Difference between revisions of "Jerusalem"
Revision as of 09:59, 1 June 2012
Jerusalem (Hebrew: ירושלים Yerushalayim, Arabic: القدسal-Quds)  is the capital and largest city of Israel, even though it is not universally recognized as Israel's capital ]. It is a holy city to three religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), and one of the oldest cities in the world. The City of Gold, as it has come to be known in Hebrew, is a fascinatingly unique place where the first century rubs shoulders with the twenty-first century, each jostling for legitimacy and space, and where picturesque "old" neighborhoods nestle against glistening office towers and high-rise apartments. It is one of those places which has to be seen to be believed.
Jerusalem is a big place, and can be divided up into a few districts.
Please note: the areas of those districts may overlap.
Located in the Judean Mountains between the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea, Jerusalem is considered holy to the three major Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It is the holiest city in Judaism and the spiritual center of the Jewish people since the 10th century BCE, the third-holiest in Islam and is also home to a number of significant and ancient Christian landmarks. It is also a city with a very violent past, as it was fiercely contested between Christianity and Islam during the brutal Crusade era. While the city has had a large Jewish majority since 1967, a wide range of national, religious, and socioeconomic groups are represented here. It is the historic homeland of the Jewish people. The walled area of Jerusalem, which until the late nineteenth century formed the entire city, is now called the Old City and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. It consists of four ethnic and religious sections — the Armenian, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Quarters. Barely one square kilometer, the Old City is home to several of Jerusalem's most important and contested religious sites including the Western Wall and Temple Mount for Jews, the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque for Muslims, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for Christians.
Surrounding the Old City are more modern areas of Jerusalem. The civic and cultural center of modern Israel extends from western Jerusalem toward the country's other urban areas to the west, while areas populated mostly by Arabs can be found in the northern, eastern and southern districts. Jerusalem became Israel's capital upon its independence and Jerusalem was united after the 1967 War when Israel captured East Jerusalem.
Archaeological findings prove the existence of development within present-day Jerusalem as far back as the 4th millennium BCE, but the earliest written records of the city come in the Execration Texts (c. 19th century BCE) and the Amarna letters (c. 14th century BCE). According to Biblical accounts, the Jebusites, a Canaanite tribe, inhabited the area around the present-day city (under the name Jebus) until the late 11th century BCE. At that point (c. 1000s BCE), the Israelites, led by King David, invaded and conquered the city, expanding it southwards and establishing it as the capital of the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah (the United Monarchy). It was renamed at this time as Yerushalayim (Jerusalem), a name by which it is still referred to today.
King David's reign over Jerusalem ended around 970 BCE when his son Solomon became the new king. Biblical sources state that within a decade Solomon started to build the first of two Holy Temples within city limits — Solomon's Temple (or the First Temple), a significant site in Jewish and Christian history as the last known location of the Ark of the Covenant. The period of the First Temple was marked by the division of the United Monarchy at the time of Solomon's death (c. 930 BCE) when the ten northern tribes, originally part of the Monarchy, split off to form the Kingdom of Israel. Under the leadership of the bloodline of David and Solomon, Jerusalem continued to act as the capital of the southern par of the split, the Kingdom of Judah. Later, with the Assyrian conquest of the Kingdom of Israel in 722 BCE, Jerusalem became the center of a Judah strengthened by the great number of Israeli refugees. In approximately 586 BCE, the Babylonians conquered the Kingdom of Judah including the city of Jerusalem, and the First Temple Period came to an end.
In 538 BCE, after fifty years of Babylonian captivity, the Jews were given permission from Persian King Cyrus the Great to return to Judah so they could rebuild Jerusalem and construct the Second Temple. The construction was completed in the year 516 BCE, seventy years after the destruction of the First Temple. Jerusalem regained its status as capital of Judah and center of Jewish worship for another four centuries, with a considerable portion of that period under Hasmonean rule. By 19 BCE, the Temple Mount was elevated and construction began on an expansion of the Second Temple under Herod the Great, a Jewish client king under Roman rule. In 6 CE, the city, as well as much of the surrounding Palestine, came under direct Roman rule as the Iudaea Province. Still unchallenged, the Roman rule over Jerusalem and the region came to an end with the first Jewish-Roman war, the Great Jewish Revolt, which resulted in the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. Jerusalem once again served as the national capital for the people of the region during the three-year rebellion known as Bar Kokhba's revolt. The Romans succeeded in sacking and recapturing the city in 135 CE and as a punitive measure, the Jews were banned from Jerusalem.
