Gordon Tours Israel Blog

Jerusalem’s Most Captivating Neighborhoods

Icon June 10, 2019
Icon By Shai Navon
Icon 0 comments

Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, and a melting pot for many immigrants, nationalities, cultures and customs, as evident by its eclectic neighborhoods, each with its own flair and community feel. From a throwback to ancient times in Jerusalem’s Old City, to the hippie vibe of Nachlaot, an ode to coexistence in Musrara, the religious bubble of Mea Shearim, this holy city is unlike any other. Here are some of Jerusalem’s most captivating neighborhoods, each a tourist gem in and of itself.

The Old City

A hodgepodge of cultures and religions encapsulated by ancient stone walls, Jerusalem’s Old City is home to four unique quarters – the Jewish Quarter, the Muslim Quarter, the Armenian Quarter and the Christian Quarter, each with its own population, atmosphere, smells, tastes, attractions and items for sale. In just a few steps, you can find yourself transported from the historic Via Dolorosa to the hustle and bustle of the teeming Arab market, to the quiet, albeit packed Western Wall plaza, where pilgrims of all races, religions and backgrounds congregate to whisper a prayer. Be prepared – this is a major tourist trap and prices at local shops and eateries are set accordingly.

Nachlaot

Imagine a young, vibrant, carefree artists’ colony, where the doors and window frames are painted in striking blue, hidden tiny parks can be found in the most unusual places, and prayers, accompanied by musical instruments, can be heard emanating from underground bomb shelters. This is Nachlaot. Located at the intersection of downtown Jerusalem and some of the city’s more luxurious neighborhoods, Nachlaot is a cultural gem. It’s no wonder the neighborhood has starred in many Israeli television shows, including the popular “Shtissel”.

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Musrara

Musrara differs from the traditional captivating neighborhoods of Jerusalem, in that it is not home to any ostensible tourist attractions. In fact, it is a rather low-key neighborhood of sorts, away from the center of town, though it does have its fair share of art galleries, tours, workshops and cultural events. But what sets this neighborhood apart is the model for coexistence it sets for the rest of the city. Here, Muslim and Jewish families live in relative harmony. And while you’re there, be sure to stop by and visit the “On the Seam” museum, where socio-political hot topics are raised in a creative and dialogue-driving fashion.

Mea Shearim

Step into Mea Shearim and you’ll feel instantly transported to the Jewish Shtetls (enclaves) of Eastern Europe. Men, women and children in traditional and Hassidic garb. Signs around every corner reminding the public to dress and act modestly. Synagogues and study halls abound and bakeries and other eateries selling warm rugelach, savory cholent and kugels of all shapes, sizes and varieties. It’s an especially exciting experience to visit Mea Shearim ahead of the Jewish holidays, when the streets are lined with traditional items and the locals are out looking for the best way to fulfill the divine commandments. Note that modest dress is a must when visiting this captivating Jerusalem neighborhood (closed shoes, covered shoulders and upper arms, and skirts or dresses for women).

City Center

If you’re looking to have a great day or night on the town and simultaneously experience the best of old-world and modern-day Jerusalem, the city’s center is the neighborhood for you. At the Machane Yehuda open-air marketplace, you’ll get to interact with the warm locals, taste fresh produce and dine at some of the city’s trendiest eateries. And just a few paces away, on Ben Yehuda Street, you can interact with street entertainers, dance at a nightclub, or pick up a souvenir, or two, or three. Many of the local shop owners are olim (immigrants) and are happy to share their stories. For great Montreal-style bagels in the Holy Land, we recommend the Muffin Boutique.

 

Which Jerusalem neighborhood will you be visiting first on your next Israel trip?

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