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Bethlehem, which is in the Palestinian Authority, lies five miles from Jerusalem and is easily reached on a service taxi from Damascus Gate. The aptly named Manger Square is a big plaza lined with tourist shops. Here you will find the Church of the Nativity, which was built where Jesus was born (a silver star marks the exact spot). Next door is Saint Catherine's Church (built in 1881) and it is from here that Midnight Mass on Christmas is televised. A few minutes from Manger Square, is the Milk Grotto, where supposedly a drop of Mary's milk fell when she was nursing Jesus. Christian women with fertility problems come here to pray; Jewish women longing for children pray at Rachel's Tomb (on the outskirts of Bethlehem).
High on the hills of Talpiot, the Haas Promenade (Tayelet) offers a fantastic view of Jerusalem. According to local legend, this was the site that God showed Abraham, Mount Moriah, the place he had to sacrifice his son. It comprises of many walking trails, promenades and shaded grasslands for family picnics. There are several observation spots as well from where you can catch a glimpse of landmarks like the Hurva Synagogue, Dome of the Rock (Noble Sanctuary), the Old City and Mount of Olives. You will also find remnants of a water shaft and aqueduct dating back to more than two thousand years ago.
Built by Hezekiah in the 7th Century BCE, Hezekiah's Tunnels or Siloam Tunnel is beneath the City of David and is a wonderful tour for those who love history with a bit of adventure. The chronicles of this tunnel is mentioned in the Bible. The underpass was built to protect Jerusalem's water from the Assyrian raid and to bring the supply to the west of the City of David, thereby completely cutting off the water flow to the Assyrians. This ancient shaft was undiscovered for centuries and was only discovered in the 19th Century by Captain Charles Warren. It seems that there was a team of two digging teams at either ends of the tunnel. They carried out the digging by listening to the other's pickaxes and finally met at the middle. Marvel at this story as you explore this long passage while wading through the water. Narrow pathways, wet steps, ancient surroundings and stories that aren't just folklore, Hezekiah's Tunnels is indeed an interesting part of Jerusalem's history.
To appreciate the magnificence of the Temple complex and later palaces and public buildings, this tour is a must. A row of shops once existed below the Temple Mount, and on the pavement one can see stones toppled from the Mount by the Roman army in 70 C.E. Part of a broad stairway has been reconstructed and part of the original double archway is still visible below Al-Aqsa Mosque. Remains of private homes and businesses from the late Roman and other periods are also visible. This area is a popular venue for bar mitzvah and other celebrations, and is used by non-Orthodox Jews for occasional prayer services. Combination tickets that include other sites can also be purchased.
Jericho, some 25 miles east of Jerusalem, is the world's oldest city (dating back 10,000 years) and the lowest city on earth (250m below sea level). It is here that the walls came tumbling down when Joshua and his army of Israelites blew their trumpets (Joshua 6:20). Some two miles from the town centre is Hisham's Palace, the winter residence of the Umayyad Caliph Hisham from Damascus, which was built in the 8th century and excavated in the 1930s and is a wonderful example of Islamic architecture. The Oasis Casino (which is a couple of miles before the city on the road from Jerusalem) is very popular with Israelis. A passport is needed for entry.
Largely destroyed during Israel's War of Independence, the Jewish Quarter has been now been restored. Here you will find a residential area, ancient and modern synagogues, archaeological sites (some located in the apartment building basements), and shops offering books, certified antiquities, art, and Judaica. The Quarter's most famous landmark is the destroyed Hurva Synagogues, surmounted by a wide arch. The square provides a small playground, and leading off it is the Cardo, the Wohl Archaeological Museum, and Burnt House. From here you can also get to the medieval remains of St Mary of the Germans, and the wide stairway that leads to the Western Wall. Numerous small restaurants and Falafel stands will help sustain you as you explore this dynamic restored Jewish community.
Its not just the magnificent Temple Mount that attracts the visitors, but also its main western entrance''Ha-Shalshelet'' Gate. The origin of the name can be traced back to the time when the chain decided the verdict of the court situated here. As fascinating as its history, the gate premises also consist of a stairway and multiple columns embedded with inscriptions of Muslim leaders of the 15th century. The water trough of the Ottoman rule reflects the ancient water system.
From Jaffa Gate, walk south along Armenian Patriarchate Road to visit one of Jerusalem's unique ethnic communities. Armenians converted to Christianity in 301, and have always had a presence in Jerusalem, centred at the Cathedral of Saint James. During World War I, the monastery took in hundreds of refugees fleeing the Turkish massacres. About 2,000 people now live in this quarter. The Mardigian Museum will introduce you to Armenian history and culture, and nearby are shops selling the famous Armenian ceramics and unusual carved crosses. The Armenian cemetery (next to the unfinished cathedral) is believed by some to be the site of the High Priest Caiphas's house, where Jesus was questioned. You can sample Armenian cuisine at the Armenian Taverna.