From ancient temples to markets and landmark museums, Jerusalem invites travelers to explore the past, sample local cuisine, and discover traditional culture. Since key sites are found in the compact center, you can cover the essentials with just one day in the city. Here’s how.
Temple Mount (al-Haram al-Sharif)
Al Aqsa Mosque Complex, Jerusalem
While East Jerusalem is controlled by Israel, the Temple Mount is controlled by the Islamic Trust, making the area a very contested location. The compound is open to anyone who wishes to enter, and can be entered near the gate near the Western Wall. Visitors can admire the exteriors of the Dome of The Rock, Al Aqsa Mosque, and other sights.
Things to Know Before You Go
Non-Muslim visitors are allowed to enter outside of Muslim prayer times.
The Temple Mount is closed on all major religious holidays and on days deemed “sensitive” by authorities.
Visitors are expected to dress appropriately with covered arms and legs.
Comfortable walking shoes are recommended as there are many steps and hills to climb.
Tours can help visitors visit religious sites in East Jerusalem in a respectful, culturally sensitive way.
How to Get There
The Temple Mount is in Jerusalem’s Old City, and visitors can gain entrance through the Mughrabi gate near the Western Wall. Private cars are not allowed inside the Old City during the day, but there are a number of public parking lots outside the various entry gates. Taxis are relatively easy to find near Jaffa gate and can take passengers inside. Public busses and the light rail stop within a 10 minute walk from the Temple Mount, and there’s also a free shuttle to the Old City every 20 minutes from The First Station in Jerusalem.
When to Get There
Sundays can be especially busy, but arriving in the early morning as soon as it opens and 7:30 (8:30 in the winter) is your best bet for avoiding crowds. Allow at least an hour to see the site, and be prepared to wait in long lines to enter.
The Western Wall
Part of an ancient, limestone retaining wall along the western side of the Temple Mount, the Western Wall is one of the most famous landmarks in Jerusalem. (It’s also known as the Wailing Wall; Kotel in Judaism; and the Buraq Wall in Islam.) For Jews, the wall is considered the holiest prayer site; for Muslims, it’s believed to be the place where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.
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- Dome of the Rock
- Al-Aqsa Mosque
- Western Wall Tunnels
- Old City of Jerusalem
- Way of the Cross (Via Dolorosa)
- Kidron Valley
- Church of St. Anne
- Hezekiah's Tunnel (Siloam Tunnel)
- Pool of Bethesda
- Church of All Nations (Basilica of the Agony)
- Jerusalem Jewish Quarter
- Tomb of the Virgin Mary (Mary's Tomb)
- Christian Quarter
- Dominus Flevit Church