More than 5,000 years old, Jerusalem is an epicenter of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The city is rich with holy sites, including the biblical locations of Bethlehem, Nazareth, and the Sea of Galilee. To make the most of your visit, see below for some of Jerusalem’s most sacred destinations.
Things to do in Jerusalem
Welcome to Jerusalem
The spiritual capital of roughly two-thirds of the world’s population, as well the capital city of the State of Israel, Jerusalem draws 3.5 million visitors every year to sites sacred to Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike, such as the golden Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount, the Western Wall and Tomb of King David, the Mount of Olives, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Hall of the Last Supper. Get lost searching for these attractions in the walled portion of Jerusalem known as the Old City—or get a guide to help navigate the labyrinth of medieval alleyways connecting the Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and Armenian quarters, each with its own set of sacred sites, residential districts, and bazaars. Although most of Jerusalem’s visitors seek the sacred and spiritual within the bounds of the Old City, most of Jerusalem’s residents live in the New City, which has the amenities to serve them. Visit the Machane Yehuda Market (“The Shuk”) to see the spices, teas, sweets, and foods that maintain Israel’s status as the land of milk and honey, or complete the museum circuit of the Rockefeller Museum, Yad Vasham Holocaust Remembrance Museum, and the Bible Lands Museum. Thanks to the small size of Israel and the Palestinian territories and Jerusalem’s central location, day-trip options abound to Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea, Masada, Bethlehem, Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee, the West Bank, Petra in Jordan, and more.
Top 10 attractions in Jerusalem
Surrounded by ancient stone city walls, it is easy to get lost in the winding alleyways of Old Jerusalem — lost in another time, another place, another world. That is what is so special about the place: outside of being of utmost sacred significance for Jews, Christians and Muslims, the Old City maintains its historic feel and tangible spirituality. The Western Wall, Temple Mount, Dome of the Rock, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre are all located within its walls. The Via Dolorosa, where Jesus is said to have walked to his crucifixion, can still be traced here. There is both a sense of chaos — with bustling souks and busy streets — as there is a deep sense of calm and peace. Built by King David in 1004 B.C., the Old City of Jerusalem has one of the most fascinating histories in the world. Its walls were constructed in the 16th century by the Ottomans....
Perhaps the most significant landmark of the Jewish people and symbol of the Old City of Jerusalem, the Western Wall (or the Wailing Wall) is the last remaining remnant of the Second Temple built by Herod the Great around 19 BCE. Jewish pilgrims from all around the world visit the site and pray to the embodied spirit of the holy presence while mourning the fall of the temple by kissing the wall and putting notes into its crevices. The plaza in front of the wall is divided into 2 sections, one for men, the other for women and is the staging for various Jewish rituals. This particular section of the wall is merely 187 feet (57 meters) however the entire wall stretches more than 1,600 ft (488 m), most of which in accessible and hidden within residential Jerusalem....
The Via Dolorosa is the path within the Old City of Jerusalem that Jesus is said to have took carrying the cross to his crucifixion. Known in Catholicism as the Stations of the Cross, the entire path is marked on the streets and major landmarks it passes through in order for pilgrims to retrace. Although the path has changed several times over the course of history, today the main route is taken with 14 stations along the way, as it was done by early Byzantine pilgrims....
The Temple Mount ("Haram ash-Sharif" in Arabic) is an elevated plateau located in the Old City of Jerusalem that houses some the most important structures and relics in the history of religion, including Dome of the Rock, the retaining wall of Herod’s temple, the Western Wall, and one the oldest and most beautiful mosques in the world, Al-Aqsa Mosque. In Judaism, the area is considered the center of the world, and the point from which all humanity originated. For Muslims, the mount carries a similar significance, as the location where Muhammad ascended to heaven. Although the area has been under Israeli sovereignty since the Six-Day War, the Temple Mount is still controlled by the Islamic Waqf, making it a high tension point in the Middle East....
