December 19th 2011
Top 10 Jerusalem Old City Sites & Activities
Jerusalem’s Old City is only small at one square kilometre in area. Don’t let that put you off visiting though. Within those famous golden stone walls are some of the most fascinating and memorable places you are likely to visit on any trip to Israel as well as some of the greatest contrasts and religious sites you will possibly find anywhere in the world.
1: The Western Wall on Friday Night
The last remaining wall of the Jewish Temple, the Western Wall in Jerusalem is the holiest place in the world for Jews, visited each year by many millions of visitors. Every visit is memorable and meaningful, whether it is be by a local religious Jew who comes every day, a first time visitor as part of an Israel tour, or a boy celebrating his Bar Mitzvah in Israel. Whilst a visit any time of the week is incredible, a visit to the on Friday Night, the start of the Sabbath, when religious Jews flock to the Wall, and their melodic tunes ring tunefully around the plaza and beyond is truly magical whether you participate or spectate.
2: City of David National Park
Built upon a then barren hilltop a short distance from Hebron by the iconic King David over 3,000 years ago, the City of David is the beginnings of what we today know as Jerusalem. Located just outside the walled Old City of Jerusalem the site has been largely excavated since Jewish control of Jerusalem resumed in 1967. Boasts some of the earliest artefacts in Jerusalem’s rich history, a visit to this incredible site is captivating.
3: Western Wall Tunnels Tour
The iconic image of the Western Wall which is seen and visualised by Jews around the world with the large plaza is not the only section of this wall, literally the western wall of the Temple, that remains. In fact, by venturing into the Western Walls Tunnels which lead off the iconic plaza, visitors are able to access an additional 1,591ft of wall (just 200ft are visible above ground). A tour of the Western Wall Tunnels is an amazing part of any Israel tour, one that literally goes beneath the surface and takes you to places others can only dream of.
4: Davidson Center Archaeological Gardens
Advanced technology whisks you back in time as you enter the Davidson Center. Located in the basement of an ancient building which has been painstakingly preserved and brought to life, visitors the Davidson Center embark upon a journey through Jerusalem’s history and archaeology. The centers’ gardens, known as the Jerusalem Archaeological Park, form an open museum depicting the history of Jerusalem using real artefacts dating back thousands of years.
5: The Old City Walls Ramparts Walk
Walking high along the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City is an amazing feature of many Israel tours. From above the maze of lanes and alleyways, visitors can get a breathtaking panoramic view across the Old City, New City, and beyond into the Judean Hills. This unique overview can provide a far richer understanding of the geography of the Old City which is, in fact, split into four quarters: Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Armenian.
6: The Tower of David Museum & Night Spectacular
Aside the Jaffa Gate, one of eight entry points to the Old City, is the Tower of David, David’s Citadel, named for King David by Byzantine-era Christians who believed that the site was where King David’s palace was once located. Today, the citadel has been converted into a museum chronicling the history of Jerusalem through the ages. At night, the Tower of David is brought to life by the Night Spectacular which is an amazing sound and light show including massive projections onto these ancient walls, chronicling the history of Jerusalem.
7: Wohl Archaeological Museum
Located deep inside the Jewish Quarter of the Old City beneath a modern day Jewish seminary is the Wohl Archaeological Museum. Here, see the remnants of Jewish dwellings dating back to the time of King Herod the Great which have been painstakingly preserved and represent an insight into what life would have been like in this fascinating place all that time ago.
8: The Rebuilt Hurva Synagogue
The Hurva Synagogue was opened in 2010 after being rebuilt in a long process beginning back in 1967 right after Israel gained control of the Old City. The first synagogue built on this site was founded in the early 1700’s, lasting only about twenty years before being destroyed in 1721. After lying vacant, it was reconstructed in 1864 and became Jerusalem’s main Ashkenazi synagogue before it too, was destroyed by the Arab Legion. The new building is an iconic and impressive structure you can visit as part of your Jewish tours to Israel.
9: Katros House – The Burnt House
Visit Katros House, a house in the Jewish Quarter that belonged to the Katros family who were mentioned in the Talmud. The house was burned to the ground when the Romans gained control over Jerusalem. The ruins were found, and have been made into a small museum which is now open to the public.
10: The Temple Institute
Looking into the future, rather than into the past, is something you will do if you visit The Temple Institute as part of your trip to Jerusalem. The aim of this unique institution is to establish the Third Temple in Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount, where it originally would have stood thousands of years ago. It might be controversial, but nobody can doubt the fascinating and momentous intentions of this group.