In the five centuries following Bar Kokhba's revolt, the city remained under Roman and Byzantine rule. With the city controlled by Roman Emperor Constantine I during the 4th century, Jerusalem was transformed into a center for Christianity, with the construction of sites such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. For most of the time between Constantine's rule and the arrival of the Muslim forces in 638, Jews were banned from Jerusalem. From that point, the rights of the non-Muslims under Islamic territory were governed by the Pact of Umar, and Christians and Jews living in the city were granted autonomy in exchange for a required poll tax (jizya). When Caliph Umar first came to the city, he requested that Sophronius, the reigning Patriarch of Jerusalem, guide him and his associates to the site of the Jewish Holy Temple. Upon the advice of Caliph Umar's associate, Ka'ab al-Ahbar (a Jewish convert to Islam), who convinced Caliph Umar that the Foundation Stone on the Temple Mount was the site of the Islamic miracle of the Isra and Miraj, Caliph Umar decided to build the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. By the end of the 7th century, a subsequent caliph, Abd al-Malik, had commissioned and completed the construction of the Dome of the Rock over the Foundation Stone. In the four hundred years that followed, Jerusalem's prominence diminished as Arab powers in the region jockeyed for control.
In 1073, Jerusalem was captured by Seljuk Turks . In response, Jerusalem was re-taken by the First Crusaders in 1099, with many of the city's then 30,000 Muslim and Jewish inhabitants slaughtered. That would be the first of several conquests to take place over the next five hundred years. In 1187, the city was taken from the Crusaders by Saladin. Between 1228 and 1244, it was given by Saladin's descendant al-Kamil to the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II. Jerusalem fell again in 1244 to the Khawarizmi Turks, who were later, in 1260, replaced by the Mamelukes. In 1517, Jerusalem and its environs fell to the Ottoman Turks, who would maintain control of after the First World War.
In 1917 after the Battle of Jerusalem, the British Army, led by General Edmund Allenby, captured the city. The League of Nations, through its 1922 ratification of the Balfour Declaration, entrusted the United Kingdom to administer the Mandate of Palestine and help establish a Jewish state in the region. The period of the Mandate saw the construction of new garden suburbs in the western and northern parts of the city and the establishment of institutions of higher learning such as the Hebrew University, founded in 1925.
As the British Mandate of Palestine was expiring, the 1947 UN Partition Plan (Part III) recommended "the creation of a special international regime in the City of Jerusalem, constituting it as a corpus separatum under the administration of the United Nations." However, this plan was rejected by the Arabs, and at the end of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Jerusalem found itself divided between Israel and Jordan (then known as Transjordan). The ceasefire line established through the 1949 Armistice Agreements between Israel and Jordan cut through the center of the city from 1949 until 1967, during which time western Jerusalem was part of Israel and eastern Jerusalem was controlled by Jordan. In 1949, west Jerusalem became Israel's capital. After the 1967 war, all of Jerusalem was claimed by Israel as its capital.
In addition to many secular Israelis and foreigners, Jerusalem is considered home by large numbers of adherents to three of the four Middle Eastern monotheistic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Adherents of these faiths have tended historically to congregate in various neighborhoods of the city, with considerable overlap.
The main languages spoken in Jerusalem are Hebrew in West Jerusalem and Arabic in East Jerusalem. Most people throughout the city speak sufficient English for communication. In particular, English is widely spoken in areas most visited by tourists, especially the Old City. Typically, even if you do not find an English speaker on first attempt, one will be nearby. Both Palestinians and Israelis are always ready to help out tourists with the language as with other needs.
Additionally, many Charedi (strictly Orthodox) Jews speak Yiddish, and there is a significant number of French-speaking Jews. Smaller groups of Jews speak Dutch and Spanish. There is a large number of Russian immigrants of Jewish background, so it is not uncommon to see signs in Russian or hear Russian language radio.
