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Jerusalem Attractions

The ancient-modern city of Jerusalem is chock-full of attractions for every visitor, no matter what their idea of fun. One can happily spend a number of days in Jerusalem exploring all the attractions that it has to offer.

For those looking for historically-significant attractions, Jerusalem is the place to be- with a rich history that reaches back thousands of years, Jewish, Christian and Islamic historical sites can be found dotted around bringing to life the history of this beautiful city.

Museum-lovers also have their fair share of attractions in Jerusalem with a variety of Museums such as the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Tower of David Museum, the Museum of Islamic Art and the contemporary art museum, Museum on the Seam, to name but a few.

Those looking for family experiences will not be disappointed; there is a wealth of child-friendly options in Jerusalem starting from the fantastic Tisch Family Zoological Gardens and ending with the simulator-based historical adventure, the Time Elevator.

Young adults, families, students, senior citizens and practically everyone has what to do in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.


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The Dome of the Rock is the octagonal building that is hard to miss in the Old City skyline. The Dome of the Rock is a shrine for what Islam claims since the thirties is Islam's third holiest site. The shrine is built over what Jewish people believe to be the holiest place in the world and the place that G-d started his creation of the world from, as well as the place where Abraham tried to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac.

The building was constructed between 688 and 691 so as to spite the Christians and Jews- by building on the holiest site in Judaism- the Temple Mount, by ensuring that the building had a larger dome than that of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and by forcing Syrian Christians to lay mosaics inside that contained verses from the Quran about the misguided Christian belief in the trinity.

Perhaps it is understandable then, on the basis of the aforementioned, that although tourists can visit the Temple Mount compound, only Moslems can go up to the Dome of the Rock.




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The Bible Lands Museum is amazingly the life-long collection of a single man, Elie Borowski who established this museum in Jerusalem and thus enabled thousands upon thousands of locals and visitors to enjoy this magical journey of Biblical heritage.

The open-design of the museum makes the visit very comfortable and pleasant, with each airy gallery exploring different aspects of Biblical heritage and the Bible lands. Quotes from the Scriptures that are peppered around the museum help visitors understand how biblical characters and the land of Israel are deeply rooted in the myriad cultures and faiths that spread out over the ancient Middle East.

A visit to this magnificent museum leaves one with an understanding of how the Bible has influenced Western civilization and world events at large. There are enrichment programs and special programs held at the museum as well as Saturday-night concerts.

How to get there: Buses 9, 17, 24, 99

Cost: Adults 40 NIS, Seniors 20 NIS, Students/Soldiers/Disabled/New Immigrants 20 NIS, Children 20 NIS




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The L.A. Mayer Museum of Islamic Art is one of the leading collections of Islamic art and antique watches and clocks. It was founded by the late Mrs. Vera Bryce Salomons who viewed the giving of expression to Israel's Muslim neighbors as something of great importance. The Museum is a tangible attempt to bridge the gap between cultures and has been since it’s opening in 1974.

The watches and clock collection is made up of over 180 watches and clocks that belonged to Sir David Salomon. Ground-breaking Breguet clocks are among those displayed in this magnificent collection.

The permanent collections at the museum represent the various periods of Islamic rule between the seventh and nineteenth centuries with different styles from different dynasties on display.

How to get there: By car, from the city's entrance go straight and count eight traffic lights, pass Sacker Park and Valley of Rehavia on your right, at ninth traffic light turn left onto HaPalmach Street, continue straight until the end and the museum is at the end of the street on your left. Bus 13 from Central Bus Station or 9, 19,22,31,32 stop on nearby Aza Road.

Cost: Adult 40 NIS, Police, Student, Soldier 30 NIS, Children, Senior 20 NIS

 




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The Museum on the Seam is a socio-political contemporary art museum that raises diverse issues for discussion with the goal of impacting public dialogue. There are changing exhibitions at the Museum that give over statements concerning human rights and highlight the thin line between personal and national identity and social, ethnic and religious differences in local and universal contexts.

