10 favorite things to do / jerusalem pt. 2 of 2


in case you missed the first half of this travel guide, you can find it here.

6. The Garden of Gethsemane

The Garden is located on the east side of the Old City. It is a short walk from the Temple Mount. There is a beautiful church there called the Church of Nations. They have made a well-kept garden for the public which displays Olive trees that are said to be over 2,000 years old. They have since been grafted with new young branches which create a bright youthful feeling to the ancient, melancholy, ominous trucks. The catch with this garden is that you cannot walk amongst the trees, there are about 8-10 trees unfenced in the area next to the church. However, if you can make a reservation to go into the private gardens where you may walk amongst the trees and have time to yourself in that sacred place. 

7. Dormition Abbey

Located just outside of Zion’s Gate in the Armenian, it is said to be the resting place (one of the claimed resting places) of Jesus’ mother Mary. The Church is beautiful and very large, there is a staircase on the back left side of the Nave. It leads down to the burial place of the Mother Mary.  

8. Armenian Church of St. James

Located in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City, you have to look up the times when they hold services. It was an amazing experience to be there during their services. The inside of this church will give you neck pain due to never wanting to put your head back down. From the domes of the church are dozens of lamps, lights, and decorations all with different colors and shapes. When attending a service make sure females have head scarves (they are good to carry everyday here, you never know when you will need it). Also, be reverent and respectful, I had my legs crossed as I was sitting down and one of the clergy men told me it was disrespectful and that I needed to uncross them.   

9. Hezekiah’s Tunnel

This is located just south of Dung Gate in the even older city of Jerusalem, called the City of David. There is a tunnel that is about 6-12 feet tall (varying in height through the whole tunnel), 4 feet wide, and about a little more than a quarter mile long. It is an ancient tunnel that moved the water from a spring on the east side of the city down to the south west side of the city which ended in the pool of Siloam (where Christ healed the blind man by making mud with his spit and having him wash in the pool). There is water that still runs through the tunnel and it is about 2-3 feet deep at the deepest part of the tunnel. This was an awesome experience, some reviews I’ve read about it say not to do it because it’s wet and cold, but I thought the water was not bad at all and the experience was awesome. Make sure to have the right footwear for water, a headlamp and swimwear. 

10. Rampart Walk

This is the best way to see the Old City and the land round about Jerusalem. The entrance is at Damascus Gate, when you are outside the city looking at Damascus Gate you will walk to the right down stairs then under the road leading into the city and you will find a man in a little office. It cost about $5 after the exchange (around 16 shekels). You then can walk on the top of the Old City Walls and circumambulate the whole City. The views are spectacular. It would be a good activity to do the first few days in the city to help your orientation.

ok, we couldn't help ourselves. we had to include a couple more.

11. The Shuk

The Shuk is in Western Jerusalem. It is a huge outdoor market that has all kinds of local produce, spices, meats, pastries, etc. It is a fun place to shop and get wonderful food.

12. East Jerusalem and the Separation Wall

If you know much about the conflict of the Holy Land you will appreciate the conspicuousness of the occupation that exists on the East (Palestinian) side of Jerusalem. The dichotomy between east and west Jerusalem is sad and unjust. The Separation wall at many parts has graffiti messages written in English, meaning to reach the English speaking countries. They are powerful and resemble the many faces of grief, struggle, and injustice. There are pictures and words whose depiction rang from hate and maliciousness, hope, love, and desperation.  Also, you can always get a good football (soccer) game in with local Palestinian kids on the East side, which I highly recommend. 


Though I stuck to the city of Jerusalem, there are so many other sights in the city, but I also highly suggest other points of interest in the country, namely:

  • Bethlehem (5 miles away)
  • Dead Sea, Masada, Dead sea scroll caves
  • Galilee- my favorite part of my trip over in Palestine
  • Tel Aviv

You can read about my experiences there in more detail here.

