Jerusalem: 7 Inspiring Things To See

Jerusalem is considered by many to be the holiest city in the world. Jerusalem is the epicenter of the world’s major religions and is both inspirational and controversial. Jerusalem holds a deep religious significance for Jews, Muslims and Christians, and the three religions have co-existed mostly peacefully out of respect for this sacred place. 

the old city jerusalem

Jerusalem is seeping with history and staggeringly beautiful. Our visit to Jerusalem was peaceful, with no aggression, and was quite different from the images often portrayed in the media.

jerusalem

It’s extremely powerful and profound to see and feel the deep spirituality here from people of all faiths. Some may find the tight security unsettling (be prepared to see young people in uniform carrying semi-automatic weapons everywhere), but we didn’t feel in danger at any point of our trip. We felt extremely safe, even when four guards rushed past us baring their machine guns, and I saw Julian’s hand reach out.  I asked him, “Did you touch his gun?” and he sheepishly said… “yes… it was so close and I’ve never touched a gun.”

guards in jerusalem

Image result for guards in jerusalem

It’s important when interacting with security guards to be friendly and agreeable, follow directions without question, and respect those whose job it is to keep the peace in this difficult environment.

It was incredibly moving to personally experience a place that is the focus of so much global interest. Here are seven inspiring things to experience in Jerusalem in no particular order.

Jerusalem

1. Wander around the Old City

The Old City is a square kilometer walled area within the modern city of Jerusalem divided into four very diverse quarters: The Christian Quarter,  The Jewish Quarter, The Muslim Quarter, and The Armenian Quarter

armenian quarter jerusalem

We meandered through alleys in each quarter, drank fresh pomegranate juice, ate the best falafels we’ve ever tasted, and soaked in the rich history of the Old City.

eating falafels in jerusalem

fresh pomegranate juice in jerusalem

Many of Jerusalem’s well-known sites are found in the Old City, including the Western Wall, the Stations of the Cross, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and Temple Mount.

2. Temple Mount and The Dome of the Rock

family at the dome of the rock in jerusalem
Temple Mount is a large compound surrounded by retaining walls in the heart of Jerusalem, and can be reached by eleven gates. Ten of these gates are reserved for Muslims.

temple mount and the dome of the rock in jerusalem

The Mosque and the Shrine are open only to Muslims, so we were unable to enter. The Dome of the Rock is easily seen towering  from most places, and is a recognized symbol of Jerusalem. This holy shrine signifies the spot where the Prophet Muhammad is believed to have ascended into Heaven. Security is INCREDIBLY tight here, so be prepared for long lines and many questions.

temole mount and the western wall israel

3. Western Wall 

The Western Wall is the only remnant of the Jewish Temple that was destroyed centuries ago in 70 A.D. by the Romans.

the western wall jerusalem
The Western Wall is considered one of the holiest of places for the Jewish faith, and is a place for prayer and reflection. Millions of pilgrims (Jewish and non-Jewish) visit the Western Wall each year to pray, writing their wishes on small pieces of paper before placing them between the cracks in the stone for God to answer.

We cleared strict security before entering the compound. Men and women have their own separate areas of the Wall, and a yarmulke or a head covering must be worn. You join a line behind a person who has a place on the Wall, until they are finished. Then it’s your turn to approach the Wall and offer prayer. It’s important to never turn your back on the Wall, and when finished you slowly walk away from the Wall backwards. This is symbolic for not turning your back on God. As I stood waiting, the sight and sound of people gently touching the Wall, wailing, and handing their problems over to God, was extremely personal and I almost felt like an intruder.

praying at the western wall in jerusalem

I suggest writing your prayer on a piece of paper to insert into the wall before you visit Jerusalem, if you choose. Modest dress is a requirement, and wear a scarf to cover your head as a sign of respect.

