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A legend says that after the Creation, the angels painted the earth and when they got tired, they spilled their paints: the blue became the waters of Eilat, and the other colors became its fish and coral. Combine Eilat's year-round warm weather, its superb natural surroundings of sculptural red-orange mountains, and its prime location on the sparkling Red Sea—whose coral reefs attract divers from all over the world—and you've got a first-rate resort.

Eilat, a city of about 50,000, is now Israel's prototypical "sun-and-fun" destination. But its strategic location as a crossroads between Asia and Africa has long given it a place in history. Because of its position on a main trade and travel route, Eilat was conquered by every major power: the Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Mamluks, Ottoman Turks, and, most recently, the British, whose isolated police station, called Umm Rash Rash (headquarters of their camel corps), was the first building in modern-day Eilat.

Most travelers agree that Eilat's natural assets more than make up for its undistinguished architecture and overdevelopment. For wherever you are in Eilat, a glance eastward presents you with the dramatic sight of the granite mountain range of Edom, whose shades of red intensify toward evening, culminating in a crimson sunset blaze over the Red Sea.

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