Traveling to Jerusalem

Traveling to Jerusalem is a unique, spiritually charged experience. Jerusalem is sacred to all three of the monotheistic religions, and many Biblical events unfolded here. People of all faiths and cultures go about their daily activities on Jerusalem’s ancient streets. The city has warm weather, but it can get chilly at night, and can even snow in winter.

From Ben Gurion to Jerusalem takes about an hour by taxi, car, or shuttle bus. Accommodation ranges from ultra-luxury hotels like the King David Hotel to simple hostels, and historic hotels in the Old City. The best way to get around Jerusalem is on the convenient light rail, or by bus, but taxis can be pricey.

Things to do in Jerusalem include Old City sites like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Western Wall, Via Dolorosa, the Tower of David, al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Dome of the Rock.

Attractions outside Jerusalem’s Old City include the Mount of Olives churches, David’s Tomb, the Cenacle, Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, the Israel Museum, and the archaeological sites including the City of David. In the newer part of Jerusalem, you’ll find restaurants, bars, nightclubs, art galleries, and stores. Sample Jerusalem cuisine at the Machane Yehuda Market, home to several excellent restaurants. Jerusalem is a good place to base yourself for day trips to Bethlehem, Jericho, the Dead Sea, and Masada. 

Holy Sites in Jerusalem

Jerusalem is one of the world’s great cities and home to three major world religions - Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. The city is packed full of holy sites, making it a popular pilgrimage destination for thousands of people. Here, we look at some of the most important holy sites to these three religions, and what makes them so special to their followers.The Wailing Wall, Jerusalem.Photo credit: © ShutterstockChristian Holy Sites in JerusalemMultiple DenominationalHoly Sites in Jerusalem1. Church of the Holy Sepulchre - The place at which Jesus’s crucifixion, burial and resurrection took place, this magnificent ancient church is one of the holiest sites for Christian pilgrims. Erected by Constantine the Great in 326 AD, it contains the tomb of Jesus, the anointing stone and Golgotha itself.It is overseen jointly by the Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic and Roman Catholic according to a complicated ruling named ‘the Status Quo’. Since the 7th century, the Muslim Nusaybah family has been the impartial doorkeeper, using a key made of iron, which is 30 cms long. This enormous structure can hold up to 8.000 people. Its bell tower dates back to the 12th century.2. Tomb of the Virgin Mary - At the bottom of the Mount of Olives, nestled in the Kidron Valley, Christians from both the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic denominations believe that this is the burial place of Jesus’s mother, Mary.Catholic (Roman and Eastern)Holy Sites in Jerusalem3. Church of All Nations- This is thought to be the place at which Jesus prayed before he was arrested by the Romans. Inside you can see gold mosaics, depicting his despair. Its round dome and Corinthian columns let you know this was once a Byzantine structure. 4. Garden of Gethsemane - In Christian history, this garden is loaded with meaning as it is apparently the spot at which he prayed to God before being arrested by the Romans. Gethsemane means ‘olive press’ in Aramaic and the garden has several olive trees. It is located at the foot of the Mount of Olives.Church of the Holy Sepulchre.Photo credit: © Shutterstock5. St Anne's Church - Built on the ruins of a Byzantine church, this Crusader-era church is located near the Lion’s Gate. Its thick walls liken it to a fortress and It has a simple interior with an asymmetrical design and cross-vaulted ceilings. Today, it belongs to the French government and is managed by the ‘White Fathers.’6. Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu - This Roman Catholic church can be found just outside the Old City Walls, on the slopes of Mount Zion. In Latin, ‘Gallicantu’ means ‘cock-crow which harks back to the Disciple Peter’s rejection of Jesus (‘before the cock crows’ - Gospel of Mark). Today, visitors can see a golden rooster perched at the top of the sanctuary, reminding them of this biblical passage. 7. Church of the Pater Noster - Dating back to the time of Emperor Constantine, and found on the Mount of Olives, according to tradition this is where Jesus taught his disciples the Lord’s Prayer. ‘Pater Noster’ in Latin means ‘Our Father’ and inside this Carmelite church, that credo is painted on ceramic tiles, in different colours and writing styles, in 130 languages.8. Dormition Abbey - Situated on Mount Zion, just outside the Old City walls, this distinctive 5th-century Benedictine structure is renowned for its round dome and lovely mosaic floor. Due to its size, it is one of Jerusalem’s most prominent churches; moreover, tradition says that it was on this spot that the Virgin Mary died. 9. Via Dolorosa - In Latin, ‘Via Dolorosa’ means ‘the Way of Sorrows’ and this historic route through the Old City is indeed laden with sorrow, as it commemorates Jesus’s walk towards his crucifixion. Along the way, there are ‘Stations of the Cross’ where he stopped to rest and each Easter, on Good Friday, thousands of Christian pilgrims retrace his steps, culminating at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The route is also commemorated each Friday afternoon by the Catholic church.10. Dominus Flevit Church - This Franciscan church on the Mount of Olives is known for its beautiful window which gives visitors an astonishing view of the Old City. Designed by Antonio Barluzzi, an Italian architect, it is shaped like a teardrop, to symbolise the grief of Christ. Dominus Flevit, in Latin, means ‘ The Lord Wept’.Dominus Flevit Church.Photo credit: © ShutterstockOrthodox Holy Sites in Jerusalem1. Church of St. Alexander Nevsky - Built over the remains over what is believed to have been the ‘Judgement Gate’ where Jesus passed, en route to his crucifixion, this Russian Orthodox Church was built between 1896-1903 and named after the Russian military leader Nevsky.2. Convent of the Ascension - located at the highest point of the Mount of Olives, this Byzantine-style church was built in 1870 and has a prominent bell tower and olive groves. Nearby is the Chapel of John the Baptist, with an ancient mosaic floor, commemorating the actual place that his head was found. 3. Cathedral of St. James - This 12th century Armenian Apostolic Church is located inside the Old City and is dedicated to two saints - St. James the Great and St. James the Less. It has an ornate interior decorated with gilded altars, paintings and mosaics. 4. "Deir es-Sultan" - This Coptic Orthodox Monastery is situated on the rooftop of the Helena Chapel in Holy Sepulchre, in the Old City’s Christian Quarter. The site’s heritage is contested by the Ethiopian Church and arguments continue to this day as to which denomination retains ultimate control.5. Saint Mark’s Monastery - This Syriac Orthodox monastery and church is believed to have been the place where the Last Supper of Christ and his disciples took place. The relics of many saints can be found inside.Candles in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinProtestantHoly Sites in Jerusalem1. The Garden Tomb - This non-denominational site is particularly popular with Anglicans and Evangelicals as a possible location for the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Close to the Damascus Gate, this pretty garden was unearthed in 1867 and holds an empty ancient tomb.2. Church of the Ascension at the German Augusta Victoria Foundation - This German Evangelical Church stands at the highest point in Jerusalem - almost 850 metres above sea level - and was dedicated in 1910 at the request of Kaiser Wilhelm. Built in the "Wilhelminian-Byzantine style" it contains beautiful ceiling paintings and mosaics. 3. Lutheran Church of the Redeemer - The second Protestant Church in Jerusalem, this German Evangelical Church was built on land given to King William I of Prussia and dedicated on Reformation Day in 1898. It was built in a neo-Romanesque style and has a simple interior.4. St. George's Cathedral - This Anglican/Episcopal church is located in Sheik Jarrah, East Jerusalem, close to the Garden Tomb, It was built by the fourth bishop of the diocese, George Blyth.5. St Andrew's, aka the Scottish Church - As part of the Church of Scotland, St. Andrews was built as a memorial to Scottish soldiers killed fighting the Turks in World War I. As well as running a guesthouse (with its famous Scottish breakfast) the Church of Scotland oversees the running of the Tabeetha school in Jaffa and the Scots Hotel in Tiberias.The Garden Tomb. Photo credit: © Dan PorgesJewishHoly Sites in Jerusalem1. Tomb of King David - One of the most sacred sites for Jews, the tradition that says King David was buried here dates back to the 9th century. Located on Mount Zion, today it is run on a ‘synagogue model’ with the tombstone in the interior room. There are separate entrances for men and women and the rooftop is an excellent observational point.2. Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetery- Situated on the Mount of Olives, this noble cemetery is over 500 years old and between 70.0000 and 140,000 people are buried here, including notable Zionist leaders and rabbis. It also contains the tombs of three prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. Jews come from across the globe to pray and pay respects at this cemetery.3. Western Wall - The Western Wall (‘Kotel’ in Hebrew) is the last remaining structure of the Second Temple and a place of extraordinary religious, historical and emotional significance to Jews. An open plaza, men and women pray there (in separate sections) and across the world, Jews continue to pray in its direction. Made of huge quarried stone, its structure is smoothed and chiselled.4. Temple Mount- According to Jewish tradition, this is where previous temples were built and where the Third Temple will, one day, be built. It is the holiest site for Jews who turn this way in prayer. It is also a hotly contested site, between Jews and Muslims and often a flashpoint for outbreaks of violence. Inside is the Foundation Stone, and according to Jewish sages, it was from this rock that the world was created. 5. Cave of the Ramban - Located in the Kidron Valley, this cave is believed by some Jews to be the traditional resting place of Nahmanides (also known as the Ramban) who was a distinguished scholar in the Middle Ages. The Kidron Valley, Jerusalem.Photo credit: © ShutterstockIslamic Holy Sites in JerusalemThe Arabic name for Jerusalem is 'Al Quds' which means 'the Holy One'. Its holiest shrines include:1. Haram ash-Sharif- The Temple Mount complex is extremely holy to Muslims, as it is thought to have been the place Mohammed made his ‘Night Journey’ flying over Jerusalem en route to Mecca. It contains the Al-Aqsa Mosque (which is characteristic of early Islamic architecture) the Dome of the Rock (the first Muslim masterpiece, built in 687 CE and is a prominent theme in Islamic Art) and the Well of Souls (Islamic tradition believes that on Judgement day, this is the place that the spirits of the dead will come). It also houses the Dome of the Chain (where the Last Judgement will take pale, with a chain allowing passage only to the righteous and turning away sinners) the Fountain of Qayt Bay - a beautiful structure with stone carvings and intricate calligraphy - and Madrasa al-Ashrafiyya, an Islamic madrasa built in 1480, in Mamluk style.2. Al-Khanqah al-Salahiyya Mosque - Located in the Christian Quarter of the Old City, this sits on the former sites of the Latin Patriarch. After the Crusaders surrendered to Saladin in 1187, it was transformed into a mosque and a minaret was subsequently built in 1417. The mosque's facade is beautiful and decorated with stones that are a feature of the Mamluk architectural style of that time (a combination of black and white stones).3. Al-Yaqubi Mosque - Once the Crusader Church of St. James Intercisus, this building was transformed into a mosque after 1187, when Saladin captured the city. Situated close to the Jaffa Gate, this small building is named after Sheik Yaquob al-Ajami - lookout for the lovely enamel name plaque on the wall. 4. Mosque of Omar - Next to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in the Christian Quarter, is the Mosque of Omar, which is easily noticed by a 15-metre high minaret. The building was erected to mark the spot where Caliph Omar prayed since he would not enter a Christian church. The mosque was renovated in the 19th century, after an earthquake in 1458.5. Dome of Ascension - Located close to the Dome of the Rock, this free-standing dome denotes the spot where Mohammed, Islam’s greatest prophet, ascended to heaven. The dome is covered with marble slabs but what makes it really noticeable is that, above it, is a small dome in the shape of a crown. The Dome of Ascension is also part of Mohammed’s ‘Night Journey’ when he flew across the sky, passing Jerusalem, en route to Mecca.Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem. Photo credit: © Shutterstock
By Sarah Mann

