We visited mid October, 2010 and the Church of the Nativity was being renovated. Scaffolding was everywhere which made it difficult to see the true beauty of this church. Good photos were hard to obtain.
Crowds and waiting times are to be expected. However the pushing, shoving and queue jumping was standard for the day. Very disappointing!
Be careful when entering the Grotto, there are 2 flights of stairs, very compact and people doing anything to get there first.
Fires and earthquakes damaged the Church of the Holy Sepulcher many times.
A fire severely damaged the structure again in 1808, causing the dome of the Rotunda to collapse and smashing the Edicule's exterior decoration. The Rotunda and the Edicule's exterior were rebuilt in 1809–1810. The Russian Emperor Alexander 1 paid 4,5 million rubles for the renovation.
The dome was rebuilt and decorated once again after the 1927 earthquake.
The shrine is supported by scaffolding on the outside due to earthquakes.
The scaffolding on the outside of the structure was put in place to avoid earthquake damage.
Located on the Mount of Remembrance, in Jerusalem, Yad Vashem is a vast campus with parklike walkways leading to museums, exhibits, archives, monuments, sculptures, and memorials.
Yad Vashem, was founded 1953 by the Israeli Knesset. Since its inception, Yad Vashem has been entrusted with documenting the history of the Jewish people during the Holocaust period, preserving the memory and story of each of the six million victims, and imparting the legacy of the Holocaust for generations to come through its archives, library, school and museums.
Watching the exhibits in the grandious architecture of Yad Vashem creates kind of a shock in each visitor, that must not be avoided. It will lead to the deep conviction, that similar crimes must never happen again and everybody is personally liable to contribute to the achievment of this goal.
Jerusalem is sometimes called the City of Peace, and according to some it is the origin of the name Jerusalem. However, throughout the years it has more been a City of War, Fighting and Struggling. And it still is far from a City of Peace.
Despite this, I would not call Jerusalem an unsafe city. Yes, there are bombs and terror acts, but the chance of becoming a victim of this is very small. And yes, in places like Damascus Gate and Haram al Sharif, a little spark can set fire to the place, but as a tourist you will not be an aim of anger.
To be honest, I dont think Jerusalem is more dangerous than Amsterdam, London or Paris. And definitely (like most cities in Arab countries) more safe when you think of pickpocketing, robbery and other cruel crimes.
If you have a Syrian stamp in your passport, you will likely be under greater scrutiny when entering Israel. Relations between the two countries are hostile as Israel has occupied Syria's portion of the Golan Heights since 1967.
As an American who visited Syria, I was detained in a room and questioned for about 30 minutes. (If they did this to me, they will certainly no hesitate to do it to someone of a different nationality.) The Israelis find it hard to believe that someone would actually visit Syria as a bona fide tourist. They asked me where I live, my occupation and all sorts of other questions. I think they even called my work to verify the number I gave them.
If you have nothing to hide, do not panic. Just prepare your information (room reservations, itinerary, etc.) ahead of time. If you have any inconsistencies in your story they will give you problems. If you think you are being unfairly treated, request to speak with someone from your embassy.
The Old City was fine and very relaxing to stroll around in all quarters. The Lonely Planet guide described the Muslim quarter as being full of hassle, but I didn't notice it. I got as much hassle at Jaffa Gate on the West side, as I did in the Muslim side to the east. I did get a little hassle, but nothing more serious than one overly insistent shop keeper and an unwanted and persistent guide.
Some tips for avoiding hassle:
1. Don't look at the shopkeepers or what they are selling, unless you are interested.
2. If they do talk to you, be polite, but make it clear that they are wasting their time. Be firm.
3. Don't pull out your map at the entrances to the Old City unless you want to attract the attentions of an unofficial guide.
East Jerusalem did not feel very safe walking around at night. I don't know if anyone would have done anything, but a number of people really took notice of my presence, and didn't look too happy about it. One woman sat staring at me, angrily, saying "mashada" (or something like that) over and over again. I just wanted to leave. During the day I didn't have any problems there at all.
