Things to Know
Timeless, fascinating, and shrouded in mysticism, no other city encapsulates the history of Israel in quite the same way as Jerusalem does. Regarded as a holy city by three of the world’s major religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – you’ll be hard pressed to find a city that can boast the cultural and historical diversity that permeates Jerusalem’s society. Today, modern Jerusalem is known as much for its abundance of religious and historic sites as it is for its fusion cuisine, stylish design hotels and fashionable rooftop bars. Regardless of whether you are looking to explore its extraordinary heritage or experience its more contemporary side, no trip to Israel could ever be complete without visiting the fascinating city of Jerusalem.
Things to See
The Israel Museum
Ranked among the world’s most prominent art and archeology museums, the Israel Museum houses an extensive collection of artifacts that date from prehistory to the present day and include the most comprehensive holdings of biblical and Holy Land archeology in the world.
The Museum of Islamic Art
Located in south-central Jerusalem, this museum houses one of the world’s most extensive collections of Islamic art and antique timepieces.
The Museum on the Seam
Housed in in a neoclassical building designed by architect Adoni Baramki, the Museum on the Seam is a socio-political art museum that uses art as a medium to raise a diverse range of social issues and to bridge gaps between cultures.
Encompassing an extensive 18-hectare site, Yad Vashem is Israel’s official memorial to the 6 million that perished at the hands of the Nazis during World War II. On site you will find the Holocaust History Museum that details the events leading up to the Holocaust as well as the history of anti-Semitism in Europe.
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher
The stone-built Church of the Holy Sepulcher is believed by many Christian followers to have been built over two of Christianity's holiest sites. The biblical Golgotha where Jesus was nailed to the cross, and the tomb where Jesus is said to have been buried and where he was resurrected.
The Western Wall
Also known as the Wailing Wall, this 2000-year-old structure supports the outer portion of Temple Mount where the second Temple once stood. It is Judaism’s holiest prayer site.
The Dome of the Rock
This ornately decorated mosque with its iconic golden dome is one of the most enduring symbols of Jerusalem and also one of the most photographed locations in the world. The bare rock it houses is of central importance to all three monotheistic religions.
Things to Do
Visit Temple Mount
Few places in the world are as holy – or as disputed - as Temple Mount. Built on a hill in the southeastern corner of the Old City, the site is home to two of the most important buildings of the Islamic faith – the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, while it is also revered by the Jewish as the location of the First and Second Temples. Regardless of your religious inclinations, a visit to Temple Mount should definitely find a place on your Jerusalem bucket-list.
Take in the View from the Mount of Olives
The Mount of Olives gets its name from the olive groves that covered its slopes during biblical times. Located to the east and next to the Old City of Jerusalem, it was the place where several key events in the life of Jesus took place and it has been a site of Christian worship since ancient times. Beyond its obvious religious appeal, walking down the mountain will reward you with a phenomenal panoramic view of the Holy City that encompasses Temple Mount, the domes of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Hurva Synagogue, as well as the city’s ancient walls, so make sure to bring your camera.
Discover the Machane Yehuda Market
If you’re looking for a place to try some delicious local flavors and to get a glimpse into the daily lives of the locals, the Mahane Yehuda Market is your go-to option. Be it first-time visitors or residents, the market is almost constantly buzzing with people while its stalls are brimming with regional produce and traditional Israeli delicacies just waiting for you to try them. Come nightfall, the market is transformed into a restaurant and bar hub where you can hang-out and mingle with the locals.
Catch the Night Spectacular at the Tower of David
While it is called the Tower of David, this citadel actually started out as a palace of Herod the Great. Today, it houses the impressive Museum of the History of Jerusalem that showcases the city’s story through a series of exhibits that date all the way back to the 2nd millennium BCE. If you visit the citadel at night, you can enjoy a fascinating 45-minute light and sound show about the history of Jerusalem that is projected on the ancient walls of the citadel’s internal courtyard.
Escape the City Noise in Ein Karem
Located about a 15-minute drive away from the center of Jerusalem, the ancient village of Ein Karem is now a neighborhood of the modern city that attracts some three million visitors every year. Reputedly the birthplace of John the Baptist and home to several galleries, upscale restaurants and trendy bars, Ein Karem appeals to the culture buff and the casual traveler alike. If you’ve grown weary of the hustle and bustle of downtown Jerusalem or just want a change of scenery, Ein Karem is a great place to enjoy some peace and quiet amidst its garden rich landscape.
Experience Jerusalem’s Nightlife
In a city that is most famous for its mystical atmosphere and pious character, it often comes as a surprise (even to Israelis) that beyond its many monuments of faith Jerusalem is also home to a lively nightlife scene. While the Old City is almost totally closed up come nightfall, the modern City Center that extends from Zion Square to the Machane Yehuda Market is abuzz with trendy bars and thumping clubs. Conveniently, Zion Square and the Machane Yahunda are located within walking distance of each other so you can easily explore both hotspots in a single evening.