Our seven favourite moments in Jerusalem
Like many travellers and pilgrims before us, we too were stunned by the first glimpse of the ancient walls of the Holy City. Of all magical encounters, these are our seven favourite moments we experienced in Jerusalem.
Walking the streets of the old city just before sunset
Enjoy the streets of the old city in the early evening. Not only are the crowds significantly smaller, but the domes of sacral buildings shine glamorously in the evening sun.
Late afternoon is also an excellent time to follow the Via Dolorosa, an about 600 metres long path that Jesus walked on the way to the crucifixion.
Start at Lion’s Gate and pass by the nine Stations of the Cross until you reach the remaining five in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Lighting a candle at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre hides the holiest sites of Christianity, Calvary and Jesus’s empty tomb. You can enter it freely but dress appropriately for a religious place.
The atmosphere is unforgettable. Christians from all over the world gather around, pray and cry almost ecstatically. Climb to the Chapel of Calvary or Golgotha – the place of the crucifixion and the most opulently decorated chapel.
Pause for a moment, light a candle and remain with your thoughts for a little while.
Discovering rooftops of the Old City
Look for stairs, that lead up to a roof from one of the side streets and observe the hustle of the bazaar from above.
The view over Jerusalem from the Western Wall Observation Deck is phenomenal. For a more intimate atmosphere, visit just before closing time.
Western Wall at night
The Western Wall, the holiest place where Jews are permitted to pray is fully illuminated after the sun goes down. We found the atmosphere even more divine and magical at night. Moreover, the plaza wasn’t crowded at all.
Mount of Olives at sunrise
Wake up early and head to the Mount of Olives observation point. At daybreak, the roof of the Dome of the Rock is wonderfully illuminated by the morning light.
Besides, in the morning, you won’t find any tour buses blocking your view.
The peaceful atmosphere of the Gethsemane Garden
From Mount of Olives, a path will lead you to the Garden of Gethsemane, the place where Jesus prayed and slept the night before his crucifixion. Carbon dating showed that olive trees in the garden contain roots from the same plant, that could have sheltered Jesus 2000 years ago.
We visited the garden shortly after sunrise and were the only ones inside. The message on the garden’s floor “PEACE” facing the Temple Mount is as important today as it was 2000 years ago.
Exploring the corners of the Temple Mount
Sure, the Temple Mount’s main attraction is the glamorous Dome of the Rock. But, you shouldn’t concentrate exclusively on it. Walk around and check out the ancient arcades of the Dome’s plaza.
Admire the exquisite carvings of Fountain of Qayt Bay, the only carved stone dome outside Cairo. Don’t miss the view of the Mount of Olives through one of the wall windows.
From Tel Aviv Ben Gurion, there is a shuttle bus service (number 485) departing every hour from Terminal 3, 2nd floor 24 hours a day, six days a week except on Shabbat. It will take you to the central station in Jerusalem in about 90 minutes. You can’t book tickets in advance. Purchase them from the bus driver in cash (16 NIS one way).
In Jerusalem, you don’t need a car. A light rail will take you around the city. Ordering a cab using Gett Taxi App is quick and convenient. The prices for cab rides are reasonable.
Where to stay
In Jerusalem, you may feel like you’re not getting the appropriate service for your money. We had a horrible experience with a cockroach in our bathroom and had to change hotels in the middle of the night. So be ready for unpleasant surprises, when it comes to accommodation.
The Downtown Triangle is the hype neighbourhood to stay outside the Old City with many bars, restaurants and pubs.
It’s near the Mahane Yehuda Market, where you can get a delicious breakfast.