A holy city for Christians, Jews and Muslims. A land of peace that has always been a cause of war. Perhaps the most mourned and worshiped place on Earth.
To come to Jerusalem is to learn history first-hand. It was the setting for the major milestones of the three largest monotheistic religions in the world. For instance, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, as it is known, is a very meaningful place for Christians of all denominations. It was built on the same spot where, according to tradition, the burial and resurrection of Christ took place. Inside, the interior of the church is surprising for its simplicity and the great number of visitors that go to pray and meditate every day.
Not too far away we find the Esplanade of Mosques. There the golden Dome of the Rock stands majestically, a model for Islamic art throughout the ages, as well as the Al-Aqsa mosque. The latter is a very sacred place for Muslims around the world. According to the Quran, this was the exact spot where the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) prepared his son’s sacrifice. It also was the magical spot in Jerusalem where the prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven in the 7th century.
Precisely in this esplanade that has been so worshipped by Muslims throughout the eras, the great temple of the Jewish once stood; Nebuchadnezzar II, Babylon’s emperor, ordered its destruction a thousand years prior to Muhammad’s ascension. Of this chapel that was once the pride of the Hebrew people and a work of Solomon – one of the most important wise kings of Israel – all that remains is a small wall, known as the “Wailing Wall”, where Jewish people go to pray, mourn and remember the hardships of their ancestors
Luckily, the city is home to some other not so sacred places, but they are equally as important to the daily lives of its millions of inhabitants. There is the Nahalat Shiv’a neighbourhood, which is full of flowers and modern restaurants that showcase the richness of Eastern Mediterranean cuisine and the influence of Middle Eastern cultures.
You should also take the opportunity to visit the ultra-Orthodox Jewish quarter Mea Shaerim, which is as peculiar as it is authentic. Visit Mahane Yehuda market, where you’ll find the best raw ingredients in Israel and Palestine. And experience the commercial life of the Arab quarter – for instance, the countless shops in Al Wad Ha Gal street, where there’s always a pleasant surprise. Of course, you can’t skip a visit to the charismatic Armenian quarter to experience the religious ceremony that follows the Orthodox Armenian rite and is always held at three o’clock in the afternoon in St. James Cathedral.
Jerusalem is also a city of museums. For instance, Yad Vashem was built in remembrance of the victims of the Nazi holocaust. It is also worth visiting the new Israel Museum, where the contemporary styles of artists such as Botero intertwine with archaeological jewels from all ages, such as the famous Dead Sea Scrolls.
And since we mentioned the Dead Sea, it is always nice to take a break from all the history in a relaxing spa-hotel next to the salty sea. As they say in Israel, as soon as you get off the plane: here, holidays are sacred.
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The suggested activities are the essence of the trip. Of course, there are other options which can also be adapted to the type of trip you want to take.
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