Apr 06

Israel – Places in Jerusalem – Mahane Yehuda Market

Israel’s largest open air market is located in downtown Jerusalem. This is the Mahane Yehuda market which has become the core of the authentic Jerusalem experience and enjoys great popularity with tourists and locals alike. The market itself has hundreds of vendors offering everything from fruit and vegetables, stalls with huge selections of herbs and spices, meat, fish and varieties of cheese to suit all palates as well as house wares and clothes.

Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem

photo: www.goisrael.com

Visitors from all walks of life enjoy wandering around this exciting place with its enticing aromas, its exhilarating colors and picturesque characters and vendors.   The market was originally established towards the end of the 19th century between the neighborhoods of Mahane Yehuda and Beit Ya’akov and at that time was known as the Shuk Beit Yaakov. The shuk expanded rapidly and rather chaotically during the time of Ottoman rule. In about 1928 due to very poor sanitary conditions the authorities of the British Mandate closed the market and began building permanent stalls and roofing that would enable the merchants to begin trading under better conditions.  At this time the market became known by its present name.  Early in this century extensive renovations were again undertaken, roads were repaved and some areas covered.

The modernized and improved market has resulted in the opening of various Coffee shops, high quality bakeries, fashion boutiques and photography and art galleries as well as modern gourmet restaurants.

Mahane Yehuda open air market

photo: www.goisrael.com

The Mahane Yehuda Market has today become a symbol of life in Jerusalem. There have even been songs and literary pieces written describing its bustle and ambience. It is definitely a must do on the agenda for tourists.

Mar 22

Jerusalem – Places to visit – Ein Kerem

One of the most charming neighborhoods of Jerusalem is the quaint and picturesque village of Ein Kerem (Hebrew – meaning “Spring of the Vineyard”).  The village itself is situated in a serene valley encircled by vibrant greenery and a view of the lovely surrounding hills.

Church of John the Baptist in Ein Karem

photo: www.goisrael.com

Approximately 1 million  Christian pilgrims from around the world, when visiting the Holy Land, come to the ancient village of Ein Kerem annually as this is the place where John the Baptist was born and is also the site of the Well where Mary and Elizabeth met. The water from this well is considered holy and many pilgrims drink this holy water which they also take away with them in bottles.

Ein Kerem also attracts thousands of visitors of all faiths who come to stroll along the lovely stone paths and view the delightful arched stone houses and hear the church bells chiming.  Many churches have been built since the Byzantine era and in modern times there are active churches and monasteries. Two of the churches, one Catholic and one Greek Orthodox are named after John the Baptist and are built on the ruins of earlier churches.

View of the Church of Visitation in Ein Kerem, Jerusalem Israel

Photo: www.goisrael.com

The Church of the Visitation is situated on the hillside of Ein Kerem and is believed to have been built over John the Baptist’s parents home. Its position commands lovely views of the surrounding hills as well as the valley. The rebuilding of the current church over the original Crusader Church began in the 19th century by Franciscans and in 1955 the church was completed. The courtyard of the Church has a tiled wall with the words of the “Magnificat” written in 42 languages.

Ein Kerem is one of Israel’s tourist treasures with charming stone houses filled with Artists and Sculptors galleries, excellent restaurants and attractive accommodation available in guest houses and Inns

Apr 21

Israel – Jerusalem and Surrounding Areas – Sites

Cities and Sites in and around Jerusalem

Jerusalem – probably the most visited part of Israel by pilgrims and tourists of all three monotheistic religions. and considered to be a Holy City by Jews, Christians and Moslems.

A plethora of religious and archeological sites are to be found in Jerusalem and the surrounding area. Other places in the surrounding area like Masada and the Dead Sea are also very popular tourist attractions

Choose a city or site in or around Jerusalem to read more.

Western Wall and Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem


Ein Gedi

Abu Gosh

Ein Kerem


Sites in Jerusalem

Old City
The Israel Museum
Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum

Apr 01

Israel – Israeli Towns and Villages – Abu Gosh

The Israeli Arab Village of Abu Gosh is situated about 10 km west of Jerusalem just off the main road from Tel Aviv. During Israel’s War of independence, out of all the Arab Villages in the area only the residents of Abu Gosh remained neutral and in many cases helped by assisting in keeping the road to Jerusalem open so that essential supplies could be sent to the besieged Jewish residents of the city.  To this day relations between the village of Abu Gosh and the Jewish community of Israel remain friendly and co-operative.

