One of the best-known religious cities in the world, the Holy City of Jerusalem is home to one of the highest concentrations of sacred sites. These sites are visited by those who practice the three major world religions — Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Surrounded by a wall, Jerusalem is home to some of the holiest Jewish sites, and those who visit feel the history of these sites come alive.
Church Of The Holy Sepulchre
One of the most visited sites in Jerusalem, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the holiest place on earth for Catholic and Orthodox Christians. This location is the site of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and Resurrection. Completed in 355 AD, this site was constructed on the foundations of Roman temple dedicated to Aphrodite (Venus). This site has undergone many mutilations caused by conflict in the area. However, regardless of the damage this holy site has suffered, it remains to be a fascinating piece that showcases medieval architecture and the area’s history.
To get to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, you can take a taxi or bus to Suq Khan e-Zeit. The site is located between that street and Christian Quarter Road. The Church is open from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. daily during the summer and until 7 p.m. in the winter. Because of the popularity of this site, expect to stand in long lines and be amongst heavy crowds. Those wanting to avoid heavy crowds should make plans to arrive to the site as early in the morning as possible.
The Zion Gate in Jerusalem connects Mount Zion to the Old City. This site holds sacred value to both Christians and Jews and is located just west of the Mount of Olives. This site is also the location of the Tomb of King David and the room of the Last Supper. According to the Catholic religion, Mount Zion is also the location of Dormition Abbey, where Virgin Mary fell into her eternal sleep.
Mount Zion is located on the southwest side of the Old City of Jerusalem. Hours of operation vary depending upon the time of year and section of the site you want to visit.
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Mount Of Olives
Named for the olive trees that once grew in the area, the Mount of Olives sits more than 2,600 feet above East Jerusalem. This is one of the most widely known sites of a Jewish cemetery that has been in use for more than 3,000 years. Mount of Olives also plays a significant role in both Christianity and Islam as well. This is the site of Mary’s Tomb, the Church of Maria Magdelene, the garden of Gethsemane and the Tomb of Zechariah.
The East Jerusalem Bus Company offers rides up to the Mount of Olives. This site is open daily from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., however, it is closed on Mondays.
Located in the South East corner of Jerusalem’s Old City, you will find the massive plaza made of stone known as the Temple Mount. This site has religious significance for all three religions and is by far the most holy place in the city. It is believed that Abraham offered to sacrifice his son, Isaac, to God at the location of the Temple Mount. It is also home to two structures that are important to the Islamic faith — The Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
This site was the First Temple for the Jewish faith and was built by King Solomon in 957 BC to house the Ark of the Covenant, which was what held the Ten Commandments. Muslims call the Temple Mount Haram al-Sharif and it is the third holiest site for their faith after the Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. For Christians, this is the site where Jesus came to pray on a daily basis and later he preached at the Temple Mount with his disciples.
Access to the Temple is limited tourists and non-Muslims. During the winter months hours of access are on Sunday through Thursday from 7:30 until 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 until 1:30 p.m. Access during the summer months is available on Sunday through Thursday from 8:30 until 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 until 2:30 p.m.
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The Western Wall
Also known as the Wailing Wall and the Kotel, the Western Wall is one of the most holy sites for Judiasm. This wall is an archaeologist’s dream destination, offering visitors an impressive history that dates back to the time of King Herod. This site features 2,000-year-old stones that have been through the Jewish people’s times of exile and redemption. It is also the site of many historical events in Jewish history, including the liberation along with the Temple Mount during the Six Day War of 1967. This site is one of the most popular places for those in the Jewish faith to visit to pray and leave notes in the wall’s crevices.
The Western Wall is visited by millions of travelers every year. The Western Wall is open 24 hours a day all year long. This site also forms part of the western flank for the Temple Mount, another must-see holy site in Jerusalem. There is also a smaller, much shorter section of the wall, also known as the Little Western Wall, which can be accessed near the Iron Gate.
Home to religious and historical sites for the world’s top three religions — Christianity, Judaism and Islam — Jerusalem is one of the most fascinating holy sites in the world to visit. Even the architecture and historical sites make this destination a must-see no matter what your religion is.