Though the Wailing Wall and the Kotel tunnels are vital stops when in the Holy Land, you don’t need to be religious to appreciate the splendor that the Old City Jerusalem has to offer. It’s one of the world’s greatest and most historically rich sites filled with artifacts and museums. While it might seem daunting to cram so much history into one visit – not to mention shopping and foodie destinations – it’s perfectly feasible that our guide of thing to do in Israel includes all of the Jerusalem must-see sites (no matter your religion) that you’d be mad to miss.
Must-see sites in the Old City Jerusalem
No visit to Jerusalem is complete without a visit to the Kotel. Considered to be the holiest place for the Jewish faith, a short walk through the Old City of Jerusalem will lead you to this sacred site. Be sure to write a wish or personal note on a scrap of paper and slit it in the cracks of wall as visitors have for years. The Kotel is the pulsing center of the historically amazing Old City of Jerusalem.
Dive into Jerusalem's fascinating past through a high-tech virtual reconstruction. Located in the Jerusalem Archaeological Park, this center offers an in-depth, three-dimensional reconstruction of the Temple, based on excavations and ancient writings.
The tour of the Kotel Tunnels unveils hidden sections of the Western Wall. Walking through underground passages, ancient water trenches, and streets from the Second Temple period. Stones were recently excavated revealing fascinating hidden passages. As a city that has literally been built layer by layer, traveling through these passageways unravels thousands of years of history.
Permanent exhibitions tell the story of Jerusalem through specialized cultural events, activities, and tours. During the spring months, the exhibition “The Kaiser is Coming!" is on display, featuring archival images and history of Wilhelm II, Emperor of Germany in 1898.
Built in 691 CE, The Dome of the Rock is one of the oldest works of Islamic architecture. Recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site, this spot is considered to be one of Jerusalem’s most recognizable landmarks. A masterpiece of Islamic architecture, the shrine is said to be where Mohammed ascended to heaven. Located at the edge of the Old City in Jerusalem, a walk through the ancient alleyways will lead you to this special monument.
Built on the site revered by Christians as the location of Jesus' resurrection, the church has been a location of pilgrimage since the 4th century. Christians of all denominations and people from around the world can be seen visiting its various frankincense laden vestibules and chambers.
With a distinctive Arabian nights feel to it, the Arab market – or souq – located in the Christian and Muslim Quarters of the Old City is a labyrinth of alleyways lined with shops selling everything from handmade jewelry and exotic scarves to hookahs and ceramics.
This 15-minute installation explains why, where, and how the Via Dolorosa was born and how the area around it was transformed during the centuries. This innovative installation, offered in 8 languages, is divided into three stages: archaeological fragment, multimedia technology, and a spiritual moment at the end of the show.
Aside from popular tourist, archaeological and holy sites, the Old City of Jerusalem also boasts the Cardo, an ancient thoroughfare in the Jewish Quarter riddled with lively eateries, local artisan workshops, Judaica stores, boutiques and spice stalls. Part of the Cardo has been restored to appear as it would have in Roman times.
A visit to the New Temple Institute Visitors’ center can feel like a visit to the Holy Temple itself. After almost 2,000 years in the making, Holy Vessels and garments fit for use in the Temple are housed here along with paintings depicting biblical stories.