My wife loves Jerusalem in winter. According to her, it is gleaming with its true colors. Moreover, it is not too hot, and since we both have our birthdays in January, we decided to take a long weekend in Jerusalem by ourselves. Let’s the journey begin!
Weekend In Jerusalem – Thursday
We took two nights (Thursday to Saturday) at Eldan hotel. Eldan hotel was selected for several reasons. First of all, it has moderate prices. Secondly, it is close to the Old City, and lastly, it has private parking for guests.
On Thursday morning we arrived in Jerusalem and made use of the hotel’s private parking. After leaving the car, we walked towards our first attraction.
Graffiti on the pavement:
Hebrew Music Museum
Hebrew Music Museum (official site) is located on Yoel Moshe Salomon 10, Nahalat Shiva neighborhood.
One of the reasons I wanted to visit the Hebrew Music Museum is beautiful photos online. After all, I am a photographer and not a musician 😉 And indeed, we were not disappointed.
Map of the area:
The museum showcases antique instrument collections of original and restored various historical periods. And from different places related to special museum spaces, are shown manuscripts, liturgical poems, and the possibility of interactive activities in each space and space. Spaces are designed by the seven key cards. Which are Central Asia, Morocco, Andalusia, Iraq milk and Egypt, Ashkenazi-European, Balkan, African-Jewish Yemeni and space, (there is presented a unique model of the Temple), where the people of Israel left its mark in these areas as well as those areas that are characterized led and various musical movements and special musical culture affect people.
Source: Official Site
Entrance to the museum:
On entrance, each of us received a tablet with headphones. Using the tablet you can scan something similar to QR codes and receive relevant information.
The Seven Spaces
As I mentioned, beautiful interiors. Each room is designed in accordance with the geographical area.
There are also several gaming stations. This is something similar to guitar hero, just using antique instruments.
Near each stand, you can see the “QR codes”. In most cases, they offer general explanations about the musical instrument and let you hear a short piece performed using the instrument.
Just look at this ceiling:
Here you can see me holding a tablet, with the explanations about Tunisian Mizwad.
Mizwad is a bagpipe. And I thought that Scottish Great Highland bagpipes are something unique. But it turns out there are many variations of bagpipes and they were played in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and other areas.
The mezuzahs in every room were different and related to music.
French horn at the European area.
This is how the European area looks:
Another gaming area where the harder you blow the brighter it becomes. The night at the screen turns into day.
There was a tourist group around the model of the temple, thus we continued to the Iraq area.
This masterpiece is the Babylonian harp. Babylonian harp is considered as one of the first string instrument. There are documented usage of the Babylonian harp at 2800 BC.
Large Arabic Kanoun (Qanun):
Model of the Temple
We returned to the model of the Temple. Around the model, there are three such stations. One of the staff members helped us to sit on such a station and put on the headphones and the goggles. Then they started the movie. It is about ten minute VR movie that tours you through the temple. I am not an expert in VR but to me, the graphics looked pretty good. And overall this was a powerful experience.
Hebrew Music Museum – Summary
Hebrew Music Museum is not a big museum. The whole visit took us about two hours. Nonetheless, this is a unique museum. Starting with the ancient musical instruments and ending with all technological innovations that make information much more accessible. As you probably guessed by now, we loved the museum, and it is worth a visit.
Another pavement Graffiti on our way back:
Jerusalem Great Synagogue
I visited the Great Synagogue of Jerusalem only once when I was a small child. Since we were in the area during a weekday we to try our luck and went to 56 King George Street.
Unfortunately, we were not lucky and Jerusalem Great Synagogue was closed. Thus, if you want to visit the Great Synagogue then you should know that according to the official site:
The Jerusalem Great Synagogue is open to visitors Sunday through Thursday between 9:00 AM and 1:00 PM.
Jerusalem International YMCA
Our hotel, the Eldan hotel, is located close to Jerusalem International YMCA.
Map of the area:
We visited the YMCA before but never been to the top. Thus, after lunch, we returned to the hotel for a short rest, since I wanted to visit the tower during sunset.
Though it was towards the end of January there still was a Christmas tree in front of YMCA. And this is our selfie:
In order to visit the tower, you should go inside the YMCA and buy tickets at the reception (on the left).
After purchasing the tickets (20 NIS per person) we were forwarded to the elevator next to the entrance.
After exiting the elevators at the top, we had to go several floors up by staircase until we reached the viewpoint.
YMCA bells on our way:
The tower is decorated and each corner has the name of an apostle.
Looking north you can see Leonardo Plaza on the far left and the Mamila area on the right.
When standing on the street you can see that the YMCA tower is higher than the King David Hotel. The question is how much higher and whether you will be able to see the Old City. The answer is not much higher. You can see the Old City and Mount Zion, but not too good.
And this is a new residential neighborhood behind the YMCA.
