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. 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

  • 3. 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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  • 4. Chagall Windows and Hadassah Hospital

    Ein Kerem | Hospital

    Marc Chagall's vibrant stained-glass windows are the jewels in the crown of Hadassah Hospital's huge Ein Kerem campus. When the U.S.-based Hadassah...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. Church of St. John the Baptist

    Ein Kerem | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    The village of Ein Kerem is not mentioned by name in the New Testament, but its identification as the birthplace of John the Baptist is a tradition...Read More

  • 7. Church of the Visitation

    Ein Kerem | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Built over what is thought to have been the home of John the Baptist's parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, this church sits high up the hillside...Read More

  • 8. 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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  • 9. Dormition Abbey

    Mount Zion | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    The large, round Roman Catholic church, with its distinctive cone-shaped roof, ornamented turrets, and landmark clock tower, is a Jerusalem...Read More

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  • 10. Ecce Homo Convent of the Sisters of Zion

    Muslim Quarter | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    The arch that crosses the Via Dolorosa, just beyond Station II, and continues into the chapel of the adjacent convent, was once thought to have...Read More

  • 11. Ein Kerem

    Ein Kerem | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    The neighborhood of Ein Kerem still retains much of its old village character. Tree-framed stone houses spill across its hillsides with a pleasing...Read More

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  • 12. 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

  • 13. 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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  • 14. 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

  • 15. 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

  • 16. Pools of Bethesda and Church of St. Anne

    Muslim Quarter | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    The transition is sudden and complete, from the raucous cobbled streets and persistent vendors to the pepper trees, flower beds, and birdsong...Read More

  • 17. 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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  • 18. 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

  • 19. 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

  • 20. Umberto Nahon Museum of Italian Jewish Art

    Center City | Museum/Gallery

    A little-known gem, the museum shares its classic old stone building with a cultural center (ask to see the frescoes in the ground-floor hall...Read More

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