Jerusalem- A City of Earth and Heaven
“Jerusalem is a port city on the shore of eternity”, says Yehuda Amichai, an Israeli Poet. This city, located between Mediterranean Sea and Dead Sea, has been completely destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times. Everyone wants to claim the land of God, considered holy by almost 3 out of 5 people living on earth. Jerusalem is beautiful. But its real beauty lies in the feeling of faith in the souls of the people of the city.
1. History of Jerusalem
It is one of the oldest cities in the world. The city has a history that goes back to the Copper Age, c. 4th millennium BCE. According to Jewish tradition the city was founded by Shem and Eber, ancestors of Abraham. Later, it was conquered by David and made into the capital of United Kingdom of Israel (c. 1000’s BCE). He was succeeded by his son – Solomon, who built the Holy Temple on Mount Moriah in 950 BCE. This kingdom fell to Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, in 597 BCE, who destroyed Solomon’s temple. During 1st BCE, as Rome became stronger, it installed Herod as a king of Judea who helped in rebuilding the holy temple.
When Jerusalem came under direct control of Roman empire by 70 CE, the second temple was destroyed and Jews were banned from the city. Until 7th century CE, the city shuffled between the Roman empire, Sassanid empire and Byzantine empire. The Arabs conquered the city in 638 CE and remained in power until the crusade of 11th century CE. In the 16th century CE, the city fell into the hands of Ottoman Empire and remained its part until World War I.
In 1917, the Colonial Power extended its dominion to Jerusalem. This British conquest ended in 1948; With West Jerusalem on the Israeli side and East Jerusalem on Jordanian side. In the Six Day War of 1967, Israel annexed East Jerusalem and has since recognized it as the capital of Israel.
2. Night Life in Jerusalem
Tel Aviv, a city 60 km northwest of Jerusalem, has eclipsed the holy city with its nightlife. It is a common saying that “In Tel Aviv you play and in Jerusalem you pray”.
Despite that, the Jerusalem nightlife scene has blossomed in recent times and it encompasses some trendy and unique lifestyle venues. The city has exported, over the years, a long list of musicians and nightlife people to other locations in Israel. The nightclubs tend to be located in Talpiot area of Jerusalem. East Jerusalem, which comprises of the old city, is particularly empty after dark. There’s a big overlap between clubs, bars and live music venues which are likely to be located in a single venue.
The city offers you some amazing and famous bars like Bolinat, Cellar Bar and Sira that are part-restaurant, art cafe and part-bars. 17, Bass Club and Toy Bar are amongst the best clubs of the city, attracting international DJs and some clubs serve delicious food. Music lovers may check in Mike’s Place, Yellow Submarine and Blazesports ‘n’ Rock Bar. The Khan Theatre, located at 2 David Remez Square, is one of the most popular venues for new Hebrew Theatre performances in the country.
3. Safety in Jerusalem
Security is really tight in this city. You will find security checkpoints in most public places. You’ll go through metal detectors at every mall, government building and train station. At its bus station, your bags will be X-rayed as they would be at an airport. Every eating establishment will have a security guard. Israeli organised trips are accompanied by armed guards.
In short, unless you’re a president of a nation, you’ll never have been this well guarded in your life.
Never leave your bag unattended anywhere in the city. It won’t be stolen. It will be reported as a suspicious object and destroyed by the bomb squad before you get back to it. Jerusalem is exceptionally safe for women travelling alone, even at night. However, it is not true for East Jerusalem, particularly the old city. Certainly, do not walk alone there after dark. Crimes like mugging are not so common in Jerusalem. The occasional pick pocketing takes place in the Old City, the Mount of Olives and surrounding areas.
4. Living Expenses in Jerusalem
Living expenses in Israel, especially in Jerusalem, is much higher than most of the cities in Europe/US. The rate of a one bedroom apartment varies on the basis of its location in the city. Renting a one bedroom apartment outside and in the city centre are 2626.27 ILS (USD 672) and 3145.47 ILS (USD 804) respectively per month. Also, the price per square meter to buy an apartment outside and in the city centre is 17593.24 ILS (USD 4498) and 26933.62 ILS (USD 6886) respectively. On the other hand, the average monthly disposable salary (after tax) of a resident of the city is 7556.04 ILS (USD 1932). The average starting price for a budget hotel in this city is USD 117 per night. For a luxury hotel, it is around USD 440 per night.
5. Cuisines of Jerusalem
The Israeli culinary scene is a creative conglomeration of cuisines from countless immigrants who migrated to Jerusalem, bringing their cherished family recipes from North Africa, the Mediterranean and other Middle-eastern countries.
You have to eat a plate of Meorav Yerushalmi, which means “Jerusalemite Mix” containing every edible part of chicken mixed with middle eastern spices. Try it at Chatzot, the home of the original. Have the Sabich, a dish invented by Iraqi immigrants at HaSabichiya, which sells nothing else. Maqluba, often called the Palestinian National dish, is a casserole offered in plenty places in East Jerusalem and the Old City. Knafeh is a dessert made of neon orange shreds of phyllo dough drenched in syrupy sugar water, which can be found at Jafar’s Sweet.
