So, you’ve prayed at the Kotel, you’ve been inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, you’ve tasted the finest of cuisine at Jerusalem restaurants in and around Machne Yehuda, but do you really know this central city of Jewish history? Have you truly experienced the sheer diversity of sights and sounds that this 3000-year-old city has to offer? We’ll guess for you - probably not. Aside from being just a capitol for the Abrahamic religions, Jerusalem equally holds the crown for being the capital of hidden gems. And while there are just too many to choose from, we’ve handpicked a specific seven that may shine the brightest to the curious - yet accustomed – tourist.
Seven new things to do in Jerusalem for the returning tourist
Today, the Montefiore Windmill serves as a museum dedicated to the achievements of British Jewish banker and financier Moses Montefiore, who committed his life to promoting education, industry, and health in the Land of Israel. Restored in 2012 as part of the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel, and one of the only two surviving windmills in Jerusalem today, visitors can learn the history of the first Jewish settlements outside the city walls. There is even a replica of Montefiore’s luxurious chariot on display.
Opposite the Knesset lies a magical garden with over 400 varieties of roses. In addition to some 15,000 rose bushes, the park features expansive lawns and an ornamental pond with aquatic plants. It’s a celebration of colors and smells and the perfect backdrop for selfie-lovers!
Often regarded as Jerusalem’s most beautiful neighborhood, Ein Karem is comfortably seated at the foot of the Jerusalem Hills. Just a 15-minute drive from the city center, you’ll find a peaceful haven surrounded by rich green forests and charming immaculate streets. Known in the Bible as the birthplace of John the Baptist, this exquisite village is home to the Church of St John the Baptist, Visitation Church, the Notre Dame de Sion convent, the Greek Orthodox St. John convent, the Al Moskovia Russian monastery and Mary’s Well.
Opened by Eilat Lieber, the new Director of the Tower of David Museum, the excavations have only recently become available to tourists. While we’re counting this as just one treasure, the excavations offer a whole treasure chest of hidden delights that will make any true history buff drool with excitement. Firstly, these are the only excavations of Herod’s Palace, featuring enormous foundation walls. Secondly, visitors can walk down the Herodian steps to a Hasmonian pool, that in its time would’ve been an extravagant pool connected directly to Herod’s palace.
Popularly known in Hebrew as 'the Tayelet', this stunning scene is actually comprised of a series of walkways, primarily the Walter and Elise Haas Promenade, the Gabriel Sherover Promenade and the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Promenade. Here, you’ll quickly realize why Jerusalem is famous for its heavenly beauty. Just a few of the wondrous sights you can see from the observation points include Augusta Victoria Hospital, the Hebrew University of Mount Scopus, Mount Zion, the King David Hotel, the Tower of Jerusalem YMCA, the Mount of Olives, the Hurva Synagogue and – of course – the Dome of the Rock and Temple Mount.
Believed to be the Sepulchre of Joseph of Arimathea, a possible site for the resurrection of Jesus and bordering what some scholars claim to be Golgotha, this site is probably the quietest on the list, and the opposite to the hustle and bustle of the Old City. Used as a center of peaceful worship and reflection, visitors can sit calmly and imagine the accounts of the four gospels taking place here. An additional feature not to be missed out on is The Garden Tomb’s very own tour guides, renowned for their exceptional and imaginative storytelling.
Originally belonging to the wealthy Nicanor of Alexandria, who is mentioned in both the works of Roman Jewish historian Josephus and in the Talmud and is believed to have donated the gates of the Second Temple, a history-hungry adventurer can expect to find Byzantine pottery and evidence that this tucked-away site was first built in the middle of the first century CE. While the cave’s ossuaries have been cleared out, visitors are still free to enter and take a look around at this essential piece of biblical history.