Top 10 Can't Miss Things to Do & Wonders in Jerusalem
Jerusalem has a history that goes back four thousand years, so to pick just ten favorite sites is a tall order. Many travelers, though, don’t have months to leisurely explore the city’s many nooks and alleys. They may have a day or two – tops. So here are the absolute, must-do, don’t-miss 10 sites to visit on a short stay. They’re sure to give you enough of a taste that you’ll want to come again – for a longer visit next time!
The Western Wall
The last remnant of the Second Temple built by King Herod and destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 CE, the Wall is the holiest Jewish site in the world, and is a place a prayer for everyone.
The Temple Mount
The site of the First and Second Temples, this is where you’ll find the Dome of the Rock, the oldest monument in the Muslim world; the Al Aksa mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, build in the 8th century; and the Islamic Museum.
This is a street, not a site, along which you’ll visit many important sites. (Yes, I’m cheating in order to squeeze more sites into this list!) The street follows the traditional last journey of Jesus through Jerusalem through the Stations of the Cross. It starts in the Muslim Quarter, past the Ecce Homo arch and the Austrian Hospice, and winds its way to the Christian Quarter, ending at the Holy Sepulcher, one of the most sacred places in Christendom.
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City of David
An active archaeological site, the City of David reveals the many strata of Jerusalem’s history. From a Jebusite wall to King David’s palace, to the earliest bathroom found in Jerusalem – they’re all here. You’ll also get to wade through Hezekiah’s water tunnel (bring water shoes and a change of clothes.)
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Newly revamped, the museum is home to the Dead Sea Scrolls, one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. It also hosts a model of Jerusalem as it was in the year 60 C.E. and impressive art collections.
Photo By Scott Ableman
The most famous Jerusalem museum, Yad Vashem’s mission is to document the Holocaust and memorialize the six million Jews who perished in its flames. Located above the beautiful Jerusalem forest, this is a vast complex comprising two museums (the Holocaust History Museum and the Yad Vashem Art Museum), a research institute, library archives, exhibits, monuments and sculpture gardens.
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Yemin Moshe and Mishkenot Shaananim were the first two neighborhoods built outside the Old City walls. Now restored into a quiet, picturesque haven for artists and academics, they’ll give you an inkling of what life in 19th century Jerusalem was like, great views of the Old City walls and a lovely place for a romantic stroll.
Photo By AssafLevy
Near Machane Yehuda, Nachlaot is actually a series of tiny neighborhoods that sprouted outside the Old City in the 1800s after the success of Yemin Moshe. Unlike Yemin Moshe, which has been renovated, in Nachlaot all you have to do is imagine away the electrical lines and parked cars to experience a lifestyle that is not all that different from 100 years ago.
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Underground Prisoners’ Museum
Often overlooked, this tiny museum opens a window onto Jerusalem of the 1940s and the deadly conflicts that were brewing. This was the prison where the British Mandatory forces incarcerated members of the Jewish underground. Renovated as a museum, it provides an important history lesson that links ancient Jerusalem to the modern one.
Jerusalem’s colorful open air market, Machane Yehuda is home to all sorts of local characters. Once simply a market, it is experiencing a bit of gentrification, with more little cafes and eateries opening there and street entertainment (jugglers, musicians, etc …) in the summer.
Photo By Akiva
And – this is not a site, but an event, so I’m squeezing it in here – don’t miss the sound and light show at the Tower of David. The stunning visual and musical experience takes you through centuries of Jerusalem’s turbulent history, using the gigantic walls of the Old City as a screen. (This is an outdoor event, so bring a light sweater.)
See you in Jerusalem!
About the Blogger:
By Myriam Miller, of Jerusalem Insider’s Guide, and author of Introduction to Jerusalem: A Guide to the Holy City.