Tour of the Holy Land Part III – New Jerusalem
Jerusalem is the administrative, religious and spiritual capital of the Jewish state of Israel. It is a cosmopolitan municipality, home to 1.5 million people of which one-third are Arabs, one-third religious Jews, and one-third secular Jews, and other ethnic groups. Regarded as the holiest city in the world, it consists of the 'old city', surrounded by a wall, and the newer section, which has evolved and surrounded Old Jerusalem.
The city is constructed on many hills, and the buildings are principally made of whitish or cream limestone to give it the traditional look. Painting of the stones is prohibited by law. And while Old Jerusalem, replete with historical sites, has retained its ancient allure, 'New Jerusalem' is as modern as modern gets, and is not waiting to descendant from the clouds. It is happening.
It is a composite of the secular and the religious. The construction of the new city's Jewish neighbourhoods began in the late 19th century. Some of the upscale neighbourhoods are Even Yisrael, the German Colony, Yemin Moshe, Me'a She'arim, Makhane Yisra'el, Nakhla'ot, Nakhalat Shiv'a, Ein Karem, Komemi'ut, Rekhavia, the Bukharian Quarter and the Ethiopian Quarter. And because of its history and religious significance Jerusalem is a magnet for tourists, Christian and non-Christians alike.
New Jerusalem might not be as religiously alluring as Old Jerusalem, for obvious reasons, but it is still a very interesting place of mainly modern buildings. There are tourist attractions for all lovers of the arts, theatre and music. The Supreme Court building is sited there, as well as the Knesset (Israeli Parliament), the Promenade, Ammunition Hill, Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Monastery of the Cross, Elias Monastery and the YMCA building. There is also the Israel Museum, the Biblical Zoo - Ein Ya'el - which offers workshops in biblical art and craft, and the Makhane Yehuda Market, which has a wide variety of food, processed and agricultural, and bargains on imperishable goods.
In addition to the Israel Museum and Yad Vashemn, there are many more museums in New Jerusalem, such as, the Natural History Museum, the Bloomfield Science Museum, the Rockefeller Museum, the Bible Lands Museum, the Islamic Art Museum, the Old Yishuv Court Museum, the Armenian Museum and the Museum of Italian Jewish Art.
New Jerusalem's nightlife has much to offer. There are some popular areas among the young, such as the German Colony, the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall, Shlomtsiyon HaMalka Street, and the Russian Compound. Also, for the young and young-at-heart, there is the Time Elevator, an interactive, three-dimensional presentation on the history of Jerusalem), the Armon HaNatsiv tunnels, beautiful botanical gardens and the hands-on interactive exhibits at the Bloomfield Science Museum.
The city's culinary offerings are as varied and numerous as its historic sites. There is something for every palate. There are Bohemian gourmet restaurants, eateries where the food is cooked slowly over ancient stoves, stylish coffee shops, various ethnic restaurants, fast food outlets and bustling night time bars. And there is no shortage of places to stay. From luxury hotels to affordable youth hostels, New Jerusalem is big on accommodation for tourists.
New Jerusalem, Israel, might not be the place where Christians will spend eternity in the bosom of Jesus, but it is indeed a place that will keep you touring forever. It is a cradle of religion, a culture lover's paradise, a haven for historians and heritage tourists, and a food lover's foretaste of glory divine. For Family and Religion, which visited recently, it was a feature writer's overload, so many interesting things and places to see and write about, in a limited number of words. There must be another tour.