The Old City of Jerusalem and its surrounding walls are a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. With its history and spiritual meaning, the city and its walls represent the heart of the larger city of Jerusalem and most of the holy sites in the area are located within the Old City walls. Jerusalem is sacred to three religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. The sacred site for the Christians is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, for the Jews it’s the Temple Mount and the holiest site for Muslims is the Dome of the Rock.
You do not need to be religious to be stunned by its history and spiritual value. Go for a walk in the narrow alleyways of the city and experience the many sites and monuments in the area. Every religion has its own sites and due to the size of the area you should have time to visit them all.
The Old city of Jerusalem has an ancient history, dating back more than 3000 years. Until 1860 Jerusalem only consisted of the old city, but has since increased significantly in size. The old city is known as one of the most fought over cities in the world, due to its religious importance. The wall surrounding the city was built in the 16th century by the Ottoman Turk, Suleyman the Magnificent. The present street plan was created during the Byzantine period and has not been changed since.
The old city is fairly small, approximately 0.9 square kilometers. There are walls surrounding the area with several gates leading the way into the center. Seven of the eight gates are still in use; Jaffa, New, Damascus, Herod´s, Lions´, Dung and Zion Gate. Depending on which gate you chose, you should arrive in one of the four districts called the Christian Quarter, Armenian Quarter, Jewish quarter and the Muslim Quarter.
There are only two bus routes operating the area, bus number 38 and 38x. Get on the bus at the Old Train Station or somewhere along the route. Probably the best way to get close to the area is to go with the light train, which will take you to Damascus Gate.
If you have rented a car you should be aware that private cars only are allowed in the area during night,don’t forget your travel insurance cover if you plan to rent a car, (check the PDS). Between 9am and 6pm they are prohibited and must be parked in any of the parking lots, the largest one is situated at Jaffa Gate. Taxis are allowed within the Old City during the entire day, and they can easily be found close to Jaffa Gate as well.
There are no specific opening hours of the Old City. The tourism centre is situated at Jaffa gate. Its opening hours are Sunday to Thursday 8:30am – 5:00pm and Friday 8:30am -12:00am.
Make sure you visit the Old City during holy days when the festivities attract tourists from all over the world. Parades and ceremonies are the major attractions during these days and the streets are filled with people celebrating and praising their religious day. Be aware that the opening hours of restaurants may be changed during this time.
There are weekly events offered in the area, often held on Mondays and Thursdays. Some nights the tourist sites will be open late so keep an eye open for announcements. You can check for the latest updates in our country travel advices.
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