Located on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea, Jerusalem has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters.
Summers are hot and dry as a bone with virtually no rainfall between the months of May and September. Temperatures will generally approach around 30°C (88°F) during the day and cool to around 15°C (59°F) at night. Being near the desert, there is often a big difference between the day and night temperatures, and even the hottest days can turn into chilly nights. Spring and fall are mild, with minimal rainfall and pleasant temperatures.
Israel's main entry point for the international traveller, the newly built Terminal 3 at Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV) , named after Israel's first Prime Minister, is situated near Lod and next to the highway linking Tel Aviv and Jerusalem (highway no. 1). The airport, referred to by locals as Natbag - its initials in Hebrew - comprises all the usual amenities expected from a first class airport and contains one of the world's largest duty-free shopping malls for an airport of its size. Ben Gurion Airport acts as the base for El Al , Israel's national airline, and is also served by over 50 international air carriers. Travel from the airport to the centre of Jerusalem takes 40-50 minutes and depending on traffic conditions often more. It is advisable to budget at least an additional 2 hours on top of your pre-flight check-in time to ensure timely arrival and completion of security procedures.
Security is extremely stringent at Ben-Gurion Airport, and is especially suspicious of travelers with Muslim names or visas from Islamic countries in their passports. Expect to be stopped and questioned for several hours if this is the case, both on the way in and on the way out. It would be wise to have some phone numbers of local contacts for security officials to call to verify your reasons for visiting. The airport prides itself in being one of the most secure in the world. It achieves this through a number of means. The most evident for travelers will be the pre-check-in security check. (optional, should you go through it, you will be escorted to skip regular security check). On joining the queue for this security check, a security official will ask you several questions. Based on these (and what appears to be racial profiling) and a brief inspection of your passport, you will be assigned a number from 1 to 6. 1 signifies the lowest security concern and 6 the highest. Foreigners will typically get between a 3 and a 6. Age, appearance, stamps from Arab countries, evidence of visits to the Palestinian territory and other vague factors will be taken into account. Depending on the number you get (stuck on your passport and luggage), the security check is more or less thorough. Travelers who have visited the Palestinian territory and state as much will almost certainly receive a 5 or 6 (but there is no need for this; you can get 5 if you have never been to Israel before, and are of European descent). With a 5 or a 6, you can expect every single item of luggage to be taken from you bag and inspected in detail. Security officials have been known to check individual bank-notes. With a 6 (but sometimes even 5 if they have time), you can also expect to be taken to a cubicle and asked to remove your belt, shoes and have a personal inspection. If your clothes contain any metal that would set off a detector (such as studs in your jeans or a zip) even if plainly visible on the outside, you will be asked to remove the item of clothing. Travelers are regularly prevented from taking mobile phones, laptops and even shoes in their hand-luggage, although there is no consistency with reports of one policy one week and another the next week. Arguing about such invasive checks is almost always fruitless and security reasons are the only ones that are ever cited. Though encouraging tourism, Israeli authorities would answer to criticism by angry travelers that Israel is not a usual destination, and that people who are looking for sun with no security checks should rather head to Canary Islands. This summary is based on personal experiences.
Getting to and from Jerusalem. The 'Nesher' shared taxi service (02 623 1231 - Hebrew and English) is a 14-seater minibus that runs approximately hourly services to the airport - 55 NIS one way per person. You must reserve your seat in advance by phone and you will be picked up from your hotel or a chosen location (they have been known to refuse to pick up from some East Jerusalem neighborhoods, so check with your hotel or take a taxi to the Jerusalem hotel where they normally pick up without a problem). Be on time - they don't wait. You will be dropped at Terminal 3 in the airport. For the journey to Jerusalem, you will find them waiting outside the arrivals hall (they are signed from inside). Tell the driver where you want to be dropped. Again they should drop you at your hotel, but have been known to avoid parts of East Jerusalem. The rate is fixed, but it is worth double-checking as it has recently increased.
A private taxi to/from Jerusalem will cost around 150-200 NIS (tourist map in Jerusalem quotes oficial flat price 197 NIS, however this is hard to reach, we was asked for about 300 to get the airport, and finally paid 250. Expect to go through Israeli check-point on the way (via Ramallah).
