The Dead Sea is infamous around the world for its incredible salt-concentrated waters, as well as for its incredible stories that date back to the Old Testament. Christian tours of the Holy Land travel to see the area where Sodom and Gomorrah were once situated and the salt-filled waters that formed as Abraham's family fled during God's destruction of the sin-filled cities. King David also famously visited this spot when fleeing from King Saul's guards. Today, pilgrims visit the site to explore these biblical tales and also to float in the one-of-a-kind water. The Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth and because of its salient composition, has incredible healing powers for skin and other conditions. There are many spas, hotels and public beaches surrounding the site itself, most of which provide mineral mud and washing stations for before and after floating.
A desert oasis just minutes away from the Dead Sea waters - is possibly one of the most popular spa sites, providing mineral pools, mud baths and many spa treatments right next to the water's edge. It is believed that this is one of the spots King David hided when fleeing from the wrath of Saul. As a natural desert oasis, Ein Gedi also offers unbelievable hikes to waterfalls, wildlife (psalms 42:1), incredible views of plant growth, and the surrounding mountains. Kibbutz Ein Gedi also houses a tourist hostel, botanical gardens and gear for biking, mountain climbing, jeep tours and rappelling through the mountainous desert terrain.
A visit to the Dead Sea and the Holy Land, would not be complete without a tour of Masada, King Herod's famous mountain-top fortress. The historic site provides a look into the ancient Roman life with aqueducts, kitchens, bathhouses and many other objects uncovered for viewing. Masada was the location of a Jewish revolt after the Second Temple was destroyed. The location has an incredible story of martyrdom from the Jewish rebels who committed mass suicide instead of giving in as slaves to their Roman oppressors. The power of Masada's story draws tour groups from every religion and all over the world to see the breathtaking views, and explore the riveting history and strength found a-top the mountain. Visitors can go up and down Masada either by foot (sunrise hikes are very popular) or by cable car.
A number of interesting sites found in the Dead Sea area also draw the attention of Christian tour groups. Qumran was the home to the Essences, an ancient ascetic sect, with whom John the Baptist is believed to have spent some time. The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in Qumran, and serve as evidence of religious Jewish rituals during Jesus' time; they are the oldest biblical scrolls in existence today and can be seen at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Among other scriptures, the entire book of Isaiah was found in the Qumran caves, this book is dated prior to the time of Jesus. This is very important to Christians, as various prophecies regarding the Jewish Messiah are found in the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 9:6, Isaiah 53, Isaiah 61:1, etc.) and it was ALL written prior to the birth of Jesus.
Additionally, various monasteries can be found throughout the desert, many housing churches built in the 4th century and open to visits by tour groups; the Mar Saba and Saint George monasteries are both well worth the trouble. Finally, Qasr al-Yahud is considered to be one of the two possible sites in Israel for Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist. The site hosts the Orthodox Church's annual Epiphany Festivities and was recently reopened by the Israeli Park Authorities for full visitor access. Today, Christian tour groups in the Holy Land flock to the site to perform baptism ceremonies in the cruciform-shaped pool with water flowing directly from the Jordan River.
For information about Hotels in the Dead Sea area and in Ein Gedi, visit the Dead Sea Hotels section at bookingisrael.com.