Things to see in Jerusalem

Tourist information

Israeli Government Tourist Office (IGTO)
Tourist Information Center, Jaffa Gate, Old City.
Tel: (02) 627 1422 or 628 0403.
www.jerusalem.muni.il
Opening hours: Sun-Thurs 0830-1700, Fri 0830-1200.

Passes

There are several discount passes and coupons available. The Jerusalem Pass (http://travelpass1.itraveljerusalem.com) offers big discounts on entertainment, restaurants and attractions. The Old City Bites card (www.haatika.co.il) and Shuk Bites card (www.machne.co.il) allow visitors to sample the tasty delights of the Old City bazaars and Mahane Yehuda Market respectively. Also worth checking out are Jerusalem Coupons (www.jcpns.com) and AngloDeals (www.anglodeals.co.il).

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Containing the last five Stations of the Cross of the Via Dolorosa, this is the holiest Christian site in Jerusalem. The church was built over the sites where tradition states Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection occurred and pilgrims from across the world pour through the doors into the cavernous church, whose architectural styles reflect the different denominations that have quarrelled over its development for centuries. Upon entering the church, the little stairway to the right leads to the Chapel of Golgotha where Jesus was stripped, crucified and removed from the cross. The Sepulchre itself is at the centre of the church and marks where Jesus is believed to have been buried and resurrected. The site of the church was first chosen in the fourth century by Queen Helena and the existing structure dates mainly from the period of the Crusades. A maze of ornately decorated corridors and chapels weave into the darkness, adding to the church’s intrigue.

Opening Times: Daily 0430-1900.
Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: No
Unesco: Yes
Address: Christian Quarter Road (Old City), Jerusalem, Israel
Telephone: (02) 627 3314.
City of David

The City of David is a chance for visitors to experience an extraordinary glimpse of Jerusalem's past. Excavations here revealed one of the most significant finds in Jerusalem’s history – the 3,000 year old city of Jerusalem as it was first built by King David to unite the tribes of Israel. Today archaeological excavations have revealed thrilling biblical finds including the underground Gihon spring and a 2,700-year-old water tunnel known as Hezekiah’s Tunnel. The tunnel is one of the main highlights of a visit and leads visitors on a 30-minute rather wet tour along the 533m-long (1,748ft) tunnel (although there is a dry route for those less disposed to getting wet). It was the principal water source of the city and its waters are mentioned in countless events in the Bible. There is also an excellent 3-D movie depicting the history of the site.

Opening Times: Sun-Thurs 0800-1700, Friday 0800-1400 (summer); Sun-Thurs 0800-1900, Friday 0800-1600 (winter).
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: No
Unesco: No
Address: City of David, Jerusalem, Israel
Telephone: (02) 626 8700.
Mount Zion

Accessed by the towering, bullet-ridden Zion Gate that leads from the Armenian Quarter, Mount Zion’s wealth of religious and historic relics mean it should be included in any tour of the Old City. It is a small, easily navigable area but often crowded with Jewish and Christian tour groups who make the pilgrimage to the holy sites concentrated here.

The main sites are King David’s Tomb on the ground floor, one of Judaism’s holiest sites, and the Upper Room on the first floor, which is believed to be the site of the Last Supper and where Jesus established the rite of the Eucharist. Easily recognisable by its blue conical roof is the Dormition Abbey which, according to the Roman Catholic and Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, is the site upon which the Virgin Mary fell asleep and was taken to Heaven (the Assumption of Mary).

Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Mount Zion, Jerusalem, Israel
Temple Mount

Dominating the skyline of the Old City, its dome glinting in the sunshine, is the beautiful Dome of the Rock. Sitting in the midst of the Temple Mount complex, it is Jerusalem's most famous landmark. For all the hustle and bustle of the lanes of the Old City, the Temple Mount is a complete contrast. The spacious, tree-studded complex contains the third holiest and second oldest site in Islam – the Al-Aqsa Mosque where, according to the Koran, Muhammad ascended to Heaven. Despite its peaceful atmosphere (except on Fridays when thousands of Muslims pour in for prayer), the Temple Mount has long been the centre of the turmoil that has existed until this day between Jews and Muslims. For this site is also revered by Jews as the spot upon which the First and Second Temples stood and where the Foundation Stone stands. The Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque are closed to non-Muslims, but the complex itself is a wonderful place to visit.

