Doesn’t matter how far I go and how long I stay away, Jerusalem is where I was brought up and where I go each year to visit my family. To be frank, it is only when I left Israel that I became really curious about seeing more of it. Sure, I went on tours, I walked around the city, but it is only in my return visits after leaving that I was able to truly appreciate the wonders of the place I grew up in. It’s hard to explain what Jerusalem really is unless you see it for yourself. It really has its own unique beauty and a special atmosphere I’ve never seen anywhere else and perhaps it takes living away for 7-8 years for a local to realize just how different this city is.
Anyhow, in the last few years during my return visits I’ve tried to capture a bit of what Jerusalem might have to offer. Though it’s a bit sporadic and somewhat lacking, I can offer a summary of those visits into a sort of an itinerary.
Go start you off, here’s a photography capture of the Jerusalem spirit from my last visit :
I think most people would agree that the most special area – which is definitely my favorite area to just wonder around and get lost – is the old city of Jerusalem. I’m very lucky to have a family that is very knowledgeable about it – my dad read about it endlessly and gives tours to family, colleagues and visitors as a side-hobby, my mom has taken endless guided-tours of the city and has shown it to numerous international and locals visiting friends, and my little sister is a certified guide that has introduced the old city to countless Birth-right visiting parties from abroad. Touring the old city with them and seeing the old city through their eyes are some of my fondest memories.
So, here’s a summary of some of the must-dos when you’re visiting the old city.
Start off with a tour on the old city walls :
The most visited religious sites are definitely the :
If you want to see the old city from above I’d recommend the Austrian hospice and …
Not too far away are lots of wonderful little treasures. The City of David became a hot tourist spot where you can walk the underground water tunnels of the old city. Mount of Olives is a perfect place in the eastern part of town to get panoramic views of the white city, the Syriac church claims to be the world’s first church serving an often overlooked minority speaking an almost forgotten language used in Israel during the times of Christ, and the Rockefeller Museum is a world-class museum that doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it should due to its location :
- City of David : Jerusalem
- White City Jerusalem–Views from Mount of Olives
- Syriac Orthodox Church : Discovering Jerusalem
- Oskar Schindler and Saint Peter in Gallicantu : Jerusalem
- The Rockefeller Museum : Jerusalem
Occasionally, there are some wonderful local religious events, like :
- Touring Old City Jerusalem : Palm Sunday-Easter
- Palm Sunday Christian Celebrations @Old City Jerusalem During Easter
A 10 minutes walk from my parents house to the old city passes through the wonderful new Mamilla – what a shopping/restaurant area should look like combining restored old architecture and public art :
In the western side of the city, 10 minutes walk from my parents house in Rehavia to the other direction is the government area, a few world-class museums, a wonderful old monetary, and the Hebrew University Givat-Ram campus :
- Knesset – the Israeli Legislator : Jerusalem
- King Herod the Great Exhibition : Israel Museum – Jerusalem
- Monastery of the Cross – Emek HaMatzlevah : Jerusalem
A 10 minutes walk up north from my parents’ house in Rehavia is the local market – Machne Yehuda, but there are small markets and artist galleries popping up all over town in recent years :
- Machne Yehuda Market : Jerusalem
- Machane Yehuda Market Festival – Baal Basta : Jerusalem
- Jerusalem’s Ghost Valley Weekend Farmers’ Market
- Artists’ House–Jerusalem:Ido Suliman-Cracking in Berlin
A 10 minutes walk south from Rehavia is Talbia with its Jerusalem theater, the prime minister’s and the president’s house, the Lepers’ Home, a few museums, a few consulates and generally wonderful architecture to appreciate.
If you’re looking for a nice spot to overlook the old city from the south, then Armon Hanatziv is your place, and if you can find a guide to take you – there is a wonderful ancient underground aqueduct tour :
Almost everytime I visit, I try to catch a performance with a local musician, usually set in a very special place like the Leper’s House, Tower of David, the old city, or the valley overlooking the old city walls. Examples? sure… :
- Alma Zohar live performance : Hansen Former Leopards’ Hospital
- MC Karolina Live at Migdal David Jerusalem
- Aviv Gefen Live Performance @ Jerusalem Arts Festival 2010
- Mercedes Band performing live at Old City Jerusalem
- Asaf Avidan Live at Tower of David–Jerusalem
- Shem Tov Levi with Maimon Cohen Live at Hebrew University
The new municipality in Jerusalem is trying really hard to attract more cultural events to the city and there’s almost always something happening. Here’s a bit of what I was able to capture during my short visits :
- Jerusalem International Arts Festival 2010
- Night Festivals in Jerusalem : Yarid Chutzot HaYotzer – International Arts and Crafts Fair
- Empty House : Jerusalem Squatting Underground Art Scene
- Gay Pride Parade – Jerusalem 2010
- Israeli Night Festivals : Art and Pasta at the Museum of Italian Jews in Jerusalem
But even with all this above, I feel like this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Jerusalem. I have countless photos from all sort of places all over town that are still waiting to be turned into blog posts. Hopefully, some day soon.
If you ever have any questions about Jerusalem, especially if you’re planning to visit – do let me know.