People have been writing about Jerusalem for the better part of its 3000-year history, but still today your first glimpse inside the ancient walled city will leave you speechless. More than beautiful, however, Jerusalem is a spiritual centre, holy to the three great monotheistic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
That three religions have assigned so much importance to a solitary city makes Jerusalem one of the most fascinating places you’ll ever visit. Within a short walk of each other, you can find Christians quietly praying in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jews dancing by the Western Wall and Muslims prostrate before Al-Aqsa Mosque. Whatever your credence, it’s hard not to be swept up in the emotional tide that pulsates through these ancient streets.
Defying warfare and time, Jerusalem’s architecture remains in remarkable shape – you could spend days (or weeks) getting lost in its labyrinth of alleys and bustling bazaars. The Old City is surrounded by relics of ancient and modern times. To the south lies the City of David (the original Jebusite city). Predominately Palestinian East Jerusalem is home to consulates, museums and the Garden Tomb (the possible crucifixion site), while West Jerusalem has the Israeli capital building and a patchwork of secular and religious neighbourhoods.
Jerusalem, or Al-Quds as its known in Arabic, has an inevitably powerful effect on its visitors, breeding political activism, religious fanaticism or simply a greater appreciation of the magnificent tide of human history. A quick run through the main tourist sights won’t do it justice, so plan on staying a while, and see what it does to you.
Best places to stay in Jerusalem
Israel & the Palestinian Territories - Jerusalem (Chapter)
Jerusalem has been seducing travellers, pilgrims and curiosity seekers since time immemorial. Holy to Muslims, Jews and Christians, the city overflows with sites of intense religious importance and, even for the nonreligious, it's hard not to...
Israel & the Palestinian Territories: travel books to read before you go
This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Israel & the Palestinian Territories guide provides a selection of literature to get you in the mood for your trip. There’s a wealth of textbook accounts of Israeli and Palestinian politics, but for some non-fiction and travel writing, the following selection should serve you well...
Jerusalem destination guides
A Grand Tour across the Middle East
Ever dreamed of the romance of the Grand Tour, of hotel drawing rooms dripping with aspidistras and antimacassars, of mahogany dining rooms and creaking iron elevators? You’ll be happy to know that – whilst the rest of the world’s hoteliers toss out the chintz and candlewick in favour of faux suede and flat-screens - relics r...
City of David and Underground Jerusalem Day Tour
Discover the City of David in Jerusalem on an essential day trip. Formerly the settlement where King David established his Kingdom, the City of David is now a thriving archaeological park where ongoing excavations confirm many a Bible story. Departing from central Jerusalem in your air-conditioned coach, your first stop is the Mount of Olives for scenic views over Jerusalem.
Little Town of Bethlehem Half Day Trip from Jerusalem
Take a half day tour from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, and discover the town famed as the birthplace of Jesus. Tracing the events of the Nativity, this comprehensive tour uncovers the highlights of this holy city for worshipers of all religions! Your day tour begins with an air-conditioned drive south-east from Jerusalem to the holy city of Bethlehem.
Travel with children
Does having kids mean that your travel bug has buzzed its last? Nope - not according to the Lonely Planet community...