Jerusalem, a Spiritual Journey to the Holy Land

I have to admit it, before 2012, I never considered myself as a religious person, being born a Catholic like most Mexicans, my family never practiced the faith and we didn’t go to mass every Sunday like most people do in my home country.

My visit to Jerusalem changed that since during my time at the Holy Land I awoke a spiritual side that I’ve never knew or felt before.

After all, Jerusalem is the city where religious tradition is more important than historical facts. Are you ready to explore the wonders of Jerusalem?

Jerusalem, where tradition is stronger than facts

Jerusalem, where tradition is stronger than facts

Why is Jerusalem so important for Jewish, Christians and Muslims? 

The power faith is enigmatic and no city in the world showcases it as much as Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is the most sacred city for Jewish, Christians and Muslims (after Mecca and Medina).

The reasons for this are more theological than logical. After all, this the Holy City where religious tradition is stronger than historical facts.

King Solomon and the Temple Mount

King Solomon and the Temple Mount

For Christians, Jerusalem is the city where Jesus was crucified by the Romans and it was here where the religious movement known as Christianity started.

Muslims know Jerusalem as the place where Mohammed ascended to heaven from the distant mosque while Jewish know Jerusalem as their ancient homeland…

The Holy Land.

The Man of Wonders visits Israel

The Man of Wonders visits Israel

In its rich history, Jerusalem has passed by the hands of many empires and governments, being the focus of many of recent and ancient wars fought for the control of this symbolic and religious site.

Ever since the ancient Jewish Kingdom of Israel founded Jerusalem more than 2,000 years ago, the city has been in control of the Roman/Byzantine Empire, the Arab Caliphates, the Christian Crusaders, the Egyptian Mameluks and the Ottoman Empire.

The flavours of Jerusalem

The flavours of Jerusalem

After the first World War, the Ottoman Empire ended and Jerusalem passed hands from The British Empire to the Kingdom of Jordan and finally, to the modern state of Israel.

“What does Jerusalem means to you?” someone asked the legendary warrior Saladin. “Nothing” he said, pointing to his head.

“Everything” he added, pointing to his heart.

Orthodox Jew playing the violin

Orthodox Jew playing the violin

The Holy of Holiest, the most contested religious site in the world

The Temple Mount, also known as Al-Haram Al-Sharif is probably the most contested religious site in the world since this is the place where the Second Temple of Israel was once located.

This is also the place where the Third Temple shall be rebuilt according to Judaism so you can imagine why this area is a very contested one.

As of 2015, the Temple Mount is administered by a Waqf (an Islamic board) and Jewish are instructed by their rabbis not to ascend it.

Morning at the Temple Mount, Jerusalem

Morning at the Temple Mount, Jerusalem

Entrance to the Temple Mount is restricted to two time-slots: early morning (07:30-11:00) and afternoon (1:30-2:30) from Saturday to Thursday.

However, the queue for the second time slot is extremely long no matter the season so I strongly suggest you to skip breakfast and just go early in the morning.

In my opinion, fasting will add a totally different vibe to your religious experience in the Holy of Holiest.

Jewish woman playing the accordeon

Jewish woman playing the accordeon

Security in the area is extremely tight and you are expected to show proof of your identity (usually a passport will suffice), dress conservatively and most importantly, do NOT bring any Christian or Jewish related items.

This will be seen as inflammatory and you will be denied entrance.

Freshly baked bread at Jerusalem

Freshly baked bread at Jerusalem

The most prominent and important site in the Temple Mount complex is without any doubt the Dome of the Rock, a beautiful blue building filled with splendid islamic writings and adorned with a golden dome.

Contrary to popular belief, this is neither a Mosque nor a tomb. Rather, this is an unique monument that houses the stone where according to tradition the faith of Abraham was tested and God ordered him to kill his son.

According to Judaism and Christianity the son was Isaac. According to Islam it was Ismael.

The Holy of Holiest

The Holy of Holiest

In the same area you shall find the The Al-Aqsa (Distant) Mosque from where religious tradition has it that Mohammed made his journey to Heaven despite the fact that Mohammed never once set foot in Jerusalem and the mosque itself was built years after his death according to historical facts.

