Natan Yonatan, a famous Israeli poet wrote once: “Each Man has a city named Jerusalem”. Well- so do i! I was born in the city, the tenth generation of a Jerusalem family and I love the city very much.
If you also love our capital city and visit it a lot and if you are looking for the special and hidden places – here are some ideas for sites off the beaten track in Jerusalem.
So let’s get started?
(Cover photo: Itzik Tal)
Special places in jerusalem
Jerusalem Day, which falls tomorrow, has taken on a conflictual and tough tinge in recent years.
Far from the Jerusalem day of my childhood days.I grew up in Jerusalem so that a short trip to the city presses at once a hundred buttons of memories: friendships, loves, emotions and also pains and disappointments.
Here, at the bus stop in Davidka, I would stand and wait for line 37 to take me home.When it was full it would go past me and not stop, so I could get stuck there for hours….
Here, on Bar Ilan Street, Vered used to live Once I slept at here place and in the morning I tripped on the stairs and was injured, a scar covering my knee to this day.
In Nahalat Shiva is the workshop of my grandfather, who was a women’s tailor.The place is now home to the well-known café “Tmol-Shilshom”.
In Jerusalem, I feel complete: I am a baby, a girl, a girl, and a mother.
More than once I thought about leaving in favor of other places, but it’s hard for me to see myself somewhere else. And yet it is a city that never ceases to surprise.
Jerusalem is full of hidden and exciting corners and on the occasion of its holiday, here are some of the city’s special and unfamiliar places.
Just before starting – if you arrive (or arrive) in the city and are looking for what to do and where to stop on the way to Jerusalem – you are invited to enter the post on the way to Jerusalem and get recommendations on hiking routes, attractions and cafes that will turn the travel day into a day of travel.
Photo: Itzik Tal
jerusalem off the beaten track » Sergey’s Courtyard
Anyone who walks on Monbaz Street may not have imagined that right here, beyond the big wall, hides a magical and majestic courtyard. It was named after Sergey, the son of Tsar Alexander II and was used in the 19th century as a hostel for Russian pilgrims. This peaceful place was an arena for fierce custody battles that ended up being handed over to the Russian Church authority in 2011.
reading Lovers will perhaps remember the courtyard from its description in David Grossman’s book “Someone to run with”.
jerusalem off the beaten track » The Shelter Gallery
Within walking distance of the Mahane Yehuda market is the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Makor Baruch. Here, among the old buildings and containers of yesteryear, hides the gallery, established by Rabbi Uri Zohar and Mordechai Arnon (Popik) in order to serve as a home for ultra-Orthodox artists. The gallery and its artists inspired some of the characters in the series “Shtisel”. The gallery is open on Mondays and Wednesday mornings and Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in the afternoon.
If you happen to come here on a Thursday evening, don’t miss one of the well-known and beloved Jerusalem institutions: Dvir’s Chulent. The place, which is frequented mainly by ultra-Orthodox Jews, is active on Thursdays (“Friday evenings”) and won first place in the Jerusalem Hamin competition. Until some time ago, the place was purely male, but nowadays women also eat there. Besides Tschulent, they also sell rtake away traditional Jewish food.
Address: Gesher Ha-Hayim 6
Special Places in Jerusalem » The Recycling Garden on Moshe David Gaon Street
The Mahane Yehuda market adjoins Jaffa Street, one of Jerusalem’s main streets. On the other side of the road is a neighborhood where time seems to have frozen: the Makor Baruch neighborhood. Residents of the neighborhood are ultra-Orthodox and therefore it is forbidden to take pictures on Shabbat and it is recommended to come in modest clothing.
Arrival: In front of the market, enter Yosef Schwartz Street and wander the alleys.
A five-minute walk will bring us to Moshe David Gaon Street, where the home of Tova, a recycling artist, is located. Her house is surrounded by works made of bottles, corks, containers and more.
Jerusalem off the beaten track » Sukkat Shalom Street and Rabbi Aryeh’s mural
The Nachlaot neighborhood is one of the most magical neighborhoods in Jerusalem and is very worth wandering around. On Sukkat Shalom Street there is a huge mural by Rabbi Aryeh “The Rabbi of the Prisoners”, a revered figure in the area.
After that, it is recommended to continue walking in the neighborhood and to the Mahane Yehuda market. If you arrive on a Saturday, when the market is closed of course – do not despair. On weekends, when the shutters of the shops are closed, you can enjoy the beautiful street art and the special paintings on the shutters, which you see only when the market falls asleep.
