I6: Breathtaking beauty

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Beauty is not for the faint of heart. 4am wake-up call, 1400 steps up and down a steep mountain and icy cold winds from all directions. But it’s always worth it.

King Herod built his palaces on the top of a great mountain. He made it into an impenetrable fortress with enough provision to last during times of survival and to feast abundantly in times of peace. Yup, Herod knew what’s up; bathhouses, saunas, two palaces, a view on the Dead Sea, pillars, gorgeous mosaics and storehouses as far as you can see. Even though only ruins are left of this grandeur, I still found it easy to imagine what it must have been like.

This fortress was used by Jewish Zealots centuries later. These rebels are known for the famous “mass suicide” as described by Jospephius in book 7 of the Jewish War. They rather died for what they believed than surrounded to be slaves for the Romans, or so the legend tells.

We hiked up the ancient ‘snake path’ while the sun came up and enjoyed an impressive piece of history on the flat top of the massive rock. But my favorite part of it all was the moment the sun broke through the clouds during our descent. An impressive rainbow set itself on the coast of the Dead Sea, and the golden sun rays reveiled the impressive relief of the desert below us. Wow. Indescribably beautiful.

Some moments are so wildly beautiful, they simply don’t allow themselves be tamed by words or pictures. This kind of beauty is not meant to be captured, its sole purpose is only to exist in that brief moment… and take your breath away.

The second moment of this breathtaking beauty happened the same day. The sun stood low in the sky again, but this time on the other side. We were on the other side of the country, we had driven all the way up north. We were standing on the top of a rock in the middle of nowhere again, but this time looking out over a deep cliff. There, hidden in the rocks, stood a monastery in all its quiet glory. The sun broke through the clouds again and brought a silver lining to the rained-on rocks, and formed yet another vivid rainbow for us. The Greek Monastery of St. George couldn’t have chosen a better spot to lay itself for centuries, and we couldn’t have chosen a better time to admire it. There’s not a camera in the world that could accurately catch the breathtaking beauty. It was a golden moment, a gift from heaven. Unforgettable.
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St. George Monastery. Shot with an iPhone5, ©ElineMillenaar

– This post is part of the DDIsrael16-series, with travel stories and pictures of my daddy-daughter trip to Israel. You can find all other posts here, you can find some other pictures on Instagram.
Tomorrow I will write about my last travel day spent in Tel Aviv. –


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  1. Beautiful writing of a beautiful day by a beautiful daughter.


  2. This site looks amazing. Very beautifully put together. Ta. Jx


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