Jerusalem Things to Do Tips by iblatt Top 5 Page for this destination
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Mormon University overlooking the Old City
The Mormons built their Brigham Young University Jerusalem center for Near Eastern Studies in one of the most spectacular spots of Jerusalem: On the south-western slope of Mt. Scopus, overlooking the Old City and Kidron Valley, next to the Mount of Olives. Students come for a semester and take courses in Middle Eastern studies, also including Hebrew and Arabic.
The architecture, by David Resnik from Jerusalem, is truly amazing and inspiring, and has won several prizes. The eight-storey building is integrated into its environment and its contour blends with the mountain when seen from afar. The internal spaces are beautiful, full of sunlight, and combine traditional elements (such as arches) with modern architectural principles. Large arch-shaped windows afford majestic views of Jerusalem.
Free tours are conducted by friendly Mormon volunteers. The tours start with a short introduction and a video presentation. Next you enter the large concert hall / auditorium, where a demonstration of the huge church organ takes place. This organ was built by a Danish company, has over 3000 pipes, and is the largest in the Middle East. On Sunday evenings concerts are held here, against the stunning backdrop of Jerusalem by night.
Then the guide leads you through hallways and a beautiful mosaic gallery (containing 1500 year old Byzantine mosaics found in several archaeological sites in Israel) to the gardens, which are also a masterpiece.
The Biblical garden has olive trees and grape vines, and a copy of an ancient oil-press which is used every year to demonstrate to students (who are actively participating) the process of pressing the olives to produce olive oil. The students then receive a small bottle of the oil they helped produce, as a souvenir.
In the garden there are three models of Jerusalem, showing the city during the First Temple period, the Roman period and modern times.
The integration of architectural spaces, gardens and panoramic view of Jerusalem make the Mormon University a unique site, well worth visiting.
Directions: Free tours (by telephone reservation only): Wed-Fri at 10:00, 10:30 11:00, 11:30, 14:00, 14:30, 15:00, 15:30.
Replica of Temple Menorah in the Jewish Quarter
The Menorah, a seven-branched candelabrum, is one of the most ancient symbols of Judaism.
According to the Old Testament it was created according to God's explicit commands to Moses, and formed an important part of the Tabernacle, the "portable temple" used by Moses during the wanderings of the People of Israel in the Sinai desert on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land. Several generations later it was incorporated into the Temple built by King Solomon on Mt Moriah in Jerusalem. Its lamps were lit by the purest olive oil.
The Menorah used in the Second Temple was plundered by the Roman Emperor Titus when he conquered Jerusalem from the Jewish rebels, brought to Rome and paraded around the city during Titus' victory parade (see relief on Titus' Arch in Rome!).
An exact life-size replica of the Menorah was constructed from 24-karat gold by scholars in Jerusalem, and it now stands in a large glass box in the Jewish Quarter, overlooking the Wailing Wall and the Temple Mount. Its value is estimated as more than 4 million dollars!
Directions: In the plaza overlooking the Wailing Wall, Jewish Quarter.
The 8th century BC Broad Wall, Jerusalem
During the extensive archaeological excavations in the Jewish Quarter after 1967, one of the most exciting and significant findings was a segment of an ancient city wall, which could be dated with certainty to the 8th century BC, during King Hezekiah's reign in the First Temple period.
The wall is 40 meters long and 7 meters wide, and these dimensions caused it to be called "The Broad Wall".
The significance of the discovery of the Broad Wall is that it put an end to a long controversy about the size and boundaries of Jerusalem during the First Temple period: It was clear that Jerusalem in those early days included David's City and the Temple Mount, where King Solomon built his temple. However, whether the city already spread to the "Western Hill" which was later to become "The Upper City" during the Second Temple Period was not clear.
The famous archaeologist Cathleen Canyon performed a few exploratory excavations on the Western Hill in the 1920s and did not find evidence for First Temple period dwellings, and concluded that the city in the First Temle period had not expanded to the Western Hill.
The excavation of the Broad Wall in the late 1960s changed this view and settled the controversy.
The time was the 8th century BC. The Land of Israel had been divided between the Kingdom of Judea and the Kingdom of Samaria. The Kingdom of Samaria was conquered and destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 BC, and many refugees fled to the Kingdom of Judea, settled in the capital Jerusalem and helped expand it to the unfortified Western Hill.
Hezekiah, King of Judea, prepared for the Assyrians' 701 BC ampaign to conquer his kingdom and fortified Jerusalem, building the Broad Wall on the Western Hill.
Today the excavated Broad Wall can be seen in the middle of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City.
Directions: In the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. Accessible 24 hours a day (free of charge).
Bus line: 38.
Phone: +972-2-6265900, ext 102
Herodian Quarter, Jewish Quarter, Jerusalem
The Jewish Quarter of today is built on the site of the ancient city of Herod's period. On the upper slope of the hill overlooking Temple Mount stood the Upper City, home to Jerusalem's social and economical elite.