New Jerusalem, by stark contrast, felt completely relaxed and safe, even at night. The only unnerving thing was all the guns. I saw a young guy with blue jeans running down the street with an assault rifle slung loosely over his back. Another fat old guy with a skull cap had a pistol clearly tucked in the back of his trousers. There is also security everywhere, which actually made me feel more comfortable. You'll have to get used to being searched when entering anywhere that many Israelis gather together, like restaurants and banks.
I stayed mostly in New Jerusalem, but on the whole I found all citizens of the city to be extremely friendly and welcoming, especially when they learned I was a visitor.
Everyone visiting Israel is going to worry about terrorism. Whenever Israel is in the news, chances are that it is because of yet another terrorist attack of some kind. It's the reason the city is so empty of tourists at the moment.
The actual risk of bombing or other terrorist action, however, is pretty remote. You're more likely to get killed being run over by a car. It does happen, though, hence the security, but you can reduce your chances of being killed by looking at the statistics:
1. Most bombings happen on Israeli buses and at bus stops, so avoid the bus system.
2. Most bus bombings happen during peak hours to maximise casualties, so avoid the buses during rush hour.
That said, I had to use the bus system at one point, to reach the train station. And I had to use it at rush hour. I did feel a little nervous, but everyone on the bus was extremely friendly and helpful, especially when they figured out I was a foreigner. Learning later that this particular bus, the number 6, had been hit twice by suicide bombers in the last few years was, however, unnerving.
In truth, however, the vast majority of Israelis don't die to terrorist attacks, and they live every day of their lives in the country. You'll only be there for a few days, so relax and enjoy your holiday.
During the friday prayers the Muslim people get often angry while their Imam (leader of prayer in a mosque) inflame them about the Jews.
It is recommended not to get very close to the wailing wall because they can throw things from the Temple mount.
You will often see policemen and soldiers near the place.
You should not be scared to visit be you should know there an option see Muslims disturbing the peace.
Because of the Jewish-Arabic conflict there are a lot of security all over the city , not just holy places but also restaurants , the mall and places like that.
You will find a guard that will check your bag or use metal detector so don't be nervous , just let him do his work and enter the place.
The procedure is because the arabs sent a lot of people to explode themselves in public areas with Jews or to stab people with a knife.
Because Jerusalem is holy place and very sensitive because of the Jewish-Arabic situation you will see a lot of Israeli soldiers around the important places.
Don't be afraid but still , don't behave in a strange way.
Those soldiers are friendly and i am sure that if you will be nice and polite they will laugh with you or talk to you.
There is a neighborhood in Jerusalem called Me'a She'arim (100 gates in english).
The residents of this neighborhood are ultra orthodox jews.
If you will enter this neighborhood try to wear long clothes (or not too short) , don't take their pictures because most of them don't like it and you don't know how they will react and if you want to visit on friday or saturday you should know that you cannot enter with a vehicle only by foot , because it is forbidden.
Jerusalem is a holy city for the 3 religions - Judaism , Christianity and Islam.
There are a lot of holy places for those religions so try to respect the place - wear clothes that are not too short , be quiet in those places.
jerusalem shuts down like the whole city is in mourning around four or five on friday afternoon until saturday night. about 85% of the restaurants are closed and all the shops and stores are closed. there's noticably very few people on the streets and worst of all, there are no busses in the city or out of the city. you will have a lot more fun if you spend friday night somewhere other than jerusalem. on the other hand, jerusalem has a different feeling about it on saturdays when there's no one about.
Well, I guess there are many subjects that can be written about safety in Jerusalem, but I am not the right person to tell you about it, my self, I never had any problems in Jerusalem, in the west side, east side or the old city. The only problems my Finnish friend has was with the women soldiers of course, they are so beautiful that he was in shocked and did not knew with whom to speak first.
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