ירושלים בחג המולד טיול עצמאי

Christmas in Jerusalem 2023

Recommendations on all the best places to visit in Jerusalem on Christmas 2021. What is the most decorated place for Christmas? Who sells addictive carrot cake? Where can you feel a special holiday atmosphere? Post is being updated

Christmas 2021 is underway! Christmas 21 in Jerusalem

It’s a cold winter in Jerusalem, the days are getting shorter and there is a special atmosphere in the air.The sun sets very early now, and it seems that every day is shorter than the previous one. Even those who love winter, will admit that the darkness that falls so early can be a bit depressing.

Fear of darkness is one of the most common fears in humans, as someone who takes care of children, I often hear about the intensity of anxiety from the night that falls, from the darkness, from “demons” and “monsters” hiding in the dark. Some researchers believe that fear of darkness has a developmental basis, a remnant of an era when sleeping in the dark was really a danger for children.

Be that as it may, traditional societies used to mark in ceremonies and events the shortest day of the year. The shortening of the days and the gradual disappearance of the sun were accompanied by fear that it might not return. In order to prevent such a bleak situation, various rituals were developed in the ancient world to remove the “spell”. (I wrote about such a ceremony in the post “We came darkness to expel – the Dossara festival in India”.

Christmas in Jerusalem

Our Chanukah, the “Festival of Lights,” is also considered a holiday that expresses the triumph of light over darkness. The miracle jug of oil is a symbol of the ability to cope with the darkness and win it.

At the very same time, the Christian Christmas holiday is also celebrated. Most Christian denominations celebrate it on December 24., three days after the “solstice day” when the sun reaches its southernmost point. It is quite possible that the holiday is an incarnation of an earlier holiday that was prevalent in Europe in the past.

The “Holidays of Light” period in Jerusalem is a magical time and an excellent time to visit this special city and experience a feeling of abroad on a short drive from home. For those who come to the city and are looking for what to do, here are some worthwhile recommendations:

Christmas in jerusalem» take a “Menorah tour”

Placing the menorah on the windowsill was intended to publicize the miracle of the oil jug. In Jerusalem, which has a large religious and ultra-Orthodox population, there are many places to walk, see the menorahs and feel the holiday atmosphere.

The main streets, which are obviously brighter, are the least recommended places. It is worth turning to the small alleys where the street lighting is weak and the menorahs in them glow from afar.

Three recommended places for a menorah tour are:

The Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem

Nachlaot neighborhood

And the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods: Mea Shearim and the Bukharim neighborhood.

You are very invited to the post  Light and Jerusalem – in which I wrote about an exciting (and delicious) menorah tour…

Photo: Itzik Tal

Christmas in jerusalem » The French Complex

The local version of the Notre Dame church, only without the hunchback this time…

Yes, our capital city also has its own Notre Dame, which is located in a complex built at the beginning of the 19th century by a French count. On the façade of the building, between two towers, is a large statue of Mary holding baby Jesus

The French complex includes a church, a pilgrims’ hostel, a restaurant with stunning views anda caféwith the chic of abroad. For Christmas, it is decorated with colorful lights and boasts a huge and impressive fir tree.

Going up to the observation tower is highly recommended and costs a symbolic sum of 10 NIS.

Right next to Notre Dame, in the heart of the complex, stands the “French Hospital”, which in the past served as pilgrims and for several decades has been used as a hospice for all residents of Jerusalem. When I was a child, I visited my grandfather Shmuel, who was hospitalized there. The sight of the rooms with the high ceilings and the nuns-sisters who took care of him, comes back to me every time I pass by him.

Notre Dame website 

Notre Dame Church in Jerusalem


Christmas in jerusalem »  Christmas Tour of the Christian Quarter

Jerusalem can’t compete with Alsace or Berlin on the theme of Christmas markets, but for those who want to experience Christmas in Israel, this is one of the most beautiful places to be. The Christian Quarter begins to be decorated for Christmas about three weeks before Christmas, with parades with musicians also taking place the week before the holiday (when did you last hear the sound of bagpipes?)