In Mahane Yehuda there are dozens of good restaurants, but the “Ishtabach” restaurant is my choice. Besides the fact that the food is good and the atmosphere is great , the cook is also amazing, and I’m not saying that because he’s my son…
Special Places in Jerusalem » The Botanical Garden on Mount Scopus
The botanical garden on Mount Scopus is less known than its “big brother” located in Givat Ram and therefore quieter and more pastoral. It was established in 1931 and has over a thousand types of plants, some of which are rare. In this magical corner is also the tomb of Niknor, identified with Niknor of Alexandria who built the doors of the Temple. Today, the great zionists Pinsker and Ussishkin are buried there.
The botanical garden is open daily in the morning (including Friday).
City View Restaurant is a short drive from the Botanical Garden. The restaurant is not kosher and the waiters speak mostly Arabic
This is the olace to try the “Sahlab”- a Middle Eastern sweet milk drink. The food may not be exelent, but the view is un forgetable.
jerusalem off the beaten track » Ramot Polin
The Ramot Polin neighborhood used to be an ultra-Orthodox enclave in my childhood neighborhood – Ramot. Architect Zvi Hecker was chosen to build the neighborhood for the ultra-Orthodox residents of Batei Warsaw Street in Mea Shearim. What makes the neighborhood special is its shape of it’s houses and I’ll let the picture speak for itself:
Photo: Oshra Dayan
The pentagonal shape of the rooms of the buildings expresses the mutual responsibility in the segregated community and received widespread attention in the world when it was built. However, because of the practical problems created by the shape of the hive, the residents were slightly less satisfied. Over the years, the place has undergone many changes and is now a candidate for “vacate-renovate”. In the future, a new neighborhood will be built here. In the meantime, there is no doubt that the place is one of the special places in Jerusalem.
The Rose Garden» jerusalem off the beaten track
The Rose Garden is one of my favorite places in Jerusalem. It was probably established back in the days of the Turks, and during the British Mandate, official receptions were held there. The garden has two entrances: from Pinsker Street and from Dubnov Street, with huge gates that give the garden a European chic.
The vegetation in the garden is very old and includes roses of various varieties, pergolas, tall palm trees and even archaeological remains.
At the end of Pinsker Street is th Jerusalem Theater and below it is a restaurant-Talbieh café. The café is crowded at all hours of the day and is also open on Fridays and Saturdays.
Special Places in Jerusalem » The World Center for North African Jewish Heritage
The Mahane Israel neighborhood, in the center of Jerusalem, is one of the first neighborhoods built outside the walls of the Old City. At the heart of the neighborhood stood a shelter that was built in 1860 and today serves as a center for the preservation of the heritage of North African Jewry. In the center is a Judaica exhibition, a restored synagogue and a cultural center. It is surrounded by an Andalusian garden with beautiful fountains and Moroccan ceramics.
Near the complex there is also a lovely community garden where herbs are grown and anyone can come and pick.
A bite by the way: Right next to the center are th twins: “Zuta – Cocktail Bar” and “1868 Restaurant”. A place with a great atmosphere, special cocktails and full of joie de vivre.
Hamifaal- “The factory” was established by a group of artisans in an abandoned building and since then has served as an art center and also as a trendy and unusual café.
Special Places in Jerusalem » Mamilla Pool
The Mamilla Pool is located in Independence Park, a beautiful green corner in the city center. The pool was used as a water reservoir during the Byzantines and it is hypothesized that the water that was drained into it flowed into the Old City through aqueducts and pipes, which were discovered when the Mamilla Mall was built. During the British period, the pool ceased to be used as a water reservoir, but rainwater still flows through it during the winter months. Around the pool is an ancient Muslim cemetery and in the spring days there is a beautiful bloom of almonds here. For many years, the garden has been at the center of a public debate regarding development plans for the place.
The pool is mostly impressive in size – 6 dunams (!) and depth – 7 meters.
A bite by the way: The Déjà Vu is one of my favorite restaurants in Jerusalem. Pub-restaurant is surrounded by lawns and trees, with excellent food and friendly service. The place is open on Saturday
Jerusalem off thebeaten track »Mitspe Tel Observatory
The Armon Hanatziv neighborhood is located in the southern part of Jerusalem. The urban nature site “Mitzpe Tel” allows a beautiful view of the Jerusalem area and the Judean Desert. The place has lovely walking paths as well as beautiful seasonal blooms: in autumn quails and in winter lupins. The purple flowers color the beautiful hill and are a perfect place for family photos…
Special Places in Jerusalem » Armon Hanatziv Promenade and the Monument of Tolerance
The Armon Hanatziv promenade is a very long promenade that is divided into three separate promenades. The promenade offers a beautiful view of Jerusalem. Another place worth visiting in the area is the Tolerance Monument and around it the Garden of Tolerance.
To read more about the area:
Photo: Itzik Tal
Below the promenade of Armon Hanatziv, near the Yes Planet cinema is an urban campsite: Peace Forest Camping. The site is very well maintained and invested and is also suitable for Sabbath keepers.
