Holy City Fun: Another Side Of Jerusalem

A familiar view of the Holy City of Jerusalem. (Bruce Parkinson)
Bruce Parkinson
by Bruce Parkinson
Last updated: 9:56 AM ET, Fri February 3, 2023

The Classic View Of Jerusalem

This is a typical tourist image of Jerusalem, looking on to the Old City and the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount. On a recent press trip hosted by the Israel Ministry of Tourism, we took in many of the city's most recognizable historic sites -- the Western Wall and its tunnels, the City of David, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the devastatingly powerful Holocaust Museum. But the trip's designer, the Israel Ministry of Tourism's Odelia Wainshtain, wanted us to see a different side of Jerusalem. The following slides will show you a bit of what we saw.

It's Fun To Stay At The YMCA

There were some murmurs among the media group when our itinerary revealed we were spending two nights at the YMCA Three Arches Jerusalem. But our overprivileged qualms aside, the nearly century-old YMCA was an excellent base from which to explore the city. The architecture and decor was glorious, and breakfast was delicious too. While not 5-star, the rooms were perfectly adequate for most travellers.

The Shuk

The Machaneh Yehudah Market, locally referred to as 'The Shuk,' is popular with Jerusalemites and visitors alike. More than 250 vendors sell fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods, fish, meat and cheeses, nuts, seeds, and spices, wines and liquors, clothing, shoes and much more.

Delicious Colours

The Machaneh Yehudah Market features multi-hued displays of a wide range of foods, spices, desserts and more.

In The Market For Beer?

Jerusalem markets offer more than fresh produce. They're studded with bars, restaurants and food stalls. They're very popular places, especially on Thursday nights before Shabbat begins at sundown on Fridays.

Sweet Tooth Dreams

Baklava is a layered pastry dessert made of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. Brought to Israel by the Ottomans, it's a local favourite.

North African Delights

Chef Avi Levi uses old family recipes to create delicious Kosher Moroccan cuisine at Hamotzi. We shared delicious appetizers including some of the best hummus ever. Salads and mains were delicious too, and the sweets made by Levi's mother were to die for.

Hidden Neighbourhoods

Off some of Jerusalem's main shopping streets, ornate entrances lead to tucked away neighbourhoods.

An Oasis Of Green

Our excellent guide Ron Nitzan took us into the neighbourhood he grew up in, just off one of Jerusalem's main streets. A lush, green courtyard lends a sense of community to the living space.

Spirits of Adventure

There are two things needed to make white spirits like gin and vodka -- water and grain. Israel is lacking in both, but that didn't stop the founders of Thinkers Distillery, which is also distilling Israel's first bourbon. The grain is imported, but the water is created through a high-tech process that pulls it from pure, clean Jerusalem air.

Love Is In The Air

Located at the three-level Nocturno Cafe complex that features food, drink, live entertainment and working artisan shops, Kosher Sex is a store devoted to encouraging "sacred sexuality and intimate connectedness, alleviating loneliness and enhancing marriages."

Creative Class

Just around the corner from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, fashion designer Anat Friedman sells her pieces from a location on a strip of artisan shops.

Repurposed History

Built under the Ottoman reign in the late 19th-century, The First Station was a railway hub linking Jerusalem with Yaffa. Located In the heart of the city, the First Station is now a major centre of entertainment, culture and culinary delights.

Pleasure Palace

An Ottoman mansion that has seen better days is now Hamiffal, a bar/coffee shop and art gallery in central Jerusalem. We love a good dive bar, and this place had a welcoming vibe.

Colours Of Jerusalem

Jerusalem is a city of storied history and passionate piety, On a previous visit more than two decades ago, that was the primary focus. This time, the trip organized by the Israel Ministry of Tourism took a broader view, introducing us to the cultural, artistic and culinary pleasures of the Holy City. The experience was rich and the lighter moments helped reduce the intensity of a place where passions collide and history weighs heavy.

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