Always check what terminal your flight goes from! It looks like T1 is domestic and T3 is international - this is not as it looks like! EasyJet has checkin at T1 for flight to Europe (however then you will be taken to T3 anyway - February 2011). So - check it before you take the cab (cab driver will be no help in this). There is free shutle going between T1 and T3 several times an hour.
Expect your taxi to be stopped on the way to the airport - have your passports, tickets, and answers for some questions (how long have you been to Israel, where are you going...) ready.
The Egged bus service does not go directly from Jerusalem to the Terminal. You should take bus #947 to Airport City (Kiryat Sde Hateufa) and take a suttle bus to the terminal (free in conjunction with a bus ticket).
The train does not run from Jerusalem to the airport.
Jerusalem is connected to Israel Railway network, but the service, which follows the route of the 1892 Jaffa-Jerusalem line, is noted for its scenery rather than speed.
From Tel Aviv, you should take the train to Jerusalem, with stops en-route at Lod (where you can make connections to Beer Sheva, Ashkelon and Rishon LeZion), Ramla (currently the Ramla station is under construction, and the trains don't stop there), Bet Shemesh, and arrive at Jerusalem's Malkha train station, which is inconveniently located at the south of the city. The old train station in the city center is currently out of service. A few trains also stop at the Biblical Zoo station, but it is within walking distance from Malkha station.
Journey time from Tel Aviv Merkaz/Savidor station to Malkha station is about 1.30 hour. There's one train per hour from 5.54 to 19.54 on weekdays, 5.25 to 14.25 (15.25 in summer) on Friday, 20.10 (22.10 in summer) on Saturday. Trains from Malkha depart on weekdays from 5.44 to 21.41 (the last one only as far as Lod), on Friday from 6.00 to 13.56 (14.56 in summer), on Saturday at 19.47 (21.47 in summer).
From the train station there are several buses to destinations in and around Jerusalem. To downtown take bus #4 or #18, and ask for "MerKaz Ha-ir" or for "Kikar Tzion" (Zion Square). To the central bus station, #5 is the fastest, though the #6 and #32 are alternatives. Taxis are also available.
A high-speed rail link connecting Jerusalem to Tel Aviv in half an hour and Ben Gurion Airport in 20 minutes is under construction and is scheduled to open in 2017. Its terminus will be an underground station (80m below surface) near the central bus station and Binyaney Ha'uma (convention center). Until then, use the train if you have plenty of time and want to see nice mountain scenery, but not if you are in a hurry.
Bus services to Jerusalem from Ben Gurion International Airport and most Israeli cities are frequent, cheap, and efficient. Egged is almost the only operator of intercity buses to/from Jerusalem, as well as the entire urban network. To check on these services look at its website  or dial *2800 from any phone.
Most intercity buses arrive at the so-called Central Bus Station (CBS) at the western edge of Jaffa street, the city's main road. Also the new Jerusalem Light Rail line has a station just outside the Central Bus Station that can link you to many other parts of the city (see Light Rail elsewhere in this article).
The Egged bus #405 from Tel Aviv leaves about every 20 minutes, starting at 5:50 AM and ending at 0:00 AM midnight, from Tel Aviv CBS and arrives at Jerusalem CBS. It takes 62 minutes and the fare is 20 NIS (Dec 2011). Bus #480 leaves from Arlozorov about every 10 minutes, starting at 5:50 AM with the last bus at 0:10 AM midnight, for Jerusalem CBS. It takes 58 min and costs 20 NIS (Dec 2011).
From the Central Bus Station it is a long but enjoyable walk (or short local bus trip) along Jaffa Road to the centre of West Jerusalem and further on to the Old City. Inter-city buses arrive and depart inside the station building. City buses outside of it, both in front of the building and on Sederot Shazar. When exiting the CBS, turn left to walk towards the city, or turn right to find the city buses. (Finding your way when you leave the CBS for the first time can be a confusing experience, since there are almost no city maps around. There is a city map on the large square opposite the CBS, on the right side, towards Sederot Shazar.). Note that busses do not run on Shabat - from half hour before sunset on Friday till after sunset Saturday. Hours vary by the time of year - In December (winter solstice) Shabat start as early as 3.55PM and end at 5.15, while in June (summer solstice) Shabat start as late as 7.10 and end on 8.30.
