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Jerusalem Travel Guide

About Jerusalem

With over 3,000 years of history, Israel’s largest city and the spiritual centre of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian religions, Jerusalem is a truly unique destination. Nestled in the Judean Hills on the edge of the desert, for centuries the so-called Golden City has stood as the most worshipped, fought-over and loved city in the world. Its different inhabitants have given Jerusalem a cultural and religious make-up like nowhere else on the planet.

Defying the ravages of conflict, invading armies and the passing of centuries, Jerusalem’s architecture is remarkably well preserved. Visitors first get to know the fabled Old City enclosing within its eight magnificent gates and walls a living museum of religious buildings, busy markets, cobbled alleys and diverse faiths. Within the grand 16th-century ramparts are four quarters dating back to the major communities living here in the 19th century: Armenian, Christian, Jewish and Muslim.

Each quarter has its sights and sensations. One minute you’ll be idling in a tranquil Armenian garden; the next, lost in the bustle of an Arab souk. The Western Wall at the foot of the Temple Mount is all that survives of the Jewish Temple and remains Judaism's most holy place.

For Orthodox and Catholic Christians, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is believed to enclose the sites of Jesus’ Crucifixion and burial. The beautiful gilded Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount is one of the oldest Islamic works of architecture.

Predominantly Arab, East Jerusalem is a 19th-century neighbourhood lying north of the Old City with busy street markets, food stalls and cafes. To the east of this area is the Mount of Olives, with its large Jewish cemetery and the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus is said to have prayed the night before his crucifixion.

Although Jerusalem is one of the world’s most historic cities, this doesn’t mean it’s stuck in the past. Beyond the Old City, the centre of Jerusalem is characterised by broad avenues, busy pedestrian streets, squares, cafés, restaurants and a vivacious nightlife. Large government buildings stand within manicured lawns, while the world-class university sits atop Mount Scopus with views over the Judean Mountains.

For all Jerusalem’s contention and problems, life here goes on. With its temperate Middle-Eastern climate, extraordinary historical sites and world-class museums, it remains a compelling destination steeped in contrasts between ancient and contemporary, east and west.

Key facts

Population:
857,752
Latitude:
31.785700
Longitude:
35.200700

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Hashimi Hotel

The Old City’s ‘newest’ hotel is set in a 400-year-old building right in the heart of the Old City. It’s the perfect base to explore the Dome of the Rock, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Western Wall and Jerusalem’s many other famous sights. The 40 rooms are spread over three floors and the rooftop terrace overlooks some of the best views in town.

David Citadel Hotel

This modern 385-room hotel is a short walk from both the Old City and the new city centre and is just around the corner from the trendy Mamilla Mall. A standout feature is the terrace overlooking the pool, a great spot to indulge in Israel’s trademark big breakfast while gazing over the city. After a day’s sightseeing, the L’Occitane spa is a tranquil spot for a restorative massage.

Little House in Bakah

Set in a renovated 1930s Ottoman-style mansion in the old Bakah neighbourhood, this 33-room boutique property is big on charm with its high ceilings, arched windows and rustic décor. Rooms are simple and comfortable, and there’s free Wi-Fi, tea and coffee 24/7 and breakfast included. The hotel is just around the corner from the hip cafés of Bethlehem Road and Emek Refaim Street.

Knight's Palace

A former theological seminary with some parts dating back to the 11th-century, this lovely hotel is nestled in a quiet corner of the Muslim Quarter. It is steeped in Old City elegance with vaulted ceilings, arched windows and exposed stone. Despite being close to both the New Gate and Jaffa Gate, its location on a quiet cobbled lane means it is just out of reach of the hustle and bustle. It has comfortable rooms, a nice restaurant and bar, Wi-Fi throughout, AC and cable TV.

King Solomon Hotel

This 5-star in the centre of Jerusalem caters to religious Jewish travellers by offering its own synagogue, a Glatt Kosher menu and Shabbat lights in the bedrooms. The stunning views overlooking the Judean hills make up for the slightly outdated décor. The centrepiece of the lobby is a globe-shaped metal sculpture of Jerusalem by the English-born artist Frank Meisler. The hotel is just 10 minutes' walk from the Jaffa Gate of the Old City.

King David

Situated in an elevated position, this landmark hotel is one of Israel's most luxurious and prestigious hotels, boasting a guest list of world leaders, royalty and celebrities. The majestic King David was built in the 1930s and has all modern facilities, with fine views towards the Old City. It’s also a historic building in its own right – in 1946 when used during the British mandate as the British Army HQ, it was the scene of a dramatic anti-British bombing by militant Zionists.