Travel to Jerusalem, one of the oldest cities in the world and the largest in Israel, both in size and population. Jerusalem is one of the holiest of cities to the three major monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Culturally, Jerusalem attracts millions of visitors each year to museums housing one-of-a-kind treasures, archeological findings like The Dead Sea Scrolls and fabulous art such as the Marc Chagall Windows. The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra is world class, and the Jerusalem Film Festival (yearly) is famous the world over. Suffice to say that culturally, Jerusalem has as much to offer as any major city in the world. A bastion of all that is old and new, your tour of Jerusalem will open your eyes to the past, and the future.
At Jerusalem’s heart is the Old City, which is surrounded by a wall and divided into four quarters – Jewish, Armenian, Christian, and Muslim. Inside the walls are the important holy sites of the three major religions: the Western Wall, which is holy to the Jews, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount. The Western Wall plaza is visited by millions of worshipers. Here, at the base of the massive wall that is a remnant of the Holy Temple, prayers are offered and notes containing heartfelt wishes are wedged between the crevices.
Surrounding the Western Wall are other important Jewish sites – the Western Wall Tunnels, the unique Davidson Center, the Jewish Quarter with its magnificent Cardo and David’s Citadel, towering proudly in its beauty. South of the Old City is the City of David, from which the ancient Can’anite and Israelite Jerusalem grew. This is a fascinating site with amazing findings that provide an unforgettable experience.
Jerusalem is also very important to Christianity, as Jesus Christ lived and died here. The Christian quarter alone houses some 40 religious buildings (churches, monasteries and pilgrims’ hostels). One of the most prominent and important sites in the Christian quarter is the Via Dolorosa, the “Way of Sorrows,” Jesus’ final path, which according to Christian tradition led from the courthouse to Golgotha Hill, where he was crucified and buried. Many pilgrims come to Jerusalem to follow Jesus’ footsteps along a route that starts in the Muslim Quarter, at Lions’ Gate, and passes the 14 stations of the cross, ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Several of the most important Christian relics are housed in this church, including the anointing stone (on which Jesus’ body was laid before his burial) and Jesus’ grave. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is a pilgrimage site for millions of Christians from all over the world.
East of the Old City is the Mount of Olives, where there are other important Christian sites, and several churches: The Ascension, Pater Noster, Dominus Flevit, Mary Magdalene, Gethsemane, Lazarus and Abraham’s Monastery. According to Christian tradition, Mary’s tomb is in the Kidron Valley, below the Mt. of Olives.
Old City Sites
Apart from the holy places throughout the Old City, there are several charming sites that are well worth visiting. There is the wonderful market, which is one big sensual celebration. Here you can buy Armenian-style decorated ceramics, beautiful strings of beads, authentic clothing, embroidered cushions, colorful wool carpets, candles and amazing glassware, and countless different souvenirs. From the promenade along the tops of the Old City walls you can look out over the Old City and the New City. The Armenian Quarter has its own unique charm and is well worth visiting.
The New City of Jerusalem
The construction of the new city’s Jewish neighborhoods began in the late 19th century. Some of the neighborhoods have retained their original picturesque charm, and wandering among the houses is a real pleasure. Some of these neighborhoods are Even Yisrael, the German Colony, Yemin Moshe, Me’a She’arim, Makhane Yisra’el, Nakhla’ot, Nakhalat Shiv’a, Ein Karem, Komemi’ut, Rekhavia, the Bukharian Quarter and the Ethiopian Quarter. There are many other interesting and unique sites from different periods throughout the city, such as Armon HaNatsiv and the Promenade, Ammunition Hill, Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum, Mishkenot Sha’ananim, the Monastery of the Cross, Elias Monastery and the YMCA building. Among the more modern sites are the Supreme Court, the Israel Museum, the Biblical Zoo, the Knesset, Mt. Herzl, Makhane Yehuda market, with its unparalleled variety of exciting sounds, colors, flavors and aromas.
Jerusalem: Culture and Entertainment
Young people who like to go out in the evenings will love Jerusalem’s main night life regions: the German Colony, the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall, Nakhalat Shiv’a, Shlomtsiyon HaMalka Street, and the Russian Compound.
Museum lovers will be delighted to discover that Jerusalem is dotted with dozens of museums full of rich exhibits, such as the Israel Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Bloomfield Science Museum, Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Rockefeller Museum, the Bible Lands Museum, the Islamic Art Museum, the Old Yishuv Court Museum, the Armenian Museum and the Museum of Italian Jewish Art.
Children will enjoy the Time Elevator (an interactive, three-dimensional presentation on the history of Jerusalem), the spacious Biblical Zoo, Ein Ya’el – which offers workshops in Biblical arts and crafts, the Armon HaNatsiv tunnels, the beautiful botanical gardens and the hands-on interactive exhibits at the Bloomfield Science Museum.
Something for Everyone!
Since Jerusalem is a city that has become home to people from many different faiths, traditions and ethnic groups, the city’s culinary culture offers something for everyone. Alongside Bohemian gourmet restaurants you will find eateries where the food is cooked slowly over ancient stoves, coffee shops with style, ethnic restaurants, fast food stands and bars that come to life in the evening hours. In addition to an abundant variety of dining opportunities, Jerusalem also has many different types of tourist accommodations, from luxury hotels to inexpensive youth hostels.
From the very beginning, Jerusalem has been the one and only, a unique city second to none in the whole world.
– The Israel Ministry of Tourism