I’m obliged to start with a confession. After eleven years, I have betrayed my beloved. I left Jerusalem. But honestly, it was 100% me. Not her. But more on that later.
In the eleven years that I’ve lived in Jerusalem, I’ve travelled to her many neighbourhoods and have lived in seven different places. Jerusalem was my refuge when I came home from the army, too tired to keep my eyes open. Jerusalem is where I followed my Jewish heart straight into the holy books in the Yeshiva.
Jerusalem is where I met some of my best friends. Jerusalem is where I fell in love and got married to my wonderful wife. And in all these years, I have experienced all her sides. And now that I have left the city, I can look at it from an outsider’s perspective and give my recommendations for the most wonderful places in Jerusalem.
Ben Yehuda Market. It’s a cliché, I know. But I don’t think there are a lot of places in Jerusalem to experience so many cultures, customs and people as at the “Shuk”. You should visit there twice, once in the morning and once in the evening, preferably Thursday or Saturday. If you want to meet the real “Yerushalmim” (or Jerusalemites), visit in the morning. You will see the meaning of coexistence. You will experience authentic Jerushalmi culture wherever you look, taste or smell. In the evening you will come back and find the Shuk transformed into 1 big party, with people enjoying life to the fullest.
And, if you can, you should book a Shuk tasting tour, those are amazing! Also, Friday morning at the Shuk is an amazing experience. However, be aware that from ten o’clock it’s already packed.
Yemin Moshe & Mishkenot Sha’ananim. The first neighbourhood outside of the old city of Jerusalem. One of the most beautiful areas. Noteworthy sites are the Windmill of Montefiore and the artist colony. Just go there, take a stroll, and indulge in the authentic streets and houses. It’s one of the quieter neighbourhoods, with a very nice park. Keep in mind that there are a lot of stairs!
Wohl Rose Garden. During the right season, it’s beautiful. The colours, flowers and greenery will make you feel like you’re back in the Netherlands. It’s right next to the Knesset and the Israel museum. And, they sell the best Hamburger In Jerusalem there!
Ein Kerem Valley. Close to the Hebrew university medical campus, you will find the valley of Ein Kerem. A beautiful piece of nature, with some refreshing lakes. You can walk there in the quiet Jerusalem nature, take a refreshing dive, visit the Church and Mosque around there, and have some great food!
Haas Tayeler (Promenade) next to Armon Hanatziv. This promenade is so beautiful. The view you will get there from Jerusalem is amazing. Go there at night to gaze at the beautiful lights of the city, and gaze and the many churches, mosques and the new “Hurva” synagogue in the old city. You will have a beautiful view of the walls of the old city, and when zooming out you will see almost the whole city of Jerusalem. There is a very good reason why I decided to propose to my wife at this spot.
So this is it. Five places you have to see and experience. Of course, I left out the popular places such as the Old City, The Western Wall, and Yafo street, but you don’t need me for that. Also, as director of StandWithUs Netherlands, I have to recommend visiting our Education Centre near the old city! It’s great if you want to broaden your knowledge of Israel, Antisemitism and the Jewish people during your stay in Jerusalem. And for the real adventures, when leaving Jerusalem to the south, take a day off and visit Masada and the Dead Sea. Beautiful.
So, why did I leave Jerusalem? Jerusalem is a beautiful city. She has her own character. She is as marvellous as the sea, but not less treacherous. She is magnificent and splendorous, but she is jealous and will claim you as her own. And after eleven years of falling in love with Jerusalem, I felt I did not deserve Jerusalem anymore. Jerusalem is the best city in the world to live in. Honestly. But you will only be worthy of her if you really want her, be faithful to her, and won’t flirt with her rival cities. When you live in Jerusalem, you LIVE in Jerusalem.
But even though I left her, a piece of my heart will always stay with her.
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