Jerusalem Travel Guide
Kitty cats. They rule the internet and, whether we realize it or not, pretty much the world too. Ever noticed how cats sometimes stake out the coolest spots in a city? This new featureTravel Catfocuses on exactly that. Submit a photo to be featured by tweeting or Instagramming it to us (details below).
Travel Cat spotted at: the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
This week's Travel Cat is from writer and traveler Kate Winick, who tweeted to say that she'd spied these two kitties "yowling at each other" while visiting Jerusalem's Western Wall. Hopefully they worked it out; there's enough conflict around these parts already.
We're indulging in some Israel travel this week, as Jaunted writers are wont to do from time to time. The picture you're looking at is of the ramparts that line the Old City of Jerusalem, a two and a half mile walk that dates back to ancient times and has been immortalized in art. The so-called "rampart walk" is one of those insidery tourist attractions that, once you know about them, are actually worth signing up for.
Visitors can enter and tour the ramparts, which ring the Old City, for about $5. You have to climb up some fairly steep stairs to get to them, but once you're at the top - as you can imagine - the views are spectacular. If you turn and look inside the city, you get to see iconic structures that have been written about for thousands of years. If you turn the other way you're presented with modern Jerusalem.
Israel's Ministry of Tourism has to deal with one of the travel industry's more challenging balancing acts: promoting the country's historical significance to religious travelers without freaking out secular tourists who should be attracted to party cities like Tel Aviv, all the while showing a side of Israel that goes beyond the headlines.
Israel hopes to pull off exactly that trifecta with a series of upcoming "Autumn Nights" celebrations in Jerusalem's Old City, emphasizing the Israeli capital's ancient religious heritage in a quintessentially modern way.
When it comes to Jerusalem, you hear a lot about the tension between people of the Jewish and Muslim faiths, but not so much about the Christians, who also consider it a sacred city. A recent scuffle at one of the holiest spots in all of Christendom, however, reminds us that they're a fragmented people as well, with plenty of long-standing beefs among the various sects. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher - a Christian church located within the walled city of Jerusalem on what is believed to be the spot of Christ's crucifixion, burial, and resurrection - was the setting for a violent clash between groups of Armenian and Greek Orthodox monks this morning. As with most religious disputes, what they were fighting over is kind of complicated and goes back a long, long way, but apparently the Armenians were holding a ceremony and the Greeks felt that one of their monks had the right to be present, lest they lose their claim to a structure built on Christ's tomb. The Armenians refused to allow a Greek monk to join the ceremony, so the Greeks tried to block the procession, and that's when multiple blows were exchanged (see the BBC video) and Israeli cops rushed in and arrested one monk from each side. We're not about to diagnose the problems of the world in one blog posting, but aren't monks supposed to be loving and non-violent? In any case, the church is usually a peaceful place, and it is open to visitors of all faiths. So stop by if you're in town, and if arguments arise between believers, stay neutral and slowly back away.
[Photo: Associated Press]
Israel's most claustrophobic hiking trail, Hezekiah's Tunnel is an ancient narrow path below the City of David in Jerusalem. Built in 701 BC, the tunnel was constructed as an aqueduct to bring water to Jerusalem residents while the city was under siege by the Assyrians.
Today, visitors can hike through the S-shaped tunnel, also called Warren's Shaft, after explorer Charles Warren, who discovered the tunnel in 1867.
Crouching below the stone ceiling while wading through the water in the complete dark, it's hard to imagine how the 1,750-foot tunnel was even completed 2,700 years ago, let alone used as a functioning aqueduct. You can bring a flashlight, but it's more fun to use your hands as a guide and do it in the dark.
Jerusalem isn't the first place you think of to explore under-the-radar nightlife scenes, but everyone's favorite holy city has a surprisingly diverse party circuit, from gay clubs to street punks to wine-and-cheese bars.
And, like just about any other city in the world, you can always find some Bob Marley heads if you look hard enough. The Cube Bar, set inside the Mehane Yehuda market in central Jerusalem, is Israel's gathering place for the dreadlocked, shoeless, hippy dance crowd.
This laid-back, open-air bar is a casual spot for downing a few local Goldstar brews while chatting with a mix of Israeli reggae heads and American and Euro ex-pats. The parties get under way on Friday afternoons in the summer, when live reggae bands start playing at 4 pm. (Like most of the rest of Jerusalem, the party shuts down by sundown to observe Shabbos).
A while back Andrew Krucoff, Gridskipper's founding editor, and the man who once dreamed of creating a Gridskipper International Escort Index, spent some time in Israel.
He put together this video walking tour of Jerusalem. The soundtrack? Devo's "Gates of Steel". The cinematography? A cross between The Blair Witch Project and Tommy Lee's masterful camera work on that tape.
In any event, it is a cool way to see the Old City.
For better quality video, head directly to Young Israelite.
· Jerusalem Travel Info [TripAdvisor]