More than 6000 years ago during biblical times Abu Gosh was called Kiryat Ye’arim and was a centre where the Ark of the Covenant was kept up until it was taken to Jerusalem. About 1,500 years ago during the Byzantine era , a church was built in the village and during Crusader times the village was attributed to be the place of Emmaus (The place where after his resurrection, Jesus revealed himself to his disciples). This is the site of the beautiful Benedictine Monastery.

One of the most beautiful crusader buildings to have survived in Israel is the Abu Gosh Benedictine Monastery built about 1000 years ago on a site of a water spring.  In the 19th century this crusader church was handed over to the Benedictine Order by the French Government after careful restoration. On the monastery walls frescoes from the 12th century are still in evidence and a small spring can be seen flowing from the crypt of the monastery. The monastery is divided into a section for nuns and a section for monks.

At the highest point of the village and facing the inspiring views of the Jerusalem Hills and surrounded by gardens is the lovely Church of our Lady of the Arc of Covenant (The Church of Notre Dame de l’Arche d’Alliance) was built on the ruins of an ancient Byzantine Church. In the Church Courtyard there is a large statue of Virgin Mary which is visible from all points of the compound. The convent itself belongs to the French order of St.Josef de l’apparition and the imposing church is home to the Abu-Gosh Liturgical Festival. During the 1948 War of Independence the convent was used as a military hospital.

During Shavuot (the festival of the first fruits) and Sukkot (The Feast of Tabernacles) both the Church and the Benedictine Monastery hold vocal music festivals.  Groups and Choirs from around the world participate in these festivals which are well attended by music lovers from both Israel and abroad.

Abu Gosh has a number of excellent restaurants and if the word hummus is mentioned Abu Gosh immediately comes to mind as it is known as the countries hummus centre with its different varieties of garnishes and spices. The village of Abu Gosh should definitely be put on the list of places to visit when touring Israel.

Oct 23

Historical Sites in Israel – Israeli Cities – The Old City Of Jerusalem

The ancient city of Jerusalem has been continuously inhabited for over 3000 years and is holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Outside Wall of the Old City Of JerusalemFor the Jews it is the place where the Jewish Patriarch Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mt. Moriah.  In approximately 1000 BCE King David proclaimed Jerusalem as the eternal capital and spiritual centre of the Jewish people.  It is also the spot where King David’s son King Solomon built the First Temple in about 670 BCE directly over the rock of Mt Moriah.

Jerusalem is also holy to Christians as this is the place where Jesus’ ministry was marked by miracles as where he made a triumphal entry into the city and where the “Last Supper” (Passover Seder) took place on Mt Zion in 30 CE. This is also where Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane took place, followed by the trial, condemnation and the route of the Via Dolorosa (Way of the Cross) to Calvary or Golgotha. Christian Pilgrimages to the Holy Land always include a visit to  the Old City of Jerusalem including a visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

More than a thousand years after The First Temple was built,  the Dome of the Rock was built over the site of Solomon’s Holy Temple, on what is known as the Temple Mount (Mt Moriah), as a shrine for Islamic pilgrims who believe that it was the site where Mohammed ascended to heaven and is thus holy for Muslims.

There is a mystical quality about Jerusalem that is unique and does not exist anywhere else in the world perhaps because of its exciting and splendid history and the hallowed atmosphere that surrounds all the holy sites. The captivating feeling in Jerusalem also probably emanates from the narrow alleys, vivid markets, magnificent stone walls and ancient buildings.

The city is surrounded by a wall which is nearly 4 km long and has seven gates. There are many towers including the Tower of David and the city is divided into 4 quarters:

The Jewish Quarter
The Christian Quarter
The Armenian Quarter
The Moslem Quarter

Sep 03

Israel Museums – Visit Jerusalem – The Israel Museum

The Israel Museum in Jerusalem was founded in 1965 and is one of the world’s most prominent art and archeology museums with wide-ranging exhibits of Judaica, biblical archeology, fine arts and artifacts from countries in South America, Africa, Oceania and the Far East. The various collections embody the precious history of human culture from modern times going back nearly a million years.

Israel Museum - Shrine of the BookThe museum’s 20 acre campus encompasses a number of different wings offering captivating exhibits, activities that will please visitors of all ages, the lovely Billy Rose Sculpture Garden as well as special events.

Model of Temple Mount at Israel Museum JerusalemWithout doubt the Shrine of the Book which is part of the Israel Museum is the most popular exhibit.  The distinctive onion shaped roof was designed to look like the covers of the jars containing the Dead Sea Scrolls; they were found in Qumran in1947 and are the oldest manuscripts ever discovered.
There are also other rare manuscripts including the 10th century Aleppo Codex which is believed to be the most ancient complete Hebrew Bible.

