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What You Need to Know If You Plan to Visit Jerusalem's Old City

Jerusalem’s old city folds into it many years of ancient history. Within it are quite a few important and holy visiting centers for different religions. Everything you need to know about the old city

Besides being at the heart of different religions, Jerusalem's Old City is one of the world's most historically rich places, as it's home to multiple holy-visiting centers, museums, and artifacts.

However, as there are so many must-see sites, it's essential to plan ahead to get the most out of your visit. Here's a little guide on things to do in Jerusalem, focused on the Old City.

Read on to discover everything you need to know about Jerusalem's Old Town!

Photos: Noam Chen

A Short History Class

The origin of Jerusalem's Old City may go back to creation. The Bible describes it as a heavily fortified place with a solid city wall that houses the Temple Mount, where Abraham nearly sacrificed his only son, Isaac.

Since then, Jerusalem's Old Town has been linked to different histories of the three major Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

The Old City's walls were built between 1535 and 1542 by Suleiman the Magnificent, the longest-reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. However, they've remained strong for over 500 years.

In 1981, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although the Old City has a more modern design and structure today, it's still ancient.

The Old Town's layout is another marvel. It has been documented in detail on an Old City Jerusalem map for over a millennium.

Jerusalem's Old City Quarters

Nowadays, Jerusalem's Old City has four quarters: the Armenian Quarter, the Christian Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, and the Muslim Quarter. Learn more about each one below.

The Jewish Quarter

Stretching from Zion Gate in the south to the Armenian Quarter in the west, the Western Wall and Temple Mount in the east, and the Street of the Chain in the north, the Jewish Quarter lies in the Old City's southwestern sector.

Some of the most important places in the Jewish Quarter include the Broad Wall, the Cardo, the Israelite Tower, and the Burnt House.

The Christian Quarter

It's located in Jerusalem Old Town's northwestern corner, stretching from the New Gate to the city's western wall, specifically the Jaffa Gate, the route connecting Jaffa Gate with Western Wall in the south, and the Damascus Gate in the east.

The Christian Quarter was built around The Church of the Holy Sepulchre and now has about 40 holy places. Some are the Church of the Redeemer, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Annunciation, and the Holy Trinity Cathedral.

Photos: Noam Chen

The Muslim Quarter

It's the largest quarter in Jerusalem's Old City, covering 77 acres, and goes from the eastern Lion's Gate to Temple Mount's northern wall in the south. To the west, it stretches along the Damascus Gate – Western Wall route.

Some of its landmarks include the Little Western Wall, the first seven Stations of the Cross on Via Dolorosa, also known as the "Way of Cross" or "Way of Sorrows," and the Western Wall Tunnels.

The Armenian Quarter

It's located in Jerusalem Old City's southwestern corner, separated from the Jewish Quarter by Suq el-Husur or Habad Street and from the Christian Quarter by Suq el-Bazaar or David Street.

The Armenian Quarter can be accessed from the Zion Gate and Jaffa Gate. It houses the Cathedral of St. James, St. Toros Church, Church of the Holy Archangels, Sts. Holy Translators' School, Tower of David or Citadel, and more.

Jerusalem's Old City Gates

The Old Town has had a variable number of gates over the years. Today, there are seven. If you check a Jerusalem Old City gates map, these are the ones you can find:

Jaffa Gate

It was inaugurated in 1538 along the main routes connecting the Old Town's western part with the Western Wall and Temple Mount.

Jaffa Gate has a small square with entrances to the Armenian, Christian, and Muslim quarters and to David's Tower. It was named after the Jaffa port, where the prophet Jonah started his sea voyage.

Golden Gate

It's the only eastern gate that offers access to the Old City from Temple Mount. Both Muslims and Christians believe that Jesus passed through the Golden Gate to reach Jerusalem.

Sha'ar HaAshpot

Also known as Dung Gate, it's located in the Old City's southeast corner and serves as the main passageway for vehicles going to the Western Wall or leaving the area.

Sha'ar HaAshpot was built in the 16th century. It's believed that it was named after the residue taken from the Jewish temple to the Valley of Hinnom since it was burned there.

The Gate of Flowers

Also known as Herod's Gate, it's located east of Damascus Gate and connects the Muslim Quarter with the Palestinian Bab az-Zahra neighborhood. Its name is linked to the story describing when Pontius Pilate sent Jesus to tetrarch Herod Antipas.

Damascus Gate

It's a wall on the city's northwest side, connecting to a highway that leads to Nablus. Damascus Gate was built in 1537 and is the only one that retains the same name, which refers to the exit used by those who traveled to the Syrian capital after Israel was established.

Photos: Noam Chen

Lions Gate

Also known as St. Stephen's Gate, it's located on Jerusalem's eastern wall and serves as an access point to the Muslim Quarter. Its crest has four figures of leopards, often mistaken for lions. That's where its name comes from.

Photos: Noam Chen

The New Gate

It's the newest gate in the Old City, built in 1889, and provides access to the Christian Quarter. The Ottoman administration used the term "New Gate" to refer to the work when it was under construction.

The Old City's Recommended Sites

Jerusalem's Old City has other historical and architectural sites worth visiting, including the following:

Jerusalem Old City Market

Located in the Christian and Muslim quarters, Jerusalem Old City Market is a maze of alleyways lined with shops selling different items, from exotic handmade scarves to pottery and jewelry.

Photos: Noam Chen

Jerusalem Old City Bridge

Also known as Chords Bridge, it's a side-spar cable-stayed bridge designed by Spanish architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava and inaugurated in 2008.

It has a glass-sided pedestrian bridge that allows people to cross from the Kiryat Moshe to the Jerusalem Central Bus Station.

The Kotel

The Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall or the Kotel, is the holiest place for the Jewish faith due to its proximity to Temple Mount.

Photos: Noam Chen

David's Tower

Also known as Citadel, it's a historical place where you can enjoy tours, exhibits, and other cultural events, including one based on the story of Wilhelm II, Emperor of Germany, in 1989.

Photos: Noam Chen

The Cardo

It's an ancient thoroughfare with restaurants, Judaica shops, spice stalls, local artisan workshops, and more.

The Western Wall's Tunnels

A tour through the Kotel or Western Wall tunnels enables you to see its underground passages, streets of the Second Temple period, and water trenches.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

It was built on the site of Jesus' resurrection and has been a pilgrimage location since the 4th century.

The Davidson Center

This museum is located within an archaeological park and hosts exhibits on the amazing findings that have resulted from excavations along the Western Wall.

Dome of the Rock

It's one of the Islamic culture's oldest and most important architectural works. The Dome of the Rock is believed to be where Mohammed ascended to heaven.

Via Dolorosa

Currently known as Terra Sancta Museum, this facility offers different cultural events explaining to tourists how the area was born and transformed over time.

Photos: Noam Chen

Jerusalem Old City Safety

As Jerusalem Old City safety is considered high, security issues are not common at this historic site. Also, police officers are constantly present there.

A Breathtaking Site: Jerusalem's Old City at Night

If you want to admire all the wonders of this place, you cannot miss visiting Jerusalem Old City at night. As the sunlight gives way to dusk, the monuments light up, creating a majestic scene you'll never forget!


From the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to the Western Wall, Jerusalem's Old City has many wonders to offer visitors.

Even if you aren't religious, you can appreciate the unforgettable splendor of this 0.35-sq-mi walled city and live unforgettable experiences.

Do you want to visit Jerusalem's Old City? Don't forget to book your stay at Isrotel hotels in Jerusalem!