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Jerusalem: Israel’s Capital – the Top 10 Places of Interest

Jerusalem – there’s no other place where this many religions come together. It doesn’t have the nickname “Holy City” for nothing. The city has great meaning for Muslims, Christians, and Jews. Its religious legacy is also highlighted by its large number of monumental buildings and places of worship.

With this many sights, it’s easy to lose track of which ones you definitely shouldn’t miss. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you. We’ll show you the top 10 places of interest! With our list, you’ll be well-prepared for your trip to Jerusalem. After all, you don’t have to be religious to fall in love with this ancient city – it’s a destination no traveller should miss!

Jerusalem in a Nutshell

About 900,000 people live in Jerusalem. The city is located in the Middle East, near the Mediterranean Sea. One of the most impressive things about the city is its founding year, 3,000 BC. Isn’t that incredible? The city’s long history is very complicated and full of fights and struggles – even today.

The country of Israel was founded in 1948 as the “nation-state of the Jewish people”. The same territory was also occupied by Palestinian people. Although Israel legally declared Jerusalem as its capital, not all countries recognise this claim. Both states, Israel and Palestine, can’t agree on which territories they are entitled to. This conflict concerns both Jerusalem and the surrounding areas.

Another reason for the conflict is Jerusalem’s religious significance, as this is where Jesus is said to have died and been buried. Muslims, on the other hand, believe that this city to be the place where the prophet Muhammad ascended into heaven. Finally, Jerusalem is also the location of the Jewish First and Second Temple. Therefore, the “Holy City” has great meaning for Muslims, Christians, and Jews.

Jerusalem is in the middle of the Judaean Mountains. Because of its location, the city has a subtropical climate. The summers are hot and dry, while the winters tend to be rather mild. December and January are also the months with the most amount of rain, with about 11 days of rain. The best time to visit depends entirely on your preferences and plans!

The most popular time for a trip to Jerusalem is August. This might be due to the weather, but that’s also when the Hutzot Hayotzer Arts and Crafts Fair takes place. Every year, people celebrate art and artists in Jerusalem’s Old City. The festival is beautiful and incredibly diverse. The works of art include not only tapestries and ceramics, but also jewelry of any kind. Of course, the event wouldn’t be complete without some music – it’s a magnificent display you definitely shouldn’t miss! Jerusalem, and Israel in general, knows how to throw a party!

We recommend exploring Jerusalem’s Old City – and even most of the sights on the outside – by foot. But if you don’t want to waste a single minute, just hop on a bus or take a taxi. They’re both pretty affordable here.

The Top 10 Places of Interest in Jerusalem

You surely knew of the “Holy City’s” great religious significance.  But did you know that the city receives thousands of letters addressed to God every year? It’s no surprise, really, considering all of the religious sites in Jerusalem. Some of them have made their way into our top 10 places of interest, but make sure to look out for the other ones on our list as well!

The Old City of Jerusalem

The Old City is home to many landmarks. It consists of four quarters, the Armenian, the Jewish, the Christian, and the Muslim one. They are right next to each other, often without any clear borders – at least for us.  The beautiful Old City is also home to many different sights.

Add a fascinating mix of different cultures, and just walking through the Old City becomes an unforgettable experience in itself.  Going on foot also means you won’t miss any of the hustle and bustle going on between the pale walls of the buildings. 

The Western Wall

The famous Western Wall is one of the most important sites in Judaism. Originally, it was part of the Second Temple. Today, many Jews still make their way to the Western Wall. Here, they put small pieces of paper on which they’ve written their worries, hopes, and messages into the gaps between the stones. But in general, everyone can visit the wall, no matter their religious beliefs. If you want to visit this holy site as well, you should definitely remember to wear appropriate clothing and behave respectfully.

The Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock

Only a few meters away from the Western Wall, you’ll find the Dome of the Rock on top of the Temple Mount. It’s just behind the Western Wall and is located in the Muslim quarter of the city. Muslims believe this to be the place where the prophet Muhammad ascended into heaven. Thus, the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock make Jerusalem the third most important city in Islam, following Mecca and Medina. The Dome of the Rock is also open to non-Muslim visitors, although only at certain times.

However, this sight also has another meaning, depending on your religion – like so many other buildings in Jerusalem. In Judaism, the Temple Mount is, among other things, the place where humankind was first created.

The Mount of Olives

Jewish graves, small churches, and mosques – the Mount of Olives unites all three religions. Overall, Christian influences dominate the mountain.