Get to Know Jerusalem

The best way to get to know Jerusalem is to spend several days exploring both independently and with an organized Jerusalem tour. Some of the sites and attractions you can discover for yourself while others are better seen with a knowledgeable guide on one of the many Jerusalem day tours. Here are a few ideas on how you can get to Jerusalem.Statue of King David at the entrance to King David's Tomb, Jerusalem. Photo credit: © ShutterstockSee the Highlights of JerusalemBefore you start delving into the unusual and unique attractions of Jerusalem it is worth seeing the top 10 Jerusalem attractions that all visitors to the city should see. Among the top 10, there are the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Mount of Olives, and the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. Although there are some Jerusalem attractions that all travelers will want to see, your personal top 10 will depend on your interests. If you are a Christian traveler you will probably be drawn towards the churches on the Mount of Olives; the Room of the Last Supper and Via Dolorosa among other biblical sites. Jewish travelers will want to include other landmarks in their top 10 Jerusalem attractions, for example, the City of David; Knesset, and theSephardi synagogues of the Old City.Mount of Olives with ancient tombs. Photo credit: © ShutterstockJerusalem Old City GuideIf your time is short and you can only go to one place in Jerusalem then it has to be the Old City. Within the 16th century stone walls, the 1km² city holds Jerusalem’s top attractions. The Old City is also home to the most important Christian, Jewish and Muslim landmarks – the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; the Western Wall and Temple Mount, home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock. Spend your time exploring the narrow lanes of the Old City. In the Armenian Quarter see the exquisitely painted ceramics; in the Christian Quarter follow the Via Dolorosa and see where Jesus was crucified; in the Muslim Quarter shop in the traditional market and in the Jewish Quarter see ancient synagogues, museums and beneath the Temple Mount walls.Temple Mount, Jerusalem. Photo credit: © ShutterstockAttractions in New Jerusalem Don’t miss out on the attractions in New Jerusalem. Many tourists, especially those short on time concentrate all their sightseeing in the Old City but New Jerusalem has much to offer. Visit the ultra-religious neighborhood of Mea Shearim; the colorful Mahane Yehuda Market; the Knesset; the Chagall windows; the Bridge of Strings; the Israel Supreme Court and the Jerusalem Israel Museum. New Jerusalem has some incredible malls and the lively Ben Yehuda pedestrian street with outdoor cafes. There are plenty of art galleries, parks like the Wohl Rose Park and the Haas Promenade where you can get an overview of the city. Visit the 130-year restored First Jerusalem Train Station that is now a hip cultural and culinary hub and spend some time in a local café people-watching.Church of all Nations, Jerusalem.Photo credit: © ShutterstockJerusalem Machane Yehuda MarketIf you really want to experience the lively atmosphere of local Jerusalemites then head for the Mahane Yehuda Market. You’ll find stalls selling fresh produce, baked goods, pickles, spices, fish, meat, eggs, and about every other type of food you can imagine. Not only that but the market, which has both outdoor and covered sections is home to excellent restaurants. Some of the market eateries are run by top Israeli chefs and others serve up traditional dishes from around the world. Try Ethiopian pita bread; a Georgian pastry; British fish and chips or Spanish tapas. In addition to food, the market sells household goods, fashion items, and more. Be sure to visit the “doctor” who serves up freshly squeezed fruit drinks made with unusual ingredients that are said to have therapeutic properties whether you want to treat a sore back or a broken heart!Gethsemane Garden, Jerusalem.Photo credit: © ShutterstockGet to Know Jerusalem NeighborhoodsAlthough most travelers limit themselves to the Old City there are several wonderful Jerusalem neighborhoods worth visiting. Stop in downtown West Jerusalem for excellent food and a vibrant nightlife scene. Near Mahane Yehuda Market see interesting street art and one-off bars and restaurants. In the Nachlaot neighborhood see where a former ultra-orthodox traditional neighborhood has transformed into a hip, cosmopolitan hang-out for artists and musicians. The neighborhood has narrow lanes, historic homes with hidden courtyards, and a bohemian atmosphere.Musrara is a picturesque neighborhood with many art galleries and museums including The Museum on the Seam that focuses on socio-politically inspired contemporary art. The German Colony is where you’ll find up-market boutiques, charming cafes, and restaurants housed in historic buildings with Bauhaus, Ottoman, and Templar-style architecture. The Germany Colony’s Emek Refaim Street is the place to people-watch and visit the neighborhood’s best stores and restaurants. Ein Kerem is arguably the most beautiful of the Jerusalem neighborhoods. Ein Kerem has a village-feel with charming stone houses, window boxes, craft stores, excellent restaurants, and several attractions including Mary’s Well and John the Baptist Church.Dominus Flevit Church, Jerusalem.Photo credit: © Shutterstock
By Petal Mashraki

5 Attractions in New Jerusalem

Tours from Jerusalem usually concentrate on Old Jerusalem within the Old City walls. However the Holy Land’s top destination also has a “New” City. If you look at a Jerusalem map you will see that the new, more recently built part of Jerusalem takes up a much larger area than the Old City. It follows that there is a lot to see in the New City of Jerusalem. Here are a few highlights of attractions in new Jerusalem, outside of the Old City walls.Yad Vashem Holocaust MuseumThis world-class museum is spread over a large complex on Mount Herzl. The museum holds thousands of authentic Holocaust artifacts, historic documents, photographs, and filmed testimonials by Holocaust survivors. On the grounds are memorials honoring the children who lost their lives in the Holocaust. There is also a part of the complex dedicated to gentiles who helped save Jewish lives during the Holocaust.Chagall Windows In a small chapel (Abbell Synagogue) in the Hadassah University Medical Center, there are twelve stained glass windows designed by Marc Chagall. Chagall gifted the windows to the Jewish people in the 1960s. The twelve stained glass windows were inspired by the Bible and particularly Jacob’s blessings to his 12 sons. The images in the stained glass depict scenes from Jewish history, Chagall’s love for the Jewish people, and the artist’s own personal experiences living in a Russian shtetl.KnessetThe Israeli parliament or Knesset is situated in the Givat Ram neighborhood of western Jerusalem. The present building was completed in 1966 and it is possible to arrange tours of the building or view it from the outside. Highlights of the Knesset tour include seeing the original copy of the Declaration of Independence. You will see the Knesset Committee Rooms, the Chagall Hall featuring art by Marc Chagall, and the Plenary Chamber. There are 12 stunning floor mosaics and three tapestries by Chagall. The one-hour tours are held daily with a focus on photography and art; architecture and the parliamentary function of the Knesset.Machane Yehuda MarketAt the bustling Jerusalem market, you can get everything plus the kitchen sink! The market offers stalls of fresh fruit and vegetables, household items, freshly baked goods, spices, nuts, pickles, arts and crafts. In addition, the market is home to several renowned eateries. There are cooking and tasting tours of the market or you can explore independentlyIsrael MuseumIsrael’s national museum houses extensive collections covering a wide range of fields. Specifically, the museum archaeology and art collections as well as the collection of Jewish cultural items and art are outstanding. The vast museum complex includes a children’s wing, sculpture garden a scale model of Second Temple era Jerusalem and the Shrine of the Book. The white dome-shaped Shrine of the Book houses the Dead Sea Scrolls.
By Petal Mashraki