10 favorite things to do / jerusalem / part 1 of 2

When you hear of visiting Jerusalem, two sequential thoughts come to mind: 1. That would be amazing experience seeing the scenic layout for biblical stories and 2. I wish I could go but it just seems too dangerous and sketchy over there. It is true that there is a conflict that has been waging on for many years and sometimes in certain areas it gets very dangerous. However, after living in Jerusalem for 3 ½ months I can say that the City of Jerusalem is safe enough to visit. There are thousands of tourists that have come from all over the world that visit year round. The Holy Land is no stranger to foreigners, and this does not exclude North Americans. If you are concerned about safety and the current status of the conflict you can always check to see if the BYU Jerusalem program is allowing students to go study in the Holy Land. They put in the due diligence needed to ensure parents of students that their precious ones will be safe. The security updates can be found here.      

As I will be referencing them, I will explain a few things about the city.  Jerusalem is a large city; the western side is the Jewish side and has a very clean, new European feel to it. The east side is the Palestinian side and is a little more rundown with more of a third world feeling too it; this is due to the Palestinians being under occupation and not having the infrastructure needed to have a nicer part of the city. One of the best things about Jerusalem is that there are many sites and points of interest that are only a 10-20 minute walk away from each other. The Old City is the central part of Jerusalem and is the original geographical site of biblical Jerusalem.

The Old City is divided into quarters:

  • Muslim Quarter
  • Jewish Quarter
  • Armenian Quarter
  • Christian Quarter.  

Another point of reference in the Old City is the different large gates that are the only entrances in.

It is very hard for me to narrow down must see places in the Holy Land, but I will offer some of my absolute favorite things to see and do in Jerusalem. 

western wall.png

1. Western Wall

The Western Wall is also known as the Wailing Wall and is located in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.  It is located in the outer southwest corner of the Old City, you can access it through the city, but the easiest way to get there is to enter through Dung Gate. It is divided into male and female sections. Males have to wear a kippah (Yamaka) in order to go up to the wall; they have bins with kippahs you can borrow. This is one of the best places to visit during a Jewish Holiday because it is packed with various sects of Judaism with their differing religious garments and hats. Many people write prayers on small pieces of paper and then wedge them in the cracks of the wall. They clean the papers out every few months, so get it somewhere sneaky.  

2. Monastery of St. Savior

Located in the Christian Quarter of the Old City, this Monastery is one of my personal favorites. The artwork and decorations are very ornate and beautiful. There is an office where you can get times of services. 

3. Dome of the Rock

The Dome of the Rock is the big golden Mosque that is the iconic building/image of Jerusalem. Along with the Al Aqsa mosque (Also found on the Temple Mount) the Dome of the Rock is one of the most Holy sites in Islam. The entrance is found just as you pass through Dung Gate in the southeast part of the Jewish Quarter right next to the entrance to the Western Wall. It is best to get there early in the morning, like 8:00am so that you don’t have to wait too long in line before entering the Temple mount to see the Dome of the Rock. There is no cost and no immediate time limit to your visit. They have a daily schedule for how long it is open to the public. The blue mosaic tiles of the Dome of the Rock are incredible. Only Muslims are allowed inside the Mosque.  

4. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is located in the Christian Quarter of the Old City. It is the last sight of the Via Del Rosa. This church is one of two proclaimed sites of the Tomb Christ was buried in and rose from. This site is a must see. It is essentially a few large church structures blended together ran by the respective Christian sects. There are hundreds of thousands of people who make their pilgrimage there every year. The experience here is loud, crowded, and powerful. It was great to see so many people who have made many sacrifices to be there, come in and fall to their knees to worship the Savior. Aesthetically, it is very ornate in places and also very simple and beautiful in others. They have an early morning mass which is a great experience to be a part of. 

5. Garden Tomb

The Garden Tomb is located just north of the Old City outside of Damascus Gate. It is in the middle of busy streets with the sounds of traffic, honking, and yelling. However, there is an amazing phenomenon that occurs. When you step past the walls of the garden and into the tree covered paths with flowers all around you, the empty tomb, and very kind British volunteers running the garden all the sound of the city seems to be muted. You have to make an appointment with the people running the garden before you can enter and see the tomb. It is hit or miss with the crowds. I went there a total of four times and there were times I had to queue up to go into the tomb and other times where I sat in the tomb by myself for as long as I wanted. There is a stark contrast between this site and the site in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, but both are enriching and powerful.

stay tuned for the second half next week!