Central to the Abrahamic faiths of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, the city of Jerusalem is considered one of the most sacred places in the world. The Old City in Jerusalem is at the beating heart of this holy site.
As any tourist that has ever visited the city will attest, Jerusalem is jam-packed with historical sites, religiously significant places, vibrant markets, and a treasure trove of places to eat and drink. Across its four quarters – the Armenian, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Quarters – you’ll find a cavalcade of impressive sites. Here are some must-see stops, starting with the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.
The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem
Perhaps the most famous site in all of Jerusalem is the Wailing Wall, or the Western Wall as it is also known. Originally built to house Herod’s Temple Mount, it is at this holiest of Jewish sites that thousands of people arrive daily – and millions annually – to pray and worship. The wall that can be seen from street level is but a portion of the wall itself. Beneath the street are the Kotel tunnels, which stretch more than 500 meters along the ancient wall. The tunnels of Kotel in Jerusalem are open to the public but only by advance booking, which is extremely limited, so make sure to plan ahead.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre
If you leave the Kotel tunnels and head for the Christian Quarter you’ll come across the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Built on what is believed to have been the site of Jesus’s crucifixion and his subsequent resurrection, the church is the holiest in all of Christendom. The building has changed drastically since the first basilica was constructed here by Roman emperor Constantine, and today makes for a place of pilgrimage for many Christians.
Dome of the Rock
Located in Haram esh-Sharif in the Muslim Quarter, the Dome of the Rock has become something of a symbol for this historic city. Its gold leaf dome can be seen from much of the city, while its interior decoration is as fascinating as it is impressive. Haram esh-Sharif itself features plenty of other interesting and attractive features, and has the feel of a city within a city.
In addition to Jerusalem’s ‘Big Three’, visitors will also want to check out the walls and ramparts that enclose the Old City of Jerusalem, as well as the likes of the Sephardic Synagogues, the Mount of Olives, the Citadel, and the Israel Museum, home to the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Getting to Jerusalem
As you would expect, Jerusalem is well connected by road to the rest of Israel, meaning international visitors arriving at Tel Aviv, Haifa, Ashdod and Eilat should have no problem getting to the Holy City.
When to visit
The weather in Jerusalem allows for year round travel but the height of summer (July, August) can get very hot. Avoiding Passover and other High Holy Days is recommended for non-religious visitors, while the off-peak months of May and October tend to provide comfortable weather and lower travel costs.
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