When you think about Jerusalem, you remember religious, historical and archeological sites. Furthermore, attractions for children are neither the first nor the second thing that comes to mind. In this post, we will go over different options of what you can do in Jerusalem with kids. Let’s begin!
How It All Started
My wife loves Mahane Yehuda market and the surrounding area. And one of the best times to visit the market is on a Friday morning. On Fridays, many people go to the market to buy fresh goods before Saturday. Therefore, this is probably the busiest day with the best produce.
To be early at the market on a Friday morning, we decided to take one night in a nearby hotel. This way we extended our trip to Thursday, and half a day on Friday. Furthermore, since we were traveling with our daughter (she is in the first grade), we started to look for additional attractions for children. And this is how the idea for Jerusalem with Kids post was born.
Jerusalem With Kids – Attractions We Already Attended
The first group of attractions we wiped out is the ones we already visited recently. I will list them to give you ideas for your travels.
- Bloomfield Science Museum is a lovely museum with a variety of activities that children can enjoy.
- Jerusalem Biblical Zoo is one of my favorite zoos in Israel.
- The Ramparts Walk in Jerusalem offers a new and exciting way to see the old city. While walking in the old town may be dull for kids, I learned that walking on the walls is much more interesting for my daughter.
- Ein Yael Living Museum offers various workshops and demonstrations for kids that show how people lived two thousand years ago. We visited Ein Yael during Jerusalem Knights Festival.
- Western Wall Tunnels Tour is an excellent opportunity to see the underground world. But as we learned during Hanukkah Western Wall Tunnels Tour, this option is more suitable for older kids, probably teenagers.
- Hebrew Music Museum due to its tangible exponents, virtual reality exposition, and tablet for each visitor, can be a good fit for older kids.
- Night Spectacular at Tower of David can be a great alternative. But, keep in mind that you will be outside. Thus, bring hot clothes when needed, and it is not suitable for rainy weather.
- Israel Museum can be a good option for older kids.
Attractions In Jerusalem With Kids At Good Weather
This trip was during the winter, and we ordered the hotel about a month in advance. But several days before the planned vacation the weather forecasts predicted heavy rains, low temperatures, and even a possibility of snow. We also considered canceling the hotel, but we would lose most of the money. Thus we decided to continue according to the plan. However, we decided not to push our luck and pass the following attractions.
- The City of David offers different routes, but IMO most of them should be done in good weather. For instance, Archaeological Experience in the Emek Tzurim National Park preferably should be done while it is not too hot and not rainy. And walking in water at Hezekiah’s Tunnel is an excellent attraction for warmer days.
- Jerusalem Bird Observatory is located between Knesset and Wohl Rose Park. Best time to visit it is during migration season, as most of the birds are not local. And during severe weather, most likely that you will not see anything.
- Ammunition Hill National Memorial Site has tours for kids and adults. But, due to the weather, we decided to skip it.
Here is a list of things we considered, but did not visit. Mostly, due to lack of time.
- Time Elevator shows Jerusalem’s historic turning points. That is done in via a movie with motion-based seating.
- Live the Bible is an atelier where you can take a picture of you and your family in a biblical scenery.
Though we did not leave the city, you should consider it. As not far from Jerusalem you can find several POI for kids.
- Near Jerusalem, at Kibbutz Tzuba, you can find Kiftzuba Amusement Park. We visited it twice in recent years, and it is a lovely amusement park. It is not significant, but you can easily spend a half day there. Moreover, online coupons will make your visit much cheaper. Check various credit card clubs.
- Avshalom Cave Nature Reserve shows stunning Stalactites Cave not far from Beit Shemesh. Attending it will be interesting both for kids and adults.
- Mini Israel Park is a miniature park. A place where children can discover all of Israel in just two hours.
So far I listed many different options. All of which we did not visit during this two-day get away. And now, I will go over the places we did visit.