Special Places in Jerusalem » The Ancient Aqueduct
The lower aqueduct was built during the Hasmonean period and carried water from Solomon’s Ponds in the Hebron area to Jerusalem, which grew and was pumped into water. There is a small elevation difference of about 60 cm between the Hebron area and Jerusalem, and the water flowed on a very moderate slope to the city. The design of the two aqueducts (upper and lower) is considered a real engineering marvel.
The route of the aqueduct can be seen in a large and impressive mosaic that describes its winding route and it is recommended to start the tour next to it to get an impression of the size of the place.
Entrance to the aqueduct is free on holidays and holidays (Chol Hamoed, Jerusalem Day, etc.) or by prior arrangement (for groups of 15 people or more).
Phone for appointments: 077-9966-726
The length of the underground aqueduct is about 400 meters and its width is narrow, in some sections only 28 cm. To avoid any unpleasantness, there is a narrow gate at the entrance that only those passing through can enter…. A bit of a rip-off but worth it. The walk in the aqueduct that was quarried 2000 years ago is very exciting and suitable for children.
Tip by the way: It is highly recommended to bring headlights. Inside the aqueduct is absolute darkness.
Note the remains of the Ottoman pipes, that were laid inside the aqueduct with the aim of using its route for transporting water to the city.
Jerusalem off the beaten track » Generali Building
The Generali Building is a strangely shaped building that stands on the corner of Queen Shlomzion and Jaffa streets in the center of the city. It was built in 1830 by the Generali insurance company from Italy, which placed on its head a statue with the company’s emblem – a winged lion.
During the Mandate, the building served as a British headquarters and today serves as a government office and meteorological station. If you are traveling in the city center, it is worth looking up and being impressed by the “upper Jerusalem”
Special Places in Jerusalem » The monster park
If you ask A localabout “Gan Rabinovich”,it is doubtful whether anyone will be able to answer. The special playground in Jerusalem is known to everyone as the “Monster Garden”. In the center of the garden stands a huge statue:It was created by the artist Niki de Saint-Pal in 1971. The experience of horror while surfing from the “tongues” I remember well from the age of three or four when at every moment I felt that the “monster” was about to swallow me…
Special Places in Jerusalem » The Bird Research Station
The Rose Garden in Jerusalem is located in the Government Quarter and connects the Knesset( Israeli parlament) to the Supreme Court. The garden has thousands of seedlings of various types of roses, corners dedicated to different countries of the world, an artificial lake and a small waterfall.
Inside the garden is the “Bird Research Center” belonging to the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel. The center is dedicated to helping wild birds and its visitor center hosts activities and tours. The entrance to the place is free, the visitor center itself is open daily until 15:00.
Coordination of visits for groups: 02-6537374
A bite by the way: Only about 200 meters separate the Rose Garden from Saker Park. Saker Park is one of the largest and most popular gardens in Jerusalem with huge playgrounds and sports facilities. Inside the garden is the cafe gan sipur “Story Garden Cafe” which is part of a national network. The café is dairy, kosher mehadrin and closed on Shabbat of course.
To the Cafe Gan Story website
jerusalem off the beaten track »The Bible Hill
Bible Hill is located near the center of the “New Station” and the Khan Theater (a charming Jerusalem gem that deserves a visit in itself). In the past, a Bible museum was planned here, a plan that was not implemented in the end. The hill is a tiny, beautiful piece of nature covered in seasonal blooms and in the autumn months full of white quails.
Well worth a visit: the Scots Church and also the Jerusalem house of quality. An art and culture center” which are near the hill. Also the Begin Museum is just around the corner.
Special Places in Jerusalem » View from Beit Micha
Beit MICHA is a center for children with hearing impairments and teaches Jewish and Arab children from around the city.
From the roof of the entrance to the building there is a lovely view of the Old City and the Temple Mount. The place is decorated with moving murals painted by Jewish and Arab children – more about the project are invited to read in
Special Places in Jerusalem » Hezekiah’s Pool
So we already visited the Mamilla Pool and also the remains of the aqueduct that brought water to Jerusalem, and now it is worth visiting a huge pool that hides among the houses of the Old City: Hezekiah’s Pool. The pool, which is more than three dunams in size, is surrounded by houses and the (almost) only way to see it is if you go up to the lookout. One of the most beautiful observations is the view from the top of the Petra Hotel, which for many years has been in the center of a difficult and stormy controversy and will soon be vacated in favor of a yeshiva.
Tip by the way: Be careful not to get confused with Zedekiah’s cave/pool located near the Damascus Gate. A recommended and special place in itself.
