Gateway to Jerusalem
Disembarking from an MSC cruise ship at Ashdod, a modern Mediterranean port city 70 km from Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, means arriving to a modern city where skyscrapers alternate with low, white housing.
The port and your MSC cruise ship will be guarded by Givat Yonah (Hill of Jonah, 53 m.a.s.l.), which, according to tradition, is the site of the tomb of the prophet Jonah. It is sure to be simply the archaeological remains of a fortified observation point dating to 2500 years ago.
Ashdod is the ideal stop for exciting excursions to all of Israel, starting with Jerusalem, the only city in the world that is sacred to three religious faiths. In the Old City, surrounded by a wall and divided into four quarters (the Jewish, the Armenian, the Christian, and the Muslim), you will discover the heart of the city.
Here, some of the most important sites for the three Religions of the Book are found: the Western Wall, all that remains of the Second Temple of Jerusalem; the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, sacred to Christians; and the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, a Muslim place of worship. Another excursion, on the other hand, will take you to Nazareth, where the Basilica of the Annunciation dominates the residential areas.
You will be surprised to find below this modern building of worship, constructed in the 1960s, a cave that has been linked to the Marian cult: this seems to be the spot where the Virgin Mary’s house once stood. Another exciting site is the elegant pure white Wedding Church at Cana in Kafr-Kana, less than ten kilometres from Nazareth. In this place, elevated with respect to the rest of the city, Christ. is believed to have performed his first miracle.
Another unusual place to visit during your trip to Israel is Yardenit in Galilee. We will take you to the lush banks of the River Jordan, where John the Baptist baptized Christ.