If you’re interested in learning about the history of Jerusalem through its most notable landmarks, this self-guided tour will help you navigate the streets of this ancient city and see a variety of beautiful and historic sites.
- Jerusalem Map & Overview
- Self-Guided Walking Tour
- Free Jerusalem Walking Tours
- Free Tel Aviv Walking Tours
Self-Guided Old Town Jerusalem Walking Tour
The old town area of Jerusalem is perfect for a self-guided tour, as it includes a variety of historically relevant religious sites, and it’s fairly easy to walk from one point to the next.
That said, you should keep in mind that the entire distance of this tour is approximately 1.75 miles, so while it’s not an especially long walk, you might want to take breaks and prepare to set aside at least 2 hours for the experience.
The Jerusalem map above will provide directions to and from each attraction included on the tour, allowing you to easily find every major historical site in the Old City area.
Our self-guided Jerusalem walking tour begins at the Jaffa Gate, located along the old walls of the city, which will be the first major attraction you’ll see as you walk to the gate.
Along the way, you’ll see sites related to the religious history of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. We’ll provide information about each attraction to help you learn about the history of Jerusalem in greater detail.
The Jaffa Gate
Walking towards the Jaffa Gate feels like ambling back into another era. The gate has stood firm for centuries, watching countless travelers pass through its arches.
Named after the distant city of Jaffa, it reminds us of when people journeyed from Jaffa, brimming with stories and goods, heading into Jerusalem.
As you gaze upon the gate, the detailed carvings and the grand structure show the craft of artisans from long ago.
The worn paths leading to and from the gate tell sagas of merchants, pilgrims, and wanderers who once made their way through this entrance with hopes and dreams of what lay inside the city.
Beyond the gate, you find yourself surrounded by narrow cobblestone streets. The sound of footsteps echoing, the smell of freshly baked bread from nearby stalls, and the soft hum of voices make the place come alive.
It's easy to lose yourself in the maze of history, imagining the lively markets and the haste of the olden days.
Tower of David
The Tower of David, a silent guardian of Jerusalem's whispers, is far from the Jaffa Gate. Some believe the tower has watched over the city for nearly 2,000 years, silently witnessing its growth and transformation.
Its name is a nod to the city's love and reverence for King David, even though he didn't build it.
The tower has a stoic presence, tall walls, and a magnificent look. Inside, the Tower of David houses a museum like a treasure trove.
Walking through its corridors, you can see artifacts and exhibits showcasing Jerusalem's vibrant past.
From ancient pots to old scrolls, the museum gives you a peek into the lives of people of different ages.
Climbing the tower offers a reward – a sprawling view of Jerusalem. It feels as though the city unfolds before you, showing its secrets and stories.
St. James Cathedral
The musical chimes point to St. James Cathedral, located in the center of the Armenian Quarter. This majestic structure is a beacon of faith for Armenian Christians.
Its tall spires reach for the sky, and its walls are ornamented with intricate art and shimmering gold.
The cathedral was built to honor Saint James, known for his deep faith and teachings about Jesus. Getting inside, the cathedral envelops visitors in peace and reverence.
The beautiful stained glass windows cast colorful patterns on the floor, and the scent of incense fills the air.
Here, you can see faithful individuals lost in prayer and feel the weight of centuries of devotion.
The cathedral, with its art and architecture, stands as a testament to the deep spiritual connection of the Armenian community with Jerusalem.
Walking further, the Zion Gate awaits, with its sturdy walls that have witnessed times of peace and conflict. The bullet marks on the gate are stark reminders of the battles it has seen.
The entrance leads to Mount Zion, making it a significant point of interest for many.
Throughout history, this gate has welcomed Jewish, Christian, and Muslim travelers, each bringing their own stories and traditions.
As you pass through Zion Gate, the ambiance shifts. The stone paths speak of the many feet trodden here, from kings and soldiers to poets and pilgrims.
The walls on either side hold tales of celebrations, ceremonies, and sometimes even sieges.
It's a place where history has unfolded in countless ways, and each stone and corner has its own story.
Mount Zion and King David’s Tomb
A gentle hill called Mount Zion serves as more than just a geographical landmark. It's a tapestry of stories, traditions, and beliefs. Dominating this place is King David's Tomb, a site steeped in reverence.
