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A Good Walk in Center City
Jerusalem is a good city to stroll. Beyond its shrines and antiquities, the limestone buildings, shaded courtyards, and colorful peoplescapes of the center city make for an absorbing experience. The first part of the walk—up to the YMCA—is good anytime; avoid the rest of it late Friday and on Saturday, when the Downtown area shuts down for the Jewish Sabbath. The route will take 1½ hours to walk, not counting stops.
Begin at the landmark Montefiore's Windmill, across the valley from Mt. Zion. Immediately below the adjacent patio is the long crenellated roof of Mishkenot Sha'ananim, the first neighborhood outside the walls of Jerusalem, built by Sir Moses (Moshe) Montefiore in 1860.
Separating you from Mt. Zion and the Old City is the deep Hinnom Valley, the biblical border between the Israelite tribes of Judah (to the south) and Benjamin (to the north), and the site of human sacrificial rites in the 7th century BC. A few hundred yards off to your right is the fortresslike St. Andrew's Scots Church, right above the bend in the valley known as Ketef Hinnom (the Hinnom Shoulder). An excavation in the late 1970s on the rock scarp below the church uncovered rock-hewn Old Testament-period tombs and a treasure trove of archaeological finds.
Stroll through the attractive cobblestone streets of the Yemin Moshe neighborhood, abutting the windmill, and up through the small park that separates it from King David Street. The landmark King David Hotel is a handsome, rectangular limestone building with a back terrace overlooking the Old City walls. Drinks and desserts are not cheap, but the location and Hollywood echoes (Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint in Exodus) count for something. Across the street is the YMCA: its tower has stunning panoramas.
Turn onto Abraham Lincoln Street, alongside the YMCA and opposite the gas station. From the intersection 70 yards beyond it, a pedestrian lane (George Eliot Street) continues in the same direction, emerging at Agron Street, next to the U.S. Consulate-General. Cross Agron and walk over the lawns of Independence Park. The park's crossroad, 50 yards to your right, emerges at Hillel Street, where there are excellent coffee shops.
Across Hillel is Yoel Salomon Street, and to the right and parallel to it is Yosef Rivlin Street, named after two of the seven founders of Nahalat Shiva, the second neighborhood built outside the city walls, in 1869. Hidden courtyards, funky stores, and eateries make this a fun time-out option. At the other end of Salomon Street is Zion Square, where Jaffa Street, Jerusalem's main thoroughfare, meets Ben-Yehuda Street, a pedestrian-only commercial street.
At the top of Ben-Yehuda Street, cross King George Street, turn right, and take your first left onto Agrippas Street. (The corner falafel stand is your landmark.) A short walk up the street, on your right, is the entrance to the colorful Machaneh Yehuda produce market. It extends for one city block, to Jaffa Street.
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