Tour Is­rael

Is­raeli tourists nat­u­rally steer clear of the area, but with all the sites to see, it’s a shame

The Jerusalem Post - The Jerusalem Post Magazine - - CONTENTS - • TEXT AND PHO­TOS: MEITAL SHARABI

Jerusalem has al­ways been the fo­cus of the three ma­jor monothe­is­tic re­li­gions of Ju­daism, Chris­tian­ity and Is­lam. How­ever, when vis­it­ing Jerusalem, most Jewish Is­raeli tourists usu­ally fo­cus on the Jewish sec­tion of the Old City, and rarely ven­ture out or ex­plore other quar­ters. For the most part, this is due to lack of fa­mil­iar­ity. In an ef­fort to rem­edy this sit­u­a­tion, I’ve pre­pared a dif­fer­ent kind of jour­ney through Jerusalem: a tour of tourist at­trac­tions in eastern Jerusalem.

Al­though east Jerusalem is part of Is­rael’s cap­i­tal, due to se­cu­rity con­cerns, as well as lack of aware­ness, many Is­raelis steer clear of this area. This is a shame, be­cause east Jerusalem, like the western part of the city, is full of im­por­tant tourist sites.

I re­cently set out with my col­league, tour guide Yaron Ho­vav, to visit a num­ber of im­por­tant Chris­tian sites in Jerusalem. Our tour be­gan at the Da­m­as­cus Gate, con­tin­ued along Ha­gai Street and then fi­nally reached the square in front of the Aus­trian Hospice. The tour is full of rich and in­ter­est­ing his­tory tid­bits, and you can visit these sites ei­ther on your own or as part of a free guided tour with the East Jerusalem De­vel­op­ment Com­pany, which was founded by Ilanit Tzemach in an ef­fort to en­cour­age tourism in east Jerusalem.

We de­cided to start our day off with break­fast at the Amer­i­can Colony Ho­tel, which is ex­tremely pop­u­lar among celebri­ties from around the world and of­fers one of the best break­fast buf­fets in town. The ho­tel is also a great start­ing point, since it’s lo­cated at 1 Nablus Road, near the Old City.

Our break­fast was more of a brunch, and in­cluded both western and Arab cui­sine. Guests are wel­come to en­joy their meal ei­ther in the din­ing hall or out­side in the ho­tel’s charm­ing court­yard. The meal costs NIS 130 and in­cludes bread, pas­tries, Bel­gian waf­fles, spreads, omelettes, smoked fish, cold cuts and a va­ri­ety of cheeses. Brunch at the Amer­i­can Colony is very pop­u­lar, so it is best to reserve a table ahead of time.

Our first des­ti­na­tion, St. Ge­orge’s Cathe­dral, was just a five-minute walk from the ho­tel. The im­pres­sive ed­i­fice be­longs to the Angli­can-Epis­co­palian stream that grew from within Protes­tantism. It was built in 1898 and in­cludes a botan­i­cal gar­den, a mu­seum, and a hos­tel for Chris­tian pil­grims to the Holy Land.

Built in the neo-Gothic style, the mag­nif­i­cent cathe­dral is the seat of the bishop of Jerusalem. It has played an im­por­tant role in the his­tory of the city, in­clud­ing serv­ing as a pil­grim­age site for Bri­tish sol­diers sta­tioned in Jerusalem dur­ing the Man­date. To this day it ex­udes a per­va­sive sense of calm and ho­li­ness.

The cathe­dral is open all week long, but it’s best to make ad­vance ar­range­ments at (02) 628-3261.

Lo­ca­tion: 20 Nablus Road, Jerusalem.

A STREET VEN­DOR sells sage, mint and other greens in the Mus­lim Quar­ter of Jerusalem’s Old City.

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