Outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem is the so-called the “New City” of Jerusalem. With more than 800,000 people it is home to historically important religious sites, vistas and tourist attractions – so many of them that it becomes impossible to visit and see them all. From our experience we suggest visiting the downtown district, the Knesset, Israel Museum, The Holocaust Memorial (Yad Vashem), Haas Promenade, Mea Shearim, and the Mount of Olives.
Although crossing between areas of the city takes time because of strict security measures from the time we leave the hotel our guided tour begins by exploring the very heart of the city’s compact downtown located around the three thoroughfares – King George Street, Jaffa Road and Ben-Yehuda Street where we find a bustling stone-paved pedestrian mall, also known as the “midrechov” in Hebrew (literally, pedestrian street) crowded with people, street performers, artists displaying their wares and lined with restaurants, cafes, shops, and apartment buildings. No matter what you’re craving for make a quick stop at Cafe Rimon, a Kosher restaurant chain in Israel, open 24 hours or at Gagou de Paris for delicious French croissants.
If you have some political interest a visit to the state’s parliament, the Knesset, is worth it. All branches of the Israel’s government, executive, legislative and judicial, are located in the New City including the Parliament and the residences of the president and the prime minister. The unicameral Parliament is The Knesset (means “assembly” in Hebrew) with 120 members elected every four (4) years based on nation-wide proportional representation. Aside from passing laws, the Knesset elects the President (currently Reuven Rivlin) and the Prime Minister (incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu). Make sure to bring your passport which must be presented to enter the Knesset. It also maintains a dress code – no shorts, jeans, tank tops, or clothing with political slogans. (crocs are only allowed if they are in navy, blue or black.)
Not far from the Knesset, the Israel Museum exibits archaeology and modern day art and also the fragments of the celebrated Dead Sea Scrolls regarded as the oldest manuscripts of the Old Testament ever found as discovered in the caves of the Judean desert in 1947.
The Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum established by Isareli law in 1953 serves as a comprehensive monument to the six (6) million Jews who were slaughtered during World War II.
Visiting the “Haas Promenade” on the hills of Talpiot is a must. Immerse yourself with the most panoramic landscape of the old Jerusalem and its walls as well as the skyline of the New City.
Mea Shearim! A world by itself, Mea Shearim is the ultra Orthodox district of Jerusalem, one of the city’s oldest Jewish neighbourhood established in 1874. Walking in the area on its narrow streets and alleys is to walk into a time wrap feeling as if you’re back in time. Here a sign to women and girls reads: “We beg you with all our hearts, please donot pass through our neighbourhood in immodest clothes.” And refrain from taking photography.
Rising to the east of Jerusalem is the Mount of Olives, a major site of pilgrimage especially for Catholics and Protestants.
Named for the olive groves that for thousand years have grown on the slopes, the Mount of Olives is famous for the convent of St. Mary Magdalene with its golden rooftop, the Chapel of the Ascension (the sacred site where Jesus ascended into Heaven after 40 days from resurrection) and the Tomb of the Virgin Mary. Our Christian memories on the Mount of Olives are associated with the life of Jesus – the teaching of the Lord’s prayer, the weeping over Jerusalem and the prayer in the garden of Gethsemane.
e headed back then to Capharnaum, the town of Jesus, and to the Sea of Galilee.