The saline waters of the Dead Sea are considered an oasis of healing. The world’s oldest natural spa has rich blue waters believed to be beneficial for skin issues, arthritis, and other ailments. At some 1,312 feet below sea level this is the lowest point on earth and it’s a beautiful landscape of valleys, mountains, and hills. Many tributaries and rivers flow towards the Dead Sea, but once they reach it, there is nowhere to go, leaving behind a rich deposit of salt and minerals. This natural treasure trove supplies industry, agriculture, and medicine with some of its finest products, and spas here focus on using local mud and sea salt to pamper guests.

Today the surrounding hills and mountains of the the Jordan Rift Valley are quiet, but at one time were home to the Biblical cities of Sodom, Gomorrah, Adman, Zebouin, and Zoar. This history has left behind magnificent archaeological gems. Built in the 8th century, Qusir Amra is a well-preserved desert castle. Inside, the palace reception hall and hammam are decorated with murals of animals, birds, Byzantine portraits, and Greek and Arabic inscriptions. You’ll feel the ancient past come alive at the rock statue of Lot’s wife. It is written in the Bible that while fleeing Sodom, she transformed into a pillar of salt when she turned back to look at the doomed city.

To the north of the Dead Sea, Mount Nebo houses a church and is the location where it is believed that Moses first saw the Promised Land. Karak Castle is a crusader castle and one of the largest in the Middle East. Perched on a hilltop, the castle is home to slumbering bats and padlocked doors that open to reveal former crusader barracks. Wander through the stone corridors and stand in the remains of the chapel overlooking the landscape.

It is easy to be enchanted by the ancient history of the people and land. Millions of years of rock formations are found in Wadi Zarqa Ma’in. Hike through the Mujib Biosphere Reserve with its fast-flowing rivers that gush through the canyons. Hike along canyons with waterfalls and hot springs along the eastern coast of the Dead Sea. As you bob in the waters, feel the presence of the past looking out at the landscape that has attracted kings, traders, prophets, and pilgrims.