Date of stay: February 2013
Tour or pre planned: Pre planned
Jerusalem is known for its religious history, and is only 8km away from the famous city of Bethlehem where Jesus Christ was born. We visited the Holy city of Jerusalem in late February for a half marathon that was being held.
There is plenty to do in Jerusalem for the history fanatic. We spent 2 days there (one of which included the beautiful albeit undulating half marathon). We stayed very centrally at a hotel above the central bus station and this was also by the main tram system (which is there and back, you can’t get lost) the Hotel was called Jerusalem Gold.
We took the tram to the old city to explore the markets, famous buildings and churches (including the church where Jesus was supposedly buried). There was a lot happening at this stage as it was a Friday afternoon. From about 5pm on Friday until late on Saturday the local people celebrate Shabbat (or Shabbos), which is the Jewish day of rest on the seventh day of the week. It is a very surreal feeling, and you will be lucky to find any shops open at this time. We were even told that sometimes they will throw rocks at you if you are driving cars on that day (especially in the center city)
On the Saturday we were able to take a half day tour to Bethlehem, we were guided around the Church of Nativity and the Shepherds field. This was a very interesting and we went down into the cave where Jesus Christ was born. There are plenty of tours available which seem to do the same itinerary, but I would recommend doing this as a tour, or else you will be waiting at least 2 hours to get into the cave mentioned above.
It’s important to note, Bethlehem is in Palestinian territory so you will need a passport and will go through security when crossing the ‘boarder’. Many locals had advised us not to go into the area due to the ruthlessness and unpredictability of the Palestines, but we took the risk on this organised tour – and glad we did!
Other things to do in the area, visit the mountain of olives which has great panoramic views over the city. Visit the ‘upper room’ (2min walk from the Zion gate of the old city), this is where the ‘last supper’ was held. And lastly, visit the City of David (which is very close to the old city also), there is a geological park there where they are excavating old ruins to this current day!
Would you recommend this destination: Yes
Overall rating destination: 3.5 out of 5