Jerusalem Attractions, Ancient and New

Jerusalem intrigues with its mix of ancient and new. From the Dome of the Rock to the city's rail line, see how the old and new intersect in the Holy City ... and where you can get some tasty hummus.
By: Lisa Singh
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Photo By: Lisa Singh

Photo By: Lisa Singh

Photo By: Lisa Singh

Photo By: Lisa Singh

Photo By: Lisa Singh

Photo By: Lisa Singh

Photo By: Lisa Singh

Photo By: Lisa Singh

Photo By: Lisa Singh

Photo By: Lisa Singh

Photo By: Lisa Singh

Photo By: Lisa Singh

Photo By: Lisa Singh

Photo By: Lisa Singh

Photo By: Lisa Singh

Dome of the Rock

Women ascend the steps to the Dome of the Rock. Built more than 1,300 years ago, the shrine stands as Islam’s third-holiest site. Competing religious beliefs make it the world’s most hotly debated piece of land. At its center is the Foundation Stone -- the spot where believers say Mohammad ascended to heaven; and where, for Jewish believers, the ancient Temple’s Holy of Holies stood.

Old City of Jerusalem

A mix of old and new architecture, the big standout of the Jerusalem skyline is the golden roof of the Dome of the Rock. Over the millennia the city has fallen under various hands (Jewish, Babylonian, Roman, Christian, Muslim); its current walls were built in the 1500s by Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. Naturally, with so many competing histories, fueled by impassioned belief, the question of who owns what is never far behind.

Jerusalem's Best Hummus?

You decide at Abu Shurki. This “hummusiyya” (hummus restaurant), located at the intersection of Via Dolorosa and al-Wad road in East Jerusalem, has been operating as a family business for the past 6 decades. Its hummus has been praised by locals and international media alike for being some of the city's best.

Ben Yehuda Street

In the heart of downtown Jerusalem, Ben Yehuda is the major street to see. Closed to vehicles, the street is home to souvenir shops, pizzerias, cafes and street musicians -- like this man, jamming to the beat of his spiritual hero, the 18th-century Nachman of Breslov, of Ukraine. The street itself is named for Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the founder of Modern Hebrew.

Damascus Gate

Enter the bustle of Jerusalem’s Old City through Damascus Gate. The gate, in its current form, was built in the 1537, under the rule of Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Suleiman the Magnificent. The gate is built upon the remains of an earlier structure, constructed in the 2nd century, under the rule of Roman Emperor Hadrian.

Going the Same Way?

Israel’s diverse panoply of Jewish life is often visible in everyday moments. Here, an Ultra-Orthodox man looks to one side, and Israeli soldiers to another, as they all wait for a rail line. Unlike other segments of Jewish society, Israel’s ultra-orthodox, known as haredim, do not serve in the military, leading to considerable debate within the country and beyond.

The Western Wall

Cover up! Located in the Old City of Jerusalem, the Western Wall, or “Kotel” in Hebrew, is a remnant of the ancient wall that surrounded the Jewish Temple’s courtyard. For 2,000 years this wall has endured as a place where seekers come to offer prayers, slipping notes between its ancient stones. Before you approach the wall, Orthodox practitioners may kindly help you cover up.

First Station Complex

High-five! A young mother enjoys a Sunday afternoon with her sons at First Station Complex. Located on the grounds of Jerusalem’s original railway station (closed for good in 1998) this entertainment hub is one of the city’s top places for food and culture, with attractions like farmers’ markets, a designer’s fair and plenty of kiddie fun.

Jerusalem Light Rail

Staking its claim as a 21st-century city, Jerusalem is now home to a light rail line. The line was completed in 2010, following 8 years of construction (and accompanying debate over possible damage to archaeological finds, most notably a Roman-Jewish settlement, dating to 70 C.E.). Today, the line spans nearly 9 miles, and trains operate at a speed of 50 mph.

Mahane Yehuda Market

Friday mornings are the time to see Mahane Yehuda in action. This bustling marketplace, known as “The Shuk,” is home to more than 250 vendors selling fresh fruits, vegetables, wines, nuts, breads and pastries like rugelach, pictured. Families load up bags with produce, then head home to prepare it all for the Sabbath. As the sun sets, streets fall empty and quiet; it's a vibe you won't find anywhere else in the world on a Friday evening.

Schindler’s List

Just outside the walls of the Old City, on a hill known as Mount Zion, is the final resting place of Oskar Schindler. The German industrialist who saved 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust, or “Shoah,” in Hebrew, was laid to rest here in 1974; a tree is also planted in Schindler and his wife’s honor at Yad Vashem, Israel’s national memorial to the two-thirds of European Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

Tomb of the Prophets

Behind this unassuming gate lies the Tomb of the Prophets. Located on the Mount of Olives, the catacomb that lies below is, according to Jewish and Christian Biblical traditions, the final resting place of the ancient prophets Haggai and Zechariah. A local guide, Jamil, has the key to the gate; he’ll let you in, and light candles for a photo-op below, but a gratuity is appreciated.

Chapel of the Ascension

A woman rests her hand in one of Christianity’s holiest sites – the right footprint of Christ. Located on the Mount of Olives, Ascension Rock, as it’s called, is found within the Chapel of the Ascension. First built in 390 A.D. and again in 1150 A.D., the chapel houses the exact spot where, according to Christian tradition, the incarnate Christ last touched the Earth before ascending to heaven.

Mount of Olives

Orthodox Jewish men pray at the grave of a spiritual leader. The grave is among the 150,000 found on the Mount of Olives. In ancient times, olive groves covered this mountain ridge overlooking Jerusalem’s Old City. Among the graves is that of Shlomo Goren, one of Israel’s leading rabbis of his day, who blew a ram’s horn at the Western Wall following the capture of East Jerusalem in 1967.

Bloomfield Park

In a city where divisions are sometimes palpable, this West Jerusalem park offers an unexpected reprieve. Here, Jewish and Arab children splash around in a shared fountain -- the Lions’ Fountain, as it's called, which was a gift from Germany in 1989. Catching a glimpse of this moment makes any trip to Jerusalem worth it.

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