By Anna Shemer
Jerusalem is a city of spiritual energy and cultural excitement, a city that promises a religious and spiritual experience, entertainment and pleasure, interesting tours and culinary delight.
The heart of Jerusalem is the square-mile walled Old City (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) that contains the holy places of the three monotheistic faiths. And the heart of the heart is the Temple Mount. Beneath the turquoise tiled, golden domed Dome of the Rock is the rock where Jews believe that Abraham prepared to sacrifice Isaac, and atop which both the First and Second Temples were constructed. The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 – which led to the expulsion of most Jews from their homeland. In the ensuing centuries Jerusalem became holy to Christians and Muslims too, but it was the western retaining wall of the Temple Mount enclosure that became the focus of Jewish pilgrimage for close to 2,000 years. The mournful prayers of the faithful caused it be dubbed “The Wailing Wall.” Historically divided into four residential quarters, the Old City’s historic Armenian, Christian, Jewish and Muslim Quarters still retain the sense of their individual heritage.
Daily tours are available of these quarters including the Western Wall and the archaeological digging sites in and around the City of David. Tunnel tours below the Wall and inside the Old City are also available via pre-booking.
Today, Jerusalem is a stark combination of “new meets old “with hip restaurants and a bustling night life. Take a trip down to the revamped “Tachana”(train station) and browse through fashion boutiques and quaint brick-a-brack stores or opt for a drink on “the beach”, an artificial sand laid beach in the center of the complex. The Mamilla Mall is an open walk through two story Mall set across the backdrop of the Old City wall and boasts a stunning collection of boutiques, art galleries and restaurants to enjoy.
Chutzot Hayotsrim, the artist’s boulevard is a great outing for those looking for new artistic talent or a special gift to take home. Take a trip to Machaneh Yehuda Market and take in the aromas of this multi-cultural melting pot of spices, ethnic foods, fresh produce and souvenirs. Do not eat before you go as the modest eateries hidden away inside the market serve some of the most delectable foods and you will find it hard not to try some of them.
Depending on the time of year, Jerusalem offers extra special attractions such as the formula 1 Grand Prix Jerusalem and The festival of lights where the entire old city wall is lit up with a spectacular display of images as you walk through the holy city.
From her rich history to her modern day beauty, Jerusalem is a major highlight of the hundreds of thousands of yearly visitors from around the globe.