Tag Archives: market

“Top Ten” Jerusalem Sites

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/

Mahane Yehuda market

Mahane Yehuda, also just called the Shuk, is an outdoor, covered market (so you can visit even on one of those cold and rainy Jerusalem winter days) that sells fruit, vegetables, grains, legumes, spices, halva, baklava, bread, pastries, chocolate, cheeses, salads, fish, meat, housewares, clothes, flowers – almost any food you could think of.

Mahane Yehuda Market

When walking around Mahane Yehuda you stimulate all your senses: sight – check out the arrangements and colors of the fresh fruit and vegetables, sound – listen to the vendors hawking their wares, Middle Eastern music on CDs, davvening/prayers, smell – fresh breads and pastry, taste – free tastes of halva, often new fruit in season, you can always ask if you can have a taste and touch.

Colors of Vegetables

Tropical FruitThe busiest times are late Thursday and on Friday when many people are buying things for Shabbat but if you don’t mind the bustle you’ll have a great experience. Invited to dinner, the shuk (market) is a great place to pick up something to show your appreciation to your hosts.

The Shuk is bounded by Jaffa Road on the north and Agrippas Street to the south; the 2 main streets of the Shuk are Mahane Yehuda Street and Etz Hayyim Street, with a number of smaller cross streets, named after fruits: Tapuah=Apple, Afarsek=Peach, Agas=Pear, Shezif=Plum, Shaked=Almond, Tut=Berry. If you agree to receive an email with my latest blog post I’m happy to email you my *FREE* map of Mahane Yehuda to help you navigate the market. If you’re interested in learning about the history of the market, discovering and experiencing its specialness rather than exploring on your own then contact me to guide you.

Wine, beer and liquor, both local and imported, are available at a number of stores, the drinking age in Israel is 18 – imbibe responsibly. Israel now produces many fine wines – besides the Golan and Yarden brands, there are smaller boutique wineries all over the country (Galil, Dalton, Yatir, Etzion, Tabor to name just a few) and the prices are a fraction of what you would pay back home. Another great idea is to visit a winery while you are touring Israel and are in the area.

If you’re going to pick up some Israeli wine then why not cheese and make it a party. When I lived in Cambridge MA the corner store we walked to was a Whole Foods and if you’ve ever been to one you know that their cheese department is incredible – it was one of the things that I knew I was really going to miss about living in Jerusalem. And then one day, while walking through Mahane Yehuda I discovered Basher’s, cheeses imported from all over the world (many are kosher, exercise due diligence) plus some fine Israeli cheeses; just for your information they also carry an assortment of artisan breads, fine wines and chocolates. Be careful as it’s easy to spend more money than you budgeted.

If you begin to feel a little hungry, there are a lot of restaurants and cafes where you can sit down and enjoy a meal from hummus and felafel to a full, multi-course meal. Two of my favorites are Topolino, a small, family-run restaurant at 62 Agrippas that serves pasta, pizza and fish dishes (kosher) and Ichikadana, an Indian vegetarian restaurant (kosher) at 4 HaEshkol Street – the cook and owner is originally from India (in either case, please tell them that Shmuel recommended them).

Mahane Yehuda is no longer just a fruit and vegetable market but has gentrified – today there are some fine restaurants and cafes, designer clothes, gift shops.


Teller now has a stall in the shuk in addition to the bakery on Agrippas which now is also a cafe.

HaEshkol Street has some unique eateries: Alfonso, a cafe with some organic items; Bistro Mimi run by a chef from France; Mousseline which may be the best ice cream in Israel and HaKhachapuriya, a cafe with Georgian specialties.

Another artisan bakery at 2 HaDekel, they also have a stall in the market.

Basher has opened a Wine & Cheese Bar at 21 Agrippas Street.