This religious and spiritual destination is one of four historic quarters that make up the famed city of Jerusalem. Travelers seeking a touchstone to the past will find just what they’re after on a visit to this place that dates back to the Roman Empire. Ancient ruins uncovered by archeologists from Hebrew University are in a handful of museums and parks in the Jewish Quarter, including a 2,200-year-old image of a Temple menorah and portions of the Israelite Tower. A stunning pool built by the Romans was discovered in 2010. Travelers will find this homage to another lifetime filled with terracotta roof tiles, mosaic floors and regal steps. In addition to archeological ruins, visitors can tour several of the other historic and religious sites that are scattered across the Jewish Quarter. The famous Western Wall, several synagogues, a handful of Yeshivas and an abandoned mosque offer insight into the culture and traditions of this diverse city....
In Jesus’ day, the Garden of Gethsemane at the base of the Mount of Olives was an olive grove, and according to some botanists, some of the ancient olive trees still growing in the gardens likely predate Christianity itself. While the word “gethsemane” means “oil press,” the Garden of Gethsemane is much better known for its prominence in New Testament scripture as the site where Jesus was betrayed and arrested after the Last Supper. In the center of the garden sits the Church of All Nations, a mosaic-covered church built in 1924 by architect Antonio Barluzzi. Within the church sits the Rock of Agony, believed by some to be the place where Jesus wept and prayed for the city of Jerusalem....
Set within the Christian Quarter of the old walled city of Jerusalem – which it itself the larger World Heritage Site -- this church is considered by many Christians to be the site of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection. A popular stop on the pilgrimage trail since the 4th century, the church itself is now the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Church. Commissioned between 325-6 by Emperor Constantine I, and his mother, Saint Helena, the church was built on the former site of a temple dedicated to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and war; initial excavations for this construction, according to Helena, revealed the Holy Sepulchre, or the tomb of Jesus. During a Muslim uprising in 1009, the church was razed to the ground, an act that provoked Europe to begin the Crusades. It was eventually rebuilt via collaboration between the Muslims and Byzantines, and additions were later made by Crusaders, Franciscan monks, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic elders....
Just east of the Old City, separating Jerusalem from the Judean Desert, sits the Mount of Olives, one of the city’s most famous scriptural sites. The famous mountain is referenced in both the Old and New Testaments, first as the escape route David used during his son’s rebellion, and again by the prophets. The New Testament recounts Jesus addressing his pupils from the Mount of Olives. Apart from its religious importance, the Mount of Olives is historically significant as well. On the lower slopes of the mountain, you’ll find the Jewish cemetery, believed to be the oldest cemetery in the world still in use and burial place of many prominent Jewish figures, including Zechariah and philosopher Nahmanides. The foot of the mountain is also home to the Gardens of Gethsemane, the Church of All Nations and the Russian Orthodox Church of Maria Magdalene....
The walled Old City of Jerusalem is divided into four major quarters: the Jewish Quarter, the Muslim Quarter, the Armenian Quarter, and the Christian Quarter. The city’s Christian Quarter contains around 40 religious sites holy to Christianity, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at its heart. The church is venerated as the site where Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected and remains a place of pilgrimage for Christians from all over the world. For many it is regarded as the religion’s holiest site. Pilgrims often follow the Via Dolorosa, the path Jesus walked to his crucifixion, stopping at shrines and small sites along the way. Many churches, monasteries, schools, and museums are dotted throughout. You’ll also find residences, souvenir shops, cafes, and other pieces of daily life from those presently residing in the area. There is also an iconic, colorful market patched between the stone walls and narrow streets....
The term “yad vashem” comes from the Book of Isaiah and can be translated as “a place to memorialize.” Yad Vashem (World Holocaust Remembrance Center) in Jerusalem is the world’s most important Holocaust museum—a memorial to the 6 million Jewish lives lost....
Top activities in Jerusalem
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Discover the top things to do in Jerusalem.
- Masada and the Dead Sea Day Trip from Jerusalem
- 2-Day Petra and Jordan Tour from Jerusalem
- Jerusalem and Bethlehem Tour from Jerusalem
- Nazareth, Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee Day Trip from Jerusalem
- 3-Day Petra Wadi Rum and Jordan Tour from Jerusalem
Discover the top things to do in Jerusalem.
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Things to do near Jerusalem
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