And here is the King David Hotel during the blue hour:
After about an hour at the tower, we went down. Here are two photos of the YMCA with Christmas decorations.
Since the light was still good we took King David street until we reached Montefiore Windmill in Mishkenot Sha’ananim neighborhood.
And this is Mount Zion with the full moon:
Weekend In Jerusalem – Friday
On Friday morning we headed to Machane Yehuda Market area since we had prebooked Machane Yehuda Market tour.
Machane Yehuda Market Tour
Map of the area:
Our Machane Yehuda Market Tour started in the surrounding neighborhoods, the Nachlaot. Nachlaot is a group of around twenty courtyard neighborhoods close to the market.
Nachlaot is known for its narrow streets, old style houses, hidden courtyards, and many small synagogues.
It would be literary impossible for me to try and tell even ten percent of what we heard during the three-hour tour, thus I will only touch several points and show some of my photos.
The House Of Rabbi Aryeh Levin
This house was the residence of Rabbi Aryeh Levin, who was born on March 22, 1885, in Poland.
For many decades, Rabbi Levin served as a teacher and spiritual mentor at Talmud Torah Etz Haim. In addition to his work at the yeshiva, he endeavored to reconcile unhappily married couples, visited the sick, and comforted mourners.
During the period of British Mandate, Rabbi Aryeh Levin would go every Shabbat morning to visit imprisoned members of the Jewish underground. He taught the Torah, Jewish ethics, and prayed with them. This practice led to him being called “the Rabbi of the Prisoners.”
After the establishment of the State of Israel, he founded and headed the Beit Aryeh yeshiva. Rabbi Aryeh Levin passed away on March 28, 1969.
Instead of using ropes they decided to hang cloth drying stand. 🙂
If you know Hebrew then take a look at obituary messages in the neighborhood. Here is an example:
It is not the standard Hebrew language. Religious Jews use poetic Hebrew in obituaries.
Many houses in Nachlaot were or being renovated. In many cases, if the second floor is made of stone is a sign of a renovation.
This synagogue has beautiful doors but unfortunately, we were not able to visit it. As it was washed after morning prayer.
And if you see a house at Nachlaot second floor cover with metal sheets, it means it was not yet renovated.
Some houses are colorful:
In some of the streets, you will see a stone construction in the middle of the pavement. It is also a little higher than the pavement level. These used to be water pipes and water cisterns that were closed as the city underwent modernization.
Ohel Moshe Neighbourhood
Ohel Moshe Neighbourhood is part of Nachlaot, and it is famous for several things. First of all, Yitzhak Navon, the former Israeli president, grew up in Ohel Moshe, and the neighborhood served as the inspiration for his play Bustan Sephardi, which is one of the most popular musicals. Secondly, the Banai family, a well-known family of actors and singers, lived in Nachlaot.
And this is Ohel Moshe Synagogue:
Unfortunately, we could not visit it either.
In many neighborhoods of Haredi Jews, you can see signs like the one on the left building asking not to pass through the neighborhood if you are not modestly attired.
We walked through such small neighborhood. And as expected, it was a poor one with no signs of modernization in sight
The Ades Synagogue, also known as the Great Synagogue Ades of the Glorious Aleppo Community, was established by Syrian immigrants in 1901. It is considered to be the center of Syrian Hazzanut in Israel.
On our way to the market.
Street sweepers next to the market:
At Mahane Yehuda Market
Our culinary journey started at a bakery on Agripas 48 street.
They are preparing bread by attaching it to the walls of the oven.
A painter in the market? What is in the painting?
The guitar player.
Keep in mind this is Friday morning, thus besides performers, there are many people. How many? This is how Mahane Yehuda street looks like:
After tasting bakery products and falafel, our next tasting stop was a sweet one. Halva is popular in Israeli markets, and this is what we tasted.
The sweets stand:
Then we continued to the streets on the other side of the market. We went to the burial place of Avraham Mordechai Alter.
Avraham Mordechai Alter
Avraham Mordechai Alter (25 December 1866 – 3 June 1948), also known as the Imrei Emes after the works he authored, was the fourth Rebbe of the Hasidic dynasty of Ger, a position he held from 1905 until his death in 1948. He was one of the founders of the Agudas Israel in Poland and was influential in establishing a network of Jewish schools there. It is claimed that at one stage he led over 200,000 Hasidim.
Why is he buried in the middle of the city?
He died during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War of natural causes. Since it was during the siege of the city by the Jordanian Arab Legion, bodies could not be removed to the Mount of Olives. He was buried in the yeshiva courtyard on the condition that he would be reburied elsewhere after the war. However, his sons did not proceed with the reburial.
In 1996, his son, Rabbi Pinchas Menachem Alter was buried next to his father in the courtyard, and a red-brick building was placed over both graves. This was not part of the culinary tastings but still, it was a very special and atmospheric site, where people prayed for blessings and health.
