No visit to Jerusalem is complete without checking out the Old City. Jerusalem used to be a small place inside a walled area but since has expanded and branched out (but parts of the wall remain). It is home to many sites that are important to various religions, and therefore a bunch of different people from Judaism, Christianity and Islam live there. You’ll meet all kinds of characters there, as well as cafes, markets and shops aka well worth an explore! Walking through the narrow, twisty streets is one of my favourite things to do and such a contrast to the tech/skyscrapers of Tel Aviv (and even the other areas of Jerusalem).
To kick off you have to explore the wall itself! For a small fee you can climb the ramparts and see the city from above (you also get great views of the areas outside the walls). The entrance I took was by the Tower of David and Jaffa Gate. There are several gates to enter the Old City but Jaffa is probably the safest at the moment. Going along the wall is a great way to introduce yourself to the Old City and get a feel of how things used to be.
If you take the walk you’ll get off right by the Kotel (or Western Wall). This wall is all that’s left from the Second Temple. The Romans destroyed it but left this one wall standing. It is considered to be the holiest and most sacred place for Jewish people to pray. Now it is divided for men/women and many write wishes and prayers on paper and place it between the stones of the wall. A lot of very religious men and women come to pray, have their bar mitzvah and feel blessed in its’ presence. I remember going here as a kid and wishing for a Dalmatian (something that never came true so not sure just how legit this wall is haha).
To move from Jewish faith to Christianity is the Church of Holy Sepulchre. The church contains two of the holiest sites in Christendom – where Jesus was crucified and his tomb from which he was buried and resurrected. The complex itself is massive and a stunning site to see – the ceilings are decorated beautifully with such intricate mosaics and paintings. I by no means could fully appreciate the importance of the place but seeing people inside get emotional was very warming.
As mentioned earlier I love the small streets of the Old City and walking through the different areas. It’s roughly divided into four with Muslim, Judaism, Christian and Armenian Quarters. You can easily get lost in the maze and find yourself surrounded by locals playing chess, or end up on a busier shuk street with market vendors trying to catch your attention. There are lots of bargains to be made so don’t forget to haggle. You can grab spices, food, woodwork, camel leather products, fabrics, jewels and more – do your souvenir shopping here!
Just a smidge out of the Old City is the Mount of Olives. It offers the most amazing view where you can see the Dome (the main site for Muslims, unfortunately I couldn’t go as it was closed off) and winding streets. The Mount is home to one of the largest and influential Jewish cemeteries in the country and there’s a camel that sits at the top!
If you missed my previous post on Jerusalem check it out. I explored the museums, markets and other things the main part of the city has to offer! Otherwise I’ll see you in a few days!