Gordon Tours Israel Blog

Exploring the Fascinating Quarters of Jerusalem’s Old City

Icon July 31, 2019
Icon By Shai Navon
Icon 0 comments

Set inside walls of stunning, time-tested stone, and surrounded by the hustle and bustle of modern transformation, Jerusalem’s Old City and its four distinct quarters are a picturesque throwback to historical times. If walls could talk, these Old City walls would tell historic tales of culture, clashes, cohabitation and connections. Stories of families, friendships and pilgrimages. Stories that make you want to laugh and cry all at once. Upon exploring the fascinating Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Armenian Quarters, you’ll come across diversity, adversity and a myriad of unique, yet intertwining, scents, sights, tastes and textures.

The Jewish Quarter

Jewish Quarter

Stroll through the narrow alleyways from Jaffa Gate to the Western Wall and you’ll come across a unique, tight-knit community of families living in eclectic (and expensive) homes, some shuttered with vibrant colored doors, and many yeshivas (Torah academy). When you edit out the masses of tourists flocking to whisper a prayer at the Western Wall, the site of the destroyed Jewish Temple, you’ll find yourself transported back in time; No cars enter the Jewish Quarter and you can find small shops hawking their wares at all hours of the day, and even into the night. For an even more enlightening experience, check out any of the Jewish Quarter’s many historical sites and museums – the Cardo, the Burnt House and more.

The Muslim Quarter

Muslim Quarter

Venture through the Arab market and find yourself whisked away from the modern, touristy Jerusalem and into the heart of the Middle East. Prepare to haggle for and purchase sweets, treats and souvenirs – but watch your balance: the market is full of stairs! And, as you continue along through the (confusing) maze of alleyways, you’ll find many mosques, guest houses and bathhouses, as well as sites holy to the Christian faith, such as the Via Dolorosa, before reaching the Muslim Quarter’s most significant site of all: Temple Mount and its holy structures – the Dome fo the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque.

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The Christian Quarter

Christian Quarter

Follow in the footsteps of Jesus and enter the Christian Quarter via the Muslim Quarter. Shadow His final journey along the Via Dolorosa, along the narrow streets from the Antonia Fortress to the Church of St. John The Baptist and then to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Christ was crucified and buried. From the top of the hill known as Golgotha, you’ll be able to visit and pray at the holiest Christian shrine in the Old City, shared by five different Christian communities and lavishly decorated inside, despite its plain exterior. Be sure to visit in the late afternoon, and catch a glimpse of the wondrous Cavalry to the tomb.

The Armenian Quarter

Armenian Quarter

Great things come in small packages, and the smallest of the four quarters does not disappoint. The Armenian Quarter is an intimate community with an ancient feel; From its small shops and restaurants to the monks walking about with quiet determination and purpose. While in the Armenian Quarter, be sure to explore the Tower of David Museum and its sound and light show, the Armenian Museum, St Mark’s Syriac Church and St. James Cathedral. You’re sure to be impressed by the history, culture and tradition that surrounds you with every sight and step.

The Bottom line

Exploring the fascinating quarters of Jerusalem’s Old City is a wondrous experience that links cultures, tradition and religious significance into a whimsical, timely bundle. You’ll be sure to enjoy the tastes, scents and encounters with locals you meet along your way – so which quarter will you be visiting first?

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