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I mentioned last week that Abrahams hostel, undoubtedly the best place to stay in Jerusalem, offers free tours around Jerusalem old city, but they merely scratch the surface. When you travel in Israel ou really need to follow it up the next with the official Jerusalem old city tour.

wailing wall israel
Me doing my best to fit in!

Where the free tour last one a half to two hours, the full tour lasts four hours plus. You get proper insights into the holiness of the city, you get access to the famous sites and you get a traditional lunch all within the historical walls of the UNESCO ‘City of Gold’.

JerusalemI met the tour guide in the same place as the free tour, just outside Jaffa gate.  Our first stop was the Armenian quarter. It turns out the Armenians were the first country on the globe to turn to Christianity, a fact that they’re very proud of even today. The Armenian quarter is the quietest and smallest quarter within the old city,   and it’s almost its own self-serving community with the gates closing them off to the rest of the world each night.

The 1000 years old Cathedral is the highlight of this section, and you can actually attend their vespers (service) each day at 3pm where you can watch the Orthodox religious men go through their chants.

You also get to check out the room where the Last Supper was carried out.

armenian quarter israel

Next up was the Jewish quarter. This is a completely different vibe to everything else within the old city, mainly due to the fact that the entire section was raized by the Jordanians when they took control of the area in 1948. Since it was ‘given’ back to Israel in ’67, its been rebuilt from scratch. There has been huge excavation work done too, so the city is built around the original 3000 year old city, very impressive stuff.

jewish quarter jerusalem

Undoubtedly though, the highlight of this section (and of the tour perhaps) is the Wailing Wall or the Western Wall, the 2000 year old remains of then holiest Jewish temple of them all, Temple Mount, built by Herod in 20BC, but destroyed by the Romans less that 100 years later. Now people go to the wall to pass their prayers into the huge blocks, with separate sections for men and women. Remember to dress appropriately, and don’t forget to don the kippah gentlemen!)

wailing wall jerusalem

The 3rd section of the tour arrives at the Muslim quarter, the most densely populated section. Jerusalem is the 3rd holiest city in the world in Islam (Medina is second, Mecca first)  and the centre of the holiness stems from the same area as the Christians and Jews, Temple Mount ( or the Noble Sanctuary in Islamic terms). This spot is home to the world’s oldest mosque (al-Aqsa) and marks the point when the prophet Muhammed ascended to heaven.

temple mount jerusalem

The iconic gold dome isn’t actually a mosque, despite what people think, it’s more of a shrine protecting a rock that Jews believe we all stemmed from, and the Old Testament said that’s where Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son, Isaac.

The food in the Muslim quarter is awesome, so be sure to stop off for a bite to eat.

arabic food jerusalem

Last up we visited the Christian quarter, which is jam packed full of churches. Undoubtedly the most famous is the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus was said to be crucified. Nearby was the place he was buried and from which he was so to have resurrected.

Holy Sepulchre jerusalem

You can also wander around the rooftops in the Christian quarter, offering cool views of the city.

 

You really need to take a guide or go on a tour for the Old City. Normally I’m not a huge advocate of tours but with so much history in such a small space, you’d be missing out without one. Happy travels!

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Taking a Tour Around Jerusalem Old City

  1. Wow! The information that you provide is great. I visited Israel in the mid-1980’s for 8 days; I had recently graduated from high school. I realized before my eight days were over that I was missing so much because I had been ill-prepared for the trip. Even so I feel confident that back then (even today for that matter), it would have been difficult to obtain the top notch information and advice that you provide for travelers. This information is crucial and can make all the difference in the world. I feel that I am living proof of that. My trip to Israel left me with feelings of guilt and incompleteness that have literally tortured me all these decades. If only I had been better prepared maybe then things would have been different and rather than feeling tortured, I would have closure.

      1. Thank you so much, Johnny. You have NO idea how comforting this is. Right now what I would like to do is find an Old City Jerusalem busy body, you know a person who knows everyone and every family there. So far I have been unsuccessful in finding the right person or social media where I can become buddies with such a person. You see I have been feeling guilty all these millions of years that I never thanked or even bothered to get the name of a local person who was kind enough to walk me around the old city for hours and hours. I didn’t even bother to say goodbye; my behavior was inexcusable. Over the years, I have tried to forget about it but the end result is always the same; I end up stressed over that person’s well-being. I just want to know that they are alright and I want to apologize. So far I have tried Paltalk. There is a website called Jerusalem.com that posts announcements but so far no luck. I am a foreign language high school teacher so there are travel opportunities available for me if I really want them. Unfortunately, Israel is not one of them. I post here my real and full name for everyone to see my guilt and my shame.

  2. what a FKEN IGNORANT nob head are you? do you have no brain or capacity to be compassionate or caring about the disgustng ethnic cleansing of the the beautiful Palestinian people? OH NO!!!! You don’t!! sorry you’re only interested in how cheap you can get a COOL experience and meal…..

  3. what a FKEN IGNORANT nob head are you? do you have no brain or capacity to be compassionate or caring about the disgustng ethnic cleansing of the the beautiful Palestinian people? OH NO!!!! You don't!! sorry you're only interested in how cheap you can get says:

    shame they don’t sell brains … you could do with one

    1. considering you placed your comment in the ‘name’ section here, i don’t think we should get into an argument about who needs to be shopping for brains, now do we? 😛

  4. Wow, what an amazing place. I was actually just reading a travel article about Israel and Palestine so it’s great to read from someone who’s there now!

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