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. Afterwards, feel free to take a walk around the surrounding Mishkenot Shananim neighborhood, visit the nearby restaurants, soak in the peaceful ambience and take a moment to contemplate over the city’s phenomenal and fascinating growth over the course of history.
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!
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. If you’d really love to enrichen your knowledge of the place, a guided tour of the Kishle (from Herod’s Palace to the mandate-period British prison) is available every Tuesday at 10:30am and Friday at 11am, and last for approximately 2 hours. These tours start at the top of the Phaseal Tower, with breath-taking views over the four corners of the Old City, the Dome of the Rock, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Mount of Olives, the Hurve Synagogue and even– on a clear day – the Jordanian mountains.
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. While the avid view-hunter may see this spot as their prize stop, the promenades are also perfect for romantic picnics and artistic inspiration. Indeed, both the selfie stick and the panoramic camera option will never have as much value as the moment you find yourself standing in 'the Tayalet'. Furthermore, if you’re only interested in walking a small portion of the way, Segway tours are an alternative way to experience the views, only at a slightly faster pace.
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. Tours and Christian services are available every Monday to Saturday from 8:30 to 17:30. To add to its uniqueness, the Israeli Tour Guides Association recently voted The Garden Tomb the best tour site in Israel. However, be wary, as due to the garden’s sheer popularity, groups are advised to book their tours pretty far in advance. So other than that, relax your mind and let your guide take you back to the New Testament and the heart of Christianity. The Garden Tomb is one of the possible sites for Jesus’ burial and resurrection, located within Jerusalem. While its authenticity is questioned by archaeologists, many others believe it to be Jesus’ true resting place. Because of this, it has become a popular site for Christians to come pray and pay respects, and for history and religion lovers alike to visit. As it is a very popular site, tours must be booked in advance, however, self-guided tour booklets are also available for guests. A
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 centre, 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. If you’re here for music, the Eden-Tamir Music Center hosts chamber concerts, piano concerts and more. If art is more your taste, a simple stroll will lead you to countless galleries and the famous twelve stained-glass windows of the Hadassah Hospital Synagogue. If you find yourself suddenly craving a fine dining experience, Ein Karem is one of the best neighborhoods in the Jerusalem culinary world, hosting a delicious variety of Moroccan, French and Italian cuisines. And once you’ve finished your meal, why not explore the night life a little and see the many bars that this memorable region has to offer.
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.