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Old City – Jerusalem

Dome of the Rock
The Old City contains most of the sites that you'll want to explore with your kids in Jerusalem. It is divided into four distinct areas: Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Armenian. Start with the 16th century city walls built by Suleyman the Magnificent. Inside those walls, you'll find the most important religious sites in the city.
   

The Citadel – This stronghold, first build by Herod 2000 years ago, makes a great starting point, sitting just inside the Jaffa Gate, since it contains the Tower of David Museum. The museum chronicles 3,000 years of city history through the use of photography and multimedia displays. Be sure to allot enough time to explore the "archaeological gardens" where you’ll see layers of history exposed.

    Ramparts walk – This walkway along the Old City walls provides wonderful views of both New and Old Jerusalem.
    The Western Wall – The part of the Temple Mount retaining wall, close to where the Second Temple stood. The plaza in front of the wall is used as an open-air synagogue. It is one of Judaism's holiest sites, as well as a tourist site. Men and women should dress modestly, covering their shoulders. Religious Jews believe that one should never turn their back to the Wall so you’ll often see people walking backwards after slipping a prayer into the crevices of the Wall.
      Western Wall Tunnel Tours – Run by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, tours go through the sprawling system of tunnels that lead under the streets of the Old City and show how much of the Temple walls remain underground. This tour really helps kids picture how Jerusalem was built and changed over time. The tour last about an hour, and when buying a reservation, be sure to ask for the English guided tour. The tour leaves from the tunneled passageway north of the Western Wall plaza. Click here for more info, or call 972-2-6271333.
    The Ophel – Another archaeological garden with examples of different periods, this is the site of Robinson's Arch and the steps of the Hulda Gates. It is on this site that some of the most ancient finds (coins, Torah covers) dating back to the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD have been excavated.
    Church of the Holy Sepulchre – A church built over the site where Jesus is believed to have been crucified and resurrected.
    Dome of the Rock and The Al-Aqsa Mosque - The third holiest site in Islam sits on the Temple Mount. When arriving onto the Temple Mount, the Dome of the Rock (site where Mohammad rose to heaven) will attract the most attention; however, it is the rectangular al-Aqsa mosque domed with silver that sits on the western edge of the Temple Mount that is the holier of the two.
     

Hours of access change constantly, so check before planning a visit. Visitor access is granted only through the security point between the Ophel and the Western Wall plaza. Tip: Be sure to dress modestly (no shorts or mini-skirts, shoulders covered, preferably long sleeved).

    Austrian Hospice – Hidden in the Christian Quarter of the Old City not far from the Via Dolorosa, the Austrian Hospice offers an amazing view of the winding corridors of the Old City. On a brisk day, kids will enjoy coming to the hospice for a snack to get some tasty hot cocoa while sitting on the balcony overlooking the Old City.
    Old City market – A market that has probably remained unchanged for thousands of years with artisan stalls displaying textiles, farmer’s produce, local foods, and piles of exotic spices. The noise, sights, and smells create a great break from the historical sights – plan it for the middle of your trek and try local sodas or sweets for snacks. Be sure to look for the spice stall that sells a spotted green pyramid of za’atar, a favorite across the Middle East. Kids will love the colorful pyramid!
    Old City Jerusalem Knights – For four Thursdays in October-November, the Old City hosts a free medieval festival for kids and adults known as Jerusalem Knights. The events usually start at 6pm and go until 11pm. The festival involves parades, actors in Middle Ages costumes, jesters, fire-eaters, battles, and dragons. Participation from the audience is encouraged and though entry is free, you can purchase a goblet which you can keep as a souvenir. What makes the event more magical is the spiraling paths of the Old City lit up.
travel for kids | israel | jerusalem | old city jerusalem
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