Jerusalem: Ancient City, Modern Capital

April 23rd 2012

Jerusalem is an unparalleled locale when it comes to witnessing ancient architecture alongside a thriving, modern city. Immerse yourself in the recent history of this incredible country with a visit to the Mount Herzl Memorial, Yad Veshem Holocaust Museum, and the Ammunition Hill 1967 War Trenches and Memorial. Then get a glimpse into everyday life with a walking tour through the Nachlaot neighborhood and famous Mahane Yehuda market.

Of course, a tour to Israel is not complete without a visit to the Kotel, also known as the Western Wall or Wailing Wall. Situated in the heart of the Old City, this is the perfect place to begin your exploration of ancient and contemporary Jerusalem. As the holiest place in Judaism, people come from around the world to pray at the wall and slip wishes written on paper into its ancient cracks. It is also an unparalleled place to hold a Bar Mitzvah, and if you’re lucky you might see one in action.

The expansive Israel Museum is another example of ancient history coexisting alongside modern life in Jerusalem. Visit the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, peruse the archeology collection, explore a model of Jerusalem during the period of the Second Temple, and check out contemporary art by Israeli and international artists, all on one campus. One could easily spend an entire day lost in the museum’s world-renowned collections.

Jerusalem is also home to Yad Veshem, the world’s largest Holocaust museum. It is a powerful, emotional memorial and educational center that is a must visit for anyone visiting the Holy Land. Artifacts, photographs, multimedia presentations, and survivor testimonies are woven together to ensure that we never forget.

Adjacent to Yad Veshem is the Mount Herzl Memorial and National Cemetery, where visitors can pay their respects to those who have made modern Israel what it is today. In addition to IDF soldiers who died fighting for their country, the cemetery is also the final resting place of Theodor Herzl, Golda Meir, Yitkhak Rabin and other heroes of Zionism.

To continue learning about the modern state of Israel, don’t miss Ammunition Hill, the 1967 War Trenches and Memorial. The site of one of the most violent battles of the Six Day War, the battlefield is now a memorial and home to a museum complete with interactive exhibits that children and adults alike will find meaningful.

Finally, get a taste (literally!) for how modern Israelis live in Jerusalem with a night walking tour of the historic and trendy Nachlaot neighborhood and Mahane Yehuda market. There is no better way to end a lively day touring Jerusalem.