Christmas Fair will take place from 15th to 25th December from 17:00 to 22:00. The fair will be held at the entrance to the Old City Perfect for families and anyone who misses Europe.

Christmas Market New Gate

Here are two routes for those who are interested in doing an independent tour:

Recommended parking – Safra parking lot under the Jerusalem Municipality. For those arriving by public transport – it is recommended to take the light rail and get off at the Jerusalem Municipality station.

You enter the Old City through the New Gate right in front of the French compound. On the street ” The New Gate” there is a lively café scene as well as performances, lectures, and more. I recommend visiting theNew Gateway website or Facebook page for all the details about upcoming events.

Here are some new and worthwhile places to drink and eat:

The Gateway

Café and bookstore with cool décor, delicious coffee and great cakes. Many types of wine are also sold here.

A café near the New Gate in Jerusalem

Patisserie Abu Seir

There they sell French cakes and hot chocolate as if we were in Nice and not in the Middle East.

Abu Ata Zaman

A new place that was opened right in the summer of 21 by a couple of brothers, local residents. The café sells traditional coffee and good sandwiches.

Jacques’s Patisserie

A crazy little pastry shop that only sells cakes. The place is known for its carrot cake: Caution – it is addictive … It sucks a bit that you can’t buy a drink here, but the taste makes up for everything. Near Easter, Jacques also makes a vegan carrot cake.

A link to a map of the Christian Quarter on the “Old City” website

First track (the light track):

Right onto La Freres Street (on the signs in Hebrew it says “Brothers Street”), turn left onto Hawalde Street, then St. Peter’s Street. At 2 St. Peter’s Street is “Santa’s House”.

The children of Jerusalem also deserve to meet Santa. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, he opens his small room, where children come in to take pictures. Like a real celebrity, the local Santa has reception hours, they are largely listed on the door.

The real name of the Jerusalemite Santa is Issa, a former professional basketball player, who took on the role after studying at Santa academy in the city of Bakken, Denmark. To the visitors, he makes sure to emphasize the fact that he is a certified Santa and his diploma (along with the trainings he has done around the world) hangs on the walls of his room.

Santa has a mobile, where you can check opening hours: 052-8649027

Opening Hours Santa's House 2021


Christmas Bazaar at Santa’s house:

To the Pace page

Continue along Greek Patriarchate Street, and then along Latin Patriarchate Street, until you reach the Jaffa Gate area. From there you can exit and return to the light rail or the parking lot.

Second track (for advanced students):

From La Freres Street (“Brothers Street”) to Casa Nova Street and then Greek Patriarchate Street. You arrive in the area of the Muristan, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Avtimus Market, which are ornate and crowded. In the area of the Avtemos market, it is recommended to enter an oriental restaurant that overlooks directly the entire decorated Avtimus market.

To the Facebook page of Golden City Panoramic

More about this area is worth reading in a post I wrote about the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the area which also has some worthwhile recommendations for local food.

From there you can continue through David Street to Jaffa Gate or return towards the new gate. The area is considered a safe area, especially on holidays, but it is important to always be cautious.

Christmas in jerusalem»YMCA on Christmas Day

On your next visit to Jerusalem, you’ll know that the architect of the YMCA’s high bell tower also designed the Empire State Building in New York. The structure of the YMCA may not be as tall as its step-brother in New York, but it is no less beautiful than it is. The building was inaugurated in 1933 by General Allenby, who in his speech said, “This place – peace prevails in it, political and religious rivalry will be forgotten, unity between peoples will be cultivated and developed.” Indeed, the purpose of the place is to promote fraternity between religions and in its design elements related to the three religions: Judaism – Christianity – Islam.

Today it serves as a hostel (a very central place at a reasonable cost and a Christian atmosphere), a center for the community and also has a concert hall.