Visiting The Knesset
The Knesset (lit. “the gathering” or “assembly”) is the unicameral national legislature of Israel. As the legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister, approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government. Also, the Knesset elects the State Comptroller. It also has the power to waive the immunity of its members, remove the President and the State Comptroller from office, dissolve the government in a constructive vote of no confidence, and to dissolve itself and call new elections. The Prime Minister may also dissolve the Knesset. However, until an election is completed, the Knesset maintains authority in its current composition.
The Knesset is located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.
Map of the area:
Tours are held on Sundays and Thursdays in different languages (you can find additional info here). And we joined the 11 am Hebrew tour.
We arrived toHaLeom parking garage (10 Yitzhak Rabin Blvd.) and took a particular shuttle bus (free) to the Knesset.
In front of the Knesset, you can find the Knesset Menorah.
The seven branch Menorah was created by Benno Elkan (1877-1960), a Jewish sculptor from Europe. You can see 29 events, figures and concepts from the Old Testament and the history of the Jewish people at the Menorah. You can find Kings, Prophets of Israel and rebellion of Ghetto Warsaw. Lord Edwin Samuel initiated the creation of the Menorah and commisioned this work from Benno Elkan. And donors paid for the production and shipping to Israel.
After security checks, we received visitor tags and headed inside.
Ron Meron is the landscape architect who designed the courtyard landscape to form two trees in bloom. The flowers blossom in season, and the trunk and branches are permanent. These elements symbolize the rich diversity of the Knesset activity as well as the firm foundation of the legislative process.
Inside we met our guide, and the tour started.
Israeli Declaration of Independence
Our first stop was the Israeli Declaration of Independence.
The Israeli Declaration of Independence, formally the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, was proclaimed on 14 May 1948 (5 Iyar 5708) by David Ben-Gurion, the Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization and Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine. It declared the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel, which would come into effect on termination of the British Mandate at midnight that day. The event is celebrated annually in Israel with a national holiday Independence Day on 5 Iyar of every year according to the Hebrew calendar.
Our guide told us many interesting things. For example, did you know that David Ben-Gurion presented the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel from his notes? He did not read this document as it did not exist yet. It was Friday afternoon, and they wanted to make an announcement ASAP. And this document was written when Shabbat ended.
As you probably know the Knesset has 120 members, after the size of the Great Assembly. And at the lower level, there are 120 places for members from all parties and additional seats for their assistants. We were on the second floor. It is where the president and other VIP reside. And there is a third level, which is opened for general public. There is a bulletproof window between the Knesset Chamber and the third level (the bulletproof window was installed after shooting incident).
If you take a closer look than you will notice that the tables and the 120 places form a Menorah. And in the first row opposite the stage, there are five chairs. The Prime Minister sits on the middle chair.
One of the main principles of Israeli Knesset is transparency. Therefore in 2004, the Knesset Channel was created, and you can see cameras across the space recording everything.
Besides these tapestries, there are mosaics by Marc Chagall at the Knesset.
Here our guide reminded us of the transparency principle. There are several TV stations spread inside the Knesset and each show which Knesset members are currently in the compound. Since it was not a gathering day, only a handful of members were present.
I photographed timetable of the shuttle bus since I did not see it online. And it might be useful.
The Knesset Tour – Summary
The Knesset tour was about an hour, and I enjoyed it more than my daughter. As it turns out, the general tour is less suitable for kids. I would recommend it for teenagers and adults.
From HaLeom parking garage we went to our hotel. As I mentioned, the hotel was at Nachlaot neighborhood, and parking is very problematic in this area. Finding free parking is nearly impossible, and paid parking costs 18-25 NIS per hour. And for overnight parking, we used the one recommended by staff from our hotel, and the cost was 60 NIS per night (after 19 and till 9 AFAIR).
Graffiti at Nachlaot:
We left luggage at the hotel and went to the market for lunch. We picked one of our favorite places, the Hachapuria Georgian restaurant. I wrote about it and even photographed Khachapuri at Weekend In Jerusalem post.
As we left the restaurant, the rain started to pick up. Thus we could not stay at the market. Instead, we headed to The Museum for Islamic Art.