Situated next to the Shrine of the Book is a model of Jerusalem reconstructing the city and the Temple as they were  before the destruction by the Romans of the city.

Israel Museum JerusalemThe impressive Billy Rose Sculpture Garden is regarded as being one of the finest current outdoor sculpture exhibitions and includes works by celebrated artists Jacques Lipchitz, Henry Moore, Claes Oldenburg, Pablo Picasso, Auguste Rodin, and David Smith and more recently works by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Mark Dion, James Turrell, and Micha Ullman.

There are many other interesting exhibitions, especially the Judaica wing which includes religious objects from worldwide Jewish communities as well as reconstructed old Synagogues from Italy, Germany and the newest addition a Synagogue from Cochin India.

The largest section of the Museum is the archeology wing which contains the world’s largest collection of artifacts found in Israel.

The Israel Museum in Jerusalem attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors a year both local and tourists from abroad.

Aug 20

Israel – Israeli Cities – Jerusalem

Jerusalem, “City of Gold”, is the capital of Israel and is regarded as a holy city by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. It is located in the Judean Mountains between the northern end of the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Jerusalem became Israel’s capital in 1948 when the country gained independence.

Jerusalem view from Mount of OlivesJerusalem is the holiest city in Judaism and has been so since the 10th century BCE, it is home to many significant ancient Christian holy places and the third holiest city for Muslims.

The Old city of Jerusalem is a walled area and has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1982, and is divided into 4 religious and ethnic sections, The Jewish, Christian, Armenian and Muslim quarters, all contained in about 1 square kilometer. In this small area are also located a number of important religious sites such as the Western Wall and Temple Mount for Jews, for Christians the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and for Muslims the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque.

The cultural and civic areas of the city are found in the western and urban areas which include The Knesset (Israel’s Parliament), other branches of the Israeli government as well as the Supreme Court. Jerusalem is also home to Yad Vashem (The Holocaust memorial), The Hebrew University and the Israel Museum with the Shrine of the book which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls.

A Hassidic Jew in JerusalemEver since King David made Jerusalem his capital in 1000 BCE, Jews have lived within the walls of the Old City with only two exceptions. When Roman Invaders forbade them access to the city and then again between 1948 and 1967 when Jordan occupied the old city and Jews were forbidden to enter the Jewish quarter to pray at the Western Wall.

Today in Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish State, Jews, Christians and Muslims are all free to pray at their holy religious sites.

Aug 20

Museums in Israel – Jerusalem – Yad Vashem

In 1953, The Knesset, Parliament of Israel established the Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes” Remembrance Authority - Yad Vashem. The intention of this was to document the history of the Jewish people during the Holocaust.

Yad VashemThe museum was built at the foot of Mount Herzl on the Mount of Remembrance (Har Hazikaron) in Jerusalem on a 45 acre site and contains the Holocaust History Museum and various memorial areas such as the Hall of Remembrance, the Children’s Memorial and the Holocaust Art Museum as well as sculptures.

Yad Vashem memorialThere are also a number of commemorative sites outdoors and a memorial named “The Righteous Among the Nations” honoring Non-Jews who, at personal risk, saved Jews during the Holocaust, this memorial is in the form of an avenue that has 2000 trees that have been planted in their honor.

In 2005 the new Yad Vashem Museum was opened for public viewing. The Museum is divided into nine galleries and shaped like a prism piercing the mountain. The experiences and stories of various Jewish communities before the Second World War and the events that took place from the Nazis rise to power are related in each chamber of the Museum. An essential part of the exhibits are the photographs, films, letters, documents, personal items and other items that were found in the Ghettoes and the Camps.

The Hall of names has over three million names of victims of the Holocaust that have been submitted by relatives and is situated at the exit to the museum. This is still open for names to be submitted by visitors and added to the archive which is computerized

Yad Vashem eternal flameAmongst the various other memorials is “The Hall of Remembrance” that has an eternal flame burning in commemoration of the dead and the particularly heartrending children’s memorial Yad Layeled which commemorates the one and a half million Jewish children who were murdered in the Holocaust.

A visit to Yad Vashem is an extremely moving and poignant experience, but is an important way for the more than 1 million visitors each year including World Leaders and dignitaries from around the globe to see the exhibits and remember the Holocaust and what happened to six million Jewish men, women and children.