Jerusalem Nights: 7 Places You Can’t Miss
Without any exaggeration, Jerusalem is one of the extraordinary cities in the world. People of all ages, faiths, and backgrounds discover what a moving experience it is when they come to visit. You’ll be swept away by the Old City, the museums, the countless neighbourhoods with their famously narrow alleys and cobblestoned streets. No matter what time of day you’re exploring, Jerusalem casts its spell on you.
In this article, however, we’re taking a look at nighttime, when the sun finally sets and Jerusalem’s many landmarks glow with electric lights, casting a whole new level of magic to places such as the Wailing Wall, Jaffa Street, Mahane Yehuda Market, the Via Delorosa, and the brilliant Israel Museum (which remains open till 9 on Tuesday evenings). And just as visitors from other places often worry about security before arriving in Israel only to be surprised by how safe they feel once they arrive, Jerusalem is the same. Compared to other major cities around the world, crime rates are extremely low. The Jews, Christians, and Muslims who make up the population live together in peace and are extremely friendly as well, providing any help you may need from directions to local tips. If you want to experience the wonder of a Jerusalem night, there’s nothing to worry about. Just put on your walking shoes and get ready to explore! Here’s a list of seven of the best places to visit, and even better, all of them are absolutely free!
The Kotel (The Wailing Wall, The Western Wall)
There is no holier location in the world for Jews than the Kotel, which countless people plan on visiting as part of their bucket list. This is because this ancient construction is the only wall that remains of the Second Temple, which King Herod built in 516 BCE, and which was destroyed in 70 CE. The Wailing Wall, which is a 57 metre (187 foot) high section of a much larger wall, is located in the Old City’s Jewish quarter, right near the Temple Mount within Al Aqsa Mosque’s compound, and is the only part that Jews are allowed to visit and pray by, due to restrictions. Jews consider it to be so holy because it is where, according to tradition, when the Messiah finally comes, the final, third Temple will one day be built there.Jews additionally believe that all of creation actually began at the Foundation Stone, located inside the Mount, and also that that’s where Abraham was ordered to sacrifice his son. That’s the reason that, no matter where Jews happen to be located in the world, they always pray towards the Wall. Seeing the wall in person is a truly breathtaking sight. Upon visiting, you see countless people touching its stones, praying, and slipping notes with prayers to God written upon them into its crevices. You can visit any time of day, as long as you adhere to the dress code (a kippah for men, covered shoulders and legs for women), and the sight is particularly wondrous at night, the wall lit by an ethereal glow, surrounded by Jews praying. Friday night is particularly special. In the early part of the evening, you will be treated to the sights and sounds of countless Jews singing centuries-old songs and prayers, dancing, and welcoming in Shabbat.
The Jerusalem Chords Bridge
One of the city’s most iconic newer landmarks is the Jerusalem Chords Bridge, or Bridge of Strings, a cantilevered bridge at the city’s entrance which also happens to be its tallest piece of architecture. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, the Spanish engineer and architect, and completed in 2008 after 6 years of construction, this steel bridge composed of 66 cables, is a perfect reflection of Jerusalem itself, being a beautiful melding of ancient and modern. From far away, it looks like the sail of a ship, a desert tent, or a harp (King David’s, specifically). Although the bridge accommodates cars, it was specifically designed to allow for ease of pedestrian use, with a beautiful glass walkway for people on foot, allowing you to go from Kiryat Moshe to the Jerusalem bus station on foot. It’s made of steel, concrete, and Jerusalem stone, giving its both old and new look, which is particularly stunning lit up at night.
Yemin Moshe, Jerusalem
One of Jerusalem’s loveliest, most beautiful neighbourhoods is Yemin Moshe, named for Moses Montefiore, an English philanthropist and financier who made 7 trips to the area of what was then Palestine, and was so taken with it that he contributed vast amounts of money in order to help set up schools, medical clinics, and, on his last trip, a fund to build six neighbourhoods, in order to offset what were, at the time, unsanitary conditions in the Old City. Established in 1892, Yemin Moshe was one of those neighbourhoods, featuring 137 homes, communal cooking areas, and numerous synagogues, along with its gorgeous Hinnom Valley views. That original character remains a feature of the area today, thanks to specific rules laid in place to preserve it. It’s known today as an idyllic and creative area, filled with many artists. As with the other places in our list, it’s also a wonderful nighttime walk, although be aware that it’s a rather quiet area that values visitors who will be respectful of its seclusion, rather than a place full of loud, exciting city life. In addition to its pristine gardens and cobblestoned streets, Yemin Moshe is also known for the Montefiore Windmill, which began as a flour mill but has a great deal of historical and cultural significance beyond that, having been used as an observation deck during the War of Independence, amongst other things. Next to it lies a replica of Moses Montefiore’s carriage in which he would travel the area. The neighbourhood is near both the YMCA and King David Hotel as well, offering nice meals and drinks for refreshment after your nighttime stroll.
Mahane Yehuda Market
This iconic market (shuk in Hebrew), set between Jaffa and Agrippas Street, isn’t just a great place to buy fruit and veg during the day but is also now one of the coolest nighttime spots in the city. Hidden within numerous alleyways, its two main passages leads you to a place that at night, after all of the stall owners have gone home, is stuffed to the gills with locals enjoying the many cafes, bars, and music venues that have sprung up in the past 10-15 years. It’s so full of various options, you could visit numerous times and each night have a rewarding experience at a different place.
Tachana Rishona (First Station)
Located near the German Colony, Tachana Rishona was originally the last stop of what is now a discontinued train line that used to run between Jerusalem and Jaffa. Now, ever since development in 2013, it’s become one of the hippest, most exciting places in Jerusalem, full of all sorts of food, entertainment, and culture, and an area that regularly hosts international events, festivals, and markets. The original rail yard buildings have been converted into an area full of restaurants, bars, pubs, and stalls for food and merchandise, featuring concerts and performances. It’s a vibrant spot for nightlife and soaking up the local culture.
Adjacent to Yemin Moshe, and meaning ‘Peaceful Dwelling’ this was Jerusalem’s very first neighbourhood, built outside the walls of the Old City, on a slope above the Sultan’s Pool, which affords you fantastic views of Mount Zion. Today, this historic spot is very popular with artists, and as you walk around you will see many venues showcasing culture and art. (There’s also a lovely guesthouse there if you’re looking for somewhere tranquil to lay your head!) The smaller of the original buildings is now home to the Jerusalem Music Centre and Convention Centre, an international cultural institution. Since Yemin Moshe is so close to it, many regard the two neighbourhoods as being ‘merged’. Just like its counterpart, Mishkenot Shaananim it is home to lovely gardens, charming narrow roads and wonderfully-restored residential buildings. And, of course, look out for the windmill!
Home to Downtown Jerusalem’s municipality complex, this city square, built in 1993, is located at what was once the border of East and West Jerusalem, a symbolic and practical gesture to indicate that all of the city’s residents should be served and treated equally. It’s certainly a dramatic departure from the structure that previously existed there, an Ottoman Empire construction from 1867! This 4000-square-metre plaza surrounded by buildings features a gorgeous fountain, palm trees, an enormous sculpture called ‘Archimedes Screw’, and the Daniel Garden. Kikar Safra is a popular meeting place, as well as a place that regularly hosts festivals, fairs, political rallies, and the like. Sports fans will also fill the square when their team wins a trophy, and each year, during Sukkot, a huge Sukkah (a hut covered with branches in place of a roof in order to honour the temporary huts the Jews built whilst wandering the desert) is built there to elaborate the holiday.