When the Jewish Quarter was rebuilt, after the Six Day War of 1967, archaeological excavations were carried out before the foundations of any new building were laid. This is how the Herodian Quarter of 2000 years ago was discovered. The compound consists of six ancient houses, which were preserved and incorporated into the Wohl Museum of Archaeology, which now forms the basement of a modern house. The remains are mainly the cellars of those aristocratic houses: Storage rooms, ritual baths, water reservoirs. They are one or two storey high. The museum displays the various artefacts, utensils, flasks and coins found in these houses.
The decorations attest to the wealth of the owners, with mosaics, stucco work and a colorful fresco. Although the decorations were made in a Greco-Roman style, the avoidance of depicting human faces is typical of the Jewish religion. The most impressive of the six houses is called the House of Measurements, which also had a balcony with a view of the Temple Mount.
Address: 1 Ha-Kara'im St, Jewish Quarter, Jerusalem
Directions: Near the center of the Jewish Quarter, Old City of Jerusalem, in the builsing of Yeshivat Ha-Kotel.
Entrance fee: NIS 15.
Other Contact: Fax: +972-2-6265920
Old-Yishuv Court Museum, Jewish Quarter, Jerusalem
The Old-Yishuv Court Museum is set in a 500 year old residential building in the Jewish Quarter. According to tradition, this was the birthplace of the famous Kabbalist, Ha-Ari (1534). The museum's goal is to display Jewish life in the Old City of Jerusalem in bygone periods throughout history.
Two synagogues operated in this small residential house, dating back to the times when, under Ottoman rule, Jews were forbidden to build synagogues and therefore incorporated them into residential houses. One was Ha-Ari Synagogue, and the other "Or-Chaim" (Light of Life); the latter has been reconstructed as part of the museum. Both of these synagogues were active until the Jewish Quarter fell to the hands of the Jordanians in 1948.
There are 3 period rooms of Jewish homes in the Quarter: One is furnished as in the Ottoman period before the beginning of European penetration to Jerusalem; the next one already shows European influece, and the third one is of a well to do Jewish family during the British Mandate period.
There are many items on display, some of them tell the story of voluntary medical activities in the Jewish Quarter (such as "Drop of Milk" baby care and nutrition clinics).
Address: 6 Or-Chaim St., Jewish Quarter, Jerusalem 97500
Directions: From the Jewish Quarter center: Or-Chaim St branches off Habad St.
From the Armenian Quarter: Take St James St, then straight into Or-Chaim St.
Open Mon-Thurs 10:00-17:00 (Mar-Oct), 10:00-15:00 (Nov-Feb); Fridays 10:00-13:00.
Phone: +972-2-6276319; 6284636 -telefax
In the Old City Market, Jerusalem
Walking down the narrow market lanes of the Old City of Jerusalem is an unforgettable experience. The sights, sounds, tastes and aromas are strong and overpowering. Locals and tourists shopping and haggling, sellers cajoling their potential customers to step into their shops, colorful draperies hanging outisde on display, religious artefacts, antiques, backgammon boxes, hookahs, street foods, spices, sweets, and of course the ubiquitous souvenirs. All of these add up to an amazing jigsaw. The market is usually crowded with people, and Arab kids shouting to make way for their wheelbarrows add to the mess.
In the old times every street and lane was dedicated to one kind of market: Butchers' market, perfume market and so on. Today some of these still exist, but most streets have a mixture of different types of shops.
So, take your time, check out the shops, have a conversation with the merchants (they may ask you inside and offer you tea if they think you are a serious buyer), haggle until both you and the shopowner are happy, stop in one of the many eateries for a quick meal, a drink and maybe a game of backgammon: This is the Jerusalem Old City Market experience.
Directions: Old City of Jerusalem, enter through Jaffa Gate or Damascus Gate and continue straight ahead and into the lanes on both sides.
The Wailing Wall, Jerusalem
Over two thousand years ago the Second Temple was standing in Jerusalem, on Mt. Moriah. In the first century AD it was completely rebuilt by King Herod, a magnificent structure. In the year 70 AD the Temple was destroyed by the Romans, who had just crushed the Jewish Rebellion. All that remained after the destruction of the Temple was part of the western part of the wall surrounding the Temple grounds.
For two thousand years, when Jews were scattered all over the world (after being exiled from their homeland by the Romans), they used to direct their prayers to this remaining outer wall of the Temple, the Western Wall, which then became the Wailing Wall, the wall where Jews were mourning their loss and praying for a better future.
To this very day this is the focal point for every Jew wherever he may be. Jews from every corner of the world come here, pray, write down their wishes on small paper notes and put them between the mighty stones of the Wall. And mighty they are, testimony to the terrific builder that King Herod was.
Directions: In the Old City of Jerusalem, reached either by a lane descending from the main market street of the Old City or directly from Dung Gate in the city wall.
