Towards the north-east of Israel lies the Old City of Jerusalem, a religious site housing over 200 monuments pertaining to Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
The entire site stretches 0.35 square miles within the modern city of Jerusalem, and is contained within walls reaching between 16 and 46 feet in height. Four quarters make up its area, the Christian quarter, the Muslim quarter, the Jewish quarter and the Armenian quarter, each of which reflecting the cultures and traditions of the relevant religion or ethnicity. The Jewish quarter is home to one of the most famous and revered monument in Judaism: the Western Wall. Jewish people take pilgrimages to the Old City of Jerusalem to visit this wall, also known as the ‘wailing wall’ and ‘Kotel’ and pray at it.
Within the Christian quarter lies the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; one of the holiest places in the world for Christian people, as the Sepulchre is said to be Christ’s tomb, and it’s believed that it was here that Jesus was also crucified. The Christian quarter borders onto the Muslim quarter, which is the largest of ll four and has a significant population, and houses Temple Mount; a very important religious site for Islam and Judaism.
Today the Old City of Jerusalem has been reconstructed in various places (including the surrounding city walls) but only to the point where it accurately reflects the way that it looked when it was first built in the year 70 AD.
The Old City of Jerusalem wasn’t expanded upon until around 1860, when it began to grow outside of the Old City walls, into what we know today as modern Jerusalem.
Before this expansion, the Old City of Jerusalem dated back to the year 70AD when it was built by the settlers and rulers there at the time. The four quarters that it is comprised of have existed for many centuries since, but they have not always been within the same parameters that they lie in today. The layout of the Old City of Jerusalem that we see today was not built until the 1800s.
Several wars and disputes have rocked the Old City of Jerusalem since it was built almost 20 centuries ago. The most recent happened on April 13th 1990, when Greek Orthodox Christians and Palestinians were protesting against Jewish people living in the Christian quarter. Before this the most significant war was during the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 when much of the Jewish quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem was destroyed.
In between these two catastrophic events, the Old City of Jerusalem was named as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1980. Because of this various areas of the city are protected.
How to Get There:
The nearest airport to the Old City of Jerusalem is Atarot airport, although unfortunately this has had to be closed due to violence and fighting in the region.
Therefore, visitors to Jerusalem will need to fly to Ben Gurion International airport to the west (and closer to the coast) of the city. From here it’s a 45 minute drive to the Old City, so you may wish to find a hotel that is halfway within that distance. From the airport there are various buses and a high speed railway service to the center of Jerusalem, and closer to the Old City itself.
Where to Stay:
For mid to luxury range accommodation, try the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Jerusalem. At this hotel you will find rooms start at around $150 and go right up to $650 per night for an extravagant stay.
The Jerusalem Gate Hotel, on the other hand, offers mud range stays for visitors on more of a budget. Rooms here are usually around $120 per night. If you’re looking for budget accommodation, then the Jaffa Gate Hostel in Jerusalem is perfect. Rooms start at around $50, unless you wish to stay in a shared dormitory where rooms are much cheaper (around $20 per night).