Yochi Hanhart was born in Jerusalem, and has been an active guide for over twenty years. Here she lays out two different days in the city: one for a first time visitor and another for someone who has previously explored the old city. Even as a life long resident Yoshi says: there’s no end to the discoveries I make every day of new sites, or a fresh look of already familiar spots, as well as the emotions one feels just walking around the city, old and new, and by watching the people, Israelis and visitors alike. Even for Jerusalemites like me, Israel is, indeed, a lifetime experience.
Yoshi: I shape my guided itineraries for individuals the way I see my city; by showing Jerusalem as the heart of the three monotheistic religions. Of course, for Jewish visitors there's going to be an emphasis on Jewish sites, for Christians on the Christian sites, and though I must admit I've not had too many Muslim visitors, when I do, we visit more Muslim sites.
Old city walking tour for a first time visitor:
Your self-guided walking tour will start by the Jaffa Gate. Follow the road inside the old walls around the Armenian Quarter to Mt. Zion, a hill just south of the Quarter. Another way to go is to walk on the ramparts, the top of the old city walls; it’s a fun way to get an overview of the city from above. (There is a small fee to walk on the ramparts) At this point one goes outside of the city walls, to Mt. Zion, to visit The Cenaculum, the site of The Last Supper, and the tomb of King David below. Reenter the old city through the Zion Gate and follow the road to the Jewish Quarter, where the Cardo and the Four Sephardic synagogues are. Visit the Herodian Quarter and the Hurva synagogue. Stop for a coffee and an excellent homemade meal at the Quarter Cafe with magnificent panoramic views from the windows. Then crossing through the Jewish Quarter continue to the Western Wall. Here you should visit the Tunnels, make sure to book the one-hour tour at least a month in advance. Leave time to wander through the Muslim Quarter enjoying the many wares and then head to the Via Dolorosa. At the Via Dolorosa, walk the Stations of the Cross ending at The Church of the Holy Sepulchre. (Every Friday afternoon the Franciscans lead a procession starting by the First Station of the Cross, and everybody can join in!) Exiting the Church go through the Christian Quarter which will lead you back to the Jaffa Gate.
A proposed itinerary for a returning visitor:
Start the day by enjoying the panoramic view of the city from the top of the Y.M.C.A., located on King David St. Then cross the road towards the park below the King David Hotel, to visit the Herod Family Tombs, where Herod’s wife and other family members are buried. (Herod’s own tomb is outside of Jerusalem at Herodium, a huge fort built by the King on the outskirts of the Judean Desert.) Continue on to the picturesque and quaint Yemin Moshe neighborhood, the first Jewish suburb built outside the old city. You’ll pass the landmark Montefiore Windmill, built in 1875 by British Philanthropist Moses Montefiore. Make sure to stop at St. Andrew's Church, and enjoy this charming site. Then continue to the "Tachana", the newly renovated 1892 train station that has become an event center with cafes and shops as well as outdoor stalls to wander through. When you get hungry, jump in a taxi, and go either to the Machane Yehuda for lunch and strolling around one of Israel’s best food markets, or to the American Colony Hotel, a charming site in East Jerusalem.
Contact Yochi by - firstname.lastname@example.org
Israeli phone no.: 9-72-505-877777
American no.: 1-914-294-3555