Moments of Eternity
After putting a tick on the standard tourist route, do not stop: Jerusalem is always ready to surprise its guests with something new
On hot days, the inhabitants of the coastal cities usually languish from the humidity and heat around the clock. Jerusalem is located at almost 800 meters above sea level in the Judaean Mountains, and the evening breeze always brings in freshness and coolness. At sunset, residents and tourists alike rush into green areas, public squares and parks – there are many of them in the capital city. The largest one, Sacher Park, located between the central districts of Givat Ram, Nachlaot and Rehavia, is particularly popular with sports fans. Young people gather here for tennis, croquet or football battles, as well as rollerblading or cycling. And on Independence Day, which is celebrated on May 1, the custom is to come for a barbecue picnic. The Liberty Bell Park is often chosen by families with children. In the botanical garden with the eye-catching lushness of the all-year-round greenery, one should certainly not fail to peek at the greenhouse with tropical plants and the collection of bonsai.
In Jerusalem, where every stone has a story to tell dating back thousands of years, the most important is not to disconnect your imagination, not even for a second. There is the Garden of Gethsemane with thousand-year-old olive trees that saw Christ pray after the Last Supper. And this is the Western Wall, built at the order of King Herod – the only thing that survived after the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans. If the flight of fantasy is not enough, modern technology will help. In the Citadel, or the Tower of David, located near the Jaffa Gate, there is the Museum of the History of Jerusalem operating. Looking at drawings, models and holograms, is of course, fascinating, but to view the most spectacular attraction, you need to wait until it gets dark. In the evening, the light-music show Night Spectacular begins here, during which multimedia pictures telling the history of the city from the beginning of its existence to today are projected directly onto the ancient stone walls. All this is accompanied by light and sound effects. Another high-tech attraction, designed for both children and adults, is the Time Elevator. The crucial and brightest moments from the three thousand years of Israeli history – such as the construction and destruction of the First and Second Temples, the occupation by the Romans, the birth of Christianity, the arrival of the Crusaders and Muslims on the Holy Land, the creation of the State of Israel, fit into a 30-minute 5D movie.
The minimum cultural program in Jerusalem involves a queue to the Holy Sepulcher, religious and souvenir shopping in the Muslim Quarter, squeezing memos with wishes into the Wailing Wall and climbing to the observation deck from where you can see the gold-shining Dome of the Rock. Most tourists simply do not have enough time for anything else. In the meantime, the city has many museums and historical monuments worthy of the most careful study.
Only the Israel Museum contains about half a million exhibits, dating from prehistoric times to the present. The dominant of this giant complex is the Shrine of the Book, where thousands of ancient documents are exhibited, including the Dead Sea scrolls (or the Qumran scrolls) and ancient manuscripts of the Bible, which are arguably the main archeological discovery of the 20th century that have changed the modern understanding of the origins of Judaism and Christianity.
In the Edmond and Lily Safra Fine Arts Wing not only European art is displayed, but also collections from Africa, Asia, America and Oceania. It is spectacularly interesting to wander through the unusual Billy Rose Art Garden created by artist and landscape architect Isamu Noguchi in the canons of the Japanese garden of stones. It contains about 50 sculptures: creations of Henry Moore, Auguste Rodin, Pablo Picasso and others. In the cool halls of the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum, which is also part of the Israel Museum complex, numerous artifacts found during excavations in the country are exhibited.
Flowers, hipsters and bohemians
Wohl Rose Park
A luxurious rose garden located near the Knesset Menorah makes an excursion in the government block worth taking. The Queen of Flowers became the main theme of this park in 1978, when Israel was awarded the right to host a world rose exhibition.
Three dozen quarters, founded by different Jewish communities at the turn of the 20th century, have gradually become the most picturesque area of the city. Here, dozens of synagogues welcome locals until late at night, the doors of hipster bars and restaurants are opened, and the bleached walls are decorated with unusual graffiti.
The first quarter, built in the middle of the 19th century outside the Old City, has turned into a bohemian district of art galleries, art studios and the most expensive real estate in Jerusalem.
Cinema, archeology and history
The oldest cinema in Jerusalem and the largest film archive in the Middle East. Each year in July, screenings of the Jerusalem International Film Festival take place there. The Temple Mount Sifting Project
This project is far from being an attraction for entertainment only. For more than ten years now, archaeologists and volunteers have been sifting 9,000 tons of soil, that were exported from the Temple Mount. In the pile of earth, dust and stones, people keep finding ancient coins and arrowheads.
Chain of Generations Center. A glimpse into the history of the Jewish people: twelve halls with compositions by artist Jeremy Langford from artifacts and archaeological finds. Topped by music and lighting effects.
Yad Vashem - Memorial
The memorial to Jewish victims of Nazism includes the Holocaust History Museum, the Hall of Remembrance, the Partisans’ Panorama, the Monument to the Jewish Soldiers and more. It houses a unique collection of authentic objects, documents, eyewitness accounts, diaries, letters and works of art, narrating the tragedy of the Jewish people through the stories and fates that real people have encountered.
Bloomfield - Science Museum
In this interactive exhibition, one can not only view all the items on display, but also touch them. Separate halls are devoted to different areas of science – physics, chemistry, advanced technologies. Created from old furniture and inhabited by the characters from the works of Hieronymus Bosch, Mikhail Bulgakov and Ivan Krylov, the Sharmanka Kinetic Gallery is a major attraction to visitors. There is also a children’s amusement park next to the museum.
Museum - For Islamic Art
Nine halls are dedicated to telling the history of the Islamic world from the time of birth of the religion until the end of the 19th century. The collection includes handicrafts and works of art spanning different periods. There are sections devoted to jewelry, as well as bladed weapon and firearms of the 7th–9th centuries. There is also an impressive collection of ancient watches and clocks, scientific instruments and music boxes.
Free guided tours in the Israeli Parliament House are given from Sunday to Thursday in the morning. Different programs are designed to tell about the structure and work of the Knesset, but the most popular is the tour dedicated to the collection of works of art gathered here. It includes mosaics and tapestries by Marc Chagall, images by the ex Knesset photographer David Rubinger, and the artworks of Moshe Castel and Reuven Rubin.
Don’t forget about the Shabbat. Starting at sunset on Friday and ending on Saturday evening, no public transport operates in Israel, and most shops and restaurants are closed. In Jerusalem, at this time, you can dine in the area of The First Station. Respect the feelings of believers. Orthodox Jews in black hats and side-locks are not very fond of being photographed.
Don’t forget to bargain when buying souvenirs in the Muslim Quarter.