The Museum for Islamic Art
The Museum for Islamic Art (official site) was established in 1974, and it is located at HaPalmach Street 2.
Map of the area:
The Museum for Islamic Art is also called L.A. Mayer Institute for Islamic Art. The second name was given by the founder of the museum, Vera Bryce Salomons, in memory of her professor, Leo Aryeh Mayer, rector of Hebrew University, a scholar of Islamic art who died 15 years before.
The museum houses Islamic pottery, textiles, jewelry, ceremonial objects, other Islamic cultural artifacts and watches collection. Personally, I heard the story about the watches burglary in the news and wanted to see the watches. But we traveled with our daughter and this post is called Jerusalem With Kids and though it might look unrelated, it is. The reason is the extra activities and workshops for kids that held in the museum. Unfortunately, we have not found anything specific on the website, but we decided to visit it anyway.
At L.A. Mayer Institute for Islamic Art
First Floor – Introduction To Islam Religion And Art
And this is Qibla indicator and compass. This painted wooden instrument has a needle and a compass. The needle indicates the direction to Mecca. The inside of the lid shows a depiction of Mecca and the Kaba. And in the bottom, there is a map of the world with a list of cities and countries.
This instrument originated in Instambul, and it is dated to 1738.
Here is the Oud. The oud is a short-neck lute-type, a pear-shaped stringed instrument with 11 or 13 strings grouped in 5 or 6 courses. It is Arab music’s most important instrument and the ancestor of the modern guitar.
The Harari Hoard is a rare treasure that belonged to collector and scholar Ralph Harari. The collection includes 20 silver items from 11th and the 12th centuries. This collection is unique since the vessels made from silver (thus in excellent condition) and not bronze or brass as accepted in Islam.
Chess evolved in India and reached Europe with the Arabs after conquering Iran in the 7th century. And as chess traveled through continents, it changed some of the figures. For example, the queen (vizier) is the piece which changed its sex and character in the 12th century. This change occurred since the position of the vizier, a high-ranking political advisor or minister, was unfamiliar in Europe.
First Floor – Islamic Art In The Early Period
First Floor – Middle Ages Period
Kashan was a city in Iran. It was famous for its pottery and tiles. The word Kashi means pottery, and it is also a synonym for the word tile. And these are Kashan Tiles. They were used for decorating mosque walls, mausoleums, private houses, and palaces.
Second Floor – Ottoman Art
Iznik, a town in Turkey, flourished between the years 1490 and 1525. It became the center for the production of Ottoman pottery. The decorations are in blue and turquoise in the Chinese fashion, and some of them are decorated with Chinese lotuses. Later on, they added purple and green colors, and this was called “Damascus ware.”
Second Floor – Moghul Art
Probably the most famous representative of Moghul art is Taj Mahal.
Underground Floor – Watches Collection And Temporary Exhibitions
Sir David Salomons (1851 – 1925), father Vera Bryce Salomons, the founder of the museum, assembled a rare collection of watches and clocks. The workshop of Abraham-Louis Breguet, French master watchmaker, created 60 of these watches.
And this is the rolling ball clock. In this type of watch, the time is measured by the time it takes a small steel ball clock to roll down an inclined plate. When the ball reaches the end of the plate, it inclines in the opposite direction, and the ball starts to roll back.
Marie Antoinette Watch
The Breguet No. 160 grand complication, more commonly known as the Marie-Antoinette or the Queen, is a case watch designed by Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet. It has been called ‘a poem in clockwork’. Work on the watch was begun in 1782 and completed by Breguet’s son in 1827, four years after Breguet’s death.
The watch is thought to have been commissioned in 1783 by Count Hans Axel von Fersen, an admirer, and alleged lover of the French Queen, Marie Antoinette.
It took almost twenty years to complete. Marie Antoinette never lived to see the watch, as it was finished 34 years after she had been executed.
In 2013, the watch was valued at $30 million.
It is made of including gold, platinum, rubies, sapphires and it has every watch function known at that time (clock, perpetual calendar, minute repeater, thermometer, chronograph, power reserve, Pare-Chute, chime, and independent seconds hand).
