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. 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

  • 2. Church of Mary Magdalene

    Mount of Olives | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    With its sculpted white turrets and gold onion domes, this Russian Orthodox church looks like something out of a fairy tale. It was dedicated...Read More

  • 3. Dominus Flevit

    Mount of Olives | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Designed by Antonio Barluzzi in the 1950s, the tear-shaped church—its name means "The Lord Wept"—preserves the New Testament story of Jesus...Read More

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  • 4. Garden of Gethsemane

    Kidron Valley | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    After the Last Supper, the New Testament relates, Jesus and his disciples walked to the Mount of Olives, to a "place" called Gethsemane, where...Read More

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  • 5. Garden Tomb

    East Jerusalem | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    A beautifully tended English-style country garden makes this an island of tranquillity in the hurly-burly of East Jerusalem. What Christian...Read More

  • 6. 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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  • 7. Pater Noster Convent

    Mount of Olives | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    The church built here in the 4th century AD by Constantine the Great became known as the Eleona (olive), and was associated back then with the...Read More

  • 8. Rockefeller Archaeological Museum

    East Jerusalem | Museum/Gallery

    Built in the 1930s, and now a branch of the Israel Museum, the museum has echoing stone halls and somewhat old-fashioned displays that recall...Read More

  • 9. 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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