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. 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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  • 2. Kidron Valley

    Kidron Valley | Ruins

    This deep valley separates the Old City and the City of David from the high ridge of the Mount of Olives and the Arab neighborhood of Silwan...Read More

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  • 3. Mount Herzl Military Cemetery

    Mount Herzl | Cemetery

    The tranquillity and well-tended greenery of Israel's national military cemetery almost belie its somber purpose. Different sections are reserved...Read More

  • 4. Mount Herzl National Memorial Park

    Mount Herzl | Museum/Gallery

    Cedars of Lebanon and native pine and cypress trees surround the entrance to Mount Herzl National Memorial Park, the last resting place of Zionist...Read More

  • 5. Tomb of David

    Mount Zion | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    According to the Hebrew Bible, King David, the great Israelite king of the 10th century BC, was buried in "the City of David"—the Bible's dynastic...Read More

  • 6. Tomb of the Virgin

    Kidron Valley | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    The Gothic facade of the underground Church of the Assumption, which contains this shrine, clearly dates it to the Crusader era (12th century...Read More

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