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Top Rated Attractions in Jerusalem

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Yad Vashem

Yad Vashem was established by the Israeli Parliament in 1953 as a memorial for almost six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust. Among several divisions of Yad Vashem are the historical museum presenting an overview of the period, and the art museum, which displays works depicting life in the Jewish ghettos and concentration camps. The Avenue of the Righteous commemorates those who helped to rescue Jews. Visitors whose relatives perished are encouraged to add information to the computerized database. There is also an academic research institute, and speakers, conferences and seminars about the Holocaust and related issues. Call ahead for more details.

Jerusalem Bird Observatory

If you love to bird watch or are interested in birds and wildlife, then a trip to the Jerusalem Bird Observatory is what you need. Boasting of an active ringing station, the bird observatory sees all kinds of Israeli birds coming here to feed. Besides bird watching, one can also watch a few nature movies and learn more about bird migration and bird banding. Various workshop for beginners on sketching, photography and bird watching are also held here. Special guided tours for large groups, school children and corporates can also be organized by the staff. Not only are the admission prices reasonable but the Jerusalem Bird Observatory is also great place to bring along your children.

Mahane Yehuda Market

For short-term travelers seeking a fascinating look at Israeli culture or long-term residents hoping to strike a bargain, this crowded, yet inviting market is a meaningful experience. Fresh, inexpensive produce is in abundance but the market's specialties include colorful spices, pre-made salads and spreads and newly baked pastries. Rumor has it that the bakery stall, 'Marzi-Pan,' makes the world's best ruggalah (rolled chocolate pastries). Finding the centrally located market is a breeze. Finding the best route out of its maze of lanes may require some keen navigation skills.

Hezekiah's Tunnels

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.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Also known as the Church of the Resurrection, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is believed to encompass Golgotha, or Calvary, the rocky outcrop where Jesus was crucified, and the tomb where he was buried. Emperor Constantine's magnificent, and much larger, 4th-century basilica was destroyed by Persian Invaders in 614 CE, only to be rebuilt again soon after. Over the years, the church has been repeatedly damaged and destroyed by both invading armies and natural disasters, rebuilt and restored each time, resulting in a chaotic yet oddly moving synthesis of architectural styles; a testament of sorts to the perseverance of the Christian faith. Each year, thousands of pilgrims travel to Jerusalem to visit this holy Christian shrine and be in the midst of Golgotha, Stone of Anointing and the empty tomb of Jesus Christ. Although hacked away by the Fatimid caliph Hakim, the chapel of Edicule shelters what remains of the cave where Jesus was buried and later resurrected on Easter Day.

Tower of David

Located near the Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, the Tower of David is one of the most defining landmarks of the city. Known as the Citadel of Jerusalem, the ancient fortress was built over the site which once belonged to the Byzantine, Herodian, Hasmonean and early Muslim rulers, Foundations for the Tower of David were laid by the Hasmoneans and expanded by King Herod. One of the most well-preserved sites of the city, the construction of the fortress dates back to the Mamluk and Ottoman reign. While there has been enough speculation about King David’s connection to the citadel, it has been debated as being a misnomer for the Turkish minaret which was an addition to the Mamluk mosque. Its historical museum presents the models of the Temple Mount, the Dome of the Rock, and the Holy Sepulchre in various eras, along with a 19th Century model of the city. Offering some of the best panoramic views of the old city, the citadel reflects the city’s historical, religious and architectural diversity.

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