Public buses do not run during Shabbat (between sunset on Friday and sunset on Saturday, roughly speaking), during which your only option is a sherut (shared taxi). These depart from Tel Aviv's Central Bus Station and Ben Gurion Airport, and charge a small surcharge on top of the normal bus fare. As of mid-2006 a sherut costs 20 NIS (25 NIS at night) and drops you off downtown, not far from Zion Square. A sherut from the airport to anywhere in the city costs about 50 NIS. The company offering the sherut service is called "Nesher".
Shared taxis are also the best option if travelling from Jerusalem to Palestinian cities, especially Ramallah and Bethlehem. The main bus station (On Sultan Suleiman street, next to the Rockfeler Museum) serves the surrounding Palestinian towns and villages, including Abu-Dis (Line 36), and Bethlehem (Line 124), those buses are colored mostly in blue strips . Another bus terminal, on Nablus road (Straight on from the Damascus gate) serves Ramallah, other main Palestinian cities. There is a shared taxi direct to/from the Allenby bridge (The border crossing with Jordan), for 38 NIS plus 4 NIS (Dec 2011) per luggage (picking up from Al-Souq Al-Tijaree "The commercial souq" not far away from the main bus station).
All Palestinian shared taxis are very cheap, 5.00 NIS for the surrounding villages, 5.50 NIS for Abu-Dis and 6.50 NIS for Ramallah.
The bus operator in the eastern Jerusalem is called Al-Safariat Al-Mowahadda "The united traveling service". Note that the taxi is called "Moneet" in Hebrew, and called taxi in the Palestinian side. Both differ from the shared taxi, which runs fixed routes for many people like a bus. Moneet or Taxi is a private taxi.
Cabs are plentiful in the city of gold, but be warned as the drivers may try to rip you off by "taking the scenic route" or charging a fixed price instead of on the meter. Insist that the driver turns on the meter (Mon-eh) and you should have no problems.
NB: The description here refers solely to West Jerusalem (the jewish part). The Arab system of buses is based on two bus stations near Damascus Gate.
The most effective public transportation option is currently in the form of buses. Take into consideration that the intercity bus system is quite confusing, especially for a tourist. Even people living in Jerusalem their whole lives won't be able to help you, if they aren't familiar with the bus route you're interested in using. This is caused by the lack of any official bus route maps, and to the fact that bus routes and numbers tend to change rapidly. Buses are run by "Egged" Company. Most buses are dark green, but you might see the older red and white buses too.
To use the bus, you pay the driver as you board the bus. All bus rides are at a fixed price of NIS 6.40- about $1.80 (June 2011), no matter how many stops you stay on for. You may pay in change or bills. Entrance to the bus is from the front door only, and exit is usually from the back. If you're planning to use the bus a few times, it is wise to ask to driver for a "Cartisiya", which is a 10 ride punch ticket for the price of 8 rides. This option is useful when traveling more the one person, or if you think you'll use the bus a few times.
Once you pay the driver, a ticket will come out of the gray calculator next to the driver. You must take and keep the ticket, for proof to the conductor, which tends to come and check.
Notice, that the ticket you receive can be used 75 minutes from the moment it's produced. You may transfer with it to any intercity bus, as long as you board the bus before the 75th minute, which is printed on the ticket.
If you'd wish to transfer with the "Cartisiya", make sure to ask the driver (as he's punching it) for a "Cartis Ma'avar". Without it you won't be able to transfer to other buses without another punch in your "Cartisiya".
The Jerusalem City Tour  (Bus #99), intended for tourists, does a loop of pretty much the whole city and costs NIS 45 adults and NIS 36 children for a one-day pass.
Below is a summarized overview of which bus to take to get from certain places to other places. Printing this list, and the map, will be very helpful.
"Fast Lines" These are new and modern buses which cut the city vertically. These buses are painted green and gray, and automatically will tell you the next stop.