In preparation for Christmas there is a large tent in the courtyard “Christmas Market”, not large but enough to feel the atmosphere. The fair is attended by artisans who sell local handicrafts. The whole place is very decorated for the holiday and there are also festive concerts. You can go up to the bell tower for a fee, and take in the beautiful view from the top of the tower.

Address: 26 King David Street.

Phone: 02-5692692.

The event of turning on the lights in the huge fir tree: 28.11.21. The festive event will feature local performances, a tower bell show and a quick visit by Santa! To the event Facebook page

Christmas Market 2021 will take place from 2.12 to 4.12

Festive Christmas Concert: 24.12 The concert will be held as it does every year in the YMCA auditorium. It will be attended by singers who will sing Christmas carols. Before the concert, there will be a performance of the YMCA’s tower bells played by Prof. Gabi Scheffler.

For updates on the events at the YMCA, please visit the Pace page here.

A bite on the way: After visiting the YMCA, it is recommended to continue down the street until you reach the nearby Inbal Hotel. here, the famous “Soup Festival” takes place from November to March. A selection of special soups, croutons, noodles, special spreads and more, on an all-you-can-eat basis. The festival takes place in the hotel lobby, which has won international design awards! Sunday-Thursday from 12:00 to 22:00.

Christmas - In Jerusalem - The Soup Festival

The American Colony at Christmas

The American Colony Hotel is located in the eastern part of the city, behind the Grand Court Hotel.

It was built in 1860, and has since been renovated several times, but has retained its special character. It is considered one of the best boutique hotels in Israel and every visit to it is an experience that throws you straight to another continent. Most of the hotel’s guests are foreign residents, dressed in suits and the language spoken is English. The Saturday brunch is considered one of the special pastimes in Jerusalem (not cheap at all, but suitable for a special occasion).

For Christmas, the place is elegantly decorated and those looking for a romantic evening by the fireplace, with fir tree décor, will find it here. In addition, an elegant Christmas market is held here for the holiday (please check the date in advance). Those who really want to experience Christmas properly can also make a reservation for the holiday dinner that is held there every year in the presence of handsome ambassadors and businessmen from all over the world.

To theAmerican Colony Facebook page

To the hotel’s website

Address: Rochov Louis Vincent 1.

Phone of the restaurant: 6279777.

Austrian Hospice

Another place that just blew you away for another era is the Austrian hospice. About the place I have written extensively inthis post.

For Christmas, the place wears holiday clothes and the fixed menu in the café also changes slightly. It is highly recommended to sit there, order chocolate and apple strudel with sour cream and enjoy the holiday atmosphere.The hospice also has a lovely view from which you can see the rooftops of the old town and the golden dome.

Tip by the way: prepare a 5 NIS coin in advance for the observation.

European cakes at the Austrian Hospice in Jerusalem

Address: Via Dolorosa street at the corner of the ravine.

Phone: 62714630.

Holiday mass in churches

I admit that I’m more into Apple Strudel and less about church masses. But a visit to such a mass, on the eve of the holiday (24.12 at midnight) is considered festive and special. Since I never got to participate, I don’t have much to write, but for Christian tourists or for others interested in participating: more information can be found onthis site.

Please note that it is not acceptable to leave in the middle of mass, for those who are only interested in a “glimpse” – it is recommended to stand in the back or near the entrance.

Turn off mobiles during mass.

Churches that are accustomed to an Israeli audience: theDormition Abbey (the location, on Mount Zion is convenient and accessible, the Mass in German and other languages), the Notre Dame Church (which I wrote about earlier) with the Catholic Mass, the Church of the Austrian Hospice (which I also wrote about earlier), a Hebrew-speaking Catholic church, the Scottish Church (which I wrote about inthis post) and the Church of St. John in Ein Kerem (Tal 6417291).

If a guest from abroad suddenly came for an unplanned visit, and he wanted to attend mass specifically, you can consult with the Christian Information Center at Jaffa Gate, tel. 6272692, email cicinfo@cicts.org.