At this point, our tour ended. It lasted for about three hours, and we loved it. You learn so many new things, and you get to see places that you would not visit otherwise. The only thing I wish is that we could spend more time in the market.
Our tour guide was Orna Sidi from Dynamic Tours. Highly recommended.
Eating at Machane Yehuda Market
When the tour ended, it was lunchtime, therefore we headed to the two places that were recommended during the tour. The first place is Hachapuria at Mahane Yehuda Market which is located at 5 Ha-Shikma street.
We ordered a traditional Georgian dish, the Khachapuri.
It may not look big here, but I could barely finish my Khachapuri. Cheeses and butter inside the Khachapuri fill you up pretty quickly. This small place is very vibrant and has a young and energetic atmosphere.
From Hachapuria we went to Mousseline ice cream. Mousseline is located about 100 meters from Hachapuria at 2 HaArmonim Street. Along with traditional flavors, they have some unique ones like black sesame ice cream, Matcha tea ice cream, wasabi, saffron ice cream, and others. I took the Matcha ice cream and loved it.
After lunch, we decided to return to our room in the hotel. Why? Friday afternoon is the time when most businesses close, and besides very few attractions you have nothing to do.
Going through the market towards our hotel:
Challah in a bakery on our way.
The streets are starting to empty.
After a short break in our room, we went to the Old City.
Kabbalat Shabbat at Western Wall
Our goal was to visit the Western Wall for Kabbalat Shabbat. And since this is during sunset, I had to make several stops to photograph 😉
At Jaffa Gate:
View from the roofs of the Old City:
The alleys of the Old City of Jerusalem:
And this is one of the best viewpoints of the Western Wall:
I do not consider myself religious, but Kabbalat Shabbat at Western Wall was a powerful experience. At the beginning, we heard prayers from every possible direction. And when the main wave of prayers ended, the youngsters started dancing and singing.
It is hard for me to describe the atmosphere with words. I would say a “Jewish joy.” Though I did not expect it, it was one of the highlights of this weekend in Jerusalem.
You can see the movement and the dancing of the people.
When the number of people decreased, we visited the Western Wall and headed back to our hotel.
One technical note: finding food on a Friday evening in Jerusalem can be problematic. After searching, we saw that a convenience store at the gas station in front of our hotel was working. Since it was our only option (everything in Mamila and around was closed), we bought some snacks. Hence, if you will be visiting Jerusalem on a Friday evening, plan ahead.
Weekend In Jerusalem – Saturday
Saturday was the last day of our weekend in Jerusalem. After breakfast, we checked out from Eldan hotel and headed towards the Old City.
A note about the hotel. Overall we liked it. It is a medium price range option with nice rooms, and it is close to the Old City (about a ten-minute walk). The only downside were breakfasts. The food was mediocre.
After checking out, we parked in the free parking at HaPa’amon Garden. On our way to the Old City, we passed next to St Andrew’s Church.
St Andrew’s Church
St Andrew’s Church was built as a memorial to the Scottish soldiers who were killed fighting the Turkish Army during World War I, bringing to an end Ottoman rule over Palestine. It is a congregation of the Church of Scotland.
St Andrew’s Church is located at David Remez Street 1. And we visited St Andrew’s probably half a dozen times, but it was always closed. The only thing I was able to find on the official site is:
Our weekly Sunday service is communion at 10 am.
The facade of St Andrew’s:
We started to climb Mount Zion and here you can see Mishkenot Sha’ananim neighborhood with King David Hotel at the top of the hill. YMCA is peeking from behind the hotel.
We have visited Dormition Abbey many times before and I already wrote about it. But this visit was special. When we entered, we heard Organ music. So we sat and heard several pieces, basically until the end. As it turns out there was a group visiting the church and their guide plays the Organ. It was a very lovely surprise.
From the Dormition Abbey, we entered the Old City. We wandered around and in the end, we reached the Holy Sepulchre Church.
Holy Sepulchre Church
I wrote about Holy Sepulchre Church previously, so today I will only show several photos.
From the Holy Sepulchre Church, we headed back to HaPa’amon Garden. Well, actually since it was lunch time, we went to The First Station that is located close to HaPa’amon Garden.
The First Station was opened following the success of HaTachana, Tel Aviv’s Old Railway Station. And when The First Station opened, organizers promised that the whole complex would be open on Saturdays. During our visit, most of the complex was closed, and only several restaurants were open. But since in Jerusalem you do not have many dining options on Saturdays, we had lunch and headed home.
We enjoyed our weekend in Jerusalem. The highlights were Hebrew Music Museum, Machane Yehuda Market Tour and Kabbalat Shabbat at Western Wall. But, keep in mind that we visited Jerusalem many times before and if it is your first time than I would recommend spending more time in the Old City. Hope you enjoyed the journey and learned something new.
What are your favorite attractions in Jerusalem? Tell us in the comments below.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!
For additional points of interest nearby check out Jerusalem page.