On 15 April 1983 some 200 items, including paintings and dozens of rare clocks and watches, were stolen when the museum was burgled. Among the stolen timepieces was the watch known as the “Marie Antoinette,” the so-called “Mona Lisa” of watches, and the crown jewel of the watch collection, made by the famed French-Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet reputedly for Queen Marie Antoinette, and estimated to be worth US$30 million. It was part of a unique collection of 57 Breguet timepieces donated to the museum by the daughter of Sir David Lionel Salomons, one of the leading experts on Breguet.
At the time, evidence at the scene led to speculation that it had been committed by at least four burglars, but in the late 2000s, Israeli police arrested Naaman Diller, who had committed some burglaries and bank break-ins in the 1960s and 1970s. Diller had acted alone after discovering that the museum’s alarm system was not working and the guard was posted at the front of the building. Behind the cover of a parked truck, Diller used a crowbar to prise apart the bars on a rear window. Items he could not remove in one piece were dismantled. Diller stashed many of the stolen items in safety deposit boxes in Europe and the USA, before settling in Los Angeles.
The case remained unsolved for more than 20 years. And in August 2006, a Tel Aviv antique appraiser contacted the museum and reported that some of the stolen items were being held by a Tel Aviv lawyer whose client had inherited them from her deceased husband, and who wished to sell them back to the museum. The original asking price was US$2 million, but this was negotiated down to US$35,000. Among the returned items was the “Marie Antoinette” and a valuable “Sympathique” clock, also by Breguet.
A later search of a warehouse in Israel produced documents that led to safety deposit boxes owned by Diller in Israel, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States. Police identified the client as Nili Shamrat, an expatriate Israeli who had married Diller in 2003. She told police that just before her husband’s death in 2004 he confessed and advised her to sell the collection. Shamrat was arrested in May 2008 after a house search by Israeli and American investigators found several of the stolen clocks, some rare 18th-century paintings and catalog cards bearing the name of the watches and their manufacturers.
On November 18, 2008, French and Israeli police officials discovered 43 more stolen timepieces in two bank safes in France. Of the 106 rare timepieces stolen in 1983, 96 have now been recovered.
The Museum for Islamic Art – Summary
We covered this museum in about two hours. And despite its size, there are many beautiful things to see. As for workshops for kids, we have not seen any. Thus, if you are coming with children, call them and check whether there are any in the upcoming days.
When we ended this visit, it was quite late. So we returned to our hotel and went to Mahane Yehuda for dinner. There are many restaurants and pubs in this area, so you can easily find a place for a snack.
Breakfast Mahane Yehuda Market
Our hotel did not include breakfast. And it was intentional since we wanted to leave more room for tasting at the market.
This juice stand takes a medical approach. According to the symptoms, or what you want to improve, you can select the drink. There is even Rambam’s drink. But I would recommend getting a small taste before ordering a big glass as the taste might be unexpected.
Some stands were closed on a Friday morning. Maybe because it was too early and they were coffee shops, restaurants or even pubs. But, this has a positive side as well. Many of the metal gates are covered with graffiti, and the fact they are closed gives an opportunity to see the drawings.
Visiting The Old City
After eating at several different places, we headed to the Old City. We parked at Mamilla mall, and as you walk through the mall, you can always find art. Usually, these are statues for sale. Here are several of them:
We headed through the market to Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
I will not go into details since I already wrote about it. For additional information on the church visit the Old City Of Jerusalem post. In this post, I will only show several photos.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre may not be the best place when visiting Jerusalem with kids. But if you keep in mind that children and adults like stories, then you can turn a visit almost to any site suitable for kids.
We wanted to head to Western Wall, but it started raining, so we decided to return to Mamilla parking and head home.
I hope this post gave you ideas what places to visit when you are in Jerusalem With Kids. And though attractions for children is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about kids, there are many different options.
What are your favorite attractions when visiting Jerusalem With Kids? Tell us in the comments below.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!