Note Buses in Jerusalem (Egged) do not run on Shabbat (30 minutes before sunset on Friday until at least 30 minutes after sunset on Saturday), nor on other religious holidays. That doesn't apply for Al-Safariiat Al-Moahaddih. This list is incomplete
By light rail
The Jerusalem Light Rail line opened on 19 August 2011. It links the north-eastern neighborhoods to the south-western neighborhoods, runs along the western side of the Old City, and passes through the city center. Additional lines are planned to be constructed later.
The light rail runs past many areas of interest to tourists: Damascus Gate station close to the Old City gate of that name; City Hall station (Saffra square) which is close to the Jaffa Gate of the Old City; King George V station which is close to Ben Yehuda street; the light rail station just outside the Jerusalem Central Bus Station; the Mahane Yehuda station at the main markets which are the largest in Israel, and there are also numerous food stalls offering local cuisine. The tram line runs along Yaffo Street (also referred to as Jaffa Street) which has many interesting cafes and shops in the portion of Yaffo/Jaffa Street that lies between City Hall station and King George V station. At the southern end of the light rail line, at the Mount Herzl station, are Yad Vashem holocaust museum as well as Mount Hertsel national cemetry where famous citizens, prime ministers and Israeli soldiers have been buried.
As of 1 December 2011, the ticket price is 6.60 NIS with a 90 minute transfer that it is valid for the light rail and the bus system.
The light rail service ceases a few hours before Shabbat on Friday afternoon, and starts up a few hours after the end of Shabbat on Saturday night. The regular travel times on other days of the week can be found at the light rail website (citypass.co.il) which can be found at the official website of the Jerusalem Light Rail.
The roads on which the tram line runs are half taken up by the tram lines, so cars must travel in single lanes in the remaining half of the road. This means that travel by car along these roads, shared by the tram, can be quite congested - in particular, Yaffo street (or Jaffa Street), which has parts that are exclusively used by the light railway.
Note that if asking locals where is the nearest station of the Jerusalem Light Rail, note that some people refer to it as the "train station" or "tram station".
Much of Jerusalem is walkable (check before going) and is pleasant to walk. The humidity level of Jerusalem is much lower than most cities in Israel, but you must remember the city is built on mountains- and you might have to climb some steep ascents. Some of the neighborhoods are a bit distant, so make sure to check on Google Maps the distance before you go. The Old City has to be toured by foot, not only because it is more impressive this way, but also because many of the lanes and alleyways are inaccessible to cars.
Bike rentals are available at the abraham-hostel 67 Hanevi'im street, Davidka square, for a guided Bike tour WWW.BIKEJERUSALEM.COM Cycling in Jerusalem is probably the best way to see the city, recommended by many past travelers, Lonely Planet and Tripadvisor ; this is a way to see the real Jerusalem. This 3-5 hour tour covers most of Jerusalem's historical neighborhoods, including many places that most visitors never get to see. The tour includes, The Israeli Parliament, The valley of the Cross, "Rehavia" and "Talbia", The German Colony, "Mishkanit Shananim", Jaffa Gate the Russian Compound and "Nachlaot", to name only a few. The ride goes through side streets, short cuts and allies, known by few other than our expert guides. Despite the hills around Jerusalem, the ride in the city is not as hard as people tend to think, and the ride can be modified to suite families and inexperienced riders.
The Jerusalem Night ride includes an unforgettable ride through the empty streets of the 3000 year Old City.
Jerusalem has an amazing array of attractions for the traveller to see. The following are some of the must-sees. For more attractions see individual district articles.
Excellent tours are provided every week by the Al-Quds University Center for Jerusalem Studies . Including tours of the Old City settlements, Ramparts and the tunnels. Tour guides are academics and historians who focus on the Palestinian perspective.
Most hotels will provide tours. Bus # 99 provides an orientation to the whole city and can provide a perspective of the city. It cost 60 Shekels for a 2 hour tour and 80 shekels for all day tour. It starts at the Egged Central Bus Station. You can get on and off all day and is run and looks like the double-decker tour buses in London.
The Western Wailing Wall/underground is a tour that is well worth your time. The female guide there was well versed in the history of the wall and the explanation of the first two temples and the subsequent construction of the Dome of the Rock will create a great picture of the conflict between relevant cultures. A reservation should be made through your hotel. But individual walk-ins can sometimes be squeezed in.
