What To Visit in the Old City of Jerusalem ?

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Hello,
In this site, I will present to you Jerusalem’s main attractions and how to get there. There are 3 related pages :

Let’s start :

Jerusalem Old City

How to Get to the Old City of jerusalem ?

I know that you mainly want to visit to the old city of Jerusalem, so look at the following orientation map (click to enlarge) :

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The Central Bus Station of Jerusalem is marked with a red star on the map. You will “land” in this bus station if you arrive to Jerusalem from the International Airport or from Tel-Aviv city or from any other Israeli city. The old city of Jerusalem is at a distance of 3 Km to the right.

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The best is to take the Tram (light train) for a short ride and get down at the stop : “City Hall”. Then you have to walk 10 minutes till Jaffa gate. You can choose to pass via the open sky mall “Mamilla” on your way.

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See also this Interactive Google Map with all the places mentioned later on (the highlights are marked in Red) :

The Gates to Jerusalem Old City

The Old City of Jerusalem is surrounded by a wall (rampart) and it has 8 Gates.
The Golden gate in the Temple Mount area is blocked.
Jaffa gate is the main gate, you will probably enter the old city through Jaffa gate if you arrive from the town center.
Click on the map to enlarge :

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In the following photo you see Damascus gate :

The Quarters inside Jerusalem Old City

There are four quarters inside Jerusalem old city :

  • The Christian quarter
  • The Muslim quarter
  • The Jewish quarter
  • The Armenian quarter

The Temple Mount area and the Western Wall are on the right. The distance from Jaffa gate to the Western Wall : less than 1 Km.

If you like lengthy explanations, read about the quarters of Jerusalem in Wikipedia.

Click on the map to enlarge :

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 Walking in the Old City

There are, of course, a lot of churches, mosques and synagogues to visit in
the old city, but the best tourist attraction is just to walk in the old narrow streets, enjoy the markets and to feel this unique place (and the political tension in the air and on the T-Shirts of the vendors).

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The old city is an area of about 1 Km square, so it is quite convenient to explore by foot (and anyway, there are no roads inside).
There is a Tourist Information Point,  just to the left, when you enter the Jaffa Gate.

Here in the Map, the main commercial streets (click to enlarge) :

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 The Western Wall – Wailing Wall – the Kotel

What is it ?

Part of a wall that was surrounding the Jewish temple some 2000 years ago.

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Since the temple doesn’t exist today, this wall has become sacred to religious Jews because of its closeness to the temple.
People are praying in front of that wall. One section is reserved for men and another for women. It is a custom to put notes between the stones with written wishes.
If you like lengthy explanations, read about the Western wall in Wikipedia.

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Note : You are supposed to be dressed in a non provocative way in this place, otherwise you will be given funny things to wear on you. In fact, you are supposed to be dressed modestly in all the religious places in Jerusalem (and worldwide, I guess).

How to get there ?

When you enter Jaffa gate, walk straight through the narrow market. You will see signs for the Kotel along the way.
Look at the following Map (Click to enlarge) or at the Google Interactive Map above.

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The Western Wall Tunnels

What is it ?

Excavations that reveal more of the Western Wall (500 meters wide
instead of the exposed 60 meters, outside).

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Visits can be done only with a guided tour that takes around 1 hour. The explanations are interesting. There is always a waiting list for these visits and you have to be lucky to enter the same day, so it’s better to reserve ahead with the Visitor Info number.

If you like lengthy explanations, read about the Western wall tunnels in Wikipedia.

How to get there ?

The same as for the Kotel.
Look at the following Map (Click to enlarge) or at the Google Interactive Map above.

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The Temple Mount – Dome of the Rock Mosque

What is it ?

An elevated area containing two famous mosques. The place is super, (I mean super) sacred for religious Muslims and Jews and unfortunately a place for many conflicts.

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For religious Jews, the first and second temples were here till they were destroyed (600 years BC and 70 years AC).
For religious Muslims, the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosques are here, both built around 700 years AC. The Dome of the Rock is considered by Islam as the third most holly place after Mecca and Medina.
For tourists, It is possible to access the Temple Mount area via a bridge from the Western Wall plaza. Muslims can access from other entries.
If you like lengthy explanations, read about the Temple Mount in Wikipedia.

