From the time King David made Jerusalem the capital of the Israelite nation in 1003 BCE, the Holy City has become a focal point for the world’s three major monotheistic religions. David wouldn’t recognize the city today. It has greatly expanded beyond the small section his dynasty ruled for 400 years. Today, Jerusalem is Israel’s most populous city, with more than 800,000 residents of diverse ethnicities and religions.
The hilly terrain, stone stairways, and cobblestone walkways in many parts of the city don’t make Jerusalem the easiest place to traverse on foot, but walking tours are the best way to get acquainted with the rich history and culture of this timeless city. So put on sturdy shoes and get started with these 10 options!
1. Free Guided Walking Tours
Every Saturday, the Jerusalem municipality offers 31 different free guided walking tours beginning at the Safra Square municipal complex on Jaffa Street at 10 A.M. Among the areas covered are Nachlaot, Supreme Court and Knesset, Jaffa Road, City of David, King George Street, the Old City, Abu Tor, Mount Zion, Mamilla, First Station and German Colony, Yemin Moshe, and Via Dolorosa
2. Free Self-Guided Walking Tours
The municipality offers 10 downloadable self-guided walking tours of Jerusalem ranging in duration from two to five hours. Choices in the Old City include First and Second Temple ruins, the Jewish Quarter, Muslim Quarter, Valley of the Kings, Via Dolorosa, the northern ramparts, the southern ramparts, Zion to Ararat, Christian sites, and marketplaces.
3. Old City Audio Walking Tours
The Jerusalem Development Authority’s audio walking tour for the Old City, available in English, Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish, lets you choose from among 20 different guided explorations of churches, synagogues, mosques, historical and religious points of interest, marketplaces, and local eateries.
4. Biblical Jerusalem
Starting and ending at the City of David Visitors Center, this three-hour tour takes you through archaeological excavations of a palace and royal acropolis from the period of the Judean kings, an underground water system from the time of Abraham, and a recently discovered Canaanite fortress that guarded ancient Jerusalem’s main water source, the Gihon Spring. Walking through King Hezekiah’s water tunnel is optional.
5. Walking The Old City And Beyond
Abraham Tours’ four-hour Holy City Tour starts at Jaffa Gate at 11am Sunday to Thursday and goes through the four quarters of the Old City, King David’s Tomb, the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock, Al Aqsa Mosque, Via Dolorosa, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and more.
Zion Tours’ three-hour guided tours step off at 10:30 and 2 Sunday to Thursday from the Jaffa Gate. Seven routes are offered from the Old City quarters, Mount of Olives to Gethsemane, Southern Wall excavations and Herodian Quarter, rooftops and underground passages, Machane Yehuda market and Meah She’arim, City of David and Zion Gate, and the Old City Walls. Each requires a minimum of three participants so bring your friends along for the fun!
6. Machane Yehuda Marketplace
Dating from 1930, the downtown “shuk” is a favorite with tourists because there’s so much to see, hear, taste, touch, and smell within a few blocks. After the shops close for the day, come see how the metal shutters are transformed into a street-art gallery.
Established in the 1920s, Rehavia was Jerusalem’s first planned garden neighborhood. Leafy Rehavia, which includes the Prime Minister’s Residence and several landmark buildings, features streets named after Jewish scholars and poets from the Golden Age of Jewish culture in Spain. Explore it on a three-hour walking tour offered by Tanach Tiyulim.
8. Picture Jerusalem
Given the countless iconic images in Jerusalem, it’s not surprising that several professional photographers and tour companies offer walking tours designed to show participants the best sites and angles for taking memorable pictures. A few options include Israel Photography Tour with Laurie Cohen, Photo Tour Israel one-on-one half-day workshops with Yahel Herman, and Machane Yehuda photo workshops with Yehoshua Halevi.
9. German Colony And Greek Colony
Learn the history of these trendy Jerusalem neighborhoods built in the 19th and 20th centuries and anchored by Emek Refaim Street. They’re just 2 of the 24 walking tours of Jerusalem neighborhoods in English offered twice a week by licensed tour guide Miriam Safira Simon. Tours usually take place on Tuesday and Thursday mornings starting at 9:30 A.M .and ending at 12 P.M.
10. Mount Herzl National And Military Cemetery
Named after Binyamin Ze’ev (Theodor) Herzl, the visionary of the Jewish state who is buried here, the terraced and meticulously landscaped Mount Herzl is the final resting place of Israeli presidents, prime ministers, and other dignitaries, as well as Israeli soldiers and police officers. Tanach Tiyulim offers a walking tour replete with stories of the famous, the heroic, and the anonymous statesmen and soldiers buried here.
Originally posted at Israel21c.