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. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. Ethiopian Monastery

    Christian Quarter | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Stand in the monastery's courtyard beneath the medieval bulge of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and you have a cross-section of Christendom...Read More

  • 7. Hinnom Valley

    Mount Zion | Museum/Gallery

    A few minutes from the Jaffa Gate is the deep Hinnom Valley, which offers some fine views of Mount Zion and the Old City walls. The area achieved...Read More

  • 8. 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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  • 9. 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

  • 10. 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

  • 11. Room of the Last Supper

    Mount Zion | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Tradition has enshrined this spare, 14th-century second-story room as the location of the New Testament "upper room," where Jesus and his disciples...Read More

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  • 12. 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

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