Monastery of the Cross:view from the Israel Museum
The Valley of the Cross lies in central Jerusalem, between the Rehavia neighborhood and the hill of Giv'at Ram and the Israel Museum. In its center there is an ancient monastery which looks like a fortress: The Monastery of the Cross. Here, according to the Christian tradition, grew the olive tree from which Jesus' cross was made.
The first monastery here was built in the Byzantine period, it was burnt down by the Persians in the year 614 AD, but was rebuilt in the 11th century by Georgian monks. During the Crusader period the monastery was at its peak and was known as an international center of learning. The national poet of Georgia stayed here and wrote his most famous epic poem.
During the peiod of Mamluk (Muslim) rule the monastery temporarily passed to Muslim hands, but was returned to the Christians by the Ottoman sultan in the 14th century. In the 18th century the monastery changed hands again, from the Church of Georgia to the Greek Orthodox church, which administers it until today.
Directions: Between Ruppin Road and Haim Hazzaz Blvd, in the park underneath the Israel Museum.
Entrance to the Israel Museum, Jerusalem
If you plan to visit one museum in Israel, this should be the one. The Israel Museum houses a magnificent collection of about 500,000 objects, which cover archaeology, Judaica (Jewish art and life) and art. It was first opened in 1965, and was expanded and upgraded in 2010.
The archaeology section has some of the most important findings discovered in Israel, spanning thousands of years of history, from pre-historic times to the Ottoman empire, including: Canaanite, Kingdoms of Judea and Israel, Greek, Roman, Muslim items... The most famous and special archaeological display is the Dead Sea Scrolls, located in the Shrine of the Book (see separate tip).
The Judaica section houses many artifacts related to the Jewish religion and life from various Jewish communities all over the world. One of the highlights are "Synagogue Route", with the interiors of synagogues transferred whole from Italy, India and Surinam, demonstrating different architectural styles and designs but a common spirit; The exhibition "Illiminating the Script" contains pricelss illiminating Jewish manuscripts; Other exhibtions in this wing relate to "The Rhythm of Life", "The Cycle of the Jewish Year", and "Costume and Jewellery".
The art wing holds several collections of Israeli art, modern and cotemporary art, old masters, art of Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Americas, photography, design, prints and drawings.
The Israel Museum also has a youth wing for art education and a library.
The museum grounds are beautiful. The Billy Rose Art Garden is a mixture of Zen garden pronciples and Western sculptures, set in a Mediterranean lanscape.
The museum grounds contain another special exhibit: a model of Jerusalem in the Second Temple era (see separate tip).
The views from the museum is also impressive: the Knesset (Israeli parliament), the Valley of the Cross with the Monastery of the Cross, and the surrounding hills of Jerusalem.
Address: Ruppin Blvd, Jerusalem
Directions: Near the Hebrew University campus on Giv'at Ram. Bus lines: 9, 17, 24.
Opening hours: Sun, Mon, Wed, Thurs 10 am – 5 pm; Tues 4 pm – 9 pm; Fri and holiday eves 10 am – 2 pm; Sat and holidays 10 am – 5 pm.
Shrine of the Book, Israel Museum, Jerusalem
The Shrine of the Book is a unique place: this is where the ancient Dead Sea scrolls are kept, and a few of them are on display.
The Dead Sea Scrolls date back 2000 years, and are pricelss documents shedding light on life in Israel in the the Second Temple era and on the beginnings of Christianity. They were written between the 3rd century BC and the 1st century AD, and were kept in closed jars deep inside the remote caves of Qumran, near the Dead Sea.
The story of the Dead Sea scrolls reads like a thriller: stored for safety in clay jars by the mysterious Dead Sea Sect 2000 years ago; surviving until today in the dry climate of the Dead Sea; discovered seredipitously by Bedouin goatherds; sold to an antique dealer in the Arab market of the Old City of Jerusalem; smuggled to the US by a Syrian Orthodox clergyman; sought and found by Israeli archaeologists, purchasing them and bringing them back to the Holy Land; erecting the Shrine of the Book to be their permanent home.
The scrolls comprise Biblical texts (earliest known in the world!), apocryphal texts (ancient texts not included in the comilation of the Bible) and sectarian texts describing the strict regulations and rituals of the Dead Sea Sect (maybe the Essenes, forerunners of Christianity).
The Shrine of the Book building is architecturally unique and impressive. Most of it (two thirds) is underground, but the white dome (see photos) was made to resemble the lids of the clay jars in which the scrolls were found, and it can be seen from afar.
Address: Ruppin Blvd, Jerusalem
Directions: On Giv'at Ram.
Bus lines: 9, 17, 24.
Opening hours: Sun, Mon, Wed, Thurs 10 am – 5 pm; Tues 4 pm – 9 pm; Fri and holiday eves 10 am – 2 pm; Sat and holidays 10 am – 5 pm.
Entrance included in the entrance ticket to the Israel Museum.
Other Contact: www.english.imjnet.org.il/htmls/
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