Top 10 Attractions in Jerusalem

There are so many things to see and do in Jerusalem that narrowing down the list to just 10 is almost impossible – but someone has to do it! If your time in the City of Gold is limited then you will need to pick and choose only the best attractions and activities in Jerusalem.Tourists in Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinJerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel and a sacred city in the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faiths. Over the course of thousands of years, Jerusalem has remained a truly eternal city and one with certain magic which can only really be understood when you there surrounded by biblical, Byzantine, Crusader, Ottoman, and modern historical sites.1. Old City, JerusalemOk, so this is a bit of a cheat, as the Old City of Jerusalem is one site with many attractions. Within the ancient Old City walls are the top attractions of the city and the most important Christian, Muslim, and Jewishholy sites. In addition to the most famous sites, there are many hidden gems, markets, stores, excavated Roman ruins, synagogues, and churches in the Old City of Jerusalem. You can follow the Via Dolorosa, visit David's Tower, see a Sound and Light Show or walk the Ramparts.Church of the Holy Sepulchre – This huge church was consecrated in 335AD and holds the last five Stations of the Cross, the Stone of Anointing, Calvary, the holy tomb or sepulcher where Jesus was buried and resurrected, and many small chapels. The church marks the end of the Via Dolorosa, the route Jesus took through the Old City towards his crucifixion.Western Wall – The Kotel (Wailing Wall) is a segment that has survived from the original Second Jewish Temple which was destroyed in 70AD. Today Jews pray at the Western Wall as they do in synagogues. This holy site is the closest Jews can get to the site on Temple Mount where the Temple once stood. You can place a prayer note between the large limestone blocks which make up the wall. You can visit the Western Wall Tunnels running beneath the Old City along part of the Wall which is hidden underground.Temple Mount – The Jewish Holy Temple stood here almost 2,000 years ago and today it is the site of the Dome of the Rock, Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Dome of the Chain. It is the holiest Jewish site and the holiestMuslim site in Israel. The Koran tells of Mohammed reaching the al-Aqsa Mosque after the Night Journey and of Muhammad’s ascent to heaven from the stone which is within the Dome of the Rock.Dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin2. Holocaust Museum Yad Vashem, JerusalemPerched on Mount Herzl overlooking the forests and hills of Jerusalem is this memorial to those who lost their lives in the Holocaust. The Holocaust Museum includes a Children’s Memorial, Hall of Remembrance, Museum of Holocaust Art, a sculpture garden, and the Garden of the Righteous Among Nations. Here you can see filmed testimonials from people who were in the Nazi concentration camps as well as thousands of authentic artifacts from the camps and the Holocaust period. The museum building has a unique design that leads you through the Holocaust story with multimedia exhibits, provocative displays, and somber photographs and documents.3. Mahane Yehuda Market, JerusalemGet a taste of Jerusalem’s “shuk” a marketplace with all the character, color, flavors, and aromas of the Middle East. The Mahane Yehuda market is spread over several lanes and stalls are loaded up with fresh produce, baked goods, spices, nuts, dried fruit, and even household items and clothing. There are several eateries in the market where you can try some authentic Jerusalem cuisine.4. Israel Museum, JerusalemIsrael’s national art and archaeological museum exhibits a vast range of Israeli and international art and artifacts. Among the gems of the Israel museum, there is the oldest artwork in the world, a Youth Wing, fine art, pieces by Rembrandt, Chagall, Pissarro, Henry Moore sculptures, and a special section devoted to Jewish Art and Life. On the grounds of the museum is a model of the 2nd Temple and the Shrine of the Book, where you can see the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest copy of the Bible in the world.Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, Jerusalem. Photo by Snowscat on Unsplash5. Mount of OlivesLike the Old City, this site holds several attractions. The mount stands alongside the Old City; it has been used as a Jewish cemetery for over 3,000 years. The mount features several sites from the New Testament. Among the landmarks on the Mount of Olives is Augusta Victoria Hospital; the Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene with its distinctive gold onion domes; the Seven Arches Hotel and the Dome of the Ascension which holds a stone with the last footprint of Jesus before he ascended to heaven. For a great view of the city visit the observation promenade on the Mount of Olives.Church of the Pater Noster – This church stands where Christ taught his disciples the Lord’s Prayer. The present church bears plaques featuring the Lord’s Prayer in more than 100 different languages.Church of Dominus Flevit – From here Jesus looked out over Jerusalem and wept. The present tear-shaped church was built in 1955 and has a window overlooking the Old City so that visitors can experience the same view that Jesus would have seen.Garden of Gethsemane – Here it is believed that Jesus came to pray just a few hours before his capture by the Romans and subsequent crucifixion.Church of All Nations – The Basilica of Agony built in 1924 is recognizable from afar by its large colorful mosaic above the entrance portico and its 12 grey domes on the roof. The church marks the site where Jesus prayed on the night of his arrest.Burying damaged Jewish prayer books, Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetery. Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash6. Jerusalem Biblical ZooAt Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, you can see animals that are mentioned in the Old Testament as well as endangered species. The zoo covers 62 acres and is designed with lush gardens and trees. There is a man-made lake, pools, waterfalls, and a miniature train. The animal enclosures are without conventional bars and cages but rather recreate the animal’s natural environments. Over 2,000 animals live at this zoo and by each enclosure, you can see the quote from the Bible which mentions the featured animal.7. City of DavidThe original City of David established in the 10th-9th century BC existed outside the present Old City walls. Today the site has been excavated to reveal water tunnels that brought water to the city and the remains of a city. Visitors can follow Hezekiah’s tunnels, see the remnants of homes from the biblical period and the remains of a Canaanite fortress. This is an exciting experience as you walk through the dark tunnels with water at your feet from Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam8. Knesset – Israeli Parliament BuildingYou can visit this important building and take a look from the outside or take a tour of the interior. Tours are held on Sunday and Thursday at 8:30 am, noon, and 2 pm, they last an hour and are free but remember to bring your passport. You don’t need to book in advance for one of these tours. On the tour, you’ll get an overview of the workings of the Israeli parliament as well as get to see the magnificent works of art and photography on the Knesset walls. The Knesset holds several valuable pieces including works by Reuven Rubin, Kedma, and Moshe Castel. The tour stops at the Chagall Hall, Knesset Library, Plenary Chamber, and other architecturally interesting points in the building. At the moment, only virtual tours are possible.Mahane Yehuda Market. Photo by Roxanne Desgagnés on Unsplash9. Mount ZionMount Zion is located on the edge of the Old City. Like the Old City and Mount of Olives, you can see several attractions on Mount Zion. The most significant sites are the Room of the Last Supper where Jesus ate with his disciples on the night of his arrest and the Tomb of David where King David is said to be buried. Other must-see attractions on Mount Zion include the Dormition Abbey, the Chamber of the Holocaust, and a Catholic cemetery where Oskar Schindler (of Schindler’s List) is buried.10. Ein KeremThis ancient village is built on a hillside surrounded by hills, olive groves, vineyards, and forests. It is the traditional site where John the Baptist was born and one of Jerusalem’s most picturesque neighborhoods. It is an idyllic green area with quaint stone houses, courtyard cafes and restaurants, and several small churches and monasteries. Ein Kerem landmarks include the Church of St. John the Baptist; Church of the Visitation; Les Soeurs de Notre-Dame de Sion Russian Orthodox Convent and Mary’s Spring.Liked this article? Join a One Day tour to Jerusalem Old & NewDormition Abbey, Mount Zion.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
By Petal Mashraki

Jerusalem for Three Religions

Jerusalem is held sacred by the three major monotheistic religions – Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Each of these religions has sacred, traditional and ancestral sites within Jerusalem. In ancient times Jerusalem was believed to be the center of the world. Packed tightly together in the Old City of Jerusalem is the holiest religious sites of the three religions and one of the sites, Temple Mount is sacred to all three. Visitors to Israel can take tours to Jerusalem that focus specifically on the Christian, Jewish or Islamic sites or alternatively there are day tours of Jerusalem that cover the city in general.So Why is Jerusalem a Sacred City for Christians, Muslims and Jews?Jerusalem as a Sacred Christian CityAll of the New Testament takes place in the Land of Israel and Jerusalem specifically is associated with major events in the life of Jesus. For hundreds of years Jerusalem has attracted Christians from different denominations and many beautiful historic churches and monasteries have been built. Among the most important Christian sites in Jerusalem, there is the Mount of Olives where churches mark various events in Jesus’ life including the site where he taught the Lord’s Prayer marked by the Church of the Pater Noster and the place where he looked out across Jerusalem and wept, marked by the Dominus Flevit Church. At the foot of the mount is the Church of All Nations alongside the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed and was arrested on the eve of his crucifixion. In the Old City of Jerusalem is the Via Dolorosa, a route through the narrow lanes where Jesus walked on his way to Calvary and his crucifixion. At the end of the Via Dolorosa is the holiest site in Jerusalem, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This massive 4th-century church holds many chapels and shrines as well as the final Stations of the Cross, Calvary (Golgotha), and Jesus’ Tomb. Other sites that make Jerusalem a holy city for Christians are the Room of the Last Supper and the Church of Ascension where Jesus ascended to heaven.Jerusalem as a Sacred Jewish CityJerusalem is the spiritual and ancestral heart of Judaism and has been since the 10th century BC. The city features prominently in the Old Testament which names Jerusalem as the holy city. Jerusalem is mentioned a total of 669 times in the Old Testament and Zion (another name for the city) is mentioned 154 times. The Jewish Torah tells how the First Temple was built on Temple Mount in the 10th century BC and destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 587BC. Then the Second Temple was built in its place in the 6th century BC only to be destroyed by the Romans in 70AD. Evidence of this and other events and locations mentioned in the Torah have been uncovered in excavations in Jerusalem. As such Jerusalem has special significance in Jewish law and traditions. For example, Jews around the world pray facing Jerusalem. Today only the Western Wall remains from the Temple structure and is considered the holiest Jewish site in the world. Other Jewish landmarks in the city include King David’s Tomb; the City of David (the excavated original Biblical city); the Hurva Synagogue and Mt. Zion. Jewish teachings hold that the Messiah will come when the Temple is rebuilt.Jerusalem as a Sacred Islamic CityIslamic tradition holds Jerusalem (Al Quds) as sacred together with Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. The Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem is believed to be “the farthest mosque” visited in 621AD by Prophet Muhammad and recorded as the nocturnal journey in the Koran. Although Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Koran by name its association with the nocturnal journey earned its great significance. Many of the hadith (holy Islamic writings) mention Jerusalem by name. Jerusalem was the Qibla or direction Muslims faced in prayer until 625 when it was changed to Mecca. Prophet Muhammad also made Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque a pilgrimage destination. The most important Islamic sites in Jerusalem are on Temple Mount (the Noble Sanctuary or Haram Ash Sharif) and include the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, a sacred shrine believed to be where Muhammad ascended to heaven. The Islamic association with Jerusalem is also history. Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent was responsible for constructing the present Old City walls and Jerusalem had Muslim rulers during several historic periods.
By Petal Mashraki

