,, I’m lucky enough to have visited many places in my life, but nowhere exceeded my expectations so completely, or impressed me quite as much, like Jerusalem. I completely fell in love with this city, and I’m desperate to go back!
From the bus station, we traveled to our accommodation by tram (the Light Rail), and the minute we got off, we were sucked into the amazing atmosphere of Jerusalem on a Thursday evening. With the lights of the night illuminating that special stone architecture of the buildings on the Jaffa Road, and the warm spring air touched our faces, we felt as though we had been both catapulted into another dimension and abruptly brought to life.
We started early on Friday morning since we knew that things would start to close by 2 PM on account of Shabbat. We went up to Mount Herzl by Light Rail. Mount Herzl is the terminus, so you can’t miss it. This mountain, also known as the Mount of Remembrance, is named after Theodor Herzl, the father of modern Zionism. His grave can be found at the top of the hill, but he is not the only one buried there: this is Israel’s national cemetery, and prime ministers, generals, and national heroes have also been given a resting place here.
At the entrance to the complex can be found the Herzl Center, while the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum is just a short walk away. The Yad Vashem shows the horrors of the Holocaust and commemorates the victims, and even now I find that my throat constricts when I think about it. It is an extremely well-thought-out museum.
Pictures, books, videos, clothes, personal effects, notes, severed sidelocks and much more can be found here, all relating to the Holocaust. I felt my heart almost break in places, but there’s simply no other way to experience this place. Prepare yourself emotionally, then go, if you’re in Jerusalem! The entrance is free.” (2018)
Jerusalem is, without a doubt, one of the most magical places in the world. It’s also a dense, crowded place, and the senses are overcome by a mixture of omnipresent spirituality and the various aromas of the bazaars. It appears that you can get used to living in this sort of environment, and the atmosphere is cheerful – only the rigorous inspection at checkpoints reminds a visitor that peace here is fragile.
The narrow alley of the old town which surrounds the Wailing Wall is a good precursor to the sight of that great square, and the iconic silhouette of the Temple of the Rock. Several hours flew by unnoticed on that square, as we watched the parade of lively, cheerfully devout worshippers. Also a great place for taking photos.
By the Wailing Wall, it’s even easier to sense that there is something special in the air. While the Jewish people bowed and prayed, each standing a little way apart from the others, we often heard in the distance the muezzin’s call. Had we not known about the millennium-old conflict between the Jews and the Palestinians, often aggravated by those of Christian faith, we might have imagined that they understood one another well…
My young son loved being able to go into the male section of the wall and speak his wishes to it. He also bought an artistic silk kippah as a memento for himself. Many say that it’s worth spending Shabbat in Jerusalem when you can see the religious life around the Wailing Wall in an even more lively form.
The roof of the Austrian Hospice offers one of the most beautiful panoramas of Jerusalem. The name is misleading – today it is a hotel – but no sign or board indicates this along the Via Dolorosa, the road Christ took to his crucifixion. You have to ring the doorbell for admittance, and they charge five shekels per person to use the lift up to the roof. The Via Dolorosa is full of bazaars these days, and Jesus would have been hard-pressed to squeeze past the stalls of the street vendors.
We took a look at the obligatory Christian sites of pilgrimage and skipped only the places with long queues. The truth is, they’re only really of interest to those who are devoutly religious. The top experience for me was the blue-and-gold timelessness of the Temple Mount. Despite being one of the most politically and religiously contested places on the planet, to me, it radiated peace and tranquility.” (2017)
“The tram down from Yad Vashem was crowded since school had just ended and all the pupils were going home. There were also a few soldiers on their way back from service. Never before have I traveled with three armed soldiers, their Kalashnikovs – or some close relative – slung over their shoulders on a crowded tram. It struck me as bizarre, but nobody else seemed to notice them. They got off downtown.” (Krista)
“For me, Jerusalem was like an island of peace. Late every afternoon – no joke – the Jerusalem wind blows in, and the air cools to just the right point for people to enjoy going outside. There’s nothing similar in Tel Aviv, where the air outside the apartment is always stifling.
Jerusalem is a jewelry box – see it, if you ever get the chance! Wander the narrow streets of the old town, haggle with Arab vendors, see with your own eyes the Wailing Wall and touch it with your own hands! Walk through the nearby system of tunnels! Buy a bunch of grapes at the Machane Yehuda market, and choose from among a range of fresh spices!”
“Nowhere on earth has ever left such a deep impression on me. One highlight was the Kotel, the Wailing Wall, which is a real spiritual experience – you almost feel as though this is where the world’s heart beats. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the world’s most unstable powder kegs and could explode at any moment.
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher may not be the most beautiful church in the world, but the spirit of the place, and the sense of multiple religions present in one place, make it a magical place.
Unfortunately, commerce has definitely infiltrated the holy places.
It was truly moving to visit the Yad Vashem memorial, which tells of the indescribable suffering the Jews experienced during the Holocaust. The Israel Museum is also captivating, telling as it does the story of ‘Eretz Yisrael’, or the Land of Israel. The story of the Dead Sea Scrolls is also fascinating. In a word, I want to come back here someday, and hope I will have the chance.”