6. Statistics of Jerusalem
It is the most populated city of Israel with a population of 829,900 and a total area of 125.1 sq.km. The population density averages at 6400 per sq.km. The Jewish population makes up 62%, Muslims 35% and Christians 2%. The remaining 1% are unclassified. Hebrew and Arabic are the two major languages spoken.
7. Public Transport in Jerusalem
Using the bus in this city, and the recently opened Jerusalem Light Rail are two very convenient ways to get around the city. Buses in this city are all run by a company named Egged. Egged runs a very large route network which is centered around the Jerusalem Central Bus Station and the centre of city. The standard bus fare in Jerusalem is 6.60 NIS and tickets can be purchased from the driver on board the bus. The ticket is valid for 90 minutes. For a local, it’s worth getting a ‘Rav Kav’ smart card. The Jerusalem Light Rail runs along Mount Herzl and Pisgat Zeev. It requires you to buy a ticket before boarding the train that costs 6.60 NIS.
8. Weather in Jerusalem
The city witnesses a hot-summer Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and cold, wet winters. The city experiences heavy snowfall in every three to four years, on average, with short-lived accumulation. A day in Jerusalem has on average, 9.3 sunshine hours.
Spring: April. Average High: 17.2°C. Average Low: 10.2°C
Summer: May to September. Average High: 29.0°C. Average Low: 14.6°C
Winter: November to March. Average High: 14.0°C. Average Low: 7.4°C
9. Culture of Jerusalem
This city is a treasure house for anyone with a sense of history. You will find many antiquities and holy places to tour, part of heritages of Judaism, Islam and Christianity. It is the Jerusalem of pilgrims who visit the church of Holy Sepulchre where Jesus was buried, Western Wall, the Temple Mount, Al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock. There are excellent museums, the largest being the Israel museum and the bible lands museum and also Al-Hoash, a museum of Palestinian art in East Jerusalem, and Raphie Etgar Museum on the Seam, which features art born of conflict. There is a rich fare of classical music: symphonic and chamber, played by first rate orchestras. Theatre is mostly in Hebrew. There are also ballet and folk-dance performances. Jerusalem Season of Culture (JSOC) is organised every year that engages you in the fabric of city.
10. Places to visit in Jerusalem
Things to do in Jerusalem: Visit the Old City, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Tower of David, Mount of Olives, Temple Mount, the Garden Tomb, Dome of the Rock, Israel Museum, Al-Aqsa Mosque, Mount Herzl, Mount Zion, Tomb of the Virgin Mary and Mosque of Omar; Shop at the Mahane Yehuda Market, Malcha Mall, Mamilla Mall and Old City; Experience the food at Azura, Machneyuda, Jafar’s Sweets and East Jerusalem; Walk the winding alleys of the Old City and neighbourhoods of Nahalat Shiva, Yemin Moshe and Nachlaot; Feel the eternity of the Holy City.
Things to do for kids in Jerusalem: Travel to Israel as a family can be one of the most rewarding experience your kids can have. Jerusalem Scavenger Hunts is a kids activity which includes finding clues to learn about the Jerusalem neighbourhood. Take the kids to the city of David, to hike through Hezekiah’s water tunnel. Try Jerusalem Time Elevator, which traces 3000 Jerusalem History, complete with occasional water sprays and moving chairs. There is also a Tisch family Biblical Zoo and Bloomfield Science Museum.
Museums and Galleries: Jerusalem’s museums are plentiful. Numbering over 60, many of them are world class. Some of the best museums in Jerusalem, like Israel National Museum, the Science Museum and the Bible Museum, are clustered in the neighbourhood of Givat Ram, in what is known as the Museum Row. It is also a hub of ancient and classical art with some great art galleries like Barbur Gallery, Agripas 12 and Yaffo 23.
Places nearby: Tel Aviv, 60 km northwest, is a must for fun loving people. It is also second most important city in Israel. The Qasr-al-Yahud is a site on banks of the river Jordan where Christ was Baptised. Jerusalem hills, not far away, are a paradise for mountain biking lovers. The JFK Memorial and Bar Kochba caves are also nice places to see.
Offbeat: The Hula Valley is a popular spot for those who want to go hiking and biking in peaceful area in Israel. Antipatris Fortress, just east of Tel Aviv, is a place where you can see a glimpse of history. The Yarkon park and Negev forest are also great places to spend some peaceful time.
Author’s Conclusion: “‘Eternity’- this refers to Jerusalem“. You get a feeling of holiness and spirituality when you walk down the lanes of the old city. It’s a city that has been praised by the rest of the world for thousand of years. Be it Europe, Asia or Australia. People are and will continue to visit the city until the belief of God stays in our hearts and souls. It is the faith, which makes Jerusalem so beautiful.
|Area||125.1 km square|
|Currency||New Israeli Sheqel (NIS) (1 NIS=0.25USD, as of 24 Feb 2016)|
|Time Zone||Israel Standard Time (UTC +2)
Israel Summer Time (UTC +3)
|Driving||Left hand Drive, Right hand Traffic|
|Helpline||Police-100, Ambulance-101, Fire-102|
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