Top Hikes near Jerusalem

Jerusalem is built on a plateau in the Judean Hills; this ancient city is surrounded by rocky peaks; thick forests and lush valleys. It is incredible to think of all the pilgrims, armies and travelers – Jews, Christians and Muslims that made their way to the City of Gold on foot over thousands of years.With some of the spectacular hikes around Jerusalem, it is possible to experience, in a small way, the awe ancient travelers must have felt when making their way through the rugged hills towards Jerusalem. Today the precious landscape around Jerusalem is persevered in national parks and nature reserves. Here is a selection of just some of the trails you can follow in the Jerusalem area, although there are many more.Ein Karem to Derech HaGefen HikeThis unique and rather off-the-beaten-track hike takes you from Ein Karem, a quant community near Jerusalem to the well-known Derech HaGefen Café. It is a short, easy hike where you can see the Jerusalem suburbs on the horizon most of the time. The bonus of this hike trail is that you can explore the picturesque community of Ein Keram where stone houses are draped with ivy and bougainvillea and the quaint lanes have courtyard cafes and arts and crafts stores. Leave Ein Keram's main street, Rechov Ein Karem where an Israel Trail marker leads down to Madregot Gan Eden (Steps of Paradise). Pass the trail market indicating Derech Sorek and continue down Emek HaTeimanim Street leaving the Israel Trail. Continue on Emek HaTeimanim which becomes a lane and then a dirt path leading into the open countryside. Hike until you see a sign to Derech Hagefen. The last part of the hike is on a road (Derech Hagefen) and passes rural dwellings with charming gardens. End the hike with a meal or drink at the Derech Hagefen Café then retrace your steps back to Ein Keram.Nahal Refa'imHike Trail in Begin ParkMost hikers head to northern Israel when they are looking for winter hikes; but the best winter hike near Jerusalem is to Nahal Refaim which only flows in the winter. This hike is especial good after a few days of rain when the river is at its fullest. The hike trail to the river banks and back again is about 2km altogether with quite a steep climb on the way back. The hike starts in Begin Park, less than a half hour from Jerusalem. Follow the red trail markers through forests and over rocky areas. The trail crosses a road and continues on the Israel Trail taking you down a steep hill. Then cross another road and join the trail marked by green markers. At that point the trail meets the wide, rapidly-flowing river flanked by eucalyptus trees, wild flowers and other vegetation. If you want to extend the hike, then continue following the green markers or you could opt to retrace your steps.Givat HaTurmusim Hike through Wild FlowersHikers visiting the Holy Land often imagine they will only find desert hikes in Israel but on this stunning hike route just outside Jerusalem you'll be awe-struck by the spectacular show of bright purple-blue "turmusim" or wild lupine flowers. You can see the flower-filled meadows in full bloom in February and March but the rest of the year you will still find yourself surrounded by breathtaking scenery. The brilliantly colored flowers stand out against a backdrop of dark green hills. Givat HaTurmusim (Lupine Hill) can be explored on a 6km circular route or you can simply scale the hill.Shvil HaMayanot Hike TrailOn this 3km hike trail you'll need to double-back and return to the starting point along the same route. The hike starts about 15 minutes from Jerusalem city center close to Ein Hendek on the road between Ein Keram and Moshav Even Sapir and meanders through the western slopes of the Judean Hills. Shvil HaMayanot (Trail of Springs) takes you along a chain of five natural spring pools. You'll also encounter tunnels; woodlands; olive groves and ancient ruins. At some of the springs you can see how ancient inhabitants channeled the spring water into stone-constructed pools; some of which have been restored. The route ends near the Yad Kennedy memorial. It's possible to do this hike year-round but it is best from December to April. If you want to stretch out this hike to make it longer take a detour to Handak Spring which is a tunnel spring carved into the stone and dry in the summer. If you have a flashlight you can walk into the spring tunnel.Sataf Nature TrailSataf is a site where ancient agricultural techniques, specifically terraced farming have been recreated alongside two picturesque springs – Bikura Spring and Sataf Spring. The original agricultural terraces where built 4500 years ago. Sataf is about 14km from Jerusalem and the hike trail can be accessed from the Sataf parking lot. The hike can be done year-round and has various amenities such as a café, toilets and picnic trails. Within the Sataf grounds are two hike trail options – the 1.5km-long Blue Trail that takes a circular route and the 2km-long Green Trail which passes the two springs. There are other longer routes including the 8.5km Red Trail which is considered one of the best in the Jerusalem area.
By Petal Mashraki

Jerusalem Street Art

Think Israel and what comes to mind? A beautiful mediterranean coastline, set against pristine beaches...churches, mosques and synagogues in biblical terrain...exotic fruits and spices in Levantine markets...desert palms, the exotic Red Sea and a shimmering Lake of Galilee? Yes, you’d be right on all counts...because you get a lot of bang for your buck in this country. But what you probably don’t expect to find is a thriving ‘street art’ scene in this part of the world.Think again. Street art has taken Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, by storm in the last few years and whilst the scene isn’t quite as well established as in its neighbor, Tel Aviv, what you can find in this spiritual mecca is quite impressive. So if you’ve had your fill of museums, holy shrines and ancient history, fear not...just grab your camera and head off to one of the areas below to check out the creative scene...TalpiotThis Jerusalem neighborhood isn’t particularly hip and happening, but it is home to some incredible artwork which sprang up after the Walls Festival Jerusalem came to town in the spring of 2018. This international mural festival was held with the aim of using public art as a means of changing the face of urban neighborhoods.Artists from across the globe who displayed there include the Brazilian “Bicicleta Sem Freio” (Bicycles without Brakes). Rouhan Wang from China and Eina and Gan, who go by the name of Brothers of Light (yes, indeed they are brothers). If you look at the Brothers’ enormous orange canvas, you’ll see it’s packed with tiny details that highlight both the local neighborhood and the land of Israel itself. Along with palm trees and camels, you’ll also spy a Dove of Peace (holding an olive branch), the same white bird that was sent out by Noah from his Ark, after the great flood.You’ll also see Hamsas (also known as Evil Eyes) - a traditional good luck charm for both Jews and Arabs - and even a local lottery booth! (Israelis love to play the lotto!)Besides these murals, Talpiot home to the studio of Dan Groover, who paints both bold street art and bright graffiti.The First Station and the Artists' Colonyin the Fall of 2019, street artists from around the world gathered in Jerusalem in a ground-breaking new venture - a collaboration set up to paint a series of murals, as part of the city’s Biennalle. In two months, they produced sixteen pieces on-site - nine at the First Station (ha Tachana Rishona) and seven at the Artist’s Colony (Hutzot ha Yotzer).The First Station is a major center of culture, entertainment and culinary innovations in Jerusalem and the Artist’s Colony is a beautiful lane, close to the Old City’s Jaffa Gate, lined with studios. Artists in the Bienalle venture included Leonore Mizrahi-Cohen (who left Brooklyn for the Holy Land), Itamar Palogi (an Israeli who lived both in Italy and Germany), Hillel Smith (based in Washington DC) and Judy Tal Kopelman (a native of Jerusalem). Combining lush colors with Middle Eastern style, there are Jewish themes running through the designs. Even better, these wonderful, brightly-colored pieces are all staying up permanently, breathing vitality into the area and transforming the spaces... so get down there and take a look for yourself.(Our tip: don’t miss the hand-painted fish!)Mahane YehudaMahane Yehuda is Jerusalem’s biggest market (in Hebrew: shuk). Loud, colorful, busy and full of life from early morning to late afternoon, it’s the best place to buy fruit and vegetables, Levatine spices, and sweet challah bread (a Friday special). Sitting with a small cup of thick, black coffee, in one of its many cafes, it’s the perfect place to watch the locals and really soak up some Jerusalem atmosphere. And at night, the atmosphere is just as busy, with restaurants and bars opening their doors and making it a fun place to grab dinner or a drink.But there’s something else in the market too - street art. But there is a catch - it’s not visible whilst the market is operational. Why? Because it’s painted on the shutters of the stands, which are rolled up from morning to night!So if you’re curious about this recent phenomenon, the best time to wander there is on Shabbat, when the normally-frenetic market is closed.What you’ll see is a mixture of famous faces - some from the past, others contemporary. They are the brainchild of Solomon Souza, a British-Israeli artist and former Yeshiva (a religious study center for young men) student. Armed with spray paint, he begins his craft at night and as dawn breaks, the market shutters hold new and unusual paintings. They first sprang up in 2015, after Souza and his friend Hahn (who eventually took on the role of producer in this “Shuk Gallery” project) decided to liven up the place and get people thinking about the faces they were painting.And indeed you do. Characters as diverse as Mahatma Gandhi (the Indian freedom fighter) and Yehudi Menuhin (the acclaimed violinist) appear close to Rabbi Joshua Heschel (an influential American rabbi) and Hannah Senesh (a Jewish World War II heroine). Biblical scenes stand next to a painting of Steven Spielberg; Albert Einstein isn’t far from Bob Marley, who’s across from Jonathan Pollard. Over the years, Souza has even begun taking requests from local owners, most of whom are more than happy to have their shutters painted! And he and Hahn have grand plans - eventually, they hope that the entire market will be awash with their colorful designs, at which point they can give tours of the market and explain in more detail the stories behind the faces.And if you want to donate, feel free - this is a not-for-profit venture, aimed to bring art to the area and enhance peoples’ experience of a wander through the neighborhood.Our tip: wander there on Shabbat, when most of the city’s residents are at synagogue, at lunch or having a snooze. And if you’re really taken with his work, hop a plane to Goa, India, where he’s currently transforming local villages!Street art - it’s really food for the soul.
By Sarah Mann

