Jerusalem is a city full of culture, history and spirituality. Being a very important archeology site and a holy land for Jewish, Muslim and Christian individuals. Jerusalem is mainly made up of two wings. East Jerusalem inhabits mostly Muslims who speak Arabic and West Jerusalem is mostly where Jewish people live who speak Hebrew.
If you decide to travel to Jerusalem then do not worry about the language difference. Out of around 850 000 residents that live in Jerusalem most of them can speak English as it is widely spoken in schools and in business, especially within the walls of the Old City which is the most popular destination for tourists to visit and experience.
Most tourists will be arriving to Israel through the Ben Gurion International Airport. Jerusalem is a forty minute to a sixty minute drive from the airport. Public transport (if you are not renting a car) is the way to go if you are travelling on a budget.
Day 1: La vieille ville
Declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982 the Old City of Jerusalem is around six thousand years old. Within the Jerusalem white stoned walls you can find the sites of, the Dome of The Rock, Western Wall, and Church of the Holy Sepulchre amongst others.
Make your way down to the Old City early in the brisk morning to avoid the flock of the crowds. Starting at the all famous Jaffa Gate you walk into the magical, mesmerizing Old City. Take a stroll through one of the first narrow paths that catch your eye, look around you and at your feet and you would have realized that all the buildings and streets are constructed with the white Jerusalem stone. Make your way to the Western Wall. Remember to take a little piece of paper and pen with you, write a little letter or a few wishes and find a crack in the wall to put it through. Every couple weeks a Rabbi takes all the letters out of the wall and buries them to keep the memories and prayers of the people who have written them.
From the Western Wall head up some side streets to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This church was the last stop of the Via Dolorosa where Jesus lay down and his crucifixion took place. The tomb of Jesus is also inside this church in a smaller, dark, quiet room.
While walking around there will be traders selling street food on every corner. This food is much tastier than restaurant food and much more authentic. Falafels, Hummus or just simple bagels are the readily made treats that will also save you time as you can eat them while walking around viewing sites. Grab a freshly squeezed Pomegranate or Orange juice to quench your thirst.
Head to the Temple Mount, also known at the Dome of the Rock. This beautiful Mosaic dome is a site that your eyes need to be set on. Visiting hours for Non-Muslims are between, 7:30am – 10:30am and 12:30pm – 1:30pm during the hiver period and 8:30am – 11:30am and 1:30pm – 2:30pm during the summer period. The queue to get through the Mughrabi gate can be incredibly long but have faith, it is very well organized and goes reasonably quickly.
Head back up the narrow paths of the Old City, back to Jaffa gate and follow the tram line up the hill checking out all the small boutiques on the way. Once you are near the top which is about a 15min/20min walk you will reach the Mahane Yehuda market where you can find delicious local cuisine for the evening and get a few drinks to relax and take in what you have just witnessed today after the busy day that you’ve had.
Day 2: Museums & the Outskirts of the Old City
There are multiple museums that are worth a walk through some may take a few hours to see everything of importance. The Rockefeller Museum, Wohl Archaeological Museum are definitely worth a visit. The Institute for Islamic Art and Israel Museum are great museums to take a stroll through and understand the beauty of the history of the Holy Land. The Dead Sea Scrolls are the main attraction of The Israel Museum but there are many other fantastic worthwhile displays.
In East Jerusalem rises the Mount of Olives. Take a bus or a walk there and get to view the century old Graves of Jewish people which look over the Old City. There are many churches to visit there and interesting archeologist sites. If you find yourself up there during sunset go to the west-facing viewpoint to watch the sun slowly dropping below the Holy City.
To not waste any second of the day, in the heart of the energetic Old City there is a secret, not so secret metal staircase. You are allowed up there do not worry. Jewish settlers used to use this staircase to avoid walking through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. Walk up and witness a 360 degree view of the rooftops of the Old City, Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives.