Jerusalem is a feast for the senses and the spirit. Jerusalem offers unique opportunities for the visitor. Entering the city, you can see relics of the battles Israelis fought to retain and reunite the city. Standing in one of Jerusalem's gleaming modern buildings, you can watch as the sunset turns the Old City's medieval walls from tan, to pink, to gold. You can shop in an open-air market of the last century or in an air-conditioned shopping mall. You can sample Middle Eastern fast food or enjoy kosher Mexican dining. Within a few blocks you can watch the proceedings of the Knesset, Israel's parliament, witness a hearing in the architecturally stunning Supreme Court and view the Dead Sea Scrolls, the most ancient manuscript of the Bible. Visitors can spend the morning exploring ruins from before the Roman era and spend the night at a rock concert. Jerusalem has endless stories to tell, and new ones are constantly being written. Jerusalem covers three distinct areas:
The Old City:
The Old City covers roughly 220 acres. The surrounding walls date to the rule of the Ottoman Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566). The city is divided into quarters - the Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Armenian. The Old City has a total of 11 gates, but only seven are open. The main entrance to the city is the Jaffa Gate
The Jewish Quarter
Two gates lead into the Jewish Quarter. One, just outside the Western Wall plaza, is the Dung Gate. The other is Zion Gate. The current Jewish Quarter dates to roughly 1400. The oldest synagogues are roughly 400 years old. Nearby is the Cardo, which was a Byzantine road that ran through the heart of the city. Today, a small area is preserved with some of the original Roman columns. Just beyond the columns is an underground mall with a number of Jewish stores and art galleries.
The Western Wall
When the Romans destroyed the Second Temple in 70 C.E., only one outer wall surrounding the Temple Mount remained standing. This remnant of what was the most sacred building in the Jewish world became the holiest spot in Jewish life. Throughout the centuries, Jews from throughout the world traveled to Palestine, and immediately headed for the Kotel Ha-Ma'aravi (the Western Wall) to thank God. The prayers offered at the Kotel were so heartfelt that non-Jews began calling the site the "Wailing Wall."
The Temple Mount
The Temple Mount, or Haram es-Sharif is a 40-acre plateau dominated by two seventh-century shrines, the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aksa mosque. The Dome of the Rock was built around the rock on which, according to Muslim tradition, Abraham bound his son Ishmael to be sacrificed before God intervened (Jewish tradition teaches that it was his other son Isaac). The gray-domed al-Aksa mosque, as Moslem tradition teaches, is the place where Mohammed experienced the "Night Journey to the Throne of God" (The Koran), Sura Al-Isra' 17:1). This is why it is considered the third holiest Islamic shrine after Mecca and Medina.
The New City:
The heart of the New City is located around King George Street, Jaffa Road and Ben-Yehuda Street. The pedestrian mall there is filled with people from all over the world, restaurants, souvenir shops and street musicians and artists. Jaffa Road leads into the Old City. If you head in the opposite direction, you'll pass Mahane Yehuda, the outdoor market. On Friday, the place is hopping as people stock up on supplies for Shabbat.
The Israel Museum holds fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest manuscripts of the Old Testament ever found.
The Knesset , Israel's parliament, took its name and fixed its membership at 120 from the Knesset Hagedolah (Great Assembly), the representative Jewish council convened inJerusalem by Ezra and Nehemiah in the 5th century B.C.E. The highlightof the tour is the State Hall where three tapestries and a mosaiccreated by Marc Chagall decorate the walls and 12 mosaics cover the floor.
As you head out of the center of town, up the hill on Herzl Streetyou'll reach the memorial park and cemetery dedicated to the founder ofpolitical Zionism , Theodor Herzl, whose tomb is at the summit of the mountain. Many of Israel's other leaders, including Yitzhak Rabin are also buried on the grounds. Israel's principal military cemetery is also located here.
Besides being an internationally renowned medical facility andresearch institution, Hadassah Hospital is known for the spectacularstained glass windows of its synagogue, created by Marc Chagall .
Yad Vashem was established by Israeli Law in 1953 to commemorate the six million Jews and their communities wiped out in the Holocaust. It has the largest and the most comprehensive archive and informationrepositories on the Holocaust.
The battle for Ammunition Hill in 1967 was fierce and cost the lives of 24 Israeli paratroopers. As a resultof the victory, Israeli forces could open the road to Mt. Scopus andthe fall of the Old City was greatly facilitated. These twoachievements were crucial to the reunification of the city. Today, amemorial and museum are on the site.
Learn more about Jerusalem: The New City.
Beyond the Walls
Neighborhoods outside the Old City hold charming and distinctive areas of historic interest such as the City of David.
Learn more about Jerusalem: Beyond the Walls.
Learn more about Jerusalem.
Virtual Tour content provided by the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise(AICE). To find more information about the sites on our trip and general facts about Israel visit the Virtual Israel Experience at AICE's Web site.