Jerusalem 2020 – See the Future

In a recent interview the Jerusalem Development Authority Director of Tourism, Ilanit Melchior talked about the city’s plan for the next 5 years and how the mayor, Michael Bloomberg sees the future of the City of Gold. jerusalemThere are plans in place for the city’s expansion in industry, biotechnology, academic education, health care, hi-tech and tourism. The city already beats every other city in the world for significant religious sites (Christian, Muslim and Jewish) and is one of the most historic cities in the world. The new vision for 2020 is to add a few mod-cons to the city, attractions which other capitals have already had for many years and which have proved successful tourist magnets. Jerusalem hopes to attract 4 million more tourists by 2020 by marketing itself independently of Israel just as capitals like New York, London and Paris are marketed as stand-alone destinations.The plan for 2020 was born in collaboration with visiting Harvard Professor Michael E. Porter and urban economist Richard Florida. Porter’s plan is based on the principle of “Competitive advantage.” Or simply put: figure out what you have that no one else has and promote it. His principle states that to develop a city’s economy, you must identify its relative competitive strengths and develop them. The plan will involve intensive marketing overseas and focus on people traveling independently and not on package trips. Jerusalem is already the top attraction in Israel drawing in 75% of all visitors and being the site of the top 5 tourist attractions in the country (Western Wall, Jewish Quarter, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Via Dolorosa and the Mount of Olives).Jerusalem’s Cultural Mile or Museum RowPart of promoting Jerusalem as a travel destination is making the city more walkable. This will be done by connecting significant attractions by tree lined paths and plenty of signs telling tourists about the sites. New additions to the already thriving tourist city include a Museum Row like in New York, Los Angeles and other capitals. The “Row” will start at the historic First Station and connect the top Jerusalem museums with the House of Parliament, Supreme Court Building, National Library and Old City by a series of parks and paths. The walking and cycling route will be lined with cafes, galleries, parkland and cultural centers. Museum Row will also be used as an outdoor venue for concerts, happenings and special cultural events.More Improvements for Jerusalem on the HorizonOther visions for Jerusalem’s future include a cable car from the First Station to the Old City; a tourist mini-train to take you through the Old City and a large Ferris wheel like in almost every other capital in the west. The First Station, which is already a Jerusalem point of interest, is to have a new section called Kid’s Station with kid-friendly attractions like a carousel and rock wall for climbing.Apart from additional attractions, Jerusalem plans to make the public transportation more streamline and increase the number of hotels in the city to accommodate the potential additional 4 million tourists. One of the obstacles is transportation on Shabbat. The religious population in Jerusalem is against public transport on the Holy Sabbath. However, before you get too excited bear in mind that all these plans cost money and are yet to be presented to parliament for approval. Hopefully, the future of Jerusalem will be a bright one and make the already historic and magical city a travel Mecca for globe trotters.
By Petal Mashraki

Daily Sightseeing Tours in Jerusalem

Jerusalem holds many marvelous sights; from history to scenery, from the architectural wonders to the bustling markets, there are many ways to enjoy and explore this one-of-a-kind city. Because Jerusalem is so rich with things to see and do, a day visit is often not enough to absorb all that it can offer. This makes Jerusalem a prime spot for tour packages in Israel, which spread the Jerusalem experience over the length of a few days and makes sure that the traveler sees all that he or she has to see of this truly amazing city.Bein Harim Tours offers many such packages in varying time lengths, which enables travelers to optimize their exposure to the city and match it with their own timetables. From two-day tours of the classical sights to five-day tours focusing on the Jewish or Christian heritage sites in the city, Beinharim Tours’ Israel tour packages have something for everyone. So what are some of the most magnificent sights you could only hope to see on a prolonged tour package? Read on to find out.jerusalem old city viewThe Cardo: The Roman Main Street in the Heart of the Ancient CityIn roughly four thousand years of existence Jerusalem was conquered many different times by many different nations, amongst which were the Romans who had control over the city from -63 B.C. to 324 A.C., and who had an important part in both Jewish and Christian history. The Romans were well known for installing their unique brand of architecture in their colonies, and Jerusalem was no exception. Of course, today one sees very little Roman contribution either in the old or new parts of the city; but if one knows where to look, one could still see their historic footprints in the city that never forgets. One of these incredible hidden wonders is the Roman Cardo, the main street of Jerusalem during the Roman and Byzantine periods, which was in part excavated and stands today as it would have more than two thousand years ago. Since many visits to the ancient city tend to focus on the stories of still functioning cultures, the Roman part of Jerusalem’s history is something which most visitors ignore. During a tour package, however, this is exactly the sort of sight which brings an unexpected side of the city to light, which is exactly what a good tour should do.Walking in Jesus’ footsteps on the Via DolorosaToday, the Ancient City is an active market full of lively smells, colors and sounds. It is hard to imagine the time when people walked through these streets with crosses over their backs, yet not only did this happen but even Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon could not match in importance those made by Jesus on the Via Dolorosa, the path of suffering in the ancient city, to Golgotha, the site of crucifixion. While the journey itself is not very long (without dragging a cross on your back, that is), it gives the perfect setting to relate the story of one of the most influential figures in human culture, and having the length of time to visit all the relevant stops along the way boosts the experience and the immersion to another level.In every major city, many of the best parts are kept from the eyes of casual viewers. BeinHarim Tours designed the Jerusalem Pearls tour packages to make sure that you can see them.For more Information about day tours in Jerusalem, check out these amazing Jerusalem day tours by Beinharim Tours at the following link:
By Petal Mashraki

Sound and Light Show at the Tower of David, Jerusalem

The walls of the ancient city of Jerusalem come to life as they become the screen for a spectacular show of lights, sounds and special effects which takes you through the story of Jerusalem’s history. The show takes place at the Tower of David (also called the Citadel) which is located adjacent to the Jaffa Gate of the Old City. The Citadel is a medieval fortress built under the Mamluks and Ottomans with several architectural additions from later periods. It is at the historical entrance to the city and has symbolized the city for generations. The present citadel stands on the site of earlier fortresses dating back to the Hasmonaen, Herodian and Byzantine periods. The tower gets its name from Byzantine Christians who believed it to have been the palace of King David. Today the citadel is home to the Tower of David Museum but at night the place is transformed into the site of the best sound and light show in the country.The Night Spectacular Sound and Light Show unfolds amidst the restored structures of the Citadel (David’s Tower). This is unlike any other sound and light show you may have seen because of the unique backdrop. Original music is used together with virtual reality images and trompe l’oeil (optical illusions) techniques. The screened images seem to swallow the spectators up in the action so that you really feel immerged in the story of Jerusalem. This is truly a once in a life time multi-sensory experience.The show continues for 45 minutes and takes place outdoors so spectators are advised to dress up warmly. The spectacular is created using a complex system operating 20 projectors, 14 computers, 14 loudspeakers, 10 video players and uses 10km of cables. The experience begins with a walk through the David’s Tower courtyard. The show is a perfect introduction to 4,000 years of Jerusalem history. The show unfolds without text but with still and moving images projected on the citadel’s walls. The stories of King David, the Romans, Muhammad, the Crusaders, Suleiman the Magnificent and other periods of Jerusalem history are revealed. As the show has no text it is suitable for speakers of all languages. It is also suitable for spectators of all ages.Practical Information:When: There is no show during rainy weather. There are usually two shows a night at 8:30pm and 9:30pm on weekdays. On Saturdays times are slightly different and there are no shows on Friday nights. Check the website or call the Tower of David Museum for exact times as these often change.Contact: (0)2 6265333 or *2884 The reservation center is open 8am-4pm and the show should be pre-booked although tickets can be bought on the night according to availability.Price: Adults 55ILS; children (3yrs-18yrs) 45ILS; disabled 30ILS. It is possible to buy a combo ticket which gives you entrance to the Tower of David Museum and the Night Spectacular for 80ILS adults, 55ILS children and 40ILS disabled visitors. Discounts for seniors and students are only applicable for Israelis.Other Details: It is not possible to combine a visit to the Tower of David Museum with the sound and light show on the same night as the museum closes at 4pm (and 5pm in July-August). Filming or taking photographs is prohibited during the show. Cancelations are accepted up until 10am on the day of the show. Cancelations for Saturday night shows must be made by Thursday at 10am.
By Petal Mashraki

A Visit to the Jerusalem Shopping Malls

In Israel a mall is referred to as a “canyon” pronounced the same way as the Grand “Canyon”. You will find many Israeli brands, international brand stores and a wide range of entertainment opportunities in the malls. Jerusalem in particular has a number of large and impressive malls.Malcha MallLocated in the affluent south west Jerusalem Malcha neighborhood this is the city’s largest shopping mall. The mall has more than 250 stores spread over three levels with a total of 37,000m² of commercial space. The stores include Zara, H&M, Office Depot, Mango, SuperPharm, Toys R Us and supermarkets. In addition to the stores there are service oriented businesses like banks, tailoring services, ATMs, opticians, money changers, hairdressers, florists, post office and spa treatment services. You can even find play areas here and a synagogue as well as cinemas. There is a huge food court which is completely kosher. There is parking for up to 3,000 cars, the first two hours are free and after that each hour costs 5ILS. Open hours are Sunday to Thursday 09:30 – 22:00 and Friday 09:30 – 15:00. The mall is closed from 15:00 on Friday until an hour after sundown on Saturday and until 23:00 on Saturday night.Mamila MallLocated next to Jaffa Gate of the Old City this is one of the most attractive malls in the city. The mall consists of a central promenade with boutique-style stores on either side. Following the mall promenade from the entrance on King David Street all the way to the end you will be able to walk right into the Old City. There are two levels to the mall which also connects to a luxury hotel. There are a number of cafes with outdoor seating; the café’s on the upper level have great views onto the Old City. Mamila Mall is open from Sunday to Thursday 10:00 to 23:00; Friday 09:30 to 15:30 and on Saturdays from one hour after sundown until 23:00. The mall parking is free for the first hour, 12ILS for each consecutive hour (or 3ILS for each 15 minutes) and alternatively 48ILS for the whole day.Center 1 MallLocated at the Central Bus Station this is a very convenient mall to reach. The mall has two floors with about 70 stores spread over 15,000m² of commercial space. There is covered parking for a fee. The mall is geared towards the Orthodox Jewish community with all of the food outlets being Kosher Mehadrin (Glatt) and the lady’s only gym, Lady Giraffe Gym is located here. Perhaps the biggest plus point of this mall is that you can wait for your bus in the air conditioned mall! The mall is open Sunday to Thursday 10:00 to 21:00, Friday 10:00 to 15:00 and on Saturday from an hour after sundown until midnight.Lev Talpiot MallThis is a mall for those looking for plenty of activities as there are a number of great places of entertainment especially for the young and young at heart. The mall is located at 17 Haoman in the Talpiot neighborhood and has about 90 stores. The entertainment venues are concentrated on the roof top where there is mini-golf, trampoline bungee, water ball (where you are inside a giant ball rolling on the surface of the water) and a dance bar. The mall is across the street from a movie complex. The mall has a bowling alley, restaurants and cafes. The mall is open Sunday to Thursday 09:00 to 20:30; Friday from 09:00 to 14:30 and Saturday from half an hour after sundown until 23:00.
By Petal Mashraki

