Jerusalem is among the most compelling places to visit during your life if you plan a trip to Israel. Whether you are religious or not, this is the city to see! Situated in a hilly landscape surrounded by mountains and the desert, Jerusalem has been an important city throughout history. It's where three important religions clashed and made this the most exciting and vivid town to visit in the Near East.
Many people would imagine Jerusalem as an oriental province with charming markets and old buildings, but it's much more than that! This city is as old as it's modern with its stone houses, skyscrapers, and mosaic of different inhabitants and passing travelers. This town can be rainy during the winter, but very hot in the summer. Nevertheless, the city has many spots to see anytime during the year! Here is our choice of the top ten places to visit in Jerusalem. Therefore, you may use it as your essential Jerusalem travel guide.
10. Yehuda Market
This colorful and hectic place established back in the 19th century is where you will find whatever you need. Fresh salty pastry, creamy sweets, delicious types of cheese, cold freshly squeezed fruit juices, fish, meat, vegetables, spices, clothes... you name it, they have it!
You can find this market next to Jaffa Street, between the Central bus station and the Old City. Can't miss it! Experience it in April, May, October, or November, as this is the best time to visit Jerusalem.
9. The Israel Museum
As the most important museum in Israel, this is where you can find out about the geography, archeology, history, and art of this extraordinary land. The permanent exhibition covers everything from the prehistoric periods to modern times.
Besides the impressive main building of the museum, you can find yourself in the refreshing garden in the middle of the complex. Among other things, all visitors can enjoy the small-scale model of the Old City from the period of the Second Temple, a.k.a the ancient Roman period. While you are there, you have to visit the separated building in which the Dead Sea Scrolls are exhibited. There's something interesting for anyone to learn and see at this place!
8. Mount Herzl and Yad Vashem
Visit the graves of the most influential people that shaped the country of Israel. Mount Herzl is named after Theodor Herzl, a 19th-century journalist from Vienna who wrote the novel "Tel Aviv." Furthermore, he's considered the founding figure of the Zionist movement. You can find this place in the western part of Jerusalem.
Besides this, next to the memorial cemetery is the impressive memorial museum dedicated to the Holocaust victims and survivors, Yad Vashem (Hand and Name). Its permanent exhibition leaves all visitors under a strong impression. Visits to this place are free of charge.
7. The First Station
This exciting place is where you can see the expansion of the modern town. Furthermore, it is the spot where the railway system started in Jerusalem. Today this location is full of restaurants, bars, and shops, offering something for everybody. This all is inside and around the railway station building from the end of the 19th century.
You may catch some exciting concerts organized regularly at this complex if you are lucky enough. You can find this place on David Remez Street, just ten minutes walking from the Old City.
6. Sira Bar
For those wishing to take a break, Sira bar is the right place for you. Situated in Ben Sira street, nearby Jaffa street, and below the main Post office building, this is where you can have your coffee, glass of beer, or a shot of Arak.
In its alternative and very colorful interior, there's room for anybody. If you visit Jerusalem during hot summer days, it's the place to sit outside with your friends in the street without traffic.
5. The City of David
Jerusalem is not an entirely new town, not at all. In fact, archeologists found parts of it dating way back to prehistory. Therefore, anyone wishing to learn more about the development of the ancient town and why King David is such an important figure has to visit the city of David.
Situated just below the south walls of the Old City, this archeological park has many secrets to show. One of those is the water channel and the water reservoir built below the ground in the times of King Hezekiah.
4. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher
This church has been, ever since its beginning, the epicenter of the Christian religion. It is believed this is where Jesus Christ was crucified and later rose to the Heavens. Built in the 4th century, this structure has changed significantly since those times. Today it stands proud in the center of the Old City, where it greets its visitors the entire year.
Also, follow the famous Via Dolorosa, the path which Jesus took from the Mount of Olives through the Old City. Eventually, you'll reach the place where the church is. Along this street, people can see and visit 14 stations connected to the story of the last days of Jesus. It starts from the Lion gate on the north, close to where he was imprisoned. On the other end is the Church of the Sepulcher, which was outside the city walls when he was crucified.
3. The Western Wall
Besides Christianity and Islam, this town is well known as the epicenter of Judaism, particularly because of this one wall. Almost 2000 years ago, this spot was where the Second Temple stood, as the most sacred sanctuary for the Jewish people. Destroyed by the ancient Romans, all of which still stands is the western Wall, representing the place for worship among the Jews.
On Friday evenings, when the Shabbat begins, it's lovely to stand by and enjoy the view of the crowd celebrating. On other days you can see patient worshipers praying and putting their written messages between the cracks of big stones. This is the most-visited Israeli site in the country.
2. The Dome of the Rock
Overlooking the city with its golden dome, this is probably the most recognizable building in the entire Middle East. Thus, it dominates Jerusalem with its position on the Temple Mount. The structure has been there since the 7th century and has been changed over time. The rock under this sanctuary is essential for several reasons. First, it's believed this place is where God created the first human. Secondly, here is where Abraham tried to sacrifice his son Isaac. Finally, Mohamed started his Journey to the Skies from the Dome of the Rock.
Besides this, on this colossal plateau is the beautiful Al-Aqsa Mosque (The Farthest Mosque), the third most sacred place in Islam. Visiting this location is tricky since it is not always open to tourists. Still, occasionally, you can climb up the Mount and enjoy the splendors of this Muslim architecture.
1. The Viewpoint on the Mount of Olives
Here is the most stunning place from which to see the town. The panoramic view of Jerusalem from this point makes everyone breathless. You can come to this place by walking from the Old City and passing through the most amazing Mount of Olives. As always in Jerusalem, you can see sites rich in history on your way up the mount.
On your stroll up the hill, you can spot the Jewish cemetery in use for around five centuries, considered the most important Jewish cemetery in Jerusalem. Additionally, explore the Tomb of the Virgin and the Tomb of the Prophets. The former is believed to be the resting place of the Virgin Mary, Jesus's mother. Furthermore, the latter is believed to be the resting place of the last three Hebrew Bible prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. The viewpoint is the perfect place to rest and take pictures that bring your memories when you look at them years later.
Jerusalem is full of cultural heritage sites on the UNESCO heritage list. However, the city is expanding, and its modern neighborhoods have their own little gems worth seeing. Although there are a lot of nationalities and people belonging to different religions living in this city, Jerusalem survives and impresses us every day with the coexistence of those groups, as our top ten list shows.
Have you been to this wonderful city? What are some of your favorite things about it? Please let us know about them in the comment section.
(Photo: 777jew on Pixbay)