ( you have to pay in local currency) .
You have more than twenty hotels to choose for your visit.
The entrance to the site is paid. A night tour of Petra, under the lights is possible, to discover the city from another angle .
UNESCO and the authorities advise against walking back offered animals as dust raised by the animals encrusted in the cracks and crannies of the Siq and ruins, damaging them.

Bethlehem, West Bank, Palestine

Bethlehem is a town in West Bank, a region of Palestine, important religious centre, about 10 km south of Jerusalem, which has 30,000 inhabitants, mainly Muslim Palestinians. The city has a small community of Palestinian Christians, one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. For Jews, the name is Ephrata and is the place of birth and Coronation of the King of Israel David. Regarded by Christians as the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth. It is a place of pilgrimage that generates an important economic activity in the Christmas period. The city is also the seat of a place holy to Judaism, Rachel’s Tomb, located at the entrance of the city. Since 1995, the city is under the administration of the Palestinian Authority. There is also the Church of the Nativity with his famous star and the cave of the milk. The Christian assertions are not corroborated by archaeological discoveries in Bethlehem where no trace of contemporary habitat of Jesus was last updated so far. Between 1992 and 2003, the Israeli archaeologist Aviram Oshri led rescue excavations in the homonymous village of Bethlehem in Galilee, 6 km west of Nazareth. It has been the remains of a Jewish occupation of Herodian time, those of a Christian Basilica and issued the hypothesis that the Galilean village of Bethlehem would be the true birthplace of Jesus.
The city is now partially surrounded by the Israeli barrier in the form of an 8-metre wall built by the Israeli authorities.
Bethlehem received in 2000 the visit of Pope John Paul II to commemorate the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of Christ.

Tips

You can go by bus from Jerusalem, at the Damascus Gate and it will leave you in front of the wall, at the Israeli checkpoint. You will need to submit your papers and get a permit from the authority to enter, after crossing the wall, you can take a shared taxi to the city. To return with the same bus, you will need to pass a control where you present your papers again.
Alternatively, you can take a taxi to Jerusalem. If the driver is Arabic, he may cross the wall, arrange a tour with a local guide and take you back to Jerusalem.
If you rent an Israeli car, it cannot penetrate in the territories.
A half-day visit to the Basilica of the Nativity and the old town is needed.

The Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, Israel

The Holy Sepulchre is, according to Christian tradition, the tomb of Christ, that is to say, the cave where the body of Jesus of Nazareth was laid on the evening of his death on the Cross. It is said that the Emperor Hadrian had built in the second century, a temple dedicated to Venus on the location of the Holy Sepulchre to conceal the tomb where Jesus was buried. Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor, replaced the temple by a church. A marble shrine was built above the tomb and it is this that we can see today. In the following years, a series of commemorative buildings draw a path through which the pilgrims slip in the life, death and resurrection of the Messiah, it was the place of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages. Jerusalem was under Muslim rule from the VII century, so they perceived an entrance fee from each pilgrim. Today, we found there two successive pieces, as in Jewish burials from the Roman period: the Chapel of the Angel, where the body was prepared (washed, perfumed) and the Tomb Room.

Tips

Usually the Holy Sepulchre is open at 4:00 and closes at 19:00 from October to March and 21:00 between April and September. In the evening, at the time of closing, the three sacristans (one representative for each community) are present, to decide who will open the next day. The opening is in turn of the three communities.
Holy Mass presided by the Latin in the Edicule of the Holy Sepulchre begins at 4:30 am and follows every half hour until 7:45. At 8:30 the brothers celebrate the Mass of the day sung in the antechamber of the Edicule. Simultaneously there is the Holy Mass at the Calvary, in the right aisle from 5:00 to 6:30. Every day at 16.00 the Franciscan community do its daily procession in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre.