Old City Jerusalem
Feel the Heart and Soul of this Holy Walled City

Old City Jerusalem is home to many religious sites, sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall for Jews, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for Christians and the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque for Muslims.

It is one of the main sites visited by Christians and Jews alike. It is like an open museum opening to the visitor the history of more than two thousand years. The feeling felt by those coming to Old Jerusalem for the first time is indescribable.

The Main Altar at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Reunited since 1967

The Old City, in Hebrew “Hair Haatika” is a small part of today’s Jerusalem. Until the second half of the 19th century this area constituted the whole city of Jerusalem.

Since the Six Day War in June 1967, when the city was reunited, all places of worship are open to all visitors without any distinction of race or religion. Pilgrims from all over the world flock to Jerusalem Old City to pray and visit their Holy Sites.

A spiritual Experience

A visit to the Old City, especially for the first time is a spiritual experience that cannot be compared to any of your travels and visits to other places in the world.

The sensation of Holiness is all over, as you walk through its narrow streets full of views and smells characteristic only to this Holy City.

The city is surrounded by thick 16th Century Walls and it is traditionally divided into four quarters, the Muslim, the Armenian, the Christian and the Jewish Quarter.

Since the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, the Jewish quarter has seen a great development. It is not only a living neighborhood it is also visited by thousands of students and all type of visitors on a daily basis.

History of more than 3,000 years

The history of Jerusalem Old City goes back more than 3,000 years when King David established his capital here. The street plan dates from Byzantine times.

The Jews have had a continuous presence in the city since then, except for a period of 19 years from 1948 when the State of Israel fought its War or Independence and it fell under Jordanian control, until its liberation and reunification in 1967 on the Six Day War.

It is worth mentioning that during those years the access to Jews was prohibited by the Jordanians. I am a witness to that.

When I arrived as a student to Jerusalem back in 1959 we couldn’t get to the Old city to visit or pray at the Western Wall of the Temple.

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The Western Wall in Jerusalem is the Holiest site in Judaism

The access to Old City Jerusalem is through several gates

Jerusalem Gates

  • Jaffa Gate
    New Gate
    Herod's Gate
    St Stephen's Gate
    Golden Gate
    Dung Gate
    Zion Gate

The description of these gates is being explained on a separate article.

There are many Christian Churches in Old Jerusalem and some are located outside the walls. On the next page of Jerusalem Churches I am going to mention them all.

The Hurva Synagogue in Old City Jerusalem

Other sites of interest in Old City Jerusalem

  • Al Aqsa Mosque also known as the Temple Mount to Jews and Christians is not open to Non –Muslims. Access is strictly regulated.

  • Dome of the Rock Jerusalem - In Hebrew Kipat Hasela is the impressive dome constructed by Muslims on top of the Temple Mount. The amazing golden dome is seen from all over Jerusalem and is worldwide recognized in Jerusalem pictures.

  • Noble Sanctuary – In Hebrew Har Habayit and in Arabic Haram al-Sharif is the main attraction of the Muslim quarter. It is a large esplanade in southern Old Jerusalem.

  • Museum of Islamic Art – It is located on the Knights Templar and his has just a few Islamic antiques. The LA Mayer Museum in the new city is much more complete.

Pilgrims gathering on the Via Dolorosa's Station III

Places to visit in Old City Jerusalem

  • Western Wall Jerusalem – In Hebrew Hakotel Hamaaravi is also known as the Wailing Wall. This is the holiest place in Judaism. Jews from all over come to the Kotel with reverence and pray, feeling that they are nearer than ever to heaven.

  • Western Wall Tunnels Tour – Those interested in archaeology will find this tour very attractive. It covers the underground tunnels below the wall, a synagogue, a pool and a water tunnel.

  • Saint Mary's Hospice – These are ruins of a Crusader’s German Hospice dating to the 12th Century.

  • The Cardo – Meaning Heart because it was the heart of the city and Jerusalem’s main roadway. Once discovered by excavations it has been reconstructed. Today you’ll find stores in remembrance of the years long gone.

  • Hurva Square – The remains of an Old Synagogue burnt down several times. An arch stays there today as a reminder.

  • The Broad Wall - It was unearthed after the Six day War. The thick wall dates to the 8th Century BC.

The Tower of David standing tall in Old City Jerusalem

  • Wohl Archaeological Museum – This is a museum with excavations of the Herodian times. It was built around 2,000 years ago, before the Romans came and destroyed the city.

  • Ophel Archaeological Park – In the southern side of Temple Mount with remains of Herodian’s time, Byzantine and Ottoman origin.

  • Citadel – Located besides de Jaffa gate is occupied today by the Tower of David museum.

  • Ramparts Walk – You may walk on the city walls from Jaffa Gate to St Stephen’s Gate in one direction and from Jaffa Gate to Dung Gate in the other.

  • The Suq El Attaria – Suq or Shuk in Hebrew means market. If you are a shopping tourist you will find here from species to souvenirs and from groceries to fine clothing and jewelry.

A visit to Old Jerusalem is the number one highlight of your Holy Land Experience. Spiritually you will never be the same.

Image Credits:
hurva synagogue by djampa
holy sepulchre by berthold weiner
western wall by zeev zaani
via dolorosa sta.3 by b.w.
david tower by wayne mclean

All courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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From Old City Jerusalem go to Gates of Jerusalem
Go to Garden Tomb
Go to Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Go to Jerusalem Churches
Go to Kidron Valley

Go to Mount of Olives
Go to Tower of David
Go to Via Dolorosa
Go to Western Wall Jerusalem
Go to Western Wall Tunnel
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