Getting to Know Israel Jerusalem
Some think that Israel Jerusalem is a place exclusive for religious pilgrimage because it is called as the “Holy Land” of the three largest religions, which are Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. It is unknown to many that Israel is as thrilling as the Swiss Alps on its cold winter days, as inviting as the Caribbean on the hot days of summer, as outback as Australia with its safari, and as original as the aborigines in Ethiopia.
Israel Jerusalem is a small country with the history written on its very streets and the ancient buildings, and with every pavement and wall more colorful and beautiful than that of the rainbow. It’s like a large Pandora’s box that when opened, still holds a lot of mysteries that are still to be fathomed. Israel is really very old that every conqueror has laid hand on it. It cradles the world’s most valuable treasures. It is Allah’s, God’s, and Yahweh’s favorite land.
Israel Jerusalem is the land of varied beliefs. That is why countless lives from centuries ago went to waste because of these diverse faiths. This only shows that the inhabitants of the country are zealous believers. But the Israelis are also known for their unparalleled hospitality. They are committed to making strangers feel at home as they are to their faith. This doing dates back from the time of Abraham, the father of Israel. Abraham runs after visitors just to welcome them to his home. Fortunately, his descendants throughout the history have carried out this behavior.
Visiting Israel Jerusalem is like opening a new world, one that is unfamiliar to the traveler but gives pleasing and fulfilling feelings. Its an experience very much the same like stepping into an abyss, only to wake up in a wonderland.
As you know by now, Israel is filled with tourist attractions that cater every tourist’s need for relaxation or adventure. It is a land thriving with different activities. It has a wide array of choices on how to spend every tourist’s vacation, whether on shopping, dining, praying, museum hopping, water fun, etc.
Here is the list of some of Israel’s most electrifying places in random order.
The Holy City of Jerusalem
Locals and scholars alike often call Jerusalem as the “City of Gold”. Because before the sun finally sets on the western horizon, its rays extends to the Israeli desert and alights the ancient panorama of the city. It bathes everything into gold, transforming the skyline, the Wailing Wall, and the Dome of the Rock into a golden place. This breathtaking transfiguration gives any tourist an incredible feeling.
The entire city of Jerusalem is favorable for any members of a family of tourist to travel to. Kids will experience first hand education on the walls of this city. You don’t have to push them to read the history books anymore because the city is the life size version of the encyclopedia itself.
The old city of Jerusalem has four district areas: Jewish, Armenian, Christian and Islam. A wall was built in the 16th century to surround the area. Inside it are the most important religious sites of the world.
The best way to start off the tour to the old city is from the Holy Land Hotel where a scale replica of Jerusalem as it was in the 1st century BC is handed out to every tourist. These miniatures seemed to be adored by kids because it provides a great overview of the city.
The Western Wall
First stop is The Western Wall. This is a remnant of the wall that Solomon built in the 10th century BCE. This is Judaism’s most revered shrine. Every Jews believe that their prayers or wishes can easily come true if they write it down on a piece of paper an insert it between the holes of the Western Wall.
The Tower of David and the Citadel
The city’s Citadel is also a great point to start the tour because it contains the Tower of David. Herod built this castle some 2000 years ago for Jerusalem’s defenses against many conquerors. This place was torn down and was built again for many times. It houses some archaeological findings that date from 2,700 years.
The Israel Museum
Children will be delighted to visit this place. This museum that is found in Jerusalem documents 3,000 years of the city’s history with the use of photography and audio-visual displays. Make sure that you will be able to explore the “archaeological gardens”. It is where you’ll find layers of history exposed. This place is really a hit for small kids and kids at heart.
The Haram-sh Sharif or The Temple Mount
This place resonates the history of the Jew’s forefathers. The Temple Mount is where Abraham, the father of Israel and whose faith was unwavering, was tested by God to sacrifice his son Isaac. This historical encounter is also written on the pages of the Bible, the Christian’s Holy book. This place is also holy for Muslims because it is the place where Mohamed was believed to have risen to heaven.
