The Old City of Jerusalem is a prominent place known for its ancient ruins and religious sites. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Old City of Jerusalem attracts a lot of tourism with its history, archeology, religious sites, and museums. It also has numerous shops in the open-air markets for purchasing local food and souvenirs from the Holy City. The city has several attractions within its walls alone, let’s name some of them below.
The Ancient Walls
If you look at a map of the Old City of Jerusalem, you will see that it is surrounded by ancient walls. The walls of today are made of white limestone called “Jerusalem Stone” and can be found in the Judean Hills. Suleiman the Magnificent built the walls that you see today, during the Ottoman Empire. During biblical times, walls of the city protected the inhabitants from attacks of the enemy. There are numerous biblical records of the construction of walls in the land by King Solomon and Nehemiah. The book of Nehemiah, in particular, holds biblical records to the construction of the protective walls around Jerusalem. Today, these distinct limestone walls add to the character and nature of the city.
At the entrance to Jaffa Gate stands the Tower of David, also known as the Jerusalem Citadel. The current tower area, erected during the Mamluk and Ottoman periods, contains archaeological treasures dating back thousands of years. It was destroyed and rebuilt several times for its purpose of protecting Jerusalem. Today, The Tower of David functions as a museum that exhibits Jerusalem’s 4,000 years of history.
There are eight gates that function as entrances into the Old City. The ancient gates themselves are historical landmarks. Within the gates, there are many narrow streets and alleyways only possible to walk through on foot. The gates and walls depict a picture of how it was fortified in the past for protection.
The Religious Sites
There are several holy sites within the Old City that are of religious significance to different beliefs. These are also some of the most popular tourist destinations of Israel. Religious sites include the Western Wall, Dome of the Rock, and Church of the Holy Sepulchre. There are also synagogues and modern churches like the St. James Cathedral, a 12th-century Armenian church and the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows, an 18th-century Armenian Catholic church.
The Museums and Shops
Modern additions within the Old City are several museums that feature the history of Jerusalem and Israel. There are also numerous shops that sell local food, religious items, souvenirs, and more.
Touring within the Old City of Jerusalem will likely take an entire day or two or even more. Most visit for religious purposes like praying at the Western Wall or visiting one of the old churches and mosques. The Old City tells a lot of history about the Jewish people and Israel. If you plan to visit Israel, don’t forget to write down Jerusalem and the Old City on your must-see list.