The City of David water tunnels tour is interesting. It is located down the road from the Dung Gate (near the Western Wall), follow the signs. The tour lasts around 2 hours and starts with a description of the City of David. It culminates in a 25 minute walk through the water channel cut to bring fresh water into Jerusalem from a nearby spring. Sandals and a torch are required! The water is ankle deep for most of the tour.
Jerusalem is an amazing city for kids and kids events. Each museum runs special kids programs during the summer including Recycle workshops at the Israel Museum, Costumed tours of the Bible Lands Museum and the Museum of the Underground Prisoner. The Jerusalem Theater has a full schedule of kids theater and even opera. For a full list of kids events and attractions see www.funinjerusalem.com
For teens there is mini golf, segway tours, bowling, go karting, extreme sports, carpentry workshop and Kad V'Chomer (paint your own ceramics). Fun In Jerusalem also has a full list of swimming pools open to the public which come in handy during the hot summer months.
For people interested in the environment there is Eco Israel Tours, which offers visitors to Israel the opportunity to head off the beaten-path and to experience a side of Israel rarely seen by visitors and students. They expose groups first-hand to Israel’s natural beauty, as well as its living, breathing culture of innovation. Despite its challenges, Israel is a global leader in green solutions to environmental problems. Eco Israel Tours provides an interactive, dynamic experience of this exciting world within Israel by exploring contemporary challenges and solution such as water and energy. For more information or to sign up for a tour, contact Yonatan Neril, Eco Israel Tours director, at 973-433-3322 (US-line), 054-723-4973 (Israel-line), or by email at email@example.com
Jerusalem offers a wide range of educational programmes, which include:
Jerusalem is big on t-shirts of all shapes, colors and designs, often with good evidence of Jewish humour being present! If shopping in the Old City's markets, where almost anything can be found, be prepared to haggle. You will get all sorts of beautiful and unique gifts here ranging from jewellary, bed covers, statues to spices. Judaica is also a popular choice of purchase. The Old City's Jewish Quarter is particularly good for this, as is Mea Shearim, however, dress modestly. Outside the old city a very good shopping destination is the pedestrian mall at the Ben Yehuda street, the Mamilla pedestrian mall outside the old city and the Malcha mall. These malls are also good places to eat!
Jerusalem, being the multicultural city that it is, has food from all countries, cultures, and tastes. Besides the ubiquitous falafel stands, there is European, Ethiopian, Medditeranean, and Middle Eastern foods. There is also a large ranges in prices from the ritzy and exotic Emek Refaim to falafel stands centered around Machaneh Yehuda and the Central Bus Station. A good rule of thumb is to look for restaurants filled with Hebrew or Arabic speaking locals.
If you keep kosher Jerusalem will be a wonderful place to visit. In the Jewish sections of the city almost everything is kosher. However you should still check for the paper on the wall. The Jerusalem rabbinute issues Kashrut certificates that are good for 3 months at a time, and color coded. If you don't see it displayed do not hesitate to ask the staff. If they don't show you one its a good sign to move along. The certificate should be stamped "Basari" (meat) or "halavi" (Dairy) in Hebrew. The current certificates are cream colored with red print for dairy and pinkish-red for meat restaurants. These will be good until Sept 22 (Rosh Hashana) after that the rabbinute will put up new certifications. Note it is not unusual for it to take a few days to get the new certificate up. It is usually the policy of the Jerusalem rabbinute to not certify a chain store as kosher unless all the branches in the city of Jerusalem are kosher. For this reason McDonalds and some branches of Aroma in Jerusalem are not certified kosher.
BASTI Restaurant: 70 El Wad Road , opposite to the (AUSTRIAN HOSPICE) & 3rd station of Via Dolorosa, ☎ 026284067. 9am-10 pm. A family-owned restaurant that has been open since 1927. If you don't like the pizza it's free. Also offers shawrma, chicken shishkabab and lamb shishkabab (all are served with saldes and humus and chips) as well as natural lemon with mint juice. .less than 13 $. edit
Ethio-Israel experience, Turn left on Havatzelet St. when going on Yafo St. towards the Old City. Then turn right on Elyashar street and follow it to the left. In the little cul-de-sac is an incredible little restaurant. You won't be able to stop eating.
