by Assi Philosoph
Playing chess in Jerusalem may be a once in a lifetime experience. The atmosphere in the city is unique, with its thousands of years of history, culture, and architecture. Like the game of chess itself, Jerusalem is a city that has survived many wars and generations, yet still continues to captivate its visitors.
The players and spectators arriving in Jerusalem will not only enjoy a great international tournament, but also will have a hard time choosing which places to visit in the city in their free time! In fact, to truly make the most of the city, we’d recommend catching a later flight home. It’s not every day that you have the opportunity to be in the Holy City!
In the rest of this article, we’ll recommend the “must-see” sights for your visit to Jerusalem.
First of all, any traveller’s itinerary in the city must include the Old City. Famous as the home of the Western Wall, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, you could spend days exploring its four quarters – Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Armenian – and only see but a small part of its many treasures.
The Western Wall
The Old City is definitely the jewel of Jerusalem. The “Kotel Hamaaravi” (Western Wall) is the last remaining wall of the most magnificent building Jerusalem has ever seen: the Second Temple, built by the great King Herod.
It was destroyed in the year 70 CE and for centuries Jewish people from around the world have been going there to mourn the loss of this grand temple. You will often find hundreds of people of different nationalities and religions deep in prayer, as the wall is believed to have enormous spiritual significance.
It is a tradition for the people that visit to write a note and place it in the cracks of the Western Wall, as it is believed the message will be taken to God. You will often find doves, a symbol of peace, resting in the crevices of this impressive structure.
The Western Wall is a national symbol as the ancient bricks have seen the birth, exile and redemption of both Israel and the Jewish people. It’s a very popular location for national ceremonies and even bar mitzvah (a Jewish coming of age ritual).
A 13-year-old Jewish boy with the tefilin, celebrating bar-mitzva (Photo: Valentin Lazar)
The “Rook” (Tower) of David Museum
Jerusalem’s Citadel, known as the “Tower of David”, is a historical and archaeological asset of international significance. The tower is a medieval fortress that is located near the Jaffa Gate, the historical entrance to the Old City, and has been the symbol of the city of Jerusalem for generations.
At the Tower of David Museum, you are presented with Jerusalem’s astounding story. While absorbing yourself in legends of the past and their dramatic chronicles it will not take you long to realise that the very stones of the museum are part of this city’s living history.
The 500-year-old walls are part of the Turkish citadel; its name derives from a tower so massive that early Jerusalemites ascribed it to their great King David. Yet, despite the name being “The Tower of David”, it was actually built by King Herod.
The entrance of the Tower of David
Your visit can begin with a breath-taking view of Old and New Jerusalem from the top of the tower. Each ancient room has been revamped to showcase a different period, allowing the tempestuous events of 4,000 years to fall perfectly into place in your mind.
Via Dolorosa (“Way of Sorrow” in Latin) is a route through the Old City of Jerusalem that is believed to be the path Jesus walked to his crucifixion. The route goes from Antonia Fortress to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a distance of about 600 meters, and is a celebrated place of Christian pilgrimage. The route was established in the 18th century. Today it is marked by the 14 Stations of the Cross, the final five stations of which are located inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
The site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is identified as the place both of the crucifixion and the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth. The church has long been a major pilgrimage centre for Christians all around the world.
Sabich, falafel and malabi – you will love them all!
Beteeavon! (Bon appetite!)
We can’t wait to host you in Jerusalem!