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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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"And to them I will give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name (a "yad vashem")…that shall not be cut off."  Isaiah56:5
Yad Vashem is Israel's main Holocaust remembrance and education center and is located on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem.
In 1953, Israel began the painful work of commemorating the Holocaust by setting out to document the experiences of Jewish people during the Holocaust so that future generations will never forget the atrocities that occurred.
In 2005 the new Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum was opened. It's shape is that of a prism that penetrates the mountain with nine galleries that relays the stories of Jewish communities before and during the Holocaust, as well as the events that led to the Nazis rise to power, their pursuit of the Jews, the ghettos the Jews were forced to live in, the Final Solution and the mass genocide. Personal experiences of victims of the Holocaust form the foundation of the exhibits. Films, photographs, documents, works of art and personal items turn history into something shockingly real for visitors.
On exiting the museum, the breathtaking Hall of Names memorial is passed through which contains over three million names of Holocaust victims that were submitted by their families. Visitors can still add to the memorial via a computerized archive.
Additional memorials and monuments in Yad Vashem include the Hall of Remembrance where ashes of the dead are buried and an eternal flame burns; Yad LaYeled is the children's memorial that commemorates the one and a half million children who were murdered in the Holocaust; the Memorial to the Deportees which features an authentic railroad car that was used to deport Jews to concentration camps; the Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations features over 2,000 trees that were planted in honor of non-Jewish people who endangered their lives in order to rescue Jewish people from the Nazis.
Visiting Yad Vashem is heartbreaking, painful and highly emotional but is a truly meaningful and fitting way to commemorate the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
How to get there: Buses 13, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 24a, 26, 27, 27a, 28, 28a, 33, 39 and get off at the Mount Herzl bus stop.  The Light Rail Train has it's final stop at Mount Herzl and that is where you want to get off. For those driving, the entrance is via the Holland junction, which is situated on the Herzl Route, opposite the entrance to Mount Herzl and the entrance to Ein Kerem.
Cost: Free

 The Western Wall is the most significant site in the world today for Jewish people as the last remnant of the Temple. Jews worldwide pray towards Jerusalem and Jews in Jerusalem pray towards the Temple.

According to Jewish tradition, the Temple Mount of today is the place that creation spread out from and where the first man was created. The famous Biblical story of the Binding of Isaac also took place here and the first and second Temples were built around the Temple Mount area.

The Western Wall, as opposed to the three other remaining walls that also supported the Temple, is the closest one to the Holy of Holies- the holiest place in the Temple and the world. When the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 CE, all four support walls remained standing and the Western Wall was the closest Jewish people could get to the Holy of Holies and it subsequently became a place of prayer and longing.

Tens of millions of visitors visit the Western Wall every year- children reaching the milestone Bar/Bat Mitzva age; soldiers have swearing in ceremonies; tourists; locals; Jews; non-Jews; young; elderly and families. The Western Wall Plaza is open every day of the year, 24 hours a day and you are welcome and encouraged to experience this ancient relic, source of longing and inspiration and to place a note of request, thanks or praise in it's cracks as is practiced by visitors.

How to get there: There is a lack of parking in the area so public transport is recommended- buses 1, 2 and 38 get to the Western Wall.

Useful Info: • On the Jewish Shabbat and festivals it is forbidden to smoke, take pictures or use a mobile phone- it is therefore respectful to restrain from using these devices in the Western Wall Plaza on such days. • Pets aren't allowed in the Western Wall Plaza • Dress must be modest- meaning skirts to the knee, sleeves to the elbow and no low-cut tops.

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.

The fact that the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens, also known as Jerusalem's Biblical Zoo, has its own railway station is definitely indicative of the popularity of this magnificent attraction. The Zoo is 62 acres, features a huge man-made lake, spacious lawns and shaded beauty spots. There is a grassy area where wildlife is free to roam a train that provides transport through the vast park with stations along the way.

Over 170 species are featured, most are mentioned in the Bible hence the name Jerusalem's Biblical Zoo. Having said that, plenty of animals are also found here that aren’t mentioned in the Bible too.

There is a children's zoo area with a petting corner and playground; a snack bar; a new playground called the Noah's Ark Sculpture Garden; a visitor's center shaped in the form of an ark that overlooks the savannah area; a temporary exhibits gallery; computer information stations and a cafeteria.

How to get there: Bus 26 from Mt. Scopus via the Central Bus Station, bus 33 from Har Nof and Bayit VeGan. The zoo has a train stop and is for those who are not worried about time. For those driving, from the main entrance to Jerusalem, turn right onto Herzl Route, turn left at the third traffic light, turn right immediately onto the Begin South Freeway, drive to the end of the Freeway, turn right at the first traffic light, turn left under the bridge and at the next traffic light follow the signs to the Zoo, at the roundabout take the left and turn right into the parking lot at the entrance to the Zoo.

Cost: Adults 47 NIS, 3-18yrs 37 NIS, under 3s Free, Seniors, Students, Soldiers, Policemen, Handicapped 37 NIS.

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.

Over three-thousand years ago King David left the city of Hebron and moved to a hilltop city by the name of Jerusalem, which he then established as the capital of the land. David's son, Solomon later built the First Temple on the nearby Mount Moriah, the very same place where Abraham had bound his son Isaac, and Jerusalem thus became the most important site in the world for Jewish people.

The City of David is still very much alive today. With exciting archaeological discoveries being made all the time, providing some of the most exciting finds from the ancient world, above ground the city is a non-stop center of activity with fascinating tours offered by the Visitor's Center, allowing visitors to learn about the place where most of the Bible was authored.