The Museum aims to address the social reality in the regional conflict, to advance dialogue and to encourage social responsibility based on the similarities between us. The Museum provides an interactive experience that offers thought-provoking experiences.

How to get there: Buses # 2, 5, 10, 13, 48a, 49, 173, 174

Cost: Adult 25 NIS, Student/Senior Citizen/Soldier 20 NIS

 




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Mount Herzl, situated in the west of Jerusalem on a mountain near the Jerusalem forest, serves as the painfully vast official military cemetery of the Israel Defense Force. Although prominent Zionists, Israeli politicians and other greatly influential Israeli figures are also buried there, it is the thousands upon thousands of graves of those who fell for their country that leaves the deepest impression on the visitor. For a country so young, such a heavy loss of life is heart-wrenching; young men and women in their most beautiful years who died fighting for a cause bigger than themselves, for their nation, their independence and their land.

The cemetery is roughly organized by war- one cannot help but notice in the section for the War of Independence the number of headstones bearing testament to the death of teenagers killed while fighting for the establishment of a Jewish homeland. For those visiting the cemetery, please act with the respect and dignity that the fallen and their grieving families deserve.

How to get there: Buses # 14, 18, 20, 27, 33, 13, 21




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In Sura 17:1 the "Distant Mosque" is mentioned; "Glory be unto Allah who did take his servant for a journey at night from the Sacred Mosque to the Distant Mosque." Moslems today argue that the Distant Mosque is none other than the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Interestingly, this Mosque did not exist until three generations after Mohammed had died and therefore scholars point out that Mohammed intended the mosque in Mecca as the "Sacred Mosque" and the mosque in Medina as the "Distant Mosque".

However, nowadays it is claimed that the Distant Mosque is none other than the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and it is the central focus of the Muslim community in Jerusalem with daily prayers and well-attended Friday sermons. Only Muslim residents of Israel can enter and pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.




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The Conegliano Veneto Synagogue, together with the U. Nahon Museum of Italian Jewish Art, is located in the centre of Jerusalem and among the many wonderful exhibits in the small museum; one can see the oldest surviving Torah curtain/parochet which dates to 1572.

Conegliano is a small village in Italy that first had a Jewish presence from the year 1397; by the seventeenth century the Jewish community was confined to the ghetto. The new synagogue in Conegliano was built in 1701 and was used up until the First World War. In the fifties the synagogue was taken apart and sent to Israel where it was re-erected on the second floor of the German Compound, where it still stands today. The Compound was formerly a Catholic Compound, until they moved elsewhere and it was used by the Italian community for weekly prayer services. The synagogue is used until this day by the local Italian community.

Opposite the synagogue is the U. Nahon Museum of Italian Jewish Art that is comprised of four exhibition rooms which are full of Jewish Italian Heritage artifacts such as doors of a Torah Ark, a fifteenth century stone tablet, Hanukkah Candelabra, Ketubot, Torah crowns etc.

How to get there: By Bus: Any bus to downtown Jerusalem. Walk down Rehov Hillel from King George and you'll see a courtyard on your left at #27. Walk inside the courtyard and you'll see a sign on your left. The Museum is up one flight of stairs. By Car: Make a right off of King George onto Rehov Hillel. Paid parking is available and there's public parking at the bottom of Rehov Hillel.

Cost: Adult 20 NIS, Child 15 NIS




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The Rockefeller Archaeological Museum is an architecturally impressive museum, located in a landmark building in East Jerusalem. The Museum contains an extraordinary collection of antiques that were mostly unearthed during the time of the British Mandate.

The thousands of artifacts in the museum are arranged according to chronological order, from prehistoric times to the Ottoman Period from multiple sites in Israel. The story of the Rockefeller Museum is told in an illustrated booklet, available in English, Hebrew and Arabic.

If you visit during the winter months be sure to  wear warm clothing because the Museum is not heated.

How to get there: Bus #1/2

 




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Hurva Synagogue

The Hurva Synagogue personifies the turbulent history of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem. Before it was destroyed by the Jordanians in 1948, it was the grandest Synagogue in the Land of Israel and embodied the fighting spirit of the small Jewish community that unwaveringly clung to the Land during the long and bitter years of exile. The Jordanians were well aware of the importance of the Synagogue for the Jewish community when they destroyed it and did so in order to demonstrate that Jewish presence in the Old City was a thing of the past.

In 1700 the Ashkenazi Rabbi, Yehuda HaChasid led the reconstruction of the Synagogue after gaining permission from the Ottoman bureaucracy. Money ran out and twenty years after construction began the unfinished Synagogue was torched, after which it gained it's current name which is Hebrew for "ruin".

In the mid 1800s the rapid growth of the Ashkenazi community led to plans to re-build the Synagogue and major donations poured in from Ashkenazi and Sephardi benefactors. The Synagogue was finished and it's grandeur gave the Jewish Quarter their equivalent of the Christian Quarter's Holy Sepulchre and the Moslem Quarter's Dome of the Rock and remained the focal point of the Old City's Ashkenazi community until it was destroyed by the Jordanians.

When the Old City was recaptured by the Israeli army in 1967 a temporary commemorative arch was raised over the ruins, followed by forty years of bureaucratic troubles as architects were consulted with only to be taken no notice of, plans were offered and turned down until 2005 when it was decided that the synagogue will be rebuilt according to the former plan.

In March 2010 the work on the Synagogue was completed and rededicated and became, once again, an active Synagogue and study center. Tourists can visit in between prayer services but should keep in mind the sanctity of the place and that it is no longer a tourist site.

How to get there: Buses 38, 1,2,3,21,18




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The Garden of Gethsemane, at the foot of the Mount of Olives, is believed to be the place Jesus came to with his disciples the night after the Last Supper. Gethsemane is a Greek word meaning olive-oil press and this seems to have been what was here when Jesus passed through. It is quite fascinating to see olive trees that were probably mere saplings in Jesus' time.

The neighboring Church of all Nations was built in the twenties and pictorially relays the events that took place here in stunning mosaics that reach from the floor to the ceiling.

Across the lane is a less-frequented grove and visitors often arrange to spend some private time there in worship and contemplation.




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According to the Bible, the resurrection of the dead will begin from the Mount of Olives when the Messiah comes; therefore, since antiquity Jews have sought to be buried on the Mount of Olives. The Cemetery has grown to cover the western and most of the southern slopes.

The earliest tombs are located at the foot of the mountain in the Kidron Valley- one being that of King David's rebellious son Absalom and another being that of the First Temple Priest Zechariah; a third is inscribed with the names of the sons of Hezir, a priestly family that lived two millennia ago.

Jews have been buried on the Mount of Olives throughout the centuries, barring the twenty years when Jerusalem was divided.  One of the many legends surrounding this site is that at the End of Days people from around the world will tunnel underground in order to rise up here.

Renowned individuals that are buried here include the medieval sage Rabbi Ovadiah of Bartenura, Eliezer Ben Yehuda, the father of modern Hebrew, prime minister Menahem Begin and his wife Aliza and Israel's Nobel Laureate in Literature, S.Y. Agnon. Near Absalom's Tomb, visitors can obtain more information about the location of specific tombstones at the Mount Olives Information Center.




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The Temple Mount is known in Hebrew as Har Habayit and is the most important religious site in the entire city and country. Biblical scholars identify Temple Mount as Mount Moriah where Abraham famously bound his son Isaac. It is understood that the creation of the world started here and here too the first human being was created. Judaism views Temple Mount as ideally being the governmental, judicial and religious centre.

Sunni Muslims claim that Mohammed ascended to heaven on Temple Mount (interestingly at his time there were only Churches standing in the city of Jerusalem, including one on Temple Mount). In the thirties, the Grand Mufti, Haj Amin al Husseini encouraged the Muslim masses to hold onto Jerusalem and this was when the claim that the Temple Mount is the third holiest site in Islam was born.

In light of Jewish and Islamic beliefs, the Temple Mount is one of the most contested religious sites in the world.

During Temple times, a complex set of purity laws were followed before the High Priest was allowed to enter on Yom Kippur. Nowadays, opinions vary in the Jewish community as to whether ascending Temple Mount is permitted.

Nowadays, non-Muslims can access the Temple Mount through a gate next to the Western Wall. Due to the current governing of the Temple Mount by the Supreme Muslim Religious Council, there is absolutely no freedom of religious expression on Temple Mount. Those seen to be engaging in "religious activity" will be removed from the site. It should be noted that the Chief Rabbinate of Israel posted a warning sign that informs visitors that entering the Temple Mount area is actually forbidden for everyone- whatever their religion- due to the sacredness of the place.

How to get there: Via the Mughrabi Gate which is reached from the Western Wall area.

Tip: Come appropriately dressed (no bare body parts) and be prepared to wait a long time at the security checkpoint. 




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The Time Elevator is a fun-filled, simulator-based tourist attraction in the Beit Agron Complex in the centre of Jerusalem. The Time Elevator takes visitors through three-thousand years of Jerusalem's history in a breath-taking half-hour with Chaim Topol leading the way through a water-splashing, ceiling-crashing, smoke-billowing computer animation adventure. Jerusalem's turning points from the City of David until the Six Day War are presented, providing visitors with a basic and chronological history of Jerusalem, contextualizing the visits to the city's sites. A highly recommended first station of any tour to the city of Jerusalem, the Time Elevator show can be heard  via headsets in English, Russian, French, Spanish, German, Mandarin, Italian or Hebrew.

Cost: Adult 54 NIS, Child (Minimum age 5) 54 NIS, Student/Jerusalem Resident/Senior 46 NIS, Soldier 27 NIS. Recommended to book in advance; internet bookings are also cheaper.

 




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The Ramparts Walk is a fabulous way to get an overview of Jerusalem, circling the Old City from above and getting a birds-eye view of areas that you would not usually see such as the Armenian Compound as well as a stunning view of areas outside of the walls.

The present walls of Jerusalem were built in the sixteenth century by Suleiman the Magnificent and since then have been used as military fortifications. Between 1948 and 1967, Jordanian snipers used the ramparts as vantage points from which to shoot Israelis living outside the walls and proof of this can be seen in the form of bullet holes on many of the older buildings facing the Old City. Nowadays, the ramparts have a more peaceful purpose, being a choice destination for visitors to Jerusalem.

Visitors can’t encircle the entire Old City in one shot because the ramparts of the Temple Mount are closed off and the road bisects the walls at Jaffa Gate. The walk begins just outside Jaffa Gate; when going through the gate into the Old City, turn into the enclosure to the right of Jaffa Gate as you face the Old City and you will be walking between two stone walls on a stone path. The Entrance is quite a way down, around a corner to the left. This section will lead you from Jaffa Gate to Zion Gate, letting you off near Dung Gate offering a breath-taking view of Old City rooftops, Sultan's Pool, Yemin Moshe, Mt. Zion and Mt. of Olives.

The walk has many stairs to climb and one should come suitably attired in walking shoes and should bring enough water- once you’re on the walk there is no refreshment kiosk or bathroom along the way.

Cost: Adult 14 NIS, Child 7 NIS

 




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The Moses Montefiore Windmill stands in the Yemin Moshe neighborhood of Jerusalem, a quaint suburb facing the western side of the Old City of Jerusalem. The Windmill was erected in 1857, stands eighteen meters high and is one of  the most popular landmarks outside the Old City.

Sir Moses Montefiore was an Anglo-Jewish philanthropist who built the Windmill in an attempt to provide employment for the poor Jewish population of the city. The Windmill and two sets of houses that he established were effectively the first Jewish Quarter outside the walls of the Old City. The Windmill was, in it's time, ultra-modern and was used until steam-powered mills made it out-dated. In the War of Independence the Moses Montefiore Windmill served as an observation point for Jewish fighters and was blown up by the British authorities in an attempt to hinder the Israeli defense.

The Windmill was restored by the Jerusalem Foundation and was converted to a very popular museum dedicated to the life of Sir Moses Montefiore. The houses he built  form a Jewish Artist's Colony, including a music center and guesthouse.

Cost: Free


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