In the western limit of the Temple Mount you shall find the most visited sites of pilgrimage for the Jewish: The Wailing Wall, the last remains of what was described as the most impressive Temple ever built, which was destroyed and sacked by the Romans in 70 CE.

It’s quite impressive how such a small area can have such an important historical and religious value for all three religions, right?

The Old Town of Jerusalem

The Old Town of Jerusalem

As I said, religious tradition is stronger than historical facts so even if it doesn’t makes sense for him to buried inside the old city walls (the New Testament says that he was buried in a cave outside of Jerusalem), Christians consider this to be their most sacred site.

Finally, we have the Mount of Olives located East of the Old City Walls. This is a very easy hike (it shouldn’t take you more than 15 minutes) and along the way you shall find the Dominus Flevit Church where tradition has it that Jesus wept once he saw a vision of the destruction of the Second Temple.

The local people of Jerusalem

The local people of Jerusalem

The views of the Old City from the Mount of Olives are impressive and local legend has it that you can find camels and donkeys at the top of Mount of Olives.

Of course, those animals all have an owner who is more than happy to let you pose for a photo in exchange for some shekels.

Such is life, uh?

Palestinian man and his donkey at Jerusalem

Palestinian man and his donkey at Jerusalem

Practical Information about travel to Jerusalem

Jerusalem is extremely well-connected to Tel-Aviv (click here to read my best Top 7 Things to do and see in the Israel Mediterranean) by bus (18 shekels, 60 minutes) that leave every 15 minutes. Jerusalem itself is fairly big and it is easy to navigate it by a reliable system of buses plus the light train.

When it comes to accommodation, there are many small properties located inside of the Old City and many big properties located outside of it. During my most recent visit in 2015, I was hosted at Abraham Hostel, a boutique hostel located 20 minutes away on foot from Jaffa Gate.

You can make a booking for this and more properties via our Affiliate Link of Wonders!

Same price for you and a small pocket money commission for this website of yours.

Sweet deal, uh?

Dormiton Abbey at Night in Jerusalem

Dormition Abbey at Night in Jerusalem

The hostel is a very social place where people of all nationalities and religions can come and feel themselves at home.

Be sure to time your visit right in order to enjoy the delicious Shabbat dinner on Friday. Trust me when I say that you’ll love it!

Have you ever been to Jerusalem? Would you like to? Share your thoughts and let me know what you think! Until next time, my friends!

The Ultimate Jerusalem Travel Guide

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11 Responses

  1. Claire Robinson

    An amazing city that I think we should all visit once in our lifetime. I would love to go to all the sites you’ve listed so beautifully. Once day, hopefully.

  2. Laura Lynch

    I felt the same way when I was in Jerusalem. The city exudes a spirituality that is hard to ignore. It encompasses you, even if you’re not religious. I’m so glad I was able to experience it first hand. Israel is a beautiful country.

  3. Jen

    I’ve never been, but it l would love to. Thanks for the practical tips.

  4. Dawn Kealing

    Ah, I am so envious. :) When I traveled through Egypt and Jordan we were hoping to visit Israel before heading home but there was some turmoil going on within the country and we couldn’t enter, sad times! It looks gorgeous!!

  5. Sue Reddel

    How lucky that you got to visit Jerusalem. I would love to visit some day. The closest I’ve been is Jordan. Thanks for sharing all the details.

  6. Anda

    Very good read and interesting report on Jerusalem. This is definitely one of the most interesting cities to visit in the whole world. I always wanted to go but I am a little reluctant to do it in light of the turmoil in the region.

  7. Vanessa

    Thanks for the reminder on how important it is to dress modestly while visiting spiritual sites. Even if you yourself don’t subscribe to those beliefs it’s an important show of respect and doing so also allows you to interact more easily with locals who will appreciate your efforts.

  8. Elena

    Beautiful photos! I have wanted to explore Israel for years. We are hoping to go in a few years with my daughter!

  9. Frank Robinson

    Many people are confused about the location of Christ’s Crucifixion, but it’s important to remember, and all archeologists agree, that the city walls are different than they were 2000 years ago. Today’s Tomb of Christi was in fact outside the city walls of that time. Just remember, American cities can be different only 50 years later — imagine the changes that occur in 1000 or 2000 years!