The Bezalel Academy of Art and Design

Every Friday 150 Israeli artists set up their stalls along the pedestrian Bezalel Hakatan Street in Jerusalem to display and sell their creations. The event attracts approximately 10,000 visitors each week. The market is popular with locals and visitors alike who come to browse the amazing variety of arts and crafts on offer and enjoy the atmosphere. Among the stalls you will find handmade jewelry, decorative arts, organic skin care products, gifts, Judaica, paintings, sculptures, mobiles, handmade leather products and much more. The list of items on sale continues with wooden pieces, metal work, handmade musical instruments, handmade clothing, crafted toys, ornaments, woven items, textiles, glass work, drawings, photography, ceramics and design. If you are familiar with the Tel Aviv Nachalat Binyamin market then this is similar. This is the perfect place to find unique souvenirs and memorable items to take home with you instead of the run-of-the-mill souvenir store items.The fair is an opportunity for artists to interact with their clients and meet the public. The artists are usually the ones behind the stalls selling the items and they are always willing to strike up a conversation about their work. The fair was first held in 2009 and since then has become a popular feature of the local community and a Jerusalem tradition. There is an incredible atmosphere at the fair with regular street performers and musicians livening up the event. The fair has also become the site for social awareness groups to set up stalls and explain their viewpoints in an effort to recruit volunteers. Of course no Israeli gathering is complete without food so you will find cafes and stalls providing delicious cuisine as well as stalls selling honey, olive oil and other food items.Bezalel Academy of Art and DesignThe market is appropriately located adjacent to the famous Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. This famous establishment was founded in 1906 and has produced some of Israel’s leading talents. The name of the school and the street comes from Exodus 31, 1-5: “the Lord said…I have chosen Bezalel…to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of crafts.” Graduates of the prestigious school have spearheaded Israeli design. Today about 2,000 students are enrolled in Bezalel studying for their undergraduate degrees in various art related fields.Bezalel Arts and Crafts Fair, JerusalemWhere: Between Schaltz pedestrian street, Bezalel Hakatan Street and the Schieber Park in Jerusalem; not far from Ben Yehuda street promenade on the edge of the Nahlaot neighborhood.When: Every Friday about 9am-3pm and until 4pm in summer.
By Petal Mashraki

