Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Ashkelon, Israel

Ashkelon is Portland's sister city. It is noted for its leisure and sports. It's a natural resort area. Ashkelon's population is 125,000 and looks like a beach town. There are new high rises and lovely two-story seaside villas with streets and coastline rimmed with palm trees.

Along the beach line is a paved beach promenade. An 18-hole golf course is in the works. The marina is home to sailing and sports clubs.

Ashkelon is one of the oldest cities in the world. The Ashkelon National Park has some of the most remarkable archeological discoveries; a 4,000 year old arched gate to a Canaanite city. Future plans are for a visitors' center and restoring archeological treasures. The park is amid a beautiful nature reserve where tamarisk and sycamore trees stand. Picnic tables are near a Canaanite shrine, and ancient well and cistern. People picknicing on blankets can go where the Roman basilica once stood. There they will see rows of heavy marble columns leading to a large ditch where life-sized statues of Atlas, the goddess Nike and Egyptian goddess Isis have been placed.

Citizens try to forget about rockets that have landed close by from Gaza terrorists. In August 2006 one fell between Ashkelon and and coast, and last month one fell on a neaby parking lot. The marina was almost hit. Life goes on in this blissful city.

A subsidiary of the Coca-Cola Company, Israel's Carlsberg Brewery, gets water from Ashkelon's aquifers. The restaurant, Luna, is in a restored mosque about 700 years old. In the evening, jazz music and candlelight are seen within its Ottoman arched walls.

One cannot forget that Barzelai Hospital is in Ashkelon, which serves people from the Gaza Strip as well as the city and surrounding areas. They have been kept extremely busy with the attacking rocket fire.

Resource: Jerusalem Post: The sunny side of Ashkelon

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