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How to get there ?

The same as for the Kotel.
Look at the following Map (Click to enlarge) or at the Google Interactive Map above.

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Church of the Holy Sepulchre

What is it ?

The most important church of Jerusalem old city.

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It was built 300 years AC, on an area believed to be where Jesus was crucified. Very impressive inside.

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If you like lengthy explanations, read about the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Wikipedia.

How to get there ?

After you enter Jaffa gate, turn in one of the streets to the left. You will see signs.
Look at the following Map (Click to enlarge) or at the Google Interactive Map above.

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Via Dolorosa

What is it ?

A narrow street (in two parts), believed to be where Jesus walked, carrying his cross, on the way to his crucifixion.

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Nice architecture and many churches along the way.

If you like lengthy explanations, read about Via Dolorosa in Wikipedia.

How to get there ?

Look at the following Map (Click to enlarge) or at the Google Interactive Map above.

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The Jewish Quarter – the Cardo plaza

What is it ?

The Jewish quarter of the old city of Jerusalem with about 2000 people who are living in it.

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Most of the buildings are quite new and it feels like a typical Jerusalem suburb but there are also some archeological sites and museums to visit and a view over the Western wall. The center of the quarter is the Cardo, an ancient Roman market with its typical columns. There are also the  four Sephardic and the Hurva Synagogues, with a lot of history.

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If you like lengthy explanations, read about the Jewish quarter in Wikipedia.

How to get there ?

From the Western Wall plaza, you will see the Jewish quarter.
Look at the following Map (Click to enlarge) or at the Google Interactive Map above.

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The Tower of David – The Citadel

What is it ?

An ancient fortress and now the main museum about Jerusalem’s history.

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In the museum there are several rooms, each one contains explanations about a different period of Jerusalem. There are great panoramic views from the towers over the old city and the new city , this is alone a good reason to visit the place. The place is also an archaeological site.

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There is also a model of Jerusalem from the 19 century

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At night, on some dates, there are sound-and-light shows on the walls of this castle.

If you like lengthy explanations, read about The Tower of David in Wikipedia.

How to get there ?

It is located near Jaffa gate.

Look at the following Map (Click to enlarge) or at the Google Interactive Map above.

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The Ramparts Walk

What is it ?

There is a wall surrounding the old city of Jerusalem and It is possible to make a nice promenade on it. The entrance is from Jaffa gate.
A small part of the wall is blocked ( in the Temple Mount area), so in order to make a round trip you’ll have to return to Jaffa gate.

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How to get there ?

Look at the following Map (Click to enlarge) or at the Google Interactive Map above.

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A little bit outside the Walls :

The Dormition Abbey and the Last Supper Room

What is it ?

A Church built on a site thought to be the place where Virgin Maria died.

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The Church is mainly impressive from the outside. Nearby is also the Last Supper Room. 

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If you like lengthy explanations, read about The Dormition Abbey in Wikipedia.

Nearby is also the Tomb of David, as believed by religious Jews.
If you like lengthy explanations, read about The Tomb of David in Wikipedia.

How to get there ?

Located outside the old city wall, near Zion gate.

Look at the following Map (Click to enlarge) or at the Google Interactive Map above.

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Mount of Olives

What is it ?

A hill in front of the old city with important churches and view points over the old city.

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On the mount :

  • The Church of all Nations  (church of the Agony).  Believed to be the place where Jesus prayed before his arrest. A very nice facade. Gethsemane gardens.
  • The Russian Orthodox Church of Maria Magdalene.
  • A big Jewish cemetery
  • More churches and excellent panoramic views over the old city

Tomb of Zechariah – Located down the hill

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If you like lengthy explanations, read about the Mount of Olives in Wikipedia

How to get there ?

Exit the old city via the Lions gate and begin to walk. (It could be tough to climb the hill, for some people)
Look at the following Map (Click to enlarge) or at the Google Interactive Map above.

