The old city walls of Jerusalem date back to the 16th century CE. As they were built to defend the city you can also climb up and walk on them – the route around the old city center is well secured but includes many steps up and down; and it is not suitable for children. It is a good chance to look into the backyards and see how everyday life in such a town can exist.
The Israel museum is located in the southwest of Jerusalem, directly opposite of the parliament (Knesset). It houses important archeological remains, Jewish art and contemporary and modern international art. It is a fantastic modern museum which also features a sculpture garden. Within the “Shrine of the Book” the scripture roles of Qumran are stored.
A main reason to visit Israel was my wish to see Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Center in Jerusalem. It originates from my political work, from my continous wish to learn more about the Shoah and even because of the fact that two women of my home town were honoured in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations and I organized a memorial event for them some years back in time.
„To them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will endure forever.“
– Isaiah 56:5
Visiting the old city of Jerusalem feels suprisingly safe. I thought that roaming those narrow, roofed streets wouldn’t be a good idea at late evening or morning, but it proved to be pretty unproblematic. This is due to the friendly people and the Israeli police and soldiers that secure the area. But these state authorities don’t seem to be accepted everywhere.
The most important Christian site within the walls of Jerusalem, Israel. Here Jesus is said to be crucified and buried. In fact it is not one church, it is a collection of churches unified within a stone labyrinth. When you follow the signs throughout the streets of the old city, you get into a compound where you can’t imagine the typical structures of churches.
There are not many places I would classify as a must-see during lifetime – but the old city of Jerusalem is definitly one of those. The place is bordered by the old city walls from the 16th century CE and you can really imagine how it would be to stand in front of it as a crusader. The streets are narrow, in some parts mostly covered and you’ll ask yourself how people can live here.
If you want to go to Bethlehem from Jerusalem, you can simply watch out for a Palestinian taxi at the Damascus gate. Or if you are travelling by rental car you can enter the most important border crossing into your GPS: checkpoint 300. At this point you can park your car and get via taxi to the town – but be sure to negotiate the price before the ride.
It is not a luxury hotel, it is a legend: The American Colony hotel in Jerusalem, only a ten minute walk away from the old town and a safe harbour and second home for travellers. It was founded because the grandfather of Sir Peter Ustinov, Baron Plato Grigorjewitsch Ustinow, was not fond of the Osman hotels where he had to stay during his visits to Jerusalem. Later, Graham Green, Richard Gere and Winston Churchill stayed at the American Colony. And it was also the place where T. E. Lawrence told his story about Lawrence of Arabia to a journalist.