Only one of the 10 gates to the complex, Al-Mughradi Gate, allows entry for non-worshippers. This is located to the right of the Western Wall and is accessed from the Western Wall Plaza.

Opening Times: Closed during all prayer times (variable); otherwise Sun-Thurs 0730-1130 and 1330-1430 (summer); Sun-Thurs 0730-1030 and 1330-1430 (winter); Sun-Thurs 0730-1030 (during Ramadan); closed to non-Muslims Fri and Muslim holidays. During periods of tension, the site may be closed.
Admission Fees: No (for Temple Mount; charge for Dome of the Rock, Al Aqsa Mosque and Islamic Museum combined ticket).
Disabled Access: No
Unesco: Yes
Address: Temple Mount, Israel
The Old City Quarters

The Old City is the jewel in the crown of the ancient city of Jerusalem. This living museum of 1km (0.6 miles) square is the meeting point of three world religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – and is the site of the some of the most significant events in history.

The Old City is broadly divided into four sections known as quarters; Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Armenian. Each emanates its own characteristics and makes for a fascinating experience as visitors move from vibrant market streets to quiet churches to bustling plazas. While the quarters are home to worshippers of each religion (the Armenian population being Christian), the maze of historical and religious buildings tumble into each other and it is easy – and hugely recommended – to simply get lost amidst them.

Opening Times: Daily 24 hours.
Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: No
Unesco: Yes
Address: Old Quarter, Jerusalem, Israel
Via Dolorosa

The Via Dolorosa (literally 'Road of Sorrow') is the route believed to have been walked by Jesus as he carried the Cross to his crucifixion at Calvary or Golgotha. The route begins at the Lion's Gate, passes through the Muslim Quarter and leads to the Calvary in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It is marked along the way by the 14 Stations of the Cross. The stations indicate events along the journey and at some of these points churches have been founded. Every Friday, hundreds of Christians begin a slow procession through the winding streets of Jerusalem’s Old City as a sign of remembrance and sorrow for Jesus as he walked to his crucifixion. Since early Christian times, thousands of pilgrims have come to Jerusalem to undertake this ceremonial walk. Small maps can be bought from street vendors showing the different Stations of the Cross.

Opening Times: Daily 24 hours.
Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: No
Unesco: Yes
Address: Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem, Israel
Western Wall

Revered as the holiest site in Judaism, the Western Wall is all that remains of the Second Temple of Jerusalem. It is towards here that millions of Jews all over the world pray, pushing prayer notes into the cracks. It has long been referred to as the Wailing Wall for the cries of sorrow that have been shed over its destruction. The wall is at the base of the Western Wall Plaza, and is divided into two prayer sections, men on the left and women on the right. Visitors must pass through security checks at each of the three entrances into the plaza and modest dress is mandatory. Women must cover their shoulders and legs above the knees, and paper yarmulkes (prayer caps) are provided for men.

Beneath the plaza run the Western Wall tunnels, which have been excavated to reveal further sections of the Second Temple. Guided tours reveal the complex history and emerge outside of the Old City walls.

Opening Times: Open daily 24 hours.
Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: Yes
Address: Jerusalem Old City, Israel
Telephone: (0)2 627 1333.
Citadel or Tower of David

The tall, slender stone tower rising elegantly from the ancient walls of the Old City is almost as familiar an image of Jerusalem as the Dome of the Rock. But despite its name, the citadel has nothing to do with King David (the city's founder) and was in fact constructed in the first century BC as a fortress for Herod the Great. It has therefore formed part of Jerusalem's defence structure for over 2,000 years. Indeed, the Romans, the Crusaders, the Mamluks and the Ottomans (during which time the mosque and minaret were built) all commandeered it and it was on the steps of the citadel that General Allenby declared freedom of religion in 1917. Today, it houses the outstanding Museum of the History of Jerusalem, which vividly chronicles the entire history of the city. The main entrance is adjacent to Jaffa Gate.

A nightly show is held within the impressive grounds, which tells the history of the city through light and music. Innovative techniques use speakers, computers and projectors to create giant, impressive images.

Opening Times: Sun-Thurs 0900-1600, Sat 0900-1400 (Apr-June and Sept-Oct); Sun-Thurs 0900-1700, Sat 0900-1700 (July-August); Fri 0900-1400 (Apr-Oct); closed Nov-Mar.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: Yes
Address: Beside Jaffa Gate (Old City), Jerusalem, Israel
Telephone: (02) 626 5333.
Mount of Olives

Rising beyond the city walls to the east of the Old City, the Mount of Olives is part of a range of hills surrounding Jerusalem. The western slope is today covered by the white tombs of the world’s largest Jewish cemetery where the traditional belief is that the resurrection of the dead will begin.

