Getting Oriented

Hilly Jerusalem has two centers of gravity—the Old City, on the east side; and the modern Center City, on the west. Jerusalem is Israel's capital and home to its national institutions, most in Jewish West Jerusalem. East Jerusalem, including the Old City, is largely (but not entirely) Arab. Coexistence is sometimes fragile, and the two communities tend to keep to themselves.

  • The Old City. With its narrow streets and hidden alleys, Jerusalem's legendary Old City is a labyrinth of memories and a bewitching kaleidoscope of colors and cultures best epitomized by the souk, or bazaar. Its headline sights are the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Western Wall, and the Dome of the Rock, redolent with religion and full of history.
  • East Jerusalem. Most visitors, particularly Christians, will identify with two or three particular sites—Mount of Olives, Gethsemane, and the Garden Tomb are the obvious ones. Just outside the Old City, the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum is a little-known gem.
  • West Jerusalem. Within this extensive side of Jerusalem are several great but unrelated sights, some a few miles apart. Savor the extraordinary Israel Museum and the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum.
  • Center City. West Jerusalem's Downtown areas have more subtle attractions than the 'postcard snapshots suggest. Check out the Yemin Moshe and Nahalat Shiva neighborhoods, Ben-Yehuda Street, and the Machaneh Yehuda market.
  • German Colony and Baka. Stone architecture, trendy restaurants, and great coffee shops offer a refreshing change of pace from the holy and historical.

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