Jerusalem is not all old, though. Modern, West Jerusalem is the capital of modern-day Israel, containing the functions you would expect of any capital city. Although not as liberal as its younger, more relaxed sister Tel Aviv (just a 45-minute drive away), Jerusalem has become a distinguished cultural center.
The wave of great cuisine that has swept across Israel has not missed the city, and there are some great restaurants in Jerusalem, especially in the German Colony and along Emek Refaim Street, which is a small oasis of modernity and liberalism among this conservative city. Likewise, modern Jerusalem contains the shops and institutions you would expect anywhere else. All this, however, with a slight twist, as all buildings in the city must, by law, be fronted with the magical golden Jerusalem stone the city is famous for.
The modern-day center of Jerusalem is the pedestrianized area around Ben-Yehuda Street, which features a large selection of restaurants, cafes, and stores. Just in the last few years, however, this area has come under competition from Mamilla, a pedestrianized mall leading right up to the Jaffa Gate of the Old City and containing very upmarket shops, restaurants, and hotels (including the Mamilla Hotel, one of our Summit hotel locations). Often overlooked, Jerusalem’s nightlife scene is vibrant and something that offers a totally different experience than Tel Aviv.
There is a fascinating array of museums in Jerusalem, some of which complete a visit to the city. Of these, perhaps the most important is Yad Vashem, situated on beautiful Mount Herzl; this site is Israel’s memorial and place of commemoration for the millions who perished in the Holocaust. The incredible museum tells the story of the Holocaust not only in words, but also via its chilling architecture and moving multimedia displays. Just down the road from Yad Vashem, the newly renovated Israel Museum houses a huge selection of artistic, archaeological, historical, and cultural displays including the world-famous Dead Sea Scrolls.
And for kids in Jerusalem there is the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, Israel’s most popular visitor attraction with a great selection of animals (including a Biblical theme, this being Jerusalem!) as well as some more common-day favorites.
Ultimately, Jerusalem is like nowhere else, a city where old and new jostle for space, along with the three religions that call this city holy. Incredibly intense, Jerusalem, the “City of Gold,” is somewhere beyond explanation, and no visit to Israel is complete without a visit here, no matter how long.