Here are 12 reasons to visit Jerusalem, as told through pictures.
The view of Jerusalem is the history of the world; it is more, it is the history of earth and of heaven. – Benjamin Disraeli
1. The Old City.
This city has been built, conquered, and destroyed 39 times. Chutzpah. This takes tena’city’ to a new level. It is incredible that this place of unsurpassed peace is born from such conflict.
2. The Spices.
Zatar (or Za’atar) is the most iconic of these local spices that signals to your tastebuds something far more exotic than your average fare back home. As you can see, Israel has a rainbow of spices at their fingertips to enhance flavor and distinguish Mediterranean concoctions.
3. The Western Wall.
The Western Wall (also known as the Wailing Wall or Kotel) is the last remaining vestige of the second Holy Jewish Temple that was destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 BC.
Now it is a site of prayer, a focal point where Jewish people convene from around the world, and a testament to the longevity of the Jewish people – a symbol that despite multiple attempts, the Jewish people will not crumble and disappear.
People travel from across the globe to write notes to convey their deepest prayers, and place them in the crevices of the wall to connect with God.
4. The History.
The city is teeming with antiquity – from the site of the Western Wall to where Jesus resurrected from his tomb to the spot where Muhammad ascended to heaven. Jerusalem is a holy site for the three monotheistic religions, and therefore hosts a convergence of histories that connect us all.
Here we are (above) standing outside the room of the Last Supper. The stained glass window (below) is from the room of that fateful night.
Stepping back in time – it is mind boggling that a room can last over a thousand years (it was rebuilt by the Ottoman Empire) – longer than most countries or people.
While the Last Supper is an iconic event in Christian history, it is important to remember how all our histories intertwine: Jesus was Jewish, and the Last Supper was a Passover Seder meal – an annual Jewish tradition recognizing the Israelite’s liberation from slavery in Egypt. Further, the reconstructed room was built by Muslims.
5. The Culture.
Old meets new – from the thriving Orthodox Jewish culture to young Israeli soldiers tramping the streets of the limestone city wielding the latest technology – there is beauty in Jerusalem’s juxtaposition.
6. The Ramparts.
Walking the ramparts of the old city takes you back to the many battles that have been fought in and for this deeply symbolic place.
7. The Underground Nightlife.
Jerusalem is a living city, but also the heart, the soul of the Jewish people and the state of Israel. – Yitzhak Rabin
8. The Markets.
Be prepared to barter if you seek to take home artisan relics from this ancient place.
9. The Cats.
Cats are everywhere in Jerusalem. Stalking prey, nuzzling up to tourists, exploring the alleys of Old City Jerusalem, and curled up in the Arab market, as shown below. A cat person’s heaven.
10. The Museums.
The museums of Jerusalem are full of ancient treasures, including the Dead Sea Scrolls as well as a model of Jersualem at the time of the second temple (below).
11. The Food.
Hummus! Challah! Rugelach! Jerusalem has quite the foodie scene with more restaurants to try than you could ever pack into one visit. The fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice, falafel, tahini, and schwarma were a few of my favorites.
12. The Sunsets.
The glow of this limestone city at sundown will have you planning your next trip back. We viewed this sunset from the grounds of Yad Vashem, the holocaust museum, a sickening yet powerful must-see for your travel itinerary. Further reflection to follow in an upcoming post.
Jerusalem is a festival and a lamentation. Its song is a sigh across the ages, a delicate, robust, mournful psalm at the great junction of spiritual cultures. – David K. Shipler