Touring and experiencing Jerusalem doesn’t have to cost the earth. It’s true that many of the Eternal City’s sites have entrance fees (and the majority are well worth the cost) but still it’s good to know where you can visit that doesn’t cost money. Jerusalem actually offers many days’ worth of sites at no change at all…and we’re not talking just about the ‘experiences’ of Mahane Yehuda market, Ben Yehuda Street and the Old City (which are, of course, all amazing). Take a look at these 5 sites that won’t cost you a dime to spend time at…
Located opposite the Jaffa Gate between the Artists’ Colony of Hatzot HaYotzer and the Mamilla shopping mall, Teddy Park is a fantastic open space, incorporating the remains of homes that date back over 1,500 years. At the center of the park is a plaza which with a huge water feature – every 2 hours, 10 fountains start up simultaneously. The schedule changes according to the season but it’s always a beautiful place to walk. And in the summer, when the weather’s hot, it’s a great place to bring the kids to run around and stay cool. In the summer, it’s also a light show at night. Completely free.
The First Train Station – also known as HaMitcham HaRishonah – is a wonderful area located between Beit Lehem Road and Hebron Road. Closed to traffic, the Mitcham houses a large number of restaurants, burger joints, an ice cream parlour and bars.
Every evening there is some kind of free activity, be it a Salsa dancing class, a classical concert, or local singers. There is no entrance fee (although there are plenty of things you can spend money on once you’ve arrived) and all events are free to the public.
A short distance from Jerusalem, the Sataf is a fantastic hiking space, open to everyone and good for the whole family. Because it is not a national park there is no entrance fee, but nevertheless it is well maintained by the JNF and has a large parking lot to accommodate large groups.
The area was originally an agricultural homestead and various hikes in the area will take you to the old irrigation system, a spring, or the renewed terraces. Great for a full day or even a few hour. Don’t forget to bring a picnic.
Ammunition Hill is the place at which one of the toughest battles of the Six Day War took place (ultimately leading to Israel’s conquest of the Old City). Today it is both a memorial and a place of great historical interest.
You can walk through the trenches and visit the museum (on request, there is a fascinating audio-visual display, highlighting the most important parts of the battle). A moving site – not always easy to visit – but well worth it.
The Supreme Court is one of the most striking buildings on the Jerusalem horizon, a landmark of modern architecture with many of its elements inspired by verses in the Hebrew Bible. It is possible to join a free tour (in English) of the Court from Sunday to Thursday, beginning at noon.
The guide will give you an overview of Israel’s legal system and also encourage you to engage with the concepts of justice and righteousness through the architecture itself. Note the contrasts – light-shade, narrow-wide, open-closed, stone-plaster, and stare at the copper-clad pyramid in the Law Library.