Jerusalem’s Old City dates back millennia. Mandatory sites include the Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and the Shrine of the Book, a wing of the Israel Museum that houses the Dead Sea Scrolls. Many visitors will also wish to take a half-day trip to Bethlehem, which lies just 6 miles to the south but is separated from the neighborhood of Har Homa by the controversial West Bank barrier. Bethlehem is under the control of the Palestinian Authority, and a visit to the Church of the Nativity requires a Palestinian guide. For many years, the two primary places for affluent travelers to stay were the King David Jerusalem and The American Colony Hotel. The former is a large (233 rooms) and imposing resort-like property, set amid extensive gardens overlooking the Old City. The American Colony is smaller (94 rooms) and offers individuality and charm. The newer Mamilla Hotel (194 rooms) will appeal to those who prefer contemporary design.
A Dining Favorite in Jerusalem
Our favorite restaurant in town is the lively Machneyuda with its open kitchen.
Where to Eat on Shabbat
On Shabbat, many restaurants close. If we find ourselves in Jerusalem, we invariably head to the Arabesque in The American Colony Hotel, which serves gourmet renditions of Levantine classics.
The Riches of the Judean Desert
To the east of Jerusalem, the land falls away abruptly into the Judean Desert, a grand “Lawrence of Arabia” landscape bounded by the distant mountains of Jordan. Beside the Dead Sea are the caves at Qumran, where the eponymous scrolls were discovered in 1946. Overlooking the southwestern shore is the dramatic rock plateau of Masada, where it is possible to ascend the 1,300-foot cliffs by cable car.