At the foot of the Mount of Olives, you’ll find the first landmark, the Garden of Gethsemane. Between these ancient olive trees is where Jesus prayed with his disciples following the last supper. Christians also believe that Jesus ascended to heaven in the nearby Chapel of the Ascension. Here, at the top of the Mount of Olives, you’ll also have a spectacular view of Jerusalem’s Old City!

Yad Vashem

Yad Vashem is Israel’s memorial to the victims of the Shoah. It was founded in 1953 on Mount Herzel in Jerusalem. The Nazis killed over 6,000,000 Jews. The memorial reminds us that the victims of the Shoah aren’t just a number, but people with their own history. The name Yad Vashem, which is Hebrew for “a memorial and a name”, reflects this sentiment.

Via Dolorosa

The Via Dolorosa is the path Jesus took to his crucifixion. The way leads from Pontius Pilate’s judgement seat to the Tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. According to Christian beliefs, Jesus had to carry his own cross through these streets to his crucifixion. The Via Dolorosa starts in the Muslim quarter and runs for 700 meters along 14 stations. Christians meet here every day to walk the path together – some of them even carry their own cross.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The final stop of the Via Dolorosa is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It’s one of the most important sites in Christianity, as it marks the location where Jesus is said to have been crucified. From the outside, the church might not seem very unusual. But inside, you’ll find several chapels and other structures. The most important of these is the tomb of Jesus, which gave the church its name. The church also covers the place where Jesus’s resurrection supposedly took place. This is why some people also call it the Church of the Resurrection.

Inside of the church, you’ll also get to see the incredible architecture that you can’t see from outside. The numerous domes are particularly impressive. They have been carefully painted with Christian imagery and create a very special atmosphere.     

The Dead Sea

Unlike the other places of interest on this list, our next recommendation is not located in Jerusalem. It’s only an hour by car from the city – the Dead Sea! The name might seem a bit confusing, because it’s technically a lake. But as it covers more than 600 km2,  it’s still massive!

The salty lake is also the lowest point on earth. It’s 383 m below sea level. Isn’t that incredible? Its high salinity makes the Dead Sea a very special place, as it enables you to float on the surface without any effort. It looks really cool, especially on photos!

The Tower of David in Jerusalem

At the foot of the Mount of Olives, you’ll find the first landmark, the Garden of Gethsemane. Between these ancient olive trees is where Jesus prayed with his disciples following the last supper. Christians also believe that Jesus ascended to heaven in the nearby Chapel of the Ascension. Here, at the top of the Mount of Olives, you’ll also have a spectacular view of Jerusalem’s Old City!

The Tower of David is a former fortress. It was used to defend the city’s western gate. Nowadays, you can enjoy the fantastic 360° view across the Old City. You can see all four quarters from here – and, with a bit of luck, you might even be able to make out the Dead Sea.

But that’s not everything. At night, there’s a light show, creating a magical atmosphere at this historical site. For example, you can see the fight between David and Goliath being projected onto the old walls – a mesmerizing display!

Mahane Yehuda Market

Spices, fruits, pottery – there are bright colors everywhere! Add a symphony of voices speaking dozens of languages and busy crowds everywhere, and you’re right at the centre of the Mahane Yehuda Market!

Unlike the other places on this list, this market is fairly young – it’s only a bit more than a century old. Here, locals do their weekly shopping, while travelers enjoy the Oriental atmosphere. There are around 300 stalls on the Mahane Yehuda Market, including restaurants, corner shops, and bars with music!

After the stalls have closed in the evening, make sure to come back to the market. Why? Street artists have painted the shutters with colourful images.

Conclusion  

Jerusalem is a truly unique place, thanks to its numerous sights! Most of them are in the middle of the Old City and are of great religious importance. There’s a reason why the “Holy City” is so important to Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.

Even if you aren’t religious, you will still be fascinated by the monuments and remnants of the different religions. That’s a promise! Just think of the Temple Mount with the Dome of the Rock, the Western Wall in front of them, or the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

You also shouldn’t miss Yad Vashem. It serves as a reminder to the more than 6,000,000 Jews who were murdered by the Nazis.

Additionally, not all landmarks in Jerusalem are connected to religious beliefs – the Mahane Yehuda Market and the Dead Sea are among our favourite places to visit!

As you can see, you’re sure to find something to enjoy! There aren’t many cities that have as much to offer as Jerusalem. So what are you waiting for?

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