The Western Wall, or “Wailing Wall”, is the most religious site in the world for the Jewish people. Located in the Old City of Jerusalem, it is the western support wall of the Temple Mount. Thousands of people journey to the wall every year to visit and recite prayers. These prayers are either spoken or written down and placed in the cracks of the wall. The wall is divided into two sections, one area for males and the other for females. It is one of the major highlights in any tour of the Old City.
The site is open to all people and is the location of various ceremonies, such as military inductions and bar mitzvahs. The Western Wall is free and is open all day, year-round. Women and men should be dressed modestly in the Western Wall Plaza. To pray at the wall, women should have their legs and shoulders covered. Men should cover their head.
The Temple Mount, a massive masonry platform occupying the south-east corner of Jerusalem’s Old City, has hallowed connections for Jews, Christians and Muslims.
All three of these Abrahamic faiths regard it as the location of Mount Moriah, where Abraham prepared to offer his son Isaac (or Ishmael in the Muslim tradition) to God.
For Jews, it is where their Temple once stood, housing the Ark of the Covenant. Now, for fear of stepping on the site of the Holy of Holies, orthodox Jews do not ascend to the Temple Mount. Instead, they worship at its Western Wall while they hope for a rebuilt Temple to rise with the coming of their long-awaited Messiah.
For Christians, the Temple featured prominently in the life of Jesus. Here he was presented as a baby. Here as a 12-year-old he was found among the teachers after the annual Passover pilgrimage.
For Muslims, the Temple Mount is al-Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary). It is Islam’s third holiest site, after Mecca and Medina, and the whole area is regarded as a mosque.
The Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem is located in the restored ancient Citadel of the Old City near the Jaffa Gate, the historic main entrance to the city. The museum tells the long and fascinating history of Jerusalem starting from the second millennium BCE and ending with the modern city you see today.
The museum’s facade, The Citadel is itself, a fascinating archaeological site, and provides some of the best 360-degree views across the Old City and Modern City available, and comes to life at night with the Tower of David Night Spectacular. As well as its fascinating permanent displays, the museum regularly hosts changing exhibitions as well as lectures, special cultural events and educational programs.
The Tower of David Night Spectacular is an incredible sound and light show, the only one of its kind in the world, in which the walls of The Citadel and Old City are brought to life using amazing audio-visual technologies to provide the story of Jerusalem in a unique experience.
The Ramparts Walk in the Old City of Jerusalem is a gem hidden from locals and tourists alike. Hard to find, the Ramparts Walk is one of the most rewarding activities in terms of history, beauty and a greater sense of the Old City as a whole. Reasonably priced, the Ramparts Walk makes a great trip combined with the other activities and sites found in and around the Old City.
The Ramparts Walk is divided into two separate walks, totally just under two miles: the north side walk and the south side walk. Both are included in the admission ticket and both have their differences. The north side walk is the longer of the two and covers a far greater area, from the Jaffa Gate (on the west side of the Old City) to the Lions Gate (on the east side, approaching the Dome of the Rock). The south side walk is shorter but ends at a more convenient location, the Western Wall (or Kotel as it is known in Hebrew). The south side walk begins at the Tower of David (on the west side of the Old City, beside the Jaffa Gate) and continues around to the south side of the city, ending off between the Zion and Dung Gates.
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem is Israel’s largest cultural institution and is ranked among the world’s leading art and archeology museums. Founded in 1965, the Israel Museum, Jerusalem was extensively extended and refurbished reopening in 2010. The focus of the museum is on the art, Judaica and ancient artifacts of the Land of Israel and beyond, featuring the most extensive holdings of Biblical and Holy Land archaeology in the world. The museum has a collection of nearly 500,000 objects, representing a full scope of world material culture.
While there is loads to see at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, there are a number of stand-out highlights. The Shrine of the Book houses the Dead Sea Scrolls which are some of the oldest Biblical scrolls ever found. Adjacent to this is an amazing model of Second Temple Era Jerusalem which reconstructs the topography and architectural character of the city as it was prior to its destruction by the Romans in 66 CE.
Yad Vashem, Israel’s largest Holocaust memorial is set on the slopes of the Mount of Remembrance on the edge of Jerusalem. The new Yad Vashem Museum opened in 2005 and its nine chilling galleries of interactive historical displays present the Holocaust using a range of multimedia including photographs, films, documents, letters, works of art, and personal items found in the camps and ghettos. Yad Vashem is a place which is not fun to visit, but is definitely somewhere that we recommend all visitors to Israel experience.
The museum leads into the Hall of Names, an eerie space containing over three million names of Holocaust victims that were submitted by their families and relatives. Names can still be submitted by visitors to the memorial and added to the computerized archive, whilst visitors are able to search through the records.
In addition to the Holocaust History Museum, the Yad Vashem campus has a number of other chilling memorials which you can visit. These include the Hall of Remembrance, where the ashes of the dead are buried and an eternal flame burns in commemoration; Yad Layeled, the children’s memorial, which commemorates the one and a half million Jewish children who perished in the Holocaust; and The Memorial to the Deportees, a railroad car hanging over the cliff on the road winding down from the mountain commerorating those who were deported.
Musrara is a unique neighborhood in Jerusalem, a fascinating microcosm of the city’s history and its various population groups. Walking through the streets, you’ll notice that every house is built differently, and houses have been joined, expanded, cut up and renewed throughout the years of its turbulent history. The municipality has tried to change the name of the neighborhood to Morasha, and you’ll see this name on official maps, but Jerusalem residents proudly continue to use its old name.
In recent years, a number of artists have moved to the neighborhood, and three art schools have opened up: a religious film school called Maaleh; Musrara, an edgy photography, animation and sound school; and the School for Oriental Music, which occasionally has open concerts in the evenings, and is lovely to walk past as the musicians practice during the day. These last two are both on Ayin Het street, and there is another gallery next to them. An artists’ collective called Muslala has sprung up, and they engage in artwork in the public domain, involving longtime local residents and social activists from East and West Jerusalem.