Jerusalem off the beaten track » Galician rooftop lookout
In the Muslim Quarter (in the part bordering the Jewish Quarter) is one of the most beautiful views in the old city “Galician rooftops”. Before the establishment of the State of Israel, immigrants from Galicia settled here, who fled the area after the 1926 riots, during which the synagogue was vandalized. In the early 1980s, as part of the Jewish settlement in the Muslim Quarter, an ultra-Orthodox yeshiva was reestablished there.
You can come from two directions: from the direction of Habad Street or from the direction of Maalot Haldia.
Special Places in Jerusalem » The Spice Market in the Muslim Quarter
If you too sometimes feel longing for “the past”, in this ancient market you will find a great many craftsmen who will soon fade away from the world. Here, in the spice market, you can find handmade soaps, tahini that is ground using traditional methods (about visiting the Giverny family and their tahini factory – read here), tailors, shoemakers and more.
jerusalem off the beaten track » Austrian Hospice and Mandatory Mailbox
The pilgrims’ hostel stands on the corner of the ravine street Via Dolorosa. It was founded in the 19th century and inaugurated by Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph in order to serve as a hostel for Austrian pilgrims. The place hosts various activities such as concerts and lectures and is maintained by young volunteers from abroad.
In the café-restaurant complex with Austrian dishes such as strudel and Viennese schnitzel and in the summer you can sit in the blooming garden that surrounds the place and go up to the beautiful observation deck located on the roof (prepare a five-shekel coin in advance).
On the wall near the entrance to the hostel is one of four surviving mailboxes from the days of the British Mandate. The box is painted red and has the letters “G R” (George Rex) written on it. It turns out that Rex is not the name of a dog but a nickname for the British royal house.
You are invited to read more about the hospice and the surrounding area in the post
Special Places in Jerusalem » The Yad Absalom and the Tomb of Zechariah
If you’ve always wanted to visit Petra to see the ancient stone-hewn buildings and didn’t get to it, then here’s the local version. Not exactly Petra but it is “ours”.
In the channel of the Kidron River, under the Gate of Mercy and the Temple Mount on one side, and the Mount of Olives on the other, three impressive monuments are carved into the rock: the Hand of Absalom, the Tomb of Zechariah and the Tomb of the Sons of Hazir.The popular names “Hand of Absalom” and “Tomb of Zechariah” express a tradition rather than a historical reality because the tombs date back to the first century CE.
So who is buried here? We will probably never know the secret (there are various speculations on the subject), but there is no doubt that a visit to the place is highly recommended. The area can feel a bit uncomfortable to explore independently so those who are a
careful coward like me, should come on a guided tour or through the nearby “City of David”.
Special Places in Jerusalem » Monastery of San Salvador and the Heder Gate Complex
The “new gate” is not really new, but in Jerusalem apparently everything is relative. The new gate area has also been rebranded and the municipality is investing great efforts in making it attractive. There are many activities and trendy cafes have opened that are open on weekends.
Just to the right of the gate, is the entrance to one of the most fascinating complexes in the old city: the Parziscan monastery area. The entrance to the complex is only on a tour that is coordinated in advance and therefore it is worth waiting for such a tour held by tour guides or as part of events such as “houses from within”. The monastery has a grocery store, a conservatory (where Jewish and Arab children study), a huge study center where hundreds of nun flowers from around the world come, an ancient bell that has been lost over the years and is miraculously found in the flea market and also a 16th-century wine cellar that was sealed and forgotten two centuries ago and discovered by chance recently!
In the center of the complex is the most impressive church in Jerusalem – a very magnificent basilica. Visitors are only allowed on weekdays. On Sundays and Christian holidays, a large mass is held there.
You are invited to read more in the post about Christmas in Jerusalem
A bite by the way: The Gateaway café combines a bookstore and a wine shop. The place has a special atmosphere and it is highly recommended to stop for coffee and pastry.
Further down the street, Abu Sir’s patisserie, which has become a household name in Jerusalem. For more details and recommended places:
Other special places in Jerusalem
Here are some more ideas for special places in the Jerusalem area:
- Talpiot neighborhood and the huge murals in the industrial area.
- Gazelle Valley – Urban Nature
- easy walks with and without children in nature in the Jerusalem area
- an independent trip to the Temple Mount
- a walk in the Abu Tor neighborhood
- Trips and places to stop on the way to Jerusalem
- Ein Haniya and Ein Lavan-Springs in Jerusalem
- A tour of menorahs in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods
- Street Art at Mahane Yehuda Market
- For more places in Jerusalem
I hope you enjoyed traveling with me in special places in Jerusalem and maybe you also knew some lesser-known places in the city. If you want to stay in touch, take another half a minute and sign up for My Traveletter
I wish all of us to have a happy Jerusalem Day, a day of accepting the other, joy and pride in our capital city.