4. Via Dolorosa

Via Dolorosa is believed to be the path Jesus walked, carrying His cross on the way to His crucifixion. There are 14 stations leading to the crucifixion, each marked with a medallion indicating the station number in Roman numerals.

stations of the cross in jerusalem in bethlehem

These 14 stations form a route ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Pilgrims have walked this holy route for many years.

Stone Handprint, Station 5 of the Via Dolorosa
This is the stone where Jesus allegedly placed His hand as He stumbled on the way to His crucifixion.

 stations of the cross jerusalem via dolorosa

Via Dolorosa weaves through narrow alleys, and is tricky to walk because of the crowds and the shops in the Old City today. Some of the stations are clearly labeled, and some are hard to find. Regardless of your religious beliefs, these stations in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher are extremely humbling to view, as we imagined Jesus walking this route to His death.

5. Church of the Holy Sepulchre

This church in the Old City of Jerusalem is the holiest Christian site in the world shared by five different Christian communities: Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Coptic, Syrian Orthodox and Armenian.

church of the holy sepulchre jerusalem on christmas eve
This cross symbolizes the very spot where Jesus was crucified.

This is the site marking Jesus’ crucifixion and the tomb (sepulchre) where he was buried. We felt the deep religious significance as we gazed at the spot where Christ’s body was prepared for burial; the Stone of Unction. Many people were praying and sobbing in all languages, and some were gently cleaning the stone with a soft cloth. Observing and feeling the emotional gravity of this sacred place will sit with us forever.

church of the holy sepulchre

church of the holy sepulchre
hTe site of the tomb where Jesus rose from the dead

We climbed the narrow steps to the Calvary and site of the crucifixion; the most lavishly decorated part of the Church.

the calvary at the church of the holy sepulchere

6. Garden of Gethsemane

The garden is calm and peaceful, and has olive trees estimated at well over 1000 years old. This garden is where Jesus is said to have met his disciples, and said his final prayers before his arrest.

7. Yad Vashem – World Holocaust Remembrance Center

Yad Vashem has indoor museums, outdoor monuments, exhibitions, memorial sites, gardens, and sculptures. This center is devoted to preserving the memory of the Holocaust. The hollowed-out cavern with a single candle reflected by a series of mirrors commemorates the 1.5 million children killed.

Tips for Traveling in Jerusalem

  • Be prepared to see police everywhere carrying semi-automatic weapons. There is high security around all holy sites – we felt very safe at all times. 
  • There are many checkpoints at these sacred sites. You will have your bag and body searched many times. Get used to it.
  • Dress appropriately i.e. covered up! Long trousers and long sleeves for men, and long skirts with hair covered for women. Dress must be conservative and no religious symbols are allowed.
  • Men and Women cannot have physical contact on Temple Mount. You cannot hold hands, or even place a hand on a member of the opposite sex in conversation. If you do this you will be approached by security who could remove you from the property.
  • Non-Muslims are not allowed into the Mosques located on Temple Mount.
  • Double check when the time sites are open to non-Muslims. Sometimes if there are security concerns, entry can be denied at the last minute.
  • Always remain respectful and friendly at all times, and follow directions without question when dealing with security personnel.
  • It’s helpful to have a tour guide when visiting Jerusalem. Our guide in Jerusalem was very knowledgeable, and we even stopped at the Dead Sea on our way back to Tel Aviv.

the dead sea in israel with kids  salt on the waters edge at the dead sea in israel with kids

the dead sea in israel with kids

Regardless of your religious beliefs, Jerusalem is an incredibly humbling place filled with emotion, and we are forever changed since visiting this holy place.

** This post is sponsored however all opinions are my own**

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About The Author

Samantha

I’m a travel and health writer, digital and brand consultant, breast cancer survivor, and supermom to two active boys! I keep it real and share stories of raising feral wolves teenage boys, family life after a cancer diagnosis, and family travels around the world! Each story is shared with my dry, and sometimes naughty sense of humor.

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