Jerusalem

 

Old City

While touring the Old City of Jerusalem you will find yourself walking along 3000 years of history complete with the sights and sounds of a city, which has been and continues to be the ancestral home to the world’s three main religious groups.

The streets date back to the 16th century Ottoman era while the city itself is divided into four Quarters which run clockwise from the south-east Jewish Quarter, to the Armenian Quarter, the Christian Quarter and the Muslim Quarter. Of the eight original entrances into the Old City, seven are still in use with one or more gates for each Quarter.

Some of the places you can choose to explore are:

Mount Zion sites:

  • A view over Mount Zion from the Haas promenade is a wonderful opportunity to understand the historical layout of Jerusalem, and one of the best panoramic view points in the city.
  • King David’s Tomb is a small room in which King David is believed to be buried. It is divided separately for men and women and houses a tomb/coffin covered by a drape.
  • The Chamber of the Last Supper (is directly above the Tomb of David) and commemorates the room in which Jesus shared the Last Supper with his disciples.

Mount of Olives sites:

  • From the summit of the Mount of Olives you will find a superb view over the Old City, Mount Olives, Gethsemane, Temple Mount and the Golden Gate.
  • Visit the Church of the Dominus Flevit. Where Jesus wept prophesying the destruction of the temple.
  • Walk down to the church of all Nations in the Garden of Gethsemane. One of the most important churches in Jerusalem.

The Old City:

Jewish Quarter

The smallest of the quarters is the Jewish one. Sadly, many of the buildings in this area had to be built from scratch as they were destroyed by the Jordanians during the 1948 War of Independence.

  • The Cardo was the main area for mingling, shopping and so on during Roman and Byzantine times. The pillars from those times still stand.
  • Hurva Square is the very center of the Jewish Quarter and is overlooked by the “Hurva” Synagogue, which was originally burned down in the 18th century, rebuilt in 1864 and then destroyed again in 1948, only to be built again in 2010. The square is full of open-air cafes and small exclusive stores selling anything from souvenirs   to art works.
  •  The Western Wall, which acts as the center of Judaism, never closes and is always open for all visitors. This wall that goes back over 2,000 years oh history is one of the only surviving parts of the original second Temple. The wall is also known as the “the Kotel” or “the Wailing Wall.” The area in front of the wall now acts as a synagogue (shul) where people come to pray and put their notes of request and prayer into the crevices of the stones. Especially interesting times to visit the wall are on a Monday or Thursday morning when Bar Mitzvah’s are held there, and/or just as Shabbat (the Sabbath) is coming in on a Friday night. Take note though that photography or the writing of notes is not allowed on a Shabbat. As this is a holy site, appropriate dress is preferred.
  •  The Western Wall Tunnel Tour is an adventure within the excavated underground tunnels of the Kotel and trace back from First Temple times until modern day. Pre booking is usually required.
  • Davidson Center and Southern Excavations Archaeological Park include the original second temple “ophel” stairs and contain a taste of the Herodian (37–4 BC), Byzantine (AD 325–632) and Muslim Omayyad (AD 632–750) eras.

Christian Quarter

The Christian Quarter is in the northwest corner of the city and is home to a number of different churches, patriarchates and hospices that serve the various Christian denominations

Some of the main attractions include:

  • The Via Dolorosa in which Jesus is believed to have carried the cross from his trial (Station 1) to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the place of his crucifixion and burial.
  • Church of the Holy Sepulcher (Stations 10-14) is the most important Church in the Holy Land. The current structure of the Church dates back to the Crusader times. This is where Jesus Christ is believed to have been crucified, died, buried, and then rose from the dead on the third day. Eastern Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics, Armenian, Ethiopian, Coptic and Syrianic Christians are given separate areas in the church. Dressing appropriately is a necessity!
  • Christian Quarter Road is for all you shopaholics who are looking especially for religious items and handcrafted pieces.
  • Muristan is a quiet area of outdoor cafes and small shops centered on a picturesque central fountain.
  •  A Walk on the Roofs offers tourists a view of all that happens in the Quarter below, as well as an interesting view of the Holy Sepulcher and Dome of the Rock.

Muslim Quarter

This largest and most populated of the Quarters with its main attractions: the Temple Mount premises, unfortunately the Dome of the Rock itself and Al Aqsa mosque, are off limits to anybody who is not Muslim.

However, shopping in the “Bazaar” is an adventure for any tourist who will find everything from religious items to clothing, souvenirs and food.

Armenian Quarter

The Armenian Quarter is the smallest of the sections and runs as a city within a city, even going as far as shutting all gates as night arrives. Some of its attractions include:

  • David’s tower was once a fortress beside the Jaffa Gate. Today it is a museum housing a variety exhibits.  Holds a spectacular night show.
  • St. James Cathedral is one of the most beautiful of all the sacred buildings in Jerusalem.
  • Saint Mark’s Syriac Church and Monastery, according to tradition, was built on the site of the house of Mary, mother of St Mark.

New City

The New city is decked out in the local white limestone as per a municipality law that dates back to the British Mandate days and remains today.

  • Yad Vashem Memorial site of the Holocaust. A tour of the museum’s new wing provides a new approach to the way we preserve the memory of the Holocaust; while walking through the path of the righteous amongst the nations and visiting the Children’s memorial site are as impressive as they were 20 years ago. This is surely one of the most important sites to visit in Israel. Entrance age is over 9 years old.
  • The new Israel Museum is home to the breathtaking second Temple model that is unique in the world, and to the Shrine of the Book, where the Dead Sea scrolls are kept. It also has an impressive collection of many of the archeological findings from the land, and a whole section of modern art. This is the largest museum in Israel and you can easily spend a whole day exploring it.
  • The Mahane Yehuda market is a lively and colorful market where you can get a taste of the local culture and cuisines.
  • A panoramic tour around the city gives a better understanding of the demographic and political complexity of the modern city.
  • The Biblical Zoo is located in a beautiful valley in the south of town. It is a great place to get away from the hectic vibe of the city and a wonderful opportunity to get really close to the animals.