The first 3 must see sites in Jerusalem are associated with the 3 monotheistic religions that make up Jerusalem’s religious fabric:
1) the Western wall (Judaism) built by Herod 2000 years ago during his renovation of the Second Temple,
2) the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (Christianity) built originally by Emperor Constantine and extensively rebuilt by the Crusaders in 1149 and
3) the Haram el Sharif, with the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosque (Islam) built originally in the 8th century by the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik.
Here is my personal list of 7 other sites not to be missed. Add a comment to suggest sites you think should be in the “Top Ten”.
4) For a unique view of Jerusalem, take the Ramparts Walk starting at Jaffa Gate where you actually walk on the stone walls built in 1540 by the Ottoman Turkish sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent for a birds eye view of the city. Check out the 8 gates in the city walls, including the remains of the Roman gate below today’s Damascus gate.
5) Visit the Church of Santa Anna in the White Father’s compound, the ruins of a Byzantine church and a Crusader chapel resting on a dike between two pools (there’s no water in them today). This is where Jesus performed one of the two miracles he did in Jerusalem, curing the cripple of 38 years (John 5). There is also a complete Crusader church with incredible acoustics (try it out by singing Amazing Grace or other liturgical melody).
6) Visit the archaeological park at the Davidson Center and see the massive stones that were hurled down onto the Herodian street by the Romans and the steps to the Temple Mount where Jesus would have walked, the Umayyad palaces from the Early Arab period and Byzantine and Crusader ruins.
7) Reserve a Western Wall Tunnel tour and see a model of King Herod’s Second Temple (there is also a model up on the roof of the Aish HaTorah building and a model of Jerusalem in 66CE including the Temple on the grounds of the Israel Museum) and walk 488 meters under the city along the Western Wall on the Herodian street to the spot closest to the Holy of Holies, the holiest site to Judaism.
8) Tour the ancient City of David to understand the importance of water in the history of Jerusalem. Bring “water” shoes and a flashlight and walk 45 minutes through Hezekiah’s Tunnel a manmade canyon cut in the limestone with water up to your knees – quite an experience. The tunnel brought the water of the Gihon Spring to the Siloam Pool, inside the walls of the city. This is where Jesus performed the second miracle in Jerusalem, curing the blind man (John 9).
9) After extensive renovations the new Israel Museum has been open a year and one million people have visited – the Archaeology wing has been completely redone, the Ethnography section has been expanded and the Art gallery includes a new section on Israeli art. The museum includes the Shrine of the Book, where the Dead Sea Scrolls and other artifacts from Qumran are on display. Beside it is the 1:50 model of Jerusalem in 66 CE just before the Jewish Revolt against Rome which led to the destruction of the Second Temple and Jerusalem by TItus. Walk around and enjoy the Billy Rose sculpture garden designed by the Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi.
10) Take a guided tour of the Mahane Yehuda market or participate in a scavenger hunt. More than an outdoor vegetable market, it is a great place to walk around to get a feel for the characters and local cuisines of Jerusalem. You can request a detailed map of the market at https://israeltours.wordpress.com/2008/05/31/map-mahane-yehuda-market/
Good list – I’m glad to see you included Mahane Yehuda, because Jerusalem is more than one large archaeological dig. It’s a vibrant city that very much exists in the present as well.
That’s also why I think it’s also worth adding Yad Vashem to the list – an important part of our more recent history – and frequently overlooked sites such as the Underground Prisoners’ Museum, as well as taking a stroll down Mamilla mall or Ben Yehuda Street one evening.
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