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Holy Land The Israeli Experience Magazine

A bypass route of Jerusalem

Even far away from the busyness of the Old City of Jerusalem there is plenty to see. An unconventional tour on foot from Gai Ben-Hinnom and the Kidron Stream to the center of the city
by: Moti Shahar   |   14.03.2012
Tour guides like to quote the Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai who said: "Who has ever seen Jerusalem naked? Not even archaeologists; Jerusalem never gets completely undressed; but always puts on new houses; over the shabby and broken ones.” And indeed, stone built Jerusalem looks different from every angle, at any specific time and to each person. What is certain is that a walking tour of the city will always be enjoyable.
We begin the tour at the balcony of the Mount Zion Hotel (a key to the balcony is found with the security guard at the entrance) with a lookout to the east. Gai Ben-Hinnom that winds under the village of Silwan, while above it stand high Mount Zion and the walls of the City of Jerusalem. Behind stands the Scottish Church and next to it the Menachem Begin Heritage Center (which is worth a visit in its own right). We go back to the Hebron Road and walk toward the north until we arrive at the stairs that lead down to Wolfson Garden in the valley.
The cable of the 1948 cable car hangs above and those with a sharp eye will notice the cage which brought assistance to the Old City of Jerusalem. By the way, a small museum that is dedicated to the subject is found in the Mount Zion Hotel complex. The Mount Zion Hotel, which used to serve as an eye hospital, is a whole chapter in the history of the City of Jerusalem on its own. We begin our walk in Gai Ben-Hinnom. In this pastoral valley, with its olive trees and lawns, it is thought that sacrifices were made to the ruler.

The hill from which the story of Jerusalem began

On the slopes of the wadi we encounter ancient cemeteries – the Karaite cemetery and the Sambuski Cemetery, which have almost disappeared from the landscape with the years. After about a kilometer we arrive at a Greek Orthodox monastery, which commemorates the "Field of Blood” which was purchased by Judas Iscariot with the money that he received. Worth a visit (one should find out in advance as to the opening hours).
The meeting point between the road and Ma’alot Street lead toward the north-east, to an organized hiking route in the Kidron Stream that is called "Derech HaShiloah”. Above stands the hill of the "City of David”, the ancient hill of the city of Jebus from which the story of Jerusalem began. From here we continue to the north-east, where the western slope of the Mount of Olives will be revealed with all of its tombstones and burial structures. Along the next kilometer are spread famous and impressive burial structures such as the Tomb of Zechariah, the Tomb of Benei Hezir and the Tomb of Absalom. The cemetery on the Mount of Olives, where important people who created the history of the Israeli Nation are buried, is worth a tour on its own.
An additional 500 meters will bring us to the Church of Gethsemane and Mary's Tomb, an interesting and impressive complex. From the Church of Mary's Tomb we climb west to the meeting place of Derech HaOfel and Derech Jericho Streets and arrive at the memorial site of the Israeli Paratroopers Brigade. We turn north on Derech Jericho and after about a 100 meters we turn west toward the ascent to the Lions’ Gate.
From the famous Lions’ Gate, through which the Israeli paratroopers made their symbolic entrance into the Old City of Jerusalem, begins the Via Dolorosa, held to be the path that Jesus walked, carrying his cross, on the way to his crucifixion. At its meeting point with Beit HaBad Street you can choose whether to continue to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher or turn toward the Cardo that is located in the Jewish Quarter. Going to the Jaffa Gate and from there to the south on Hativat Yerushalayim Street will bring you back to the Mount Zion Hotel complex, in the parking lot of which you have left your car.

The route is about 6 kilometers long and is not difficult (a short climb of about 200 meters at the Lions’ Gate.).
Dress modestly for a visit in the holy places and take water with you. The tour is suitable for children that do not need to be carried in carriers and can walk this kind of distance.
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