Top 15 Things to Do in Jerusalem

Jerusalem is an endless treasure trove of fascinating sites and attractions. A “top” list cannot do the City of Gold justice but to get you started here are the absolute must-see sites of Jerusalem.1. Old CityMany of the individual top attractions of Jerusalem are within the Old City walls but in addition to the Old City highlights there are many fascinating sites, narrow alleys, markets and churches to discover. Wandering through the Old City is perhaps the best way to discover the Old City. Try following the Via Dolorosa, the route Jesus took carrying his cross to his crucifixion in Calvary where the Holy Sepulchre now stands. Shop for authentic souvenirs in the Arab Quarter market and see the Armenian ceramics in the Armenian Quarter. The Old City walls were constructed under Ottoman rule in the 16th century and it is possible to walk along the ramparts. In the 9th century the city was divided into the four quarters of Armenian, Christian, Muslim and Jewish neighborhoods. The Old City has drawn people of all faiths for thousands of years. It was here that Jesus was crucified, that the Jewish Temple stood, and where Muhammad traveled on his Night Journey. The Old City sites include Temple Mount, the Western Wall, Holy Sepulchre and the Dome of the Rock; the Old City is a UNESCO World Heritage site.2. Church of the Holy SepulchreThe Church of the Resurrection in the Old City Christian Quarter is located on the site of Calvary (Golgotha) where Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected. The Via Dolorosa leads to the church where the last four Stations of the Cross are located representing the final stages of Christ’s Passion. The church was completed in 326AD (but rebuilt, repaired, extended and renovated several times) and since then has been a pilgrimage site for Christians from across the globe. Much of the church structure we see today dates back to the Crusaders who rebuilt the church. The building is shared by several Christian denominations each with their own chapels within the church. Highlights of a visit to the church include the Armenian, Greek Orthodox and Ethiopian Orthodox chapels; Calvary; the Chapel of the Nailing of the Cross; the Chapel of Adam; the mosaic depicting Christ’s body being prepared for burial; the Stone of Anointing, where Jesus’ body was laid to be prepared for burial and the Rotund, a massive dome above the Chapel of Aedicule which holds the Holy Sepulchre and the Angel’s Stone, a fragment of the stone which sealed Jesus’ tomb. The extremely beautiful and ornate church is one of the largest in the world.3. Wailing WallThe Kotel, Western Wall or Wailing Wall is the last remaining part of the ancient Jewish Second Temple which stood on Temple Mount until its destruction in c.70AD. The small stretch of wall which we call the Wailing Wall was part of the retaining walls of the temple constructed by Herod the Great in c.19BC. The temple on Temple Mount was the most sacred site in Judaism and following its destruction the remaining wall became the most sacred site in the Jewish world. Looking at the wall you can see the large stone blocks on the lower section which date back to the original Herodian wall, smaller blocks in the middle section added during the Umayyad Era and the smaller blocks on the top of the wall added during the Ottoman Era. The entire wall would have measured 488 meters long. The portion referred to as the Wailing Wall faces a large plaza in the Jewish Quarter while the rest of the wall is hidden behind other structures in the Muslim Quarter. There is a small section (8 meters) called the Little Western Wall still accessible within a tunnel. Jews gather throughout the day and night to pray at the Western Wall, it is the local synagogue for those Jews who live close by. It is a tradition to place a prayer note (with your private message to God) in between the stones of the wall. For a unique experience you can take a tour of the Kotel Tunnels beneath the ground along the excavated hidden layers of the walls. You can join the hour long tour from the Visitors Center on the Western Wall Plaza. Another interesting attraction alongside the Western Wall is the Generation Center which takes you on a journey following the existence of the Jewish people and giving you a unique view of the Western Wall.4. Temple MountHar HaBayit, HaMoriya, Haram al-Sharif or Temple Mount is the most sacred site in Jerusalem for Jews and Muslims. The Jews value Temple Mount as the former site of their Holy Temple which was destroyed in c.70AD while the Muslims value the site because of several religious structures which stand here and the belief that Muhammad traveled here in his Night Journey as told in the Koran (although Jerusalem is not mentioned by name). Today entrance to the Temple Mount is monitored closely to avoid conflict between Jews and Arabs and it is usually only possible for non-Muslims to visit as part of a guided tour. Temple Mount is the site of the Dome of the Rock (the Noble Sanctuary with its famous golden dome and colorful mosaics), the al-Aqsa Mosque (thought to be the “Farthest Mosque” referred to in the Koran, it is the 3rd holiest Islamic site in the world) and the Dome of the Chain (an Ummayads era prayer house with a domed hexagonal structure and open arches). The mount is accessed through four gates, the paved trapezium-shaped area referred to as Temple Mount is in the eastern section of the Old City; it covers 37 acres and measures 488 meters by 470 meters by 315 meters by 280 meters. On the southern section of the western flank is the Western Wall where Jews worship on the other side of the wall.5. Machane Yehuda Market250 market stalls and stores fill the lanes of Jerusalem’s most famous “shuk” or market. The market can be found between Jaffa Road, Agrippas Street, Beit Yaakov Street and Kiach Street. There is a covered section down Eitz Chaim Street and an open-air market along Mahane Yehuda Street. Smaller streets bisect these two main streets each heavily ladened with food, produce and goods. The market is well known for its many eateries, here you can find hidden gems, restaurants which count among the best in the city. The market is known for its lively atmosphere, frequent street entertainers, fresh produce, regular special events and colorful dynamic atmosphere. Try sampling the roasted nuts, halva, pickles, olives, fresh baked goods and pick up some cheap household goods and casual clothing. For a slice of Israeli society visit Machane Yehuda!6. Yad VaShemThis museum is Israel’s official memorial to those who lost their lives in the World War II Holocaust. The museum is located on Mount Herzl next to the Jerusalem Forest; the expansive grounds have several memorials including the Children’s Memorial, the Hall of Remembrance and Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations which commemorates non-Jewish heroes who helped hide or rescue Jews from certain death. The main museum building has a unique triangular or prism shape constructed out of concrete which cuts through the landscape and after passing through the exhibits visitors reach an opening overlooking the valley forests. A skylight extends through the entire “triangle” letting in natural light. The museum holds video testimonials featuring Holocaust survivors; a Hall of Names featuring the photos of 600 Holocaust victims lining a cone shape which goes both up and down to where there is a pool of water. The museum exhibits include authentic artifacts, photographs, documents, personal possessions and the world’s largest collection of artwork created by Jews and other victims during WWII. Yad VaShem is the second most visited site in Israel after the Wailing Wall and admission is free.7. Ein KeremIn southwest Jerusalem, just behind the Old City lies this picturesque ancient village which is now a neighborhood of Jerusalem. It is believed that John the Baptist was born here and many churches and monasteries have been established here for that reason. In addition to enjoying the many quaint coffee shops, specialty restaurants, lush greenery and the traditional courtyard homes of Ein Kerem you can visit several sites. There are two Ein Kerem Churches of St. John the Baptist, one is a Catholic church constructed on the remains of former Byzantine and Crusader churches where you can see part of the surviving mosaic floor. The other church belongs to the Eastern Orthodox church and was built in 1894. The Church of the Visitation is thought to be built on the site of John the Baptist’s parent’s home. The present church was designed by well known architect Antonio Barluzzi who also designed the Church of All Nations on the Mount of Olives. Other sites in Ein Kerem include Les Soeurs de Notre-Dame de Sion; the Russian Orthodox Gorny Convent and Mary’s Spring believed to be where Mary drank water and where Mary and Elizabeth met. Alongside the spring (which is actually the end of an ancient aqueduct) is a mosque and school.8. David's TowerIt is hard to miss the sight of David’s Tower next to the Jaffa Gate of the Old City. The medieval citadel actually has no connection with King David; the present structure stands on the site of earlier Hasmonean, Herodian and Christian fortifications. Herod altered the original Hasmonean fort towers and the northeastern tower (the Tower of Phasael) became known as the Tower of David by the Byzantine Christians who mistook it for the Palace of King David. The Turkish Muslim leaders also thought this was King David’s palace (1187) and the Mamluks made the same mistake destroying and rebuilding the citadel. During the Turkish Ottoman era the citadel was rebuilt and became a garrison and mosque; the minaret that is today referred to as the Tower of David dates back to the 16th century Ottoman Era. Under the British Mandate (1917-1948) the citadel was restored and used for cultural events and following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War the citadel became the property of the Arab Legion and was once again used as a military fortress until the Israeli victory in 1967. Today the Tower of David houses a museum and is used for exhibitions, concerts and cultural events. The museum is housed in the guardrooms of the original citadel and in the courtyard you can see archaeological ruins. The museum uses diverse state-of-the-art techniques to tell the story of Jerusalem in chronological order from 3200BC to the 20th century AD. The Tower of David is the site of Jerusalem’s Night Spectacular sound and light show “Babylon Exile.” Sophisticated special effects are used to project images on the surrounding ancient stones which come alive with images of the past.9. Mount of OlivesThe Mount of Olives is a two mile long ridge with three summits facing the Old City across the Kidron Valley. This holy mount is known to most Christians as the site where Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Flevit super illam); where he taught his disciples (including the Olivet Discourse); as the site of his betrayal and arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane and where Jesus ascended to heaven in Acts 1:9-12. In the Old Testament the mountain is referred to when David fled from Absalom (II Samuel 15:30) and in many other references. The mount has been a sacred Jewish burial ground since antiquity and verses in Zachariah refer to it as the place where the resurrection of the dead will begin after the Messiah has arrived. For this reason many Jews wish to be buried here and it is the final resting place of many famous Jewish figures including Chaim ibn Attar. Today the mount is home to several landmarks; the Arab neighborhood of at-Tur stands on the mountain’s summit and to the north is the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center. On the Mount of Olives you can visit the Church of All Nations, with its stunning colorful mosaic on the façade; the Church of Maria Magdalene, a magnificent Russian Orthodox Church with gold onion-domes; Dominus Flevit Church which marks where Jesus wept and the Chapel of Ascension, a shrine marking where Jesus ascended to heaven 40 days after his resurrection. The Church of the Pater Noster stands on the site thought to be where Jesus taught the disciples the Lord’s Prayer. Ceramic plaques line the walls bearing the Lord’s Prayer in different languages. Other structures on the Mount of Olives include the Augusta Victoria Hospital; Orson Hyde Memorial Garden; the Seven Arches Hotel and the Garden of Gethsemane.10. Mount ZionSouth of the Armenian Quarter of the Old City is the highest point of ancient Jerusalem, Mount Zion. The mount is mentioned in both the Old and New Testament and the name has become synonymous with the city – the City of Zion. The Biblical events believed to have occurred here include the last supper, where Jesus appeared before the high priest for judgment; where the Virgin Mary fell asleep (on the site of the present day Church of the Dormition) and the site of the ancient Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-29). During Christ’s lifetime Mount Zion would have been a well-to-do residential neighborhood within the City Walls. The name “Mount Zion” have been used to referred to a number of locations including Temple Mount. The mount is also the traditional burial place of King David although it was the Crusaders who built the present David’s Tomb which stands on Mount Zion. Gradually over time the tomb came to be accepted as the real burial place of David. King David is also a respected figure in the Islamic faith. When the walls of the Old City were built under the Turkish Sulieman the Magnificent in the 16th century the Sultan heard that Kind David’s tomb had been left outside of the walls and so he had the architects of the walls beheaded. Inside Jaffa Gate you can see two stone graves said to be those of the architects. Today visitors to Mount Zion can visit King David’s Tomb and above it the Room of the Last Supper. There is also the Chamber of the Holocaust, a small Holocaust museum; the Catholic cemetery where Oskar Schindler is buried (of Schindler’s List fame); Dormition Abbey; St. Peter in Gallicantu(traditional location of the house of Caiaphas) and the Franciscan Convent of Mount Zion.11. Mea ShearimOne of Jerusalem’s oldest neighborhoods is home to ultra-Orthodox Jews or Haredim. This was the 5th settlement outside of the Old City walls established in 1874. The name means 100 gates or hundredfold and is thought to either come from a Biblical verse or the fact that the neighborhood once had 100 gates. The neighborhood has narrow stone lanes and streets with small courtyards and homes entered through gates in the stone walls that line the streets. On your walk through the neighborhood you will notice signs requesting “modest dress.” Visitors to this part of the city should respect the local residents by wearing modest clothing. Women should were tops with sleeves, not show a lot of cleavage and wear skirts below their knees. Men should not wear vests or shorts. During Shabbat (from sundown on Friday to sun up on Saturday) the neighborhood is in darkness. Visitors should also avoid using mobile phones, taking photos or smoking in the neighborhood. A visit to Mea Shearim will give you an insight into an insular community which lives by the rules of the ancient Torah.12. Israel Museum This comprehensive museum complex is Israel’s national museum. The museum covers a wide range of historic periods and art work. In the permanent art galleries you can see Israeli art, contemporary art, modern art, European art, design, photography, prints, drawings and architecture, exhibits on world culture and the Billy Rose Art Garden. The archaeological section covers discoveries from the Land of Israel, Islamic near Eastern excavations, the development of the alphabet, neighboring cultures, coins and glass through the ages. A permanent section deals with Jewish art and life including traditional Jewish cultures from around the world, illuminated scripts and the cycle of the Jewish year. There is a children’s wing where exhibits are geared towards younger visitors and there are regular activities for families (especially during Israeli school holidays). A highlight of the museum is the Shrine of the Book; a uniquely shaped building housing the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Aleppo Codex. There is also an impressive scale model of Jerusalem during the Second Temple Era. This is the ultimate Israeli museum for art and history so if you visit one museum in Israel it should be this one.13. Kidron Valley This valley lies between the Mount of Olives and the walls of the Old City. Here you can see ancient tombs and olive trees. The valley was once a deep ravine and defensive border for the original City of David. King David would have run through here when fleeing Absalom (II Samuel 15:23) and Jesus would have walked here when visiting the village of Bethany and the Garden of Gethsemane. During the Second Temple period a large bridge is believed to have spanned the valley connecting the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives. Three monuments face the Old City walls. The Pillar of Absalom (King David’s rebellious son) is a tall ornate tomb hewn out of the rock face with a pointed roof. The Tomb of the Sons of Hezir has columns supporting a frieze and an inscription identifying this as the tomb of the Biblical figure and his sons. The Tomb of Zachariah is next in line, it is a free-standing cube decorated with columns and topped with a pyramid-shaped roof. The Tomb of the Virgin Mary is at the foot of the Mount of Olive and is thought to be the burial place of Jesus’ mother. Today a church marks the site where rock-cut underground caves have been excavated. Visitors can descend 47 steps into the tomb and see an excavated sarcophagus uncovered here.14. City of DavidJerusalem as a whole is often referred to as the “City of David” but actually the original City of King David was located outside the Old City walls opposite the Dung Gate overlooking the Kidron Valley. Excavations have uncovered remains of the city along a ridge called the Ophel. The excavated buildings date back to the Jebusite and Israelite era of the 10th century BC and although as yet no discovery has tied the ruins with King David the site has been named the City of David. Visitors must take a guided tour through the site. The visit includes a 3D presentation; a view of the excavated City fo David from an Observation Deck; a visit to the royal compound of First Temple Jerusalem (Area G); Warren’s Shaft (an underground tunnel connecting the citadel to the Gihon water source) and a visit to the Siloam Pool of the Second Temple Era. Tours leave from the Visitors Center at the entrance to the City of David. There are three different themed tours titled Ascend to Zion, Family Tours of Biblical Jerusalem and Enchanted Jerusalem.15. Haas PromenadeThis promenade connects the neighborhoods of East Talpiot and Talpiot. The promenade continues on to connect with the Sherover and Goldman Promenades making one continuous public park area. The promenade looks down on the Old City and you can see as far as the Dead Sea. It is thought to be the Biblical site where Abraham was shown Mount Moriah where he was to sacrifice his son Isaac. Although the site has seen historic events unfold it is famed for the view more than anything else. Form here you can see the Dome of the Rock taking center stage, the walls of the Old City, Arab villages, olive groves, pine trees and the Hills of Judea in the distance.
By Petal Mashraki