There are several important sites on the Mount of Olives, including The Garden of Gethsemane and The Church of All Nations, both at the foot of the slope. Gethsemane is known in Christian tradition as the site of Jesus’s agony, prayer, betrayal by Judas and arrest. Nearby, the supposed tomb of Jesus’ mother Mary is reached through a doorway which leads to an underground shrine containing various ornate tombs.

The Dome of the Ascension is one of the contenders for the Christian site of Jesus’ ascension, and is also worshipped by Muslims who recognise Jesus as a prophet. Today there is a small octagonal-shaped mosque on the site. The Church of the Mary Magdalene is unmistakable with its golden onion domes. It was built by Russian Tsar Alexander III for his mother, the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fyodorovna, who is buried within.

Opening Times: Daily 24 hours.
Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: No
Unesco: No
Address: Mount of Olives , Israel
Yad Vashem

Yad Vashem (or the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority) is the world's most important Holocaust memorial, located on the western edge of Jerusalem. It is best known as a monument to the devastation wreaked upon the Jewish people by the Nazis during WWII. Free to the public, it aims to share with the world the almost total devastation of the Jewish people and its displays are as moving as they as are horrifying. Rooms full of shoes, hair and clothes are chilling, while the chronological timetable of events leading up to the Holocaust provides some necessary background. At the end of the museum is the Hall of Names, where faces of those who died line the domed ceiling.

There are indoor and outdoor exhibits, including the tree-lined Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations which commemorates and honours gentiles who risked their lives to save Jews. There is also a poignant Art Museum, containing work produced by Jewish inmates of the death camps. Possibly the most moving, however, is the Children's Memorial, where, in a dark underground chamber, names from the list of 1.5 million children murdered in the Holocaust are constantly read out.

Opening Times: Sun-Thurs 0900-1700 (2000 on Thurs), Fri 0900-1400.
Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel
Telephone: (02) 644 3400.
Jerusalem Botanical Gardens

The Jerusalem Botanical Gardens offer a peaceful retreat of beauty in the heart of Israel's largest metropolis. Located close to the Israel Museum and the Knesset, the gardens sprawl over 30 acres and hold the country's largest plant collection. Exhibits are divided between six geographical sections, designed to reflect different plants from around the world. Highlights include an indoor tropical conservatory (currently closed for renovation), a herb and medicinal plant garden, an African savannah grass maze, a picturesque lakeside restaurant and a new children's discovery trail planned for this year.

Opening Times: Sun-Thurs 0900-1700, Fri 0900-1500, Sabbaths and holidays 0900-1700 (winter); Sun-Thurs 0900-1900, Fri 0900-1700, Sabbaths and holidays 0900-1800 (summer).
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: No
Unesco: No
Address: 1 Yehuda Burla Street, Nayot, Jerusalem, Israel
The Israel Museum

The Israel Museum is the nation's largest museum complex, known around the world for its archaeology, anthropology and art. It houses a vast number of fascinating exhibits relating to the long history and culture of the Jews in the region. Among the highlights are the modern sculptures of the Art Garden, the 20th-century artworks of the Art Pavilion, and the Archaeological Galleries, where major discoveries are displayed. In the Ethnography and Judaica wing, exhibits include a collection of ancient Jewish artefacts. A Youth Wing features hands-on activities for families and art classes for children.

The museum's greatest treasure is contained in a striking separate building called the Shrine of the Book. Resembling the lid of an earthenware jar, this structure was created to hold and display the Dead Sea Scrolls and other ancient manuscripts. Discovered beside the Dead Sea at Qumran in 1947, the Scrolls consist of the oldest known scripts of the Torah or Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament), as well as the enigmatic scrolls of an austere, scholarly Jewish sect apparently resident at Qumran.

Opening Times: Mon, Wed, Thurs 1000-1700, Tues 1600-2100, Fri1000-1400, Sat 1000-1700.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Ruppin Boulevard , near the Knesset, western edge of the city, Jerusalem, Israel
Telephone: (02) 670 8811.
Edited by Tina Banerjee
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