There is plenty of nightlife in Jerusalem. For clubs, the best way is to have a "proteksya", or connection with someone. This way of knowing someone who works at the door or a friend is the easiest and best way to have a great time in Jerusalem. In the way of a more laid-back alternative bar scene, crawl around the closely nestled joints centered around the corner of Heleni HaMaika and Monobaz.
If you are looking for alcohol stores, there is one right by the Jaffa gate and several on Jaffa Rd. One of the stores by the Generali building (located on the right side on Jaffa when you're facing the building) stocks a wide variety of different beers and also has great prices, lower than that of other stores, check it out!
West Jerusalem has a blend of B&Bs, guesthouses, small hotels and large hotels - all the way up to 5-star accommodation, including the famous King David Hotel.
Jerusalem's Old city boasts the cheapest accommodation, while some newly-built hostels operate in West Jerusalem.
The area code prefix for Jerusalem is: 02. Israel's country code is: 972.
Public telephones take prepaid phone cards which can be purchased at post offices, shops and lottery kiosks. They are available in the following denominations: 20 units (13 NIS), 50 units (29 NIS), or 120 units (60 NIS). Calls made on Saturdays and Friday evenings are 25% cheaper than the standard rate.
Coin-phones (usually 1 NIS) are also available. Those are private "public phones", owned and operated by shop owners.
For international calls prepaid cards can be bought from post offices, including the new VOIP calling card "x-phone".
Israeli Post offices are available for service from 8 AM–12 PM and 2 PM–6 PM, Sunday through Thursday.
Israel uses the red British "pillar" mail boxes in some areas of Jerusalem, a reminder of the previous British Mandate.
The most common price for internet cafes in Jerusalem is 15 NIS per hour.
Note however that most hostels should offer free Wi-Fi.
There is now a wireless internet connection in some of the streets in Jerusalem. The service is free of charge and can be accessed in the center of the city (Nov. 2004). The streets are: Ben-Yehuda, Nahalat Shiva, Shlomzion Hamalka. There is also wireless internet in the food court of the central bus station and in most chain coffee shops. Free access is also available at the airport.
Alternatively, it is possible to buy an Internet modem stick from Orange or one of the other telcos. Typically a USB modem can cost around 700 ILS, and the monthly cost can be around 150 ILS. There are either monthly subscription plans, or Pre-Paid plans. Some Orange shops - because of their insistence on a requirement of having an Israeli ID - will not allow foreign tourists to sign up for the non-contract monthly subscriptions - but tourists are definitely able to purchase the Pre-Paid plans upon showing proof of identity such as a passport. The Orange website is www.orange.co.il
There are, however, a few areas in the city where it is important to be mindful of one's dress, religion, and time period visiting. Here are some guidelines:
Security checks can be frequent, especially when entering hotels, cinemas/theaters and shopping areas. It is wise to carry some identification.
On the whole, theft is not a large-scale problem. To minimize risk, however, normal precautions apply. Do not leave valuable objects inside a car or in full view in your hotel room. There are many ATMs throughout the city and credit cards are widely accepted, so there is no need to carry large amounts of cash.
Visitors may notice a large amount of military personnel on the streets of Jerusalem, especially around certain sites. Every citizen must perform military service in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) as soon as they reach the age of 18. Many servicemen and civilians carry firearms (handguns) in public. It was, in fact, an off-duty soldier who stopped the Palestinian terrorist driver of the tractor in the incident in July, 2008. There are always large concentrations of soldiers around bus stations, as they are usually on their way to or from their bases. when going to the Western Wall it is quite common to see soldiers praying. Sometimes you might see an Israel Defense Forces "swearing in ceremony" near the Western Wall. This is quite common because of the historical and religious importance the Western Wall has to the Jewish People.
As of 2007, bombings and other terror attacks have virtually ceased in Jerusalem, due to heightened and controversial security measures. Israeli strikes and Palestinian attacks are not major worries. Tourists have never been the target of attacks and most have occurred well away from tourist sites. Naturally it is important to remain vigilant and alert.
In the case of injury or incident, Police services can be reached by dialing 100. Ambulance services can be reached by dialing 101.