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The city where people come in order to find peace of mind and get to know themselves, to touch the world's greatest shrines and walk through the places described in the sacred texts. Jerusalem attracts not only pilgrims, but also ordinary travelers who want to plunge into the atmosphere of antiquity and mystery. It seems that every nook and cranny of the city keeps something unspoken and unsolved. If Jerusalem alone is not enough for you and you want to find out what is hidden outside it, then use the car rental service and go to the outskirts of the city, where monasteries, churches and ruins of ancient settlements that have sacred significance have been preserved.
- What to see in Jerusalem: interesting sights of the city
- Near Jerusalem: Best Car Routes
- Food: atmospheric restaurants, cafes and bars
- Where to live: comfortable hotels in Jerusalem
- Where to park a rented car in Jerusalem
What to see in Jerusalem: interesting sights of the city
Church of the Holy Sepulcher
The main Christian shrine, a place of incredible energy and strength. Here, according to the Holy Scriptures, Jesus Christ was crucified and buried, and here he was resurrected. The structure of the architectural complex of the temple includes another shrine that is significant for the Christian world - Golgotha with the place of the Crucifixion. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is divided between six Christian denominations, each of which has its own territory and hours for prayers. The keys to the temple are kept in the Muslim family of Joudeh, and the right to open and close the door belongs to another family - Nusseibeh. This right is transferred in both families from father to son.
Wall of Tears
Western wall plaza
The Wailing Wall, extant to our times, is part of the oldest wall around the western slope of the Temple Mount. It was built in 19 BC King Herod to strengthen the earthen mound made to increase the area of the Temple Mount. The Wailing Wall is associated with the tradition of writing notes and placing them in cracks in the Wall. This tradition is more than 300 years old, and for the first time its description is found in the texts of the XVIII century. According to Jewish law, notes are forbidden to be thrown away, so twice a year the Wall rabbi and his assistants bury the messages left in the Jewish cemetery on Mount of Olives.
Mount Zion is more than just a hill near the Old City, it is a sacred symbol of the Promised Land. After the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in the 1st century A.D. Zion became a kind of reference point for the Jews to return, a designation of their homeland and beloved home. Among the most revered sights of Mount Zion is the tomb of King David, whose authenticity is still in doubt; The Chamber of the Last Supper, where Jesus Christ foretold the betrayal of Judah and, together with his disciples, performed the sacrament of communion; and St. Peter's Church in Gallicant, erected on the spot where the apostle Peter renounced Jesus Christ.
The area at the foot of the Mount of Olives, known for its Gethsemane garden, where Jesus Christ spent the night in prayer on the eve of his arrest. Ancient olives grow in the garden, whose age exceeds 2000 years. After a walk among the shady thickets of this sacred garden, do not forget to go to the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary to see the tomb of the Mother of God, and also visit the church of St. Mary Magdalene, built at the end of the 19th century on the orders of Alexander III in memory of her mother Maria Alexandrovna. Here is the icon of Mary Magdalene with a particle of her relics and the power of the Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth (founder of the Martha and Mary Convent in Moscow) and one of the first sisters of the cloister Nun Varvara.
Museum of Israel
Ruppin Boulevard 11 www.imj.org.il/
A huge museum complex, including several divisions and representing a motley and rich collection of archaeological finds and objects of Israeli and European art. Here you can see the unique Dead Sea Scrolls (Qumran manuscripts) dating from the 2nd-1st centuries BC. Do not miss the layout of ancient Jerusalem, which in detail reproduces almost every building of that time. We advise you to set aside a full day to visit the museum, since it is so interesting and multifaceted that you hardly want to limit yourself to just a couple of halls.
Near Jerusalem: Best Car Routes
Having rented a car, go to the western outskirts of Jerusalem, in the Ein Karem area, where, according to Christian tradition, John the Baptist was born and the Virgin Mary and mother John, the righteous Elizabeth, met. Ein Karem is interesting for its monasteries and churches, most of which are connected with the life of John the Baptist. For example, next to the Gornensky Orthodox convent there is a pillar from the house of the saint’s parents and a stone on which, according to tradition, the prophet delivered his first sermon. Another monastery - the Catholic monastery of St. John the Baptist - was built in the XVII century on the spot where the saint was born, as evidenced by the marble slab hidden in the grotto of the church. If you drive about 3 kilometers west of Ein Karem, you will find yourself in the Franciscan monastery of the beginning of the 20th century, based on the same place, where Elizabeth hid little John from the beating of infants by the soldiers of King Herod. On the territory of the monastery you can see the tomb of Elizabeth and the grotto, which served as a shelter for John.
From the center of Jerusalem to its eastern suburbs - Bethany - can be reached in just a few minutes on a rented car. In the New Testament, Bethany is mentioned as the hometown of Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary, in whose house Jesus stayed before his solemn entrance to Jerusalem. There are two holy places in Bethany where pilgrims come from all over the world: this is the tomb of Lazarus and the monastery of the Meeting (another name is the monastery of St. Martha and Mary), where a stone is stored in the church, at which the sisters met Jesus Christ.
Stalactite Cave Sorek
15 minutes by car from Jerusalem - and you will find yourself in the stalactite cave Sorek, discovered in 1968. The area of the cave is about 5 thousand m2, height - 15 meters. In addition to stalactites and stalagmites, other mountain formations are found in the cave, resembling corals and bunches of grapes in shape. Special lighting emphasizes the beauty of the amazing relief and gives the cave a fantastic look.