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City of David  (with Hezekiah’s Tunnel)

What is it ?

Important Excavations and a long tunnel with water to visit.

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The excavation started in 1850 and are still going on. The findings
are from 3000 years ago, the era of King David. In that era, the old city of Jerusalem was partly located in that place (the old city had a different shape).

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Water supply to the city was an important issue and impressive subterranean aqueducts were engineered, fortified and defended from enemies.

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There are several tunnels to visit on the site. The  main one is Hezekiah’s tunnel which is 500 meters long and has water running in it. It takes about 40 minutes to walk from end to end. It is very narrow.

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The water depth is about 30 centimeters but at some points it reaches 70 centimeters so If you have kids, make sure they are taller than 70 centimeters… or take them in your arms at that points. Kids love that experience of walking in a tunnel with water.

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If you don’t have kids, you are lucky, instead of the wet tunnel you can walk in a dry and illuminated tunnel, just 5 minutes walk. (Did I mention that you need a flashlight in the wet tunnel ?).
If you choose the dry tunnel, you will get out early and you will need to walk a few minutes to the destination point, on your way you will have a great view over the Arab village Silwan.

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The destination point is the Siloam pool. It may have looked like this in the past.

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In order to return to the starting point, you may walk in another tunnel that was once an Herodian street.

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If you like lengthy explanations, read about The City of David in Wikipedia and visit the City of David website.

Here look at this Map, you may better understand which tunnel goes where:

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How to get there ?

Located outside the Dung gate. Just get out of the old city through that gate and you will see signs to the City of David site.

Look at the following Map (Click to enlarge) or at the Google Interactive Map above.

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If you need more Churches, Synagogues and Mosques inside the Old City of Jerusalem :

Till now I have stated only the highlights of the old city, but there is much more to see depending on your interests.  You can locate the following places on the Google Interactive Map above.

  • Anglican Hospice
  • American Orthodox Monastery
  • Austrian Hospice
  • Bimuristan
  • Cardo
  • Cathedral of St James
  • Christian Brother’s College
  • Christ Church
  • Church of Flagellation
  • Church of the Holy Sepulcher
  • Church of Our Lady of Spasm
  • Church of the Redeemer
  • Church of St Marks
  • Condemnation Chapel
  • Convent of the Sisters of Zion
  • Coptic Patriarchate
  • Tower of David
  • The Dome of the Rock
  • Ecce Homo Basilica
  • El-Aqsa Mosque
  • El-Omariye school
  • Ethiopan Monastery
  • Great Greek Monastery
  • Great Catholic Patriarchate
  • Great Orthodox Patriarchate
  • Greek Praetorium
  • Hasmonean Tunnel
  • Hassidei Braslav Synagogue
  • Hurva Synagogue
  • Indian Hospice
  • Kolel Shaarei Hesed
  • Latin Patriarchate
  • Mawlawiyeh Mosque
  • Menachem Zion Synagogue
  • Moslem Orphonage
  • Moslem Supreme Council
  • Muristan
  • Omar Mosque
  • Pool of Hezekiah
  • Porat Yosef Synagogue
  • Rabbi Meir Baal Haness
  • Ramban Synagogue
  • Red Mosque
  • Robinson’s Arch
  • Rothschild’s house
  • St Anna Church
  • St John Church
  • St Julien Church
  • St Michel
  • St Savior Church
  • St Veronica Church
  • Temple Mount
  • Terra Santa Girl’s Orphanage
  • Tonshak’s Tomb
  • Virgin Mary’s Birth Church
  • Watson House
  • Western Wall
  • Western Wall Tunnel
  • The four Yohanan Ben Zakkai Sepharadi Synagogues
  • The Herodian quarter
  • Karaite Jewish Heritage Center
  • Jerusalem Archeological Park – Davidson Center
  • The Generations Center
  • Mount Moriah
  • Via Dolorosa
  • Zedekiah’s Cave
  • The Roman Plaza
  • Rockfeller Archaeological museum

Continue  – What to See in Jerusalem Town Center  arrow1





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