While some believe it holds the remains of King David, others come here to connect with a past rich with tales of courage, wisdom, and leadership.
Close to the tomb is a room holding monumental significance for Christians. This room is believed to be where Jesus shared his last meal with his disciples.
The walls reflect the conversations and events of that fateful evening. Every building and site in Mount Zion calls for you to stop and take a moment to connect with a time that has passed but was never truly gone.
Hurva Synagogue, located in the focus of the Jewish Quarter, is an imposing structure that resounds with old stories.
Rebuilt several times after being destroyed, this synagogue is like a phoenix, continually rising from its ashes. Its name, "Hurva," means "ruin," hinting at its tumultuous past.
However, each time it was rebuilt, it came back even grander than before. Today, its fantastic interior and large dome symbolize the Jewish people's tenacity and the resiliency of Jerusalem.
Take in the intricate artwork on its walls and ceilings as you move.
The golden hues and detailed mosaics tell faith, hope, and community anecdotes. The synagogue, now a beacon in the Jewish Quarter, represents perseverance.
It stands as a reminder that even in tough times, the spirit of the community and their faith remains unshaken.
You'll find the Western Wall a few steps from the Hurva Synagogue. It's a massive limestone wall and is the last remnant of the Second Temple.
Many people come here, notes in hand, to place their written prayers into the wall's cracks.
This place has heard the whispers and cries of countless souls, each pouring their heart out in prayer.
People of all backgrounds have stood before this ancient wall for centuries, feeling its excellent, rugged surface beneath their fingertips.
The wall has seen times of joy and sorrow and remains a symbol of hope and faith for many. As you stand there, take a moment to feel the energy and history that resonates from its stones.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque is invited with its vast courtyard and unique dome. Known as one of the holiest sites in Islam, it has welcomed worshippers for over a thousand years.
The mosque, with its silver dome and elegant minarets, is an architectural gem that reflects the richness of Islamic art and culture.
The mosque is embellished with detailed designs, conveying stories of devotion and faith. The soft carpets, the shimmering lights, and the serene ambiance make it a haven of peace.
For many, a visit to Al-Aqsa is a journey of spiritual renewal, a chance to connect deeper with their faith.
Dome of the Rock and Temple Mount
Nearby stands the Dome of the Rock, easily recognizable with its golden dome shining under the sun.
Sitting atop the Temple Mount, this site is significant for Jews and Muslims. For Muslims, it's believed to be the spot where Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.
For Jews, it's the place where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son. The exterior, ornamented with beautiful tiles and inscriptions, is a treat for the eyes.
The surrounding area, Temple Mount, offers panoramic views of Jerusalem. History and faith intertwine here, making it a melting pot of faith and beliefs.
Via Dolorosa, or the "Way of Sorrow," is a winding path filled with stories of sacrifice and passion.
It's believed to be the route Jesus took, carrying his cross, on the way to his crucifixion.
As you tread this path, you'll discover several stations marking significant events from Jesus' final journey.
The cobblestone streets, the ancient arches, and the murmur of prayers create a reflective atmosphere.
Many pilgrims walk this path, retracing the steps of Jesus, with hearts full of gratitude and reverence.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
A stone's throw from Via Dolorosa, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a significant Christian site.
It's believed to house the tomb where Jesus was buried and resurrected. With its grand entrance and ornate design, the church has seen pilgrims worldwide, each coming to connect with their faith.
Inside, the soft glow of candles, the scent of incense, and the peaceful prayers make for a soulful experience.
With its mosaics and relics, the church is like a living museum of Christian history and devotion.
As your journey winds down, the New Gate awaits. It's the newest entrance to the Old City, but even this "new" gate is steeped in history.
Built in the late 1800s, it was a passageway for Christian pilgrims wanting to visit the Holy Sepulchre.
The gate, with its arched entrance and sturdy design, has seen the footsteps of countless pilgrims and travelers.
You'll feel a mix of the old and new while moving across the New Gate.
The walls around the gate, marked with time, stand as witnesses to the ever-evolving story of Jerusalem.
It's a fitting conclusion to a journey through the foundation of this ancient city.