Virtual Travel: This Holiday Season Visit Israel, Palestine

Dead Sea Scroll Cave
Qumran Dead Sea Scroll Cave. This is the first cave in which the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered by an Arabic goat herder. The terrain is very rugged and almost inaccessible. How the goat herder found it is difficult to understand. Clearly the scroll writers were looking for security in preservation of them. (Getty Images)

Go to Israel with the Arts Blog

As a consolation for lack of in-person travel, the Arts Blog has been offering occasional tours of museums, monuments, and other locales that you can take in from the comfort of your own home. 

Ordinarily this time of year, many people travel to Israel, whether to see the Dead Sea Scrolls, the holy sites in Jerusalem, or see the various museums and monuments. We also travel over to modern-day Palestine and visit Bethlehem.

Did you miss the Art Blog’s previous trips? Our first adventure was in Europe. Visit London, England here, and Paris, France here. Explore Italy here and Spain here. Most recently, we visited Egypt here. Now we’re traveling to Western Asia to visit Israel, a popular destination this time of year. 

Our tour will span from historical sites in Jerusalem to modern art museums in Bethlehem and the coastal city of Tel Aviv. 

This blog compiled by Leigh Houck and Hayley Morris, UC Davis Media Relations Interns

Old City of Jerusalem 

Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, is considered a holy site by practitioners of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Now you can make a virtual pilgrimage to this historic city. 

  • Take a virtual walking tour of old Jerusalem and its walls here, here, and here. As with other virtual tours by Google Arts and Culture, navigate by using your cursor to click on the gray arrows. 

The Israel Museum 

Our next stop in Jerusalem is the Israel Museum, which is home to the famous Dead Sea Scrolls. 

  • Learn about the Dead Sea Scrolls here. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for several links that offer the chance to explore the manuscripts virtually. Another link, also at the bottom, allows you to get a feel for life in the first century CE. 
  • Take a virtual walk through the Israel Museum here, courtesy of Google Arts and Culture. The walls are lined with paintings by masters from Rembrandt to Cezanne. When viewing a painting, if a small icon of the painting comes up in the lower left hand corner, click on the icon to learn more about the artist and the painting’s history. Prefer 3D artworks? Textiles, furniture, and sculptures stand in the middle of the room. 
  • The Israel Museum is home to a collection of masks found in the Judean Desert that date back 9,000 years. Marvel at one of these masks, dubbed “The Oldest Mask in the World,” here.
  • Tour an online exhibit, titled “Questions of Identity: Costume from the collection of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem,” here

The National Library of Israel 

The National Library of Israel holds “ collections of manuscripts, ancient maps, rare books, photographs, archival materials, and more.” Many of these are now digitized and available to view online. 

  • Explore “Maps of the Holy Land and Jerusalem,” with maps spanning from the 16th  century to the early 20th century, here
  • Learn about the story of the exodus in the exhibit “A Timeless Script: Handwritten Passover Haggadot” here

Now we travel west to the coastal city of Tel Aviv. Want to get a feel for the city? Explore the White City in Tel Aviv here, or take in the vibrant blue waters of the Mediterranean sea at the Tel Aviv beach here

Tel Aviv Museum of Art 

The Tel Aviv Museum of Art is “...Israel’s foremost modern and contemporary art museum.” While the museum typically welcomes more than 1 million in-person visitors annually, you can also easily visit online. 

  • Tour the museum’s collection of art here, via Google Arts and Culture. Along with installations by contemporary artists, you’ll find works from famous modern artists including Degas and Munch.  
  • You can also enjoy a full online exhibit from the museum, titled “Gustav Klimt’s ‘Portrait of Friedericke Maria Beer’” (1916). View the exhibit, which offers information about both the artwork and the muse, here

Museums of Bethlehem

Finally, we’ll travel to Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in modern-day Palestine. Tourism in Bethlehem normally peaks during the Christmas season when Christians travel to visit the Church of the Nativity.

  • Take a virtual tour of historic Bethlehem Museums and sites here, via Google Maps. Click on the names of the Museums to learn more about the museums. Tour the exhibits by clicking on the gray arrows.


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