JERUSALEM-the 50 sites you may overlook

In a historic and religious city like Jerusalem there is so much to see no matter how much you tour. When time is a limiting factor, even the most efficient tour guides have to compromise while deciding what to incorporate in the itinerary. Although it depends on the interest of the individual visitor as well, there is still a huge must-see-list in Jerusalem that cannot be avoided. At every stop so much information is thrown on a visitor that sometimes s/he tends to forget the details after leaving the place.

I remember when I first visited the Church of Holy Sepulcher, it appeared to me more like a small museum than a church. I was virtually clueless inside a dark and dull overcrowded massive complex of more than 25 chapels with several curious artifacts and antiques scattered under some dusky arches and dingy columns. It took me at least three visits with a proper map in hand to understand the Church complex. A normal visitor for instance would be satisfied with Golgotha, the ‘Stone of Unction’ and the ‘Holy Sepulcher’, but the oldest part of the complex, viz. the first century tombs inside the Syrian Orthodox Chapel could be easily missed.

In the upcoming posts I plan to upload 50 such sites from Jerusalem that I believe can be easily overlooked or go unnoticed by an average visitor. I am incorporating the following sites from my previous visits, again with no specific order of importance. I am sure that a serious traveler who loves history, traditions and the Bible has noticed or been to most of them.

Friday, March 1, 2013


In my last post, I discussed about the sites in Jerusalem that I couldn’t access due to mainly unavoidable reasons. If I am to pick 20 sites now, I would go for the following (but not in any specific order).

1) Interior of the 'Dome of the Rock’ (Foundation stone) and Al-Aqsa Mosque (Solomon Stables)-The Temple Mount. (Only Muslims are allowed)

2) The Armenian Chapel of St. Vartan (4th century Christian art)-The Church of Holy Sepulcher (Requires special permission from Armenian Patriarchate)

3) The Burnt House of Jewish Quarter from Second Temple Period (Photography not allowed)

4) The Hurva Synagogue (18th Century) after renovation

5) The Belz Great Synagogue (largest synagogue in the world)

6) The 1st Century Tomb of Kings/Queen Helena of Adiabene (one of the largest and beautiful tombs in Jerusalem)-was very difficult to even reach the caretakers, forget permission!

7) Jason's Tomb from Maccabean Period, 2nd century BC (open only on Mondays and Thursdays for a few hours)

8) Hosanna Stone, Armenian Quarter (see Luke 19:40). Access restricted to non-Armenians.

9) The Armenian Bird Mosaic, near the Damascus Gate (5th-6th century AD)-I was unable to locate.

10) The 1st Century Channel connecting Siloam Pool and the Jerusalem Archaeological Park (was not open to public when I was in Israel)

11) The ‘Quarry of Herod’ near Ramat Shlomo (supplied the giant stones for the building of the Temple Mount)-not sure if it is open to the public.

12) The Armenian church St. Saviour (the house of Caiaphas), Mount Zion (courtyard with beautiful blue Armenian ceramics)-no access for public at least when I was in Israel.

13) The Greek Orthodox Church St. John the Baptist, Christian Quarter (one of the oldest churches in Jerusalem)-permission to be arranged from Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.

14) The Greek Orthodox Monastery of Onuphrius (traditional site of Akeldama, where Judas hanged himself)-was satisfied with the external view.

15) The Rockefeller Archaeological Museum (I regret for not the no photography policy in Israel Museums)

16) The Edward and Helen Mardigian Museum of Armenian Art and History of Jerusalem (was under renovation for long time, not sure if open now)

17) The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate Museum (will see the sarcophagi from the Herod Family Tomb), Christian Quarter (permission for visiting to be pre-arranged from the Greek Orthodox Church)

18) View from the tower of Russian Orthodox Church of Ascension, top of 'Mount of Olives' (open only once in a year for public, that is on the  'Ascension Day', 40 days after Easter)

19) View from the Jerusalem International YMCA Tower

20) Knesset building and menorah (the Israeli Parliament) 

(I made most of my trips to Jerusalem on Fridays which automatically restricted my access to some of the Jewish religious sites including the synagogues)

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