Jerusalem

Immerse yourself in Jerusalem. Of course, you can see the primary sights in a couple of days—some visitors claim to have done it in less—but don't short-change yourself if you can help it. Take time to wander where the spirit takes you, to linger longer over a snack and people-watch, to follow the late Hebrew poet, Yehuda Amichai, "in the evening into the Old City / and . . . emerge from it pockets stuffed with images / and metaphors and well-constructed parables. . . ." The poet struggled for breath in an atmosphere "saturated with prayers and dreams"; but the city's baggage of history and religion doesn't have to weigh you down. Decompress in the markets and eateries of the Old City, and the jewelry and art stores, coffee shops, and pubs of the New.

The city is built on a series of hills, part of the country's north–south watershed. To the east, the Judean Desert tumbles down to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth, less than an hour's drive away. The main highway to the west winds down through the pine-covered Judean Hills toward the international airport and Tel Aviv. North and south of the city—Samaria and Judea, respectively—is what is known today as the West Bank. Since 1967, this contested area has been administered largely by Israel, though the major concentrations of Arab population are currently under autonomous Palestinian control.

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  • 1. Machaneh Yehuda

    Center City | Market/Bazaar

    For a unique local experience, head to this two-block-long covered lane and its adjacent alleys, filled with the brilliant colors of the city...Read More

  • 2. Ben-Yehuda Street

    Center City | Pedestrian Mall

    Most of the street is an open-air pedestrian mall, in the heart of Downtown, forming a triangle with King George Street and Jaffa Street. It...Read More

  • 3. Independence Park

    Center City | City Park

    This is a great area for lounging around, throwing Frisbees, or eating a picnic lunch in warm weather. Some of the Muslim graves at the bottom...Read More

  • 4. Jerusalem YMCA

    Center City | Notable Building

    The YMCA exudes old-world charm: its high-domed landmark bell tower thrusts out of a palatial white-limestone facade, full of carved arcane...Read More

  • 5. Montefiore's Windmill

    Center City | Historic District/Site

    This limestone, wind-driven flour mill was built by Sir Moses Montefiore in 1857 to provide a source of income for his planned neighborhood...Read More

  • 6. Nahalat Shiva

    Center City | Pedestrian Mall

    This small neighborhood has a funky feel, with worn flagstones, wrought-iron banisters, and defunct water cisterns. Its name translates roughly...Read More

  • 7. Ticho House

    Center City | Historic Home

    This handsome, two-story, 19th-century building was the home of Dr. A. A. Ticho, a renowned Jewish ophthalmologist, and his wife, Anna. He moved...Read More

  • 8. Umberto Nahon Museum of Italian Jewish Art

    Center City | Museum/Gallery

    A little-known gem, the museum shares its classic old stone building with a cultural center (ask to see the frescoes in the ground-floor hall...Read More

  • 9. Yemin Moshe

    Center City | Neighborhood/Street

    Attractive old stone buildings, bursts of greenery and bougainvillea, and well-kept cobblestone streets distinguish a now-affluent neighborhood...Read More

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