The city of Israel has a unique position in the contemporary world. This city is considered within three major religions as a holy city family. According to 800zipcodes.com, Jerusalem is considered a holy place within Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Unfortunately, this fact also contributes to the struggle between Israel and Palestine, because both the Jews and the Muslims want to control Jerusalem. There have been many conflicts over East Jerusalem. As a visitor, Jerusalem is a fascinating city with many religious and historical sites to see. A striking building is the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, whose golden dome sets its mark on the panorama of Jerusalem, especially on sunny days. The Wailing Wall is also located on the Temple Mount.
If you want to visit Jerusalem, we recommend that you first read carefully so that you understand the (mostly religious) meaning and history of everything you are about to see. We would certainly advise you to discover the city under the guidance of an experienced guide who not only takes you to the sights, but also provides good explanations and can answer your questions. Another tip: it is appropriate in Jerusalem to wear covering clothes, especially in hazy places.
Jerusalem ‘s Top 10 Things to Do
#1. Temple Mount
The famous Temple Mount in Jerusalem has several names. For the Muslims this mountain is called ‘Haram al-Sharif’, for the Jews it is ‘Har ha-Bayit’ and in Dutch we call this the Temple Mount or Moria mountain. In each of these beliefs, the mountain is in any case sacred and very valuable. There are therefore few destinations on earth where more religious meanings and myths are assigned to a place than this Temple Mount. Attractions on the Temple Mount include the Arab-style Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the southern side. Both were built by the Umayyads in the seventh century. Another important attraction on the Temple Mount is the Wailing Wall. This wall is officially called the Western Wall, because it used to be west of the Jewish Temple. The square on the Western Wall is almost always crowded. All you see here are extremely important shrines within Jewish and Islamic culture. For the Christians, it is often no more than a religious historical site.
#2. western wall
Most people will know the Western Wall of Jerusalem better as the ‘Wailing Wall’. This name was obtained because many Jews complained to this wall about the destruction of the Jewish temple ‘Beit Adonai’. This is where the traditional day of mourning ‘Tisja Beav’ of Judaism originated. For Jews, the Temple Mount with the Western Wall is the most sacred place in the world. The Muslims also see the Western Wall as a holy place. According to the Qur’an, Mohammed Buraq discovered the road that leads to the gate of heaven here. The Western Wall in Jerusalem can be found on the Temple Mount in the old part of the city. This ancient Western Wall is still used as a ‘waiting wall’ and to leave prayers by means of notes. Men and women are not allowed together, so a clear split has been made. Next to the Western Wall are the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.
#3. Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is located in the midst of the walled Old City in Jerusalem. This much-visited church is also known as the ‘Church of the Resurrection’. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem stands on the site where Christ is said to be buried. The church was built here during the Crusades in the early twelfth century and has been an important pilgrimage site ever since. However, its current appearance is largely a legacy of the nineteenth century. Much violence and eventually a heavy fire had caused the previous old church so much damage that it had to be partly rebuilt. The church has been managed by different groups over the centuries. Ultimately, this is done by six confessions under joint management. The fact that these confessions do not always agree with each other is reflected in the overdue maintenance and, for example, the wooden staircase diagonally above the entrance. This staircase has been here since the eighteenth century and may not be removed without a mutual agreement between the six parties. Many visitors mainly come to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to admire the ancient tomb where Jesus Christ is said to have been buried before his Resurrection. This can be found in the rotunda of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
#4. Dome of the Rock
Well in the second half of the seventh century, the building of a memorial site was ordered by Caliph Abd al-Malik. The Dome of the Rock has replaced an old wooden mosque. The clearly present Byzantine architecture is mainly visible in the decoration. A lot of fine manual work and skilled construction skills were involved. The dome has a diameter of about twenty meters and is covered with gold leaf. You will also find many columns and pillars and remarkable mosaic decorations. A number of further adjustments were made during the ninth century under the rule of Caliph al-Mamun, an Islamic humanist. His name was immortalized in the building.
#5. Israel Museum
For more history about the city of Jerusalem, it is best to visit the Israel Museum. This largest cultural institution in Israel was founded in 1965 and has since been known as one of the best archaeological museums in the world. The Israel Museum’s collection includes Jewish art, archaeological pieces from different religious periods, Egyptian mummies, sculptures by Isamu Noguchi, among others, and temporary exhibits. All kinds of details are told and explained by means of an audio guide.
#6. The Great Synagogue
The Great Synagogue of Jerusalem is located on ‘Rehov ha-Melekh Jorj’ King George street. An earlier decision to build a synagogue was made by Rabbis Abraham Isaac Kook and Yaakov Meir in 1923. However, the current Orthodox Jewish house of worship was built around 1982 at the behest of Rabbi Zalman Druck. For the realization, the Scottish businessman and philanthropist Sir Isaac Wolfson of Jewish descent was approached. He and his family viewed the investment as a tribute to all the Jews who died in the Holocaust.
#7. Al-Aqsa Mosque
On the southern side of the Temple Mount is Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque. As the largest mosque in Jerusalem, it can accommodate more than 5,000 Muslims. Non-Muslims are not allowed to visit the mosque. The Al-Aqsa Mosque was built in the seventh century under the direction of Abd al-Malik and later his son Al-Walid. Unfortunately, several earthquakes and conquests have caused a lot of damage, which has resulted in multiple restorations. The Islamic and Romanesque architecture is visible on several levels. The dome is from a later era. It was built under the direction of A-Zahir. The Al-Aqsa Mosque has a minaret and much fourteenth century decorative art has been used. Between the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque you will find the ‘al-Kas’ fountain. It is used for ritual washing of the face, hands and feet.
#8. The Mount of Olives
East of Jerusalem is the mountain ‘Har HaZeitim’, also known as the Mount of Olives. The name was given because so many olive trees grow there. In the Bible, the Mount of Olives is described as the place where Jesus was handed over to the Romans and from where God would resurrect all the dead at the end of time. In addition to these and other stories, the Mount of Olives is also a sacred site where many influential figures are buried, including rabbis, prophets, and other saints.
At the foot of the Temple Mount is a garden known as Gethsemane. The name is derived from the Hebrew ‘Gat-Schmanim’. This holy place was once the place where according to the stories Jesus took a bath before his crucifixion. Pilgrims visit this place in combination with the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The olive trees in Gethsemane were and are also canonized by the pilgrims. Some are hundreds of years old. And according to the Orthodox Church, this is the place where the Virgin Mary is buried.
#10. Jerusalem Biblical Zoo
For many, the Jerusalem Zoo is a welcome change from the sometimes profound cultural attractions. In the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo you can relax and enjoy all kinds of animal species and shady places. The animal kingdom includes tigers, elephants, reptiles, fish, otters, deer, zebras, bears, flamingos and other bird species. The visitor center is located in Noah’s Ark.