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Josh Bernstein in Jerusalem

Old City Market, Eilon Paz

Photo by Eilon Paz

A market in Old City.

Sitting 2,400 feet above sea level on the hills of the Judean desert, Jerusalem has, over five millennia, influenced the religious, spiritual and cultural development of the world. Held sacred by Jews, Christians and Muslims, it’s no stranger to geopolitical battles. But that’s no reason to avoid this fascinating destination, which in the last decade has become more accessible and, thankfully, more attractive to the international traveler.

On my latest trip I stayed at Mamilla Hotel. Opened in 2009, it has quickly gained a following among those who want first-class luxury and contemporary elegance. And