Masada is an ancient fortress off the southern coast of the Dead Sea. In 25 BC King Herod built a powerful shelter for himself and his family, strengthening the fortress of the Hasmonean period that existed on this site (31-31 BC). Masada’s palace, a synagogue, ruins of thermal baths, fragments of ancient mosaics and some other buildings of those times have been preserved from Masada. Masada is surrounded on all sides by sheer cliffs, a "snake" path leads to the fortress from the sea. At the very beginning of the trail, a tourist center is opened where you can buy a ticket to the fortress and the funicular. There is also a museum of archaeological finds found during excavations in the area. If you plan to get to Masada by rental car, you can leave it in the parking lot near the tourist center.
The main attraction of Beit Shean, one of the oldest cities in Israel, is the Skifopolis National Park (the Hellenistic name for the city), located at the site of the excavation of ancient Beit Shean. The park includes the ruins of the Roman theater, colonnades, baths and streets, partially recreating the appearance of the ancient city. Skifopolis was located at the junction of the two main trade routes of that time - the Royal and Sea roads - which, of course, affected the development of the city. The surroundings of Ben Shean were famous for their rich crops, enhancing the development of local trade. In the Roman and Early Byzantine periods, Beit Shean was considered a major trading center, where there were all conditions for the successful production of fabrics. From Jerusalem to Skifopolis highway number 90 leads through which you quickly reach a famous national park in a rented car.
Food: atmospheric restaurants, cafes and bars
Al khanka street
There is always a stir in Lina, which is no coincidence, because here, according to locals, they serve the best hummus in the city. Take some hot pit, a plate of hummus with pine nuts and a portion of falafel (fried chickpea balls) and get a delicious hearty dinner in a purely Israeli style. After a walk around the Old Town, you will be happy to linger in Lina for a few servings of hummus and you will surely want to return here again.
Hummus ben sira
Ben sira 3
Another local restaurant, where the specialty is hummus with beef, which is not often found in such restaurants. A portion of pickles and falafel is served here free of charge to hummus - with them the most common Israeli food becomes even tastier and more expressive. The portions in Ben Sira are large, so we advise you not to be greedy and first order one dish so that you can taste it. By evening, the institution turns into a noisy, but incredibly cozy place where you feel like visiting old friends. By the way, the best places are at the bar.
Hatzot steak house
Agripas 121 www.hatzot.co.il/
For juicy meat, you definitely need to go to Hatzot, where the No. 1 dish, Jerusalem mix, is an assortment of several types of meat with aromatic spices. Meat is served here with potatoes, pickles, fresh vegetables, which are bought every morning at the neighboring Mahane Yehuda market, hummus (where would Israel be without it) and hot pitas. This richness of flavors perfectly complements homemade wine - light and with a pleasant aftertaste.
Agripas 70 www.morduch.com/
The legendary restaurant of Kurdish cuisine, where you should definitely try the Kube soup - soup with dumplings stuffed with beef. The classic version is a red cube with the addition of tomatoes, beets and carrots. The restaurant has only 10 tables, which are rarely empty, which is very logical. Delicious dishes according to old recipes, friendly waiters and low prices attract more and more visitors to Morduch.
Yaffo Road 34 www.holybagel.com/
For an easy and quick lunch, Holy Bagel Café is perfect, where a simple bagel is turned into a whole dish. You can choose a bagel from any type of bread and pick a filling for it - from vegetable to meat. If it’s difficult for you to make a choice and you already want to eat as soon as possible, we recommend ordering a bagel with cream cheese and salmon - believe me, this is one of the best fillings that goes well with freshly baked bagel. For those who are especially hungry, the menu has salads, soups, lasagna and even pasta.
Where to live: comfortable hotels in Jerusalem
King Solomon 11
+972 2548 2222 www.mamillahotel.com/ double room - from € 320
Luxurious five-star hotel near the Old Town. Spacious rooms with a minimalist design are done in pleasant olive tones. It features a spa with indoor pool and sauna, several restaurants (drop by the Mamilla Café, which specializes in local cuisine) and the Mirror Bar, where you can enjoy a cocktail and enjoy live music in the evening. If you used the car rental service, you can leave your car in a paid parking lot at the hotel.
Dorot Rishonim 13
+972 3542 5555 www.atlas.co.il/ double room - from € 168
Colonial style hotel located in the very center of Jerusalem. Muted coffee and vintage details in the decor make Arthur Hotel a wonderful place with a homely, cozy atmosphere. The hotel features a spa with a large selection of wellness treatments.
Yoel Moshe Salomon 6
+972 3542 5555 www.atlas.co.il/ double room - from € 153
A boutique hotel in the Nahalat Shiva area with many nice cafes, restaurants and shops. The rooms are designed in red and gray tones, large windows overlook a busy street. In the evening, you can enjoy a cup of tea by the fireplace or play billiards in the hotel lobby, decorated in a traditional English style. The hotel has its own free parking, which will delight those who rented a car for a trip to Israel.
+972 2650 9888 www.shanihotel.com/index.php/en/ double room - from € 127
A four-star hotel near Ben Yehuda Street. The decor of the hotel is dominated by wood and pastel colors, which creates a cozy and peaceful atmosphere. Large comfortable rooms with excellent soundproofing. Of the nice bonuses - a bar with a good wine list and a fitness center.
New imperial hotel
The New Imperial Hotel is more like a museum, it is so full of rare antique gizmos, which are a pleasure to look at. Here, by the way, Selma Lagerlef stayed here - the author of the famous children's book "Nils's Journey with the Wild Geese". The main advantage of the hotel is its location literally within walking distance of the historic city. The rooms are small but cozy, with a beautiful view of Jerusalem. For those traveling by rental car, paid parking is available nearby.
Where to park a rented car in Jerusalem
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© Ellina Rudenko, 2016