This place is visited by millions of Christian pilgrims from around the world because it is the path that Jesus walked carrying his heavy cross. It ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus Christ was crucified and was buried. Walking along the steps of its pathway and retracing Jesus’ steps is said to be enlightening. Via Dolorosa commemorates Jesus’ sacrifice with the 14 Stations of the Cross. Some Christian believers walk this way using their knees.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre
This is considered to be the holiest place of the Christian Faith. This is where Jesus’ body was buried and has risen from the dead. The church commemorates Jesus’ death through the mosaics that adorn the ceilings, walls and floors. Queen Helena and her son Constantine built the place after locating the cross where Jesus was crucified.
The Dome of the Rock
This place, built over the ancient stone where Abraham prepared to sacrifice Isaac, is the most popular place in Israel. Its golden dome can be seen from all parts of Jerusalem. This shrine is a sight to behold at dusk time because it absorbs the sun’s rays, making the dome more golden. This is the holiest place for the Muslims because it is the site where the Prophet Mohamed ascended into heaven during one of his famous Night Journeys. This place has magnificent stained glass windows, the copula, carved ceilings, the sacred rock where Mohamed took off for the heavens with Angel Gabriel, and the “Well of Souls” where the souls of the dead echo with the falling waters on their way to eternity.
One of the many legend stories told about this place is that the dead still goes here twice a month to pray. In the early days, it was said that whoever visits the Dome of the Rock to pray is given a certificate that entitles them a place in the Paradise. This certificate shall be buried with them when they die.
Note: This place is one of the strictest places in the whole world. Be sure everyone is wearing long-sleeved outfits. No short pants allowed. Bring a handkerchief.
Old City market
Tired after a long day of strolling along the ancient streets of Jerusalem? Head off to the old city market where local craft works, textiles farm produce, local foods, and a mountain of exotic spices are displayed and for sale. The lively noise, the colorful sight, and the different smell are refreshing and appealing to the senses. Once again, this shows that Israel can be one thing and another.
20% of Israel’s population is non-Jewish; they are composed of Arab Muslims. Some of these Arab Muslims occupy East Jerusalem. So once you enter East Jerusalem, you’ll be overwhelmed with the sensation of somewhat entering a different country.
The fun part of it is that you’ll immediately feel the variations of the two cultures (Israeli and Palestinian), all in one city. East Jerusalem is the perfect place to purchase Arab handicrafts. This is where you’ll want your kids to spend their money for souvenirs.
East Jerusalem also offers tourist attractions that can give your family a blast.
First stop is the Ophel. This is an archaeological garden with exemplary styles from the different periods of time that was set in Israel. It is also where Robinson’s Arch (created for easy access on the Temple Mount), and the steps of the Huldah Gates can be found.
This walkway provides a wonderful view of both the New and Old Jerusalem. You can also get to see a unique view of the Muslim Quarters atop this walkway. The path through this walkway can be accessed from Jaffa, Damascus, in the Lion’s and Zion Gates. The entrance is rather difficult to find. But once you find it, it is worth the effort.
This is an ancient cave also known as “Solomon’s Quarries”. This is where the stones for the magnificent buildings of ancient Jerusalem were extracted for King Solomon. Zedekiah’s cave is a cave of legends and mysteries. According to one legend, it is in here that the bodies of those slain by Moses were dumped. It also became to be called as such when Zedikiah, the last king of Judah, tried to escape Nebuchadnezzar’s capture. He entered these caves and hid for days. He was finally captured and blinded by a buck sent by God.
Tip: When visiting East Jerusalem, it is best that you should jot down notes of the addresses and the Arabic names of the places you want to go to so that that locals can help and guide you.
This side of Jerusalem is so modern, you will once again forget you are in the ancient land of Israel. Here is where you go to find a city that is filled with cafes, shops, and museums. You can also pick a place to spend a night or two at the hotels that has exceptional accommodations, or private residences that really offers tranquil and comfort.
This is the side of Jerusalem that is filled with museums. Pick a museum that appeals most to your kids, and plan to spend some time in it.
This is a location filled with places that recognize the loss of the Jews during the holocaust. It includes the Historical Museum with its photographs, artifacts, and audiovisual documents and accounts of those who have survived the catastrophic event; the Art Museum with the works of art created during the adverse conditions in the time of the Holocaust; place of tributes for Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg; a Children’s Memorial where the names of some of the 1.5 who died in the holocaust were listed; and the Garden of the Righteous that gives honor to non-Jews who helped out the Jews during the holocaust.