Guide to the Jerusalem Old City

If you were to choose just one place to visit while in Israel it should be the Old City of Jerusalem. Packed within the 450 year old city walls is 1km² holding some of the country’s top attractions.The Old City is an exciting, exotic, spiritual and fascinating world of narrow cobbled alleys, mosques, churches, eateries, markets and more. The Old City remains as it was thousands of years ago and people still live and work here in the ancient buildings. Among the wonders of the Old City are the most important Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious sites in the country.Brief History of JerusalemJerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world and getting an overall understanding of the history is extremely useful for anyone visiting the City of Gold. As you tour the various sites you’ll hear names of historic periods, leaders, and events so this brief history of Jerusalem will help you get some perspective. It was here in Jerusalem that the ancient Jewish temples were built and where Jesus often visited and eventually was crucified. Golgotha, the site of Jesus's crucifixion is within the Old City marked by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. King David conquered Jerusalem from the Jebusites in the 11th century BC and established his kingdom. Muslims took the city in 637AD and in 1099AD the first Christian Crusaders arrived. The city changed hands several times and saw pilgrims arriving to various religious sites. The Old City walls we see today were built under Ottoman leader Suleiman the Magnificent in the 1500s. Up until 1860 all of Jerusalem was within the Old City walls, then the first neighborhood beyond the walls was established and the new city grew into the modern metropolis we see today. But within the Old City walls, time seemed to stand still. From 1848 to 1867 the Old City was ruled by Jordan and no Jews were allowed to visit or live in the Old City until it was retaken by Israel in the Six-Day War. Jews returned to the city and it was repopulated with people in all four of the Old City’s quarters. The city has remained a tourist attraction and a pilgrimage site for Muslims visiting Temple Mount, Christians visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and Jews visiting the Western Wall.Jerusalem.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinThe Timeline of Major Events in the History of Jerusalem3500 BC – First signs of human settlers.c.1800 BC – Jerusalem mentioned in Egyptian texts.1010-970 BC – Reign of King David, during this time he declares Jerusalem Capital of United Israel.970-931 BC – Reign of King Solomon, during this time the First Temple was constructed in Jerusalem (957BC) on Temple Mount, and the county was divided into Israel and Judah.837-800 BC – Reign of Hezekiah, King of Judah, during this time the underground waterways from Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam were dug to bring water to the city.597 BC – Babylonians, led by Nebuchadnezzar II captured Jerusalem.586 BC – Due to rebellion Nebuchadnezzar II destroyed the city, including the First Temple, and exiled many inhabitants including Jews who were sent to Babylon.537 BC-332 BC – The Persian Period. Persians ruled under Cyrus who encouraged Jews to return to Israel and begin work on rebuilding the Temple. 521 BC-516 BC – The Second Temple was completed. 445 BC – City walls are rebuilt. 332 BC-167 BC – Hellenistic Period. Alexander the Great conquers Palestine, taking it from the Persians.167 BC-63 BC – Hasmonean Period. With the Maccabean Revolt led by Mattathias, the Maccabean War is started and Jewish Priest Judah Maccabee takes over Jerusalem and restores the Temple which had been profaned under the earlier non-Jewish leaders. 63 BC -324 AD – Roman Period. Romans capture Jerusalem but the Hasmoneans continue to rule under Roman protection. 40 BC – Herod is appointed King of Judea and reigns as Herod the Great. Under Herod, they began rebuilding the Temple.Sculpture of King David playing the harp, Jerusalem.Photo credit: © Shutterstock1 AD – Jesus of Nazareth born in Bethlehem.26 AD – Pontius Pilate appointed as Roman procurator of Judea.c.33 AD – Jesus is tried and crucified in Jerusalem.41 AD-44 AD – Agrippa King of Judea rebuilds the city walls. 63 AD – The Second Temple is completed. 66 AD-73 AD – Jewish Revolt against the Romans, during this time the Temple was destroyed (70 AD) by Titus. 132 AD-135 AD – Following the Bar Kochba War Jerusalem became the Jewish capital once again. 135 AD – Roman Emperor Hadrian captured and destroyed the city, built new city walls, and expelled Jews from the capital.324 AD-638 AD – Queen Helena, mother of Roman Emperor Constantine comes to Jerusalem and sets about identifying the locations of famous biblical events. She initiated the construction of several churches on holy sites including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, constructed in 335 AD. The Jews are permitted to return to Jerusalem (438); the city is captured by the Persians and the Jews are expelled (614) and then the Byzantines recapture the capital (629).638 AD-1099 AD – Muslim Period. During this time the Caliph Omar comes to the city and the Jews are allowed to return. The Dome of the Rock is completed (691) and the al-Aqsa Mosque is completed (701). Under Caliph al-Hakim many synagogues and churches were destroyed.1099 AD-1244 AD – Crusader Period. Godfrey de Bouillon captures Jerusalem, and Baldwin I is declared King of Jerusalem. 1187AD – Saladin, a Kurdish General, takes Jerusalem from the Crusaders and allows Jews and Muslims to return to the city. 1192 AD – Richard the Lion Heart attempts to capture Jerusalem but having failed makes a treaty with Saladin allowing Christians to pray at the holy sites.Dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem.Photo credit: © Shutterstock1219 AD – Sultan Malik-al-Muattam has the city walls destroyed.1244 AD – The Turks capture Jerusalem from the Crusaders once and for all.1260 AD-1517 AD – Mamluk Period. During this period the Mamluks capture Jerusalem; Nahmanides the great Jewish thinker arrives from Spain and established Jewish learning centers (1267AD); Marco Polo passes through and the Black Death plagues the city.1517 AD-1917 AD – Ottoman Period. The Turkish Ottomans peacefully take over the city and Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilds the city walls which have not stood for over 300 years. The walls include the city gates and Tower of David which remains today.1700 AD – Under Rabbi Yehuda HaHassid the Hurva Synagogue was built. 1860 AD – First Jewish settlements outside the city walls to escape overcrowding and disease. 1917-1948 British Mandate Period. The British led by General Allenby enter the city and lay their claim to the land. The construction of the Hebrew University on Mt. Scopus begins.1947 –1949 – With the announcement of the UN resolution to partition Israel into an Arab State, Jewish State and Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem civil war breaks out. This resulted at the end of the British Mandate and the Israeli War of Independence. Egypt, Syria, and Jordan fight against the Jewish State which is just coming into shape. The Israel-Transjordan Armistice Agreement (April 1949) gives Transjordan control of East Jerusalem. 1949 – Establishment of the State of Israel. 1967 – Six-Day War between Israel and Jordan, Israel captures the Old City which had been under Jordanian rule since 1949, and the Old City is united.Old City market, Jerusalem. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinOverview of the Old CityThe Old City is surrounded by fortified walls and it is possible to walk along the ramparts. Visitors enter the Old City through the wall’s seven gates (there are actually eight gates but one is closed). The Old City is divided into four uneven quarters – the Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Armenian quarters. The division is not with walls but rather the quarters flow one onto the other.In each quarter there is a distinct character; you’ll see people in traditional dress in each of the quarters – Hasidic Jews in their black coats and black hats in the Jewish Quarter, nuns, monks, and friars in their habits in the Armenian and Christian Quarters and in the Muslim Quarter the traditional keffiyeh headdress and long kaftan-type jellabiyah. In each of the quarters, you can buy souvenirs, taste ethnic food and see art and architecture unique to that quarter’s culture, religion, and history.Christian QuarterThe Christian Quarter in the northwestern of the Old City has the New Gate, Jaffa Gate, Damascus Gate, and the junction of David Street and Souk Khan el-Zeit at its corners. This quarter is home to approximately 40 holy sites but the star of the quarter is without question the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The church is a beautifully ornate and cavernous structure with many small chapels and intricate artwork. Muristan fountain in the Christian Quarter; Old City of Jerusalem.Photo credit: © ShutterstockThe church dates back to at least the 4th century and houses the site where Jesus was crucified at Calvary, the tomb where he was buried and resurrected, and the last four Stations of the Cross. The church is shared by the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Armenian Orthodox churches as well as the Syriacs, Ethiopians, and Egyptian Copts to a lesser extent.Jewish QuarterJews have inhabited the Jewish Quarter almost continuously since the 8th century BC. Parts of the Jewish Quarter have been excavated to reveal ancient Roman remains including the Cardo, which would have been the colonnaded main street during Jesus’ lifetime. The star of this quarter is the Western Wall; the last remaining part of the Second Temple which was destroyed in 70AD.The Western Wall (Kotel) opens up to a large plaza and Jews come from across the globe to worship here. Local Jews worship at the Western Wall as they would at a synagogue. You can place a prayer note with your personal message to God between the large stones of the Western Wall.Jewish Quarter, Jerusalem. Photo credit:Photo credit: © ShutterstockMuslim QuarterThe largest quarter of the Old City is home to the Muslim population (and a few Jewish families). It has narrow cobbled lanes that are a bustle of activity. Within this quarter there is the Temple Mount, this is where the ancient 1st century Jewish Temple stood, and today it is the site of the beautiful Dome of the Rock which covers the Foundation Stone from where Muhammad is believed to have ascended to Heaven.The Dome of the Rock has a distinctive golden dome which is a symbol of the city. Also on Temple Mount is the al-Aqsa Mosque, Muhammad’s destination in the Night Journey, and the Dome of the Chain a free-standing dome and the oldest structure on Temple Mount. The Western Wall Tunnels run beneath the Muslim Quarters and the Muslim Quarter has several Roman and Crusader remains. The Muslim Quarter has a lively market or “shuk” where you can find a huge range of goods. The Via Dolorosa runs through the Muslim Quarter and is home to the first seven Stations of the Cross.Armenian QuarterThis is the smallest quarter of the Old City. It is home to Christian Armenians who arrived in Jerusalem in the 4th century AD when Armenia adopted Christianity and Armenian pilgrims came to visit the holy sites and settled here. The Armenian Quarter centers on St. James Monastery and the 4th-century Cathedral of St. James which houses the Jerusalem Patriarchate of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Armenian Quarter, Jerusalem.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin(Pop trivia: This is where Kanye West and Kim Kardashian held their daughter, North’s christening in 2015). The Armenians have their own distinct culture, religious traditions, and language. The Jerusalem Armenians are famed for their distinctive hand-painted tiles, tile murals, and handmade ceramics. You can buy ceramics in several stores in the Armenian Quarter and see street signs made from the brightly painted Armenian tiles.And Now for Something Special in the Old City….Dei res-Sultan Ethiopian Monastery accessed via the 9th Station of the Cross on the roof of a medieval annex in the Christian Quarter.Shopping in the Old City Market.Walking the Ramparts of the Old City walls.The Tower of David (Jerusalem Citadel) at Jaffa Gate, a museum, archaeological site, and sound and light show.Mamilla luxury shopping street – Northwest of Jaffa Gate.Follow the Via Dolorosa retracing Jesus’ route as he carried his cross towards Calvary.Join today our wonderfulJerusalem Old City TourСapers growing on the wall of a house in Jerusalem. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
By Petal Mashraki
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