Jerusalem - One of a Kind in the World
What has not already been said about the holiest city in the world, the city that has been united, the eternal city first built thousands of years ago, whose history can be heard in the whispering of the wind along the walls, where every stone tells a wondrous story of a city that has drawn millions of faithful pilgrims for thousands of years. Such is Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, the only city in the world that has 70 names of love and yearning, the city that in old maps appears at the center of the world and is still adored like a young bride.
Situated high in the Judean Hills, Jerusalem, the Capital of Israel, is one of the most extraordinary cities in the world. Established 3000 years ago by King David, Jerusalem is a fascinating city of many contrasts and diversities. It is a city where old and new, holy and secular, pure nature and beautiful architecture mix into magical harmony of smells, sounds and sights.
Alongside Jerusalem's fascinating historic and archeological sites, there are amazingly modern tourist attractions for all lovers of culture, the arts, theater and music, architecture and gastronomic delights.
A visit to Jerusalem, known as the "City of Gold", is indeed an unforgettable experience.
Jerusalem- Spiritual and Religious Experience
Sacred to the world's three main religions, Jerusalem is a captivating city, whose visitors are left touched and inspired by the shining glow of its religious shrines, picturesque scenery and magnificent golden limestone.
Many places sacred to three major world religions are located in Jerusalem: the Western Wall, the last remnant of the Second Temple and a focus of prayer and source of inspiration for Jews in Israel and all over the world; the Dome of the Rock, marking the traditional site of the Prophet Muhammad's ascent to heaven; the Al-Aqsa mosque, considered Islam's third holiest place after Mecca and Medina; the Garden of Gethsemane, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Via Dolorosa and other Christian sites associated with the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth, to name but a few.
The almost two million visitors who crowd Jerusalem every year come to explore its well-maintained historical sites and holy places, and to enjoy aspects of its multi-ethnic, multi-cultural character.
Jerusalem - Modern City
Jerusalem is also the Capital of Israel, home to the Israeli parliament (Knesset), the President's Residence and the government offices. Jerusalem is the most populated city in Israel. Its amazingly heterogeneous residents create a blend of languages and costumes, smells, tastes, and sights. Offering wonderful views, interesting modern architecture, vibrant culture life, night life, shops and restaurants, Jerusalem combines successfully modernity and antiquity, spiritual excitements and life delights.
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.
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.
Recommended Places to Visit in Jerusalem
The Holy Sites and the Old City
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.
Southwest of the Old City is Mt. Zion, where the Dormition Abbey was built on the site Christian tradition believes Mary spent her last night. The abbey was built about 100 years ago and in the basement there is a statue of the sleeping Mary. Beside the abbey is the Room of the Last Supper, where Jesus ate his last meal.
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.
The Dome of the Rock, a magnificent octagon that dominates the city is a shrine for Islam's third most holy site.
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. Tours along the walls are a wonderful night-time activity, too, when the city's lights sparkle making the sights even more unforgettable. The Armenian Quarter has its own unique charm and is well worth visiting.
West Jerusalem and the New City
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.