Jerusalem. The word itself conjures up images of times past − of biblical narratives, miracle stories told and retold, ancient pilgrimages and vibrant, intense landscapes. But the Jerusalem of today is a modern, thriving capital that might best be described as an encounter , a stunning study of contrasts where old meets new, religious meets secular, East meets West, and the green terrain of the Judean hills meets the harsh views of the desert. Jerusalem is a city where cultures, languages and foods from around the world mingle to create new sights, tastes, sounds and experiences that don’t exist anywhere else.
For visitors to Jerusalem, the luxurious Inbal Jerusalem Hotel is among the boutique hotels in Jerusalem that offer guests a central location in comfortable walking distance to the most popular Jerusalem attractions. At the Inbal, you can maximize your time in this enchanting city.
A tourist could spend months exploring Jerusalem attractions and holy sites. If you’re here for a short stay, however, here are some of the highlights that you won’t want to miss:
• The Old City of Jerusalem is packed with holy sites that are sacred to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Visit the Western Wall, the most important shrine to the Jewish people and a remnant of the Second Temple, which was destroyed in 70 CE. Walk the Via Dolorosa, the most important route for most of Christendom, where Jesus is said to have walked as he carried his cross to Calvary. The Via Dolorosa is comprised of 14 stations, the last four of which are inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, one of the most sacred places to the Christian community. See the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, a Jerusalem icon and the site from which, according to Islamic tradition, the Prophet Mohammed launched himself heavenward to take his place alongside Allah.
• Jerusalem attractions in the Old City also include the Tower of David Museum, located in a medieval citadel, where you can learn Jerusalem’s 3,000-year-old story through multimedia exhibits or enjoy the Night Spectacular, a sound and light show displayed on the Old City walls. If it’s not too hot, find the time to hike the Ramparts Walk, with its panoramic views of the old and new sections of the city. Just outside the Old City walls, explore the extensive excavations of the City of David, a Canaanite settlement captured by King David over 3,000 years ago.
• Newer sections of the city offer a range of Jerusalem attractions and experiences, including some of the most famous museums in Israel. Start with the Israel Museum, one of Israel’s leading cultural institutions, with exhibits ranging from ancient archeology to contemporary art. The Israel Museum is also home to the striking Shrine of the Book, where the Dead Sea scrolls and other rare manuscripts are kept. Across the street, you can find the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem, which is dedicated to the history of the Bible and the Ancient Near East. Pay a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, the world’s most acknowledged Holocaust memorial and museum. Near Yad Vashem, you’ll also find the multimedia Herzl Museum, a smaller and newer museum dedicated to the founder of modern political Zionism, located at the entrance to Mount Herzl national cemetery.
• If you’re traveling with children, Jerusalem attractions include many sites that are especially for kids. Take the family to the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens (Biblical Zoo), with over 140 species of animals. The zoo focuses on two types of exhibits: animals in the Bible and endangered species. Up the road from the zoo, you’ll find the Ein Yael Living Museum, an outdoor museum where kids learn ancient handicrafts such as pottery, weaving, basketry and mosaics. The Israel Museum’s Youth Wing is another good stop, with interactive exhibits and additional activities during summer months and Jewish holidays.
• If you enjoy hiking, you might want to venture just outside of the city and spend some time on the Sataf Nature Trail in the hills to the west of Jerusalem, or visit the Soreq Stalactite Cave with its dense concentration of beautiful stalactites. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can climb through the Bar Kokhba Caves, another site not far from the city that was used as a hide-away in the revolution of the Jews against the Romans in 132-136 CE. Kids love the caves; but they are dark. Take plenty of flashlights − and be prepared to crawl part of the way.