The Old City of Jerusalem

A World Heritage Site of Biblical Proportions
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The Old City of Jerusalem
Secular, Spiritual, and Surprising, Jerusalem Has It All: View over the Wailing Wall and Dome of the Rock (PhotoDisc)
Jerusalem at a Glance
Name : Old City of Jerusalem
Date of Inscription: 1981
Location: Jerusalem, Israel
Why You Should Go: No matter where you turn, a story of Biblical might has played out there.

Ten measures of beauty were bestowed
 upon the world;
 nine were taken by Jerusalem,
 and one by the rest of the world.

—Babylonian Talmud

Whether you light the menorah, attend Mass, study the Koran, or simply love beautiful, historic places, the Old City of Jerusalem has much to draw you in. The city, captured and renamed 3,000 years ago by King David, is divided into four quarters: Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Armenian. Now Israel's capital (a sticking point in Middle East relations), the city holds some of the world's holiest sites inside its seven gates. There is the Western (or Wailing) Wall, where visitors stick scrap-paper wishes inside the stone cracks; the Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock, where Muhammad rose to heaven, where Abraham prepared to sacrifice Isaac, and where Solomon built his temple; and the Vía Dolorosa, the 14 stations of Jesus' cross-bearing procession, which you can retrace step by step.
In between these holy sites are smaller but equally powerful attractions, some spiritual, some secular: the Tower of David, Mount Zion cemetery, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Mount of Olives, and hundreds of stalls stuffed with great crafts that represent the city's many cultures.

The Old City of Jerusalem is about 30 miles (35 km) from the airport and is best reached by shared taxi, called sherut. Once inside the fortified walls, all you need is a sturdy pair of boots, as the Old City is made for walking. However, with the precarious political situation as well as the sacred nature of the sites, be aware of varying customs as you flow between ethnic sections, and be sure to dress modestly. You can stay in or around the sacred city, with many cheap accommodations found along “Hostel Way,'”near Damascus Gate.

A globetrotter and travel writer, Andrea Sachs contributes frequently to the Washington Post.

Published: 1 Jun 2000 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication



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