This is Israel’s house of parliament. But it is more than just a government building. From the Palombo Gate, passing by the beautifully carved Menorah and The Eternal Flame (a sculpture representing the burning bush), the Knesset serves as a monument for its people’s ability to persevere. While touring the parliamentary rooms, keep your eyes peeled open for the wonderful collections of art that includes mosaics and tapestries by Chagall, as well as works by contemporary Israeli artists and archaeological art.
The Quiet Town of Bethlehem
This is the place that even non-Christian people knows about. There are written Christmas songs about it. Bethlehem is known to be the birth site of Jesus Christ. In fact, a church was erected in honor of it.
The little town of Bethlehem is a farm center. But besides being a farm town, the people of Bethlehem make and sell handicrafts for the tourists. Bethlehem is a great place to shop for crafts made from the olive wood, or religious crafts that were embroidered.
The town of Bethlehem sits on the Manger Square. This is where The Church of the Nativity can be found. The Church is said to stand on the spot where Jesus was born in a manger. The original Church was built in the 4th century, but has undergone many transformations since. If you want your prayers and wishes to be granted, light up a Nativity Candle on the Church of Nativity. It is said that God can hear your prayer faster when doing this.
To many of us who are unaware of who Rachel is, here is a quick fact: She is the great grandmother of King David on whose lineage comes the Messiah that will save mankind from eternal damnation. Jews, Christians and Muslims alike revere her tomb. Her tomb is also Judaism’s third holiest place as it symbolizes the return of the Jews to their homeland. Legend says that a red ribbon tied for seven times around the tomb can be worn around as a charm of fertility.
The Northern Israel
This part of Israel is filled with luscious green areas that have waterfalls, rivers, mineral baths, and reserves. The greatest feature about the trip to the northern part is choosing where to spend the night. You can pitch up a tent in a kibbutz and experience sleeping under the unending blanket of stars, or you can relax in a hotel and experience world-class services. Hiking, boat riding, and fishing are among the many activities that can be done in the northern part of Israel. But the most important is you get a chance to experience the wonders of nature.
This is Israel’s mountain–resort city. Metulla is also the perfect place to start touring Golan Heights, Galilee and Mt. Hermon. Metulla is a cold, frosty town built to stage a European alpine ambiance. It has houses and tiled roofs. Many Israelis escape the extreme heat of summer and go to this mountain area. Spring in Metulla is filled with a sweet scent of fruit tree blossoms. Metulla becomes a ski resort in the winter season.
Another good place to see in Metulla is The Canada Center, where there are interesting sports and recreational activities. Also, cultural and tourist activities are offered here. Features to look forward to are the Olympic size skating rink – in which schedules may be set for hockey and family skating. Also, there is an indoor pool with hot tub and an outdoor swimming pool complete with water slide and saunas. Other amenities here are table tennis, soccer field, workout rooms, squash courts and shooting club.
Whoever thinks Israel is just a land of golden sands is in for a great surprise. Mount Hermon is the highest peak in Israel. It is a ski resort in winter then becomes a hiking spot during other seasons. The mountain offers breathtaking and spectacular scenery of Golan, Galilee and Lebanon.
This is the hometown of Jesus Christ. It is a pilgrim’s destination, because it has plenty of Christian–significant churches.
Basilica of the Annunciation
This is where the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced to her that she will bear the Son of God.
Fun food and Fast food
Craving for Israeli cooking? A big local favorite is the grilled “suniya”, kabab-style meat in tahini sauce. For the less adventurous, the falafels, shawarma and humus in pita are the best in Israel. The best part is these foods are just grabbed–on and you can continue your adventure while munching on the saucy Israeli food. Still hungry for more? The best dessert around is a cheese and noodle dish called “kanafe,” as well as that Middle Eastern staple, “baklava”. These are yummy when served warm.
Sea of Galilee
This is place became famous as this was where Jesus performed most of his Ministerial duties. It is in Mt. Sermon or Mt. Beatitudes where he gave a sermon and fed 5,000 people from a loaf and fish. It is also in this lake where he walked on the waters to calm the raging storm.