The old city is very small and jam-packed with tourists visiting from all around the world. Therefore, it is important to plan your trip properly to get the best of your time in the city. The historical old city of Jerusalem is the centre of Judaism and a holy city to both Muslims and Christians. The ancient architecture in the old city is surrounded by an impressive city wall built by the Ottomans during the 16th century. This blog is a personal account of my 2 days in Jerusalem itinerary.
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Jerusalem Old City
Historically and culturally the old city is divided into four quarters
- Muslims Quarter
- Jewish Quarter
- Armenian Quarter
- Christian Quarter
The city wall has eight gates. All the gates are opened except Golden gate also known as Gate of Mercy and Muslims generally believe this was the gate through which Jesus as Messiah, entered Jerusalem.
Things to See in Jerusalem Old City
The old city has an impressive number of historical buildings and some of the things to see in the old city of Jerusalem are:
- Temple Mount
- Dome of Rock
- Al-Aqsa Mosque
- Western Wall
- Church of the Holy Sepulchre
- Mount of Olives
- Machane Yehuda Market
1. Temple Mount
The Temple Mount and Al-Aqsa compound is the holy place for Muslims and Jews. It is also known to Muslims as Haram esh-Sharif. Non-Muslims are allowed to enter the Temple Mount compound only during specific opening hours. The iconic Dome of Rock is the heart of the Temple Mount compound and a must-visit place. I'm Muslim and was allowed to go inside the Dome of Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. I have written a full blog including pictures from inside of Dome of Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque
2. Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Church of the Holy Sepulchre is in the Christian quarter. Jesus was crucified here and the empty tomb of the Jesus is inside the Church. It is probably the one place that you should visit as early as possible to avoid the crowds. Hands down the most crowded church I have ever visited in my entire life. The small streets of the old city leading to the church were jam-packed due to hundreds of tour groups from as early as 10 am.
3. Western Wall
The Western Wall is in the Jewish quarter and also known as Buraq wall in Islam is the holiest place where Jews are permitted to pray due to its connection to Temple Mount. The holiest place is actually behind the wall. The best time to visit is probably in the afternoon, especially on the evening of Shabbat. Shabbat starts on Friday just before the sunset and ends on Saturday after the sunset. It is the day of rest in Judaism and if you are in Jerusalem you should come to the Western wall on Friday afternoon to experience it.
4. Mount of Olives
Mount of olives is from where the Jesus ascended to heaven and home to the 3,000 years old Jewish cemetery which holds approx. 150,000 graves. There are also graves of some Prophets. Moreover, the best view of the city is from there. It is the perfect place to visit during the sunset hours. To get there, you can either take a taxi from outside the old city or a local bus number 275 outside of the Damascus gate (marked on above google map).
5. Machane Yehuda Market
One of the oldest market and in recent years has emerged as another Jerusalem nightlife centre, with restaurants, bars and live music. You can find some of the best-known restaurants in Jerusalem in and around the market.
6. Where to Eat in Jerusalem
Food in Jerusalem is very delicious and every single restaurant we tried, didn't disappoint us. One of my favourite Falafel and Hummus restaurant is Acrmavi Hummus outside the old city in front of the Damascus gate on Haneviim Street 2. Come there especially during the lunchtime. The restaurant is also open on Shabbat.
7. Where to Stay in Jerusalem
You should either stay in the old city or near it. We rented an apartment just outside of the old city along the Jaffa street which is a pedestrian street and very lively with plenty of bars and restaurants.