Knesset

Landmark in Jerusalem

Israel’s 120 lawmakers convene at the Knesset, a 1966 building belonging to the unfortunate multistorey-car-park school of architecture. Visitors can take a free one-hour guided tour of the committee rooms, plenary chamber, Chagall Hall (featuring three tapestries and several mosaics by the great 20th-century Jewish artist) and a display of the Declaration of Independence. The building is part of Kiryat Ben Gurion, the governmental district.

Tours are conducted on Sunday and Thursday in Hebrew, Arabic, English, French, Spanish, German and Russian (and Amharic, with advance notice); check the website for times. Tours for kids themed around Jewish symbols and customs take place on other days of the week; enquire ahead. It's also possible to observe Knesset plenary debates from the public gallery on Monday and Tuesday from 4pm and Wednesday from 11am.

A wide variety of other themed tours on the Knesset's architecture, its own archaeological park and the building's art and phtography are offered to large groups with reservations.

Visitors must have a passport and be modestly dressed (no shorts, sleeveless shirts, T-shirts bearing political slogans or flip-flops). Be prepared for a swift interrogation (even if you're only walking past the site).

Next to the bus stops opposite the Knesset is a giant bronze menorah, a gift from the British Labour Party in 1956. It’s decorated with panels representing important figures and events in Jewish history. It's not uncommon to find small groups of protesters camped out near here.


Advertisement