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Tower of David and Museum of the History of Jerusalem

Tower of David and Museum of the History of Jerusalem

Right at the entrance to the Old City, near the Jaffa Gate, this old citadel is a good way to start your visit to Jerusalem. From the top, you can admire a great panorama of the area. To learn more about the city's history, visit the Museum of the History of Jerusalem, located inside the fortress, or come for the Night Spectacular show, which combines entertainment and education. Built by Herod the Great, the citadel is believed to be the place where Jesus's death sentence was pronounced. It then became a hub for the Crusaders and the Ottomans, and was restored several times.
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Ramparts Walk

Ramparts Walk

A lesser known but stunning way to see the Old City is the Ramparts Walk, which will guarantee you an aerial view from the top of the Ottoman walls that circle the city. You can choose between two options. The longer north side walk, which covers the area from the Jaffa Gate to the Lions Gate, overlooks the Christian and Muslim Quarters and ends near the Dome of the Rock. The south side walk goes from the Tower of David to the Zion Gate, and will bring you right in front of the Western Wall.
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Temple Mount / Noble Sanctuary

Temple Mount / Noble Sanctuary

This upland inside the Old City hosts places of worship for Jews (who call it Temple Mount, "Har HaBáyit") and Muslims (for whom the place is named Noble Sanctuary, "Haram esh-Sharif"). It was also the scene of events narrated in the Gospels, and its intense atmosphere can captivate everyone. Along with the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, here you will find the smaller Dome of the Chain and four Minarets. The Sanctuary is enclosed in walls built by Herod the Great 2,000 years ago. Of the eleven gates, only one is open to Non-Muslim visitors: it's the Mughrabi Gate, guarded by a security check. Dress modestly: cover your legs and shoulders and bring a cap.
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Western Wall

Western Wall

The Western Wall is the only part remaining of Solomon's Temple, built in the 10th century BC and destroyed twice. Praying here carries a lot of meaning for Jewish believers, who mumble hymns and insert prayers written on small pieces of paper between the bricks - every visitor is allowed to partake. The Temple was said to contain the Ark of the Covenant, a biblical golden chest. Moreover, Jesus reportedly visited the Temple as a child and left an impression on the wise men inside with his knowledge of the Bible. There are separate entrances for men and women leading to different parts of the wall. Friday evenings are particularly crowded, as Jewish people celebrate the arrival of Shabbat, the day of rest. Bar Mitzvah ceremonies take place in the morning on Monday, Thursday and Saturday: it's a great time to visit, as the place comes alive with Jewish song and dance.
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Western Wall Tunnels

Western Wall Tunnels

Only 70 meters of the Western Wall are visible from the outside, but the shrine continues underground for half a kilometre more. To visit this part, join a guided tour of the tunnels. You will reach the segment of the Wall which was closer to the Holy of Holiest, the most sacred part of Solomon's Temple. Praying here has a particularly deep meaning for Jewish people, and there's a small synagogue for this purpose. Other notable sights are houses and pools from the Second Temple era, imposing stone arches, and an aqueduct from the 2nd century BC.
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Dome of the Rock

Dome of the Rock

In 620 AD, in the company of an angel, the prophet Mohamad took a night journey to Heaven: called Mi'raj, this episode is a key point in the Islamic tradition. Located on top of the Noble Sanctuary upland, the Dome protects the rock where this journey started. On the same rock, thousands of years before, the biblical patriarch Abraham had allegedly tried to sacrifice his son Isaac, before God told him to stop. The Dome is, according to some, the oldest existing Islamic building, and a holy place of immense importance. Byzantine artisans built it between 687 and 691, and today its golden top stands out against the cityscape. Non-Muslim visitors cannot enter the Dome, but its elegant architecture is definitely worth taking a look at.
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Via Dolorosa

Via Dolorosa

The next unmissable landmark is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built allegedly on Jesus's burial place. A historically accurate and possibly emotional way to reach the church is through the Via Dolorosa: this street of the Old City is said to have been walked by Jesus on his way to crucifixion. Every Friday, Roman Catholic believers walk the same street in a procession and stop at nine Stations: spots that commemorate significant events in Jesus's last hours. The last four Stations are located inside the church.
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Church of the Holy Sepulcre

Church of the Holy Sepulcre

A destination of Christian pilgrimages for centuries, this church sits on the place where Jesus is said to have been killed, buried and resurrected. Some of the most riveting parts of the church are the richly decorated Calvary or 'Golgotha', where Jesus was crucified, and the Stone of Anointing, where the preparation for his burial was held. The huge complex was built by the emperor Constantine in the 4th century, and was damaged and restored several times.
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Cardo

Cardo

During Roman times the Cardo was Jerusalem's main street, and it must have been quite a view: lined by columns that linked as roofed arcades above pedestrians, it was 22 meters wide and teemed with carriages and cattle. The street has been rediscovered and partially restored by archaeologists in 1975. While walking, you'll see wall remains of the First and Second Temple, columns, and typical stone brick pavements. In the north there is an authentic bazaar which dates back to the Crusades era.
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Jewish Quarter

Jewish Quarter

The narrow alleyways of the Jewish quarter contain homes of many ancient Hebrew families. Here, while tourists take pictures, Jewish teenagers head to their Yeshivas. schools for Torah studies. Near the Cardo you will find the Hurva Synagogue: recently restored, it offers beautiful views over the roofs of the quarter. Built by Ashkenazi Jews in the 16th century, the synagogue has been destroyed and banned several times; for Jewish people it's a symbol of their tormented history.
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Armenian Quarter

Armenian Quarter

Smaller and less crowded, The Armenian Quarter has an ancient and intriguing atmosphere. The Armenian community is indeed one of the oldest in the city: it is believed that a group of Christian pilgrims founded it in the 4th century AD. If you're interested in religious architecture, take some extra time to visit. Head to St. Mark's Chapel, one of the oldest churches in Jerusalem, dating back to the 12th century. It's located on the exact spot where Jesus's Last Supper happened, and where the Virgin Mary was baptised. Today, it belongs to Syriac Orthodox believers, and it is richly decorated, with a carved throne and beautiful interiors. St James Cathedral is also worth a visit: it is a site of martyrdom and it's only open during masses. Finally, stop by the Armenian Compound. A monastery and hospice, it was a refuge for those who escaped the dramatic Armenian genocide. Today, it is also the seat of the Armenian Patriarchate.
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Christian Quarter

Christian Quarter

Constructed around the Church of the Holy Sepulcre, in the north-western part of the Old City, the area is home to several Christian sights. Few houses can be found here - it's mostly about religious buildings, educational facilities, and a plethora of cafes, restaurants and shops. The streets are packed with vendors. It is especially worth exploring the area of Mauristan, teeming with shops and colourful stalls. Used as a market during the Roman Empire, the area hosted churches and hospices during the Crusades (in Persian, "Mauristan" means hospital).
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