Other areas to stay in Jerusalem
The Old City
Without question, before sundown, the Old City is the most atmospheric area to stay in. In this part of the city, within the old city walls, you will find smaller hostels and hotels from which you can encounter the full spectrum of Jerusalem’s cultural and religious diversity. For the most part, the area is car-free and within walking distance of all its main attractions. The Old Town is brimming with a staggering array of historical and religious monuments, bazaars and maze-like alleyways.
The advantage of staying in this area is that you can experience the sights and sounds of an age-old civilisation and a melting pot of different cultures. Exotic and captivating, your senses will be on high alert as you hear the call to prayer from minarets, juxtaposed with the chiming of bells from the ancient churches, pass by vibrant bazaars and witness some of the places where it is said modern-day history began.
The walled Old City rests on the hills of the City of David and is an area split into four quarters - Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Armenian - that are each packed with fascinating monuments and religious buildings.
You could spend several days if you wanted to exploring each one, but as they are within close proximity to each other, it is also possible to visit them in a much shorter time, as every sight is reachable on foot. Nothing can prepare you for the effect of the sunlight catching the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount Maria, or witnessing Jews praying at the Wailing Wall, adjacent to Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site. Another highlight that should not be missed is a walk along the Via Doloroso to the Holy Sepulchre or the Church of the Resurrection, which according to Christian scriptures is the place where Jesus was crucified and buried.
There is also a boisterous market in the Christian quarter where you can barter for souvenirs such as pottery, hand-woven rugs and beaded jewellery, while tantalising food stalls will tempt you to sample local delicacies.
East Jerusalem, the area located just north of the Old City, also encompasses Mount Olives. Staying close to Damascus or Herod’s Gate enables you to walk to the Old City and West Jerusalem. Many Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine and it is a predominantly Arab area. As you exit Damascus Gate head east to Solomon’s Quarries, a cave system that extends beneath the city, and then walk further east to the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum.
East Jerusalem lacks the nightlife of West Jerusalem it is still a great place to stay thanks to the assortment of good local restaurants. You can also venture up Mount Olives, so named for the olive groves that grew on its slopes, for arresting panoramic views of the old city across the Kidron Valley.