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. Church of the Holy Sepulcher

    Christian Quarter | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    This church, which was built by the Crusaders in the 12th century (the fourth to be built on this site), is believed to be the place where Jesus...Read More

  • 2. City of David

    Silwan | Ruins

    Lying just south of today's Old City walls, the City of David was the very core of Old Testament Jerusalem, built more than four millennia ago...Read More

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  • 3. Dome of the Rock and Haram esh-Sharif (Temple Mount)

    Muslim Quarter | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    The magnificent golden Dome of the Rock dominates the vast 35-acre Temple Mount, the area known to Muslims as Haram esh-Sharif (the Noble...Read More

  • 4. Herodian Quarter/Wohl Archaeological Museum

    Jewish Quarter | Museum/Gallery

    Excavations in the 1970s exposed the Jewish Quarter's most visually interesting site: the remains of sumptuous mansions from the late Second...Read More

  • 5. Israel Museum

    Givat Ram | Museum/Gallery

    This world-class museum shines after a massive makeover that brought with it modern exhibits and state-of-the-art technology. The Dead Sea Scrolls...Read More

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  • 6. 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

  • 7. Mount of Olives Observation Point

    Mount of Olives | Viewpoint

    The Old City, with its landmark domes and towers, is squarely within your lens in this classic, picture-postcard panoramic view. It's best in...Read More

  • 8. Ramparts Walk

    Jaffa Gate | Historic District/Site

    The narrow stone catwalks of the Old City walls provide great panoramic views and interesting perspectives of this intriguing city. But they...Read More

  • 9. Tower of David Museum

    Jaffa Gate | Museum/Gallery

    Many visitors find this museum invaluable in mapping Jerusalem's often-confusing historical byways. Housed in a series of medieval halls, known...Read More

  • 10. Western Wall

    Jewish Quarter | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Judaism is more a religion of time than of place. Historically, Jews have tended to emphasize the significance of an important event rather...Read More

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  • 11. Yad Vashem

    Mount Herzl | Museum/Gallery

    The experience of the Holocaust—the annihilation of 6 million Jews by the Nazis during World War II—is so deeply seared into the Jewish national...Read More

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