No Israel tour would be complete without a visit to the holy city of Jerusalem. Throughout the ages, Jerusalem has been the symbol of Jewish identity. The Old City of Jerusalem is home to the three great monotheistic religions, while the New City of Jerusalem has a fascinating urban fabric of vastly differing neighborhoods, secular and religious. Jerusalem is also a center of government and culture, and its lofty elevation offers wonderful breezes – a welcome respite from the sticky summer heat of Israel’s coastal plain.
The Old City of Jerusalem
Jerusalem’s Old City and its four quarters contain some of the most important sites to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Western or Wailing Wall, known in Hebrew as the ‘Kotel,’ is located in the Jewish Quarter, and is the last remnant of the ancient Jewish temples built more than 2,000 years ago. The Western Wall forms the boundary between the Jewish Quarter and Temple Mount, where the Dome of the Rock, one of the holiest places in Islam, is located. The Western Wall is a highlight for many Israeli tourists, given its historical and emotional significance and resonates as a pilgrimage point, for prayers, thoughts and notes crammed into its cracks.
A short walk from the Western Wall is the Jerusalem Archaeological Park and Davidson Center, which tells the history of Temple Mount and Mount Moriah through a combination of archaeological artifacts and audio and visual aids. According to biblical tradition, the Temple Mount is where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac in an act of faith.
The Jewish Quarter
The quarter has had a rich history, with a nearly continual Jewish presence since the eighth century BCE and until today, with several hundred families still living in this ancient neighborhood. The center of the Old City’s Jewish Quarter is Hurva Square and the Hurva Synagogue, the main place of worship for Jews in Jerusalem from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries. Visitors can still shop in the Cardo, a reconstructed street dating back to the sixth century, as well as stop in at several museums that reconstruct life in ancient times.
The New City of Jerusalem
Western Jerusalem has an active downtown center with a bustling market, charming boutiques and a plethora of cafes and restaurants. Check out the wide variety of cuisines and styles to fit every pocket and taste, using our list of recommended restaurants in Jerusalem. The town center is located on and around Jaffa Road, which runs east to west, from the Old City’s Jaffa Gate to the central bus station near the city’s exit, while other nearby neighborhoods offer an additional window into the local culture and lifestyle.
Noted Jerusalem Neighborhoods
Outside of Jerusalem's Old City are a range of neighborhoods that vary from religious to secular, exemplifying the melange that is Israeli society. From Mea Shearim, one of the oldest Jerusalem neighborhoods that is populated almost entirely by ultra Orthodox Jews, to the quaint, winding streets of Rechavia and Talbieh, which are renowned for their unique Mediterranean architecture, walking through Jerusalem offers a unique view of this unusual city.
Places of Interest in Jerusalem
A tour of Jerusalem generally includes a visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, and its accompanying museums. The Israel Museum, located near the Knesset, (Israel’s seat of government) has a wide range of exhibits, from prehistoric artifacts and Judaica to contemporary art. The museum campus includes the Shrine of the Book, housing the extraordinary Dead Sea Scrolls, the most important documented evidence of early Jewish religious belief and practice. Mount Scopus, located in the north of the city and home to the Hebrew University campus, offers glorious panoramic views of Jerusalem and the Judean desert.
* Israel Tours
* Bar / Bat Mitzvah Tours
* Jewish Heritage Tours