Photo: Itzik Tal

The wine cellar in Custodia Terra Santa (Convent of San Salvador)

The Franciscan church complex is just after the entrance to the “New Gate”, on the right. This is a huge complex about a quarter the size of the entire Christian Quarter, a complex built in the 16th century. Entrance to the monastery is only part of an organized tour accompanied by a monk. Those who get to enter the monastery gates will enjoy an amazing tour that includes the monastery library, an ancient bell that disappeared and is actually located in the Jaffa flea market and a centuries-old wine cellar with huge wine barrels, which was discovered only recently.

San Salvador Church

In the heart of the Custodia complex is one of the most beautiful and impressive churches in the country. The church is a relatively new part of the complex and was built in the 19th century.

The entrance to it is made through the monastery, which, as mentioned above, is opened to visitors only by prior arrangement. But the church opens to worshippers during mass times on Saturday afternoons and on weekdays in the morning. Prayer times are posted on the church’s website.Groups of visitors are not welcome but a single person or a couple can certainly enter mass and be impressed by the spectacular structure.

San Sachlavdor Church Jerusalem

A tour of the monastery as part of “Houses from within”

Winter Lights

Jerusalem Botanical Garden Winter Festival

The Botanical Garden in Givat Ram is transformed during December into a large light fair with concerts, performances, food stalls and more. The entire park is decorated with hundreds of colorful and glittering lights.

Opening hours: Sunday-Thursday 17:00-21:30. Sat 18:00-21:30.

Entrance fee: 40 NIS per adult and 25 NIS per child/girl.

To the Botanical Garden’s Facebook page 

Mount Scopus Promenade

In the area of Mount Scopus, at the foot of the Hebrew University, hides a lovely diamond – a café called “City View” with an amazing view of Jerusalem.

Mount Scopus Jerusalem Christmas

What’s more fun than sitting on the terrace of the café, drinking a hot Sahlab right in front of the golden dome? Sit there during Christmas time!


Update: Chanochrismas Events 2021

Cinematheque Christmas Film Festival:

From “Gremlins” to “Edward’s Scissors” – the Christmas Film Festival at the Jerusalem Cinematheque is the perfect solution for a rainy night

More details 

Emanuel Compound – Messianic Jews:

A complex located near the Jaffa Gate with activities for the holiday such as Christmas booths and a tour with Aaron Amy, a Hebrew-speaking Anglican dean from Australia, along with tour guide Kenny Lim from Singapore and Idan Pinhas.  
The tour begins at the Emanuel compound with an explanation from Tanz’s model of 1st century Jerusalem, from there continues to the Armenian Quarter, to the excavations of the southern wall and back to the compound for coffee and cake.
The tour is paid at the café and costs 25 NIS.
To register, sign up here:

For more details: here


link to Hanukkah 2021 Tours and Activities

Jerusalem Municipality Tourism Website 

Ibis Hotel Menorah Tour:

The tours go to Jaffa Gate, Market Street, the Jewish Quarter, David’s Tomb and up to the Garden of Resurrection, accompanied by fascinating historical stories about the Maccabees, and a rare opportunity to experience Jerusalem lit by menorahs placed on the windows of the houses.

-Every day a tour departs from the hotel lobby at 17:00.
-On Friday the tour departs at 16:45. For reservations: *9709

Tour of the Abraham Hostel

Tour of the Christian Quarter – details here

Hanukkah Tour – Details Here 

Tour of the company “Yalla Basta”

Menorah tour – details here 

Tour of the Christian Quarter – enter the site

So far recommendations for a Christmas trip to Jerusalem.

Do you have any other ideas for a worthwhile Christmas getaway in Jerusalem? A comment or suggestion? Do you just feel like praising? It’s always fun for me to read messages in the comments corner below.

If you enjoyed the lovely photos of Grandpa Itzik, feel free to enter his corner here.

Want to get ideas for special trips? You are really welcome to stay in touch and subscribe to the mailing list here

See you by the way

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