The tour takes visitors back 3,800 years at it's stunning starting point overlooking Biblical Jerusalem, followed by a look at some of the most recent excavations, reliving King David's conquest of the city as described in the Bible. The tour ends at the Gihon spring which was not only the main water source of the city, but was also where King Solomon was appointed king. In addition, those looking for some adventure can wade through the 2,700 year old water tunnel created in King Hezekiah's time.

This magnificent tour takes visitors back in time to the very beginning of this magical city so that they can't help but leave with a new appreciation for the only place on earth where the Bible itself is the only guidebook needed.

How to get there: All Jerusalem inner-city buses that go to the Old City. By car, enter Jaffa Gate, exit through Dung Gate, make a left, take first right and Visitor's Center is on left-hand side

Cost: Varies;

The Jewish Quarter, known as "HaRova" ("the quarter") by locals, is located in the southeast quadrant of the Old City and when the Jewish people returned to Jerusalem after the exile after the Second Temple was destroyed, they settled here and the community grew rapidly. Nowadays about 650 families live here and city planners made archaeological discoveries every step of the way in building the new neighborhood.

Some sites that are worth seeing in the Jewish Quarter are;

·   The Western Wall- Judaism's holiest site today, a supporting wall of the Second Temple that is visited by hundreds upon hundreds of visitors who come to lean their heads against the cool, ancient stones at they offer up prayers to G-d. There is a custom to leave notes in the crevices of the wall that contain written prayers. Friday evening is a special time to visit the Wall as Jews come from all over Jerusalem and the world to usher in the Shabbat day. Be sure to cover heads (men) and legs, chests and arms (women) out of respect for this holy site.

·   Western Wall Tunnels Tour is one of the most popular tours in Jerusalem which takes visitors under the current Old City neighborhoods to the Western Wall's original level. Ruins of Herodian shops that once lined the Wall as well as stones used by the Romans to destroy it are part of the tour.

·   Wilson's Arch is named after the English archaeologist who discovered it and is located inside an arched room to the left of the Wall and is accessible from the men's side. The arch was originally part of a bridge that allowed Jewish Priests to cross from their homes in the upper part of the city to the Temple. Women can't enter.

·  The Herodian Quarter and Wohl Archaeological Museum is a fascinating excavation site with three mansions that are thought to have belonged to the High Priest's family in the time of the Second Temple period with stunning mosaic floors.

·  The Burnt House is the remains of a priest's house from the time of the Second Temple period. The excavation of the house provided direct evidence of the destruction of the upper city of Jerusalem in 70 CE by the Romans. Sound and light shows in the Burnt House re-create the events of its destruction.

Other sites of interest that are worth seeing also are the Cardo, the Alone on the Walls exhibit, Hurva Synagogue, Ramban Synagogue, four Sephardic synagogues; The Synagogue of Rabbi Yochanan Ben-Zakkai; the Prophet Elijah Synagogue; the Middle Synagogue and the Istanbuli Synagogue, the Yishuv Court Museum, the Broad Wall and the Center for Jerusalem in the First Temple Period.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre does not look anything like any Church that visitors will have been in before. This Church is where Orthodox and Catholic Christians mark Jesus' crucifixion and burial. Six different denominations celebrate their rites in this magnificently cavernous house of worship.

Historians say that the tomb of Jesus was destroyed in 1009 by the Muslim Caliph Hakim and it's remains were covered over by a structure called a Edicule that was built by the Russian Orthodox in the early nineteenth century when they were of particular influence in the church and country. Constantine built the first church here in the fourth century on top of a pagan shrine that had been built by Emperor Hadrian. The Emperor had used stones from the ruined Temple to build the altar that was to serve as a painful reminder for both Jews and Christians that the Romans were in control of their holy places.

The descent down a flight of stairs that bear the inscriptions of crosses that hundreds of pilgrims incised over the years inside the church leads to an Armenian Chapel deep underground. A stone slab that is rumored to have been the slab upon which Jesus was prepared for burial is also viewable. Two altars- one Greek Orthodox and one Catholic mark the site of crucifixion.

Visitors to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre are able to explore the history of Christianity, as they step back in time to it’s very beginnings.

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.

The northwest quadrant of the Old City of Jerusalem is the Christian Quarter, the second-largest of the four quarters. It is actually the first part of the Old City that most visitors encounter as it is just beyond the Jaffa Gate which is the most popular entrance to the Old City for tourists.

Broad streets connected by narrow alleyways make up the Christian Quarter, which contains one of the most significant sites in Christianity; the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The residents of the Quarter includes nuns, monks, priests and other religious figures, many are a part of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and Greek Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

Additional sites that are worth seeing in the Quarter are; the neo-Romanesque Lutheran Church of the Redeemer; the Muristan which is a marketplace built on the ruins of a hospital that was for pilgrims and Jerusalemites and the Christian Quarter Shuk that boasts a vast amount of memorabilia and gifts that eventually fades into the Muslim Quarter Shuk.

The Garden Tomb is believed to be the garden and sepulcher of Joseph of Arimathea and a possible site of the resurrection of Jesus. It is a quiet place, ideal for reflection and worship with places to sit and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. The Garden Tomb was first discovered in 1883 by General Charles Gordon.

Where: Exit the Old City via the Damascus Gate, cross the main street, walk straight up Nablus Road, 400 meters up the road is Conrad Schick Street to the right and the Garden Tomb is located in that street. Bus number 6 also stops a five-minute walk away from the Garden Tomb.

 Cost: Free

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

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.


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

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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