Experience Jerusalem’s Old City

April 23rd 2012

A trip to Israel is not complete without a stop at the Kotel, or Western Wall. But there is also so much more to experience in Jerusalem’s magical Old City. Tour the underground tunnels beneath the Western Wall, make homage to King David’s tomb, discover hidden Sephardi synagogues, and witness an incredible light show, all in the Old City.

The perfect place to begin your visit to Jerusalem’s Old City, and your tour to Israel, is King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion. Amongst his many accomplishments, King David is credited with uniting the tribes of Israel and writing the Book of Psalms. As the final resting place of the king of Judea and the Jewish people, Jews have come here for centuries to pray and pay their respects.

To continue your spiritual journey through the Holy Land, don’t miss the four hidden Sephardic synagogues in the Jewish Quarter. The Yochanan ben Zakai, Istanbuli, Eliyahu Ha’navi and Emtsai synagogues were purposely hidden from plain site during the Muslim rule that began in the 16th century. Today they act as Torah reading rooms, and the Chief Sephardi Rabbi of Israel is even inaugurated at the Istanbuli Synagogue.

Jerusalemites often joke that in this city, it’s impossible to sneeze without unearthing some archeological treasure. Few places demonstrate this better than the Jerusalem Archeological Park, which illustrates the layers of history within the Old City. See remnants of history from various periods in the history of the Old City, including Byzantine dwellings, ancient ritual baths, and early Arab structures.

Get even deeper into the Old City, literally, with a tour of the Western Wall Tunnels, called Minharot HaKotel in Hebrew. While most people only visit the exposed portion of the Western Wall, this is only 60 meters of the original wall. The Western Wall Tunnels are located beneath the Old City and allow visitors (by prior arrangement only) to walk along 485 meters of it. Besides the archeological remnants in the tunnel, visitors are able to stop at Warren’s Gate, which is said to be the closest spot to the Holy of Holies.

Located right next to the Jaffa Gate, the Tower of David Museum provides an interactive and engaging overview of the history of Jerusalem, from the second millennium BCE to present day. The restored citadel in which it is located is a worthwhile archaeological site in and of itself, and offers stunning 360-degree views of the city.

Finally, there’s no better way to wrap up a day in Jerusalem’s Old City than with the Tower of David Night Spectacular. This technical and creative marvel, a multi-sensory experience, includes music and coordinated projections of moving images to convey the magical story of one of the world’s holiest cities.