Jerusalem is a city of overwhelming emotions, a city that promises a religious and spiritual experience, excitement and pleasure, interesting tours and entertaining adventures. Here, alongside Jerusalem’s mesmerizing historic and archaeological sites, there are amazingly modern tourist attractions for all lovers of culture, the arts, theatre and music, architecture and gastronomic delights.
At Jerusalem’s heart is the Old City, which is surrounded by a wall and divided into four quarters – Jewish, Armenian, Christian, and Muslim. Inside the walls are the important holy sites of the three major religions: the Western Wall, which is holy to the Jews, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is holy to the Christians and the Dome of the Rock which is holy to the Muslims. The Western Wall plaza is visited by millions of worshipers. Here, at the base of the massive wall that is a remnant of the Holy Temple, prayers are offered and notes containing heartfelt wishes are wedged between the crevices.
Surrounding the Western Wall are other important Jewish sites – the Western Wall Tunnels, the unique Davidson Centre, the Jewish quarter with its splendid Cardo and David’s Citadel, towering proudly in its beauty. South of the Old City is the City of David, from which the ancient Canaanite and Israelite Jerusalem grew. This is a fascinating site with amazing findings that provide an unforgettable experience.
Jerusalem is also very important to Christianity, as Jesus Christ lived and died here. The Christian quarter alone houses some 40 religious buildings (churches, monasteries and pilgrims’ hostels). One of the most prominent and important sites in the Christian quarter is the Via Dolorosa, the “Way of Sorrows,” Jesus’ final path, which according to Christian tradition led from the courthouse to Golgotha Hill, where he was crucified and buried. Many pilgrims come to Jerusalem to follow Jesus’ footsteps along a route that starts in the Muslim Quarter, at Lions’ Gate, and passes the 14 Stations of the Cross, ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Several of the most important Christian relics are housed in this church, including the anointing stone (on which Jesus’ body was laid before his burial) and Jesus’ grave. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is a pilgrimage site for millions of Christians from all over the world.
Southwest of the Old City is Mt. Zion, where the Dormition Abbey was built on the site Christian tradition believes Mary spent her last night. The abbey was built about 100 years ago and in the basement there is a statue of the sleeping Mary. Beside the abbey is the Room of the Last Supper, where Jesus had his last supper with his disciples.
East of the Old City is the Mount of Olives, where there are other important Christian sites, and several churches: The Ascension, Pater Noster, Dominus Flevit, Mary Magdalene, Gethsemane, Lazarus and Abraham’s Monastery. According to Christian tradition, Mary’s tomb is in the Kidron Valley, below the Mt. of Olives.
The third most sacred city in Islam is Jerusalem, which was the original qibla (direction of prayer) before it was changed to Mecca. Jerusalem is revered because, in Muslim tradition, Prophet Muhammad miraculously travelled to Jerusalem by night and ascended from there into heaven. The two most important Muslim sites in Jerusalem are the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The most prominent Muslim site in Jerusalem is the Dome of the Rock (Qubbat as-Sakhrah), which, like the Ka’ba, is built over a sacred stone. An outstanding figure on the Jerusalem skyline, the shining Dome of the Rock was built from 685 to 691 CE as a shrine for pilgrims. Its base is octagonal in shape and its outer walls are 60 feet high. The wooden dome that rests upon columns within the building is approximately 60 feet in diameter. Both the outer walls and the dome have many windows. Much of the mosaic, faience (tin-glazed earthenware), and marble that gives it its glitter was added centuries after it was built.
|Languages spoken||Arabic, Hebrew, English|
|Currency used||New Israeli Shackles (NIS)|