Visit Jerusalem – Dome of the Rock
Visit Jerusalem to see its most distinctive landmark – the Dome of the Rock with its golden roof and turquoise octagonal sides. The Dome of the Rock is located on the Temple Mount in Islamic lands. The dome is built over the Fountain Stone which is where the prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven. Others believe the nearby Al Aqsa Mosque is where Mohammed ascended. A small cavern, known as the Well of Souls, exists in the Fountain Stone. The Jewish faith considers the Well of Souls to be the intersection of Heaven and Earth. Today people of Jewish faith are not permitted to pray on the grounds of the Dome of the Rock, so they pray at the Wailing Wall instead.
The Dome of the Rock is also the site where Abraham is believed to have nearly sacrificed his son. Check carefully what the current status is for visitors, as non-Muslims have been denied entry to the Dome of the Rock or to the Well of Souls beneath the Fountain Stone at various points in time. The Palestinians believe this land belongs to Palestine.
Visit Jerusalem – Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The most important site for Christians who visit Jerusalem is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This is the site of Christ’s crucifixion, burial and resurrection. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is very large. It contains the last five Stations of the Cross (Via Dolorosa), which are markers for Christ’s path through Jerusalem when he bore the cross. The Stations of the Cross can be followed from the Zion Gate, through the Muslim Quarter to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Christ was removed from the cross at the Chapel of Golgotha, which is part of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Rotunda under one of the domes houses the gigantic chapel called the Aedicule, which marks the spot where Christ was entombed. Aedicule is almost like a church within a church.
Visit Jerusalem – the Wailing Wall
The Wailing Wall is part of the old Western Wall, which is part of the remains of the ancient Second Temple. The Wailing Wall is the focal point in Jerusalem for the Jewish faith. Men and women have separate sections where they lean against the walls and insert prayers written on paper into cracks in the wall.
It’s called the Wailing Wall because this is where the Jewish faith come to cry over the destruction of the temples that stood here long ago. The Dome of the Rock is on the hill just behind the Wailing Wall, but you can only catch glimpses of the top of the Dome of the Rock from the Wailing Wall.
Visit Jerusalem – Mount of Olives
The Mount of Olives is important to Christians and Jewish people too. The Church of all Nations and the Garden of Gethsemane are on the Mount of Olives. This is is where Judas betrayed Christ and Jesus spent the day before his crucifixion here. The Mount of Olives is also a preferred place for Jews to be buried. The views of the Old City and the Dome of the Rock are fabulous from the Mount of Olives.
Temple Mount Eastern Wall
At the Mount of Olives, you also look directly on the Temple Mount Eastern Wall. The Eastern Wall is the Golden Gate through which Christ will return to the Temple Mount of Jerusalem in the resurrection. You can clearly see that the gate has been walled shut centuries ago in order to prevent Christ’s return.
Visit Jerusalem – Other Sights
- King David’s Tomb – at Mount Zion. This is the area where the Last Supper for Jesus and his disciples was held.
- City of David – excavations of the ruins of the ancient city of Jerusalem. Walk through the tunnel that forms the original water source for the city.
- Tower of David – houses the Tower of David Museum.
- Tomb of Absalom – son of King David.
- Yad Vashem – holocaust memorial.
Get to Jerusalem
Jerusalem does not have an international airport servicing the city. Tourists get to Jerusalem by bus from Tel Aviv or the cruise port of Ashdod. Many organized tours visit Jerusalem each day. Buses frequent the Central Bus Station near the Jaffa Gate. There is also a transportation hub at the Damascus Gate of the Old City. The city has a light rail system running from Heil Ha Avir in the north to Mount Herzl in the south with a convenient stop at the Damascus Gate.
The Jerusalem weather is hot and dry during the summer. Winters can be cool at times. Jerusalem experiences an occasional light dusting of snowfall every few years. The nearby Mediterranean Sea tends to moderate temperatures. During Jerusalem weather in summer, expect average highs of 75 F (25 C) to 85 F (30 C). Average highs in winters are 60 F (15 C). Rainfall is almost non-existent in the summer months. The month of May gets our vote as the best month to visit Jerusalem for weather, but many people will time their visit to be there at Easter.
Most tourists who visit Jerusalem take a tour that also includes Bethlehem. The town of Bethlehem is a short distance from Jerusalem, but it’s in Palestine. You won’t need a visa to travel to Bethlehem as long as you are part of an organized tour that returns you to Jerusalem the same day. At the border, armed guards will walk down the aisle of your bus to check out the passengers. Christians head to Bethlehem to visit the Church of the Nativity, which marks to the spot where Christ was born.
Palestine Tourist Visa Requirements
Palestine has complicated entry requirements that are determined by its bordering countries. The Gaza strip is controlled by Hamas. Entry and exit between Gaza and Egypt or Israel are extremely difficult or impossible. On the West Bank, it is possible to cross the King Hussein Bridge from Jordan into Palestinian controlled areas. The only commonly used border crossing is between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Tourists can visit Bethlehem on organized tours without a visa.
Visit Jerusalem – Background
Jerusalem is one of the most intriguing cities in the world, because of its significance to so many religions. The Old Walled City of Jerusalem is only one square mile, but it is home to Jewish, Islamic, Christian and Armenian Quarters. Within the Old City are religious sites that include the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Christ as well as the place where Mohammed ascended to heaven. Jewish people, Christians and Muslims all share a common historical ancestry as descendants of Abraham. The Muslims recognize Jesus as a prophet. Despite these connections, the groups do not share any common bond. There is little if any dialogue or understanding between the various quarters of Jerusalem. In fact, it’s quite remarkable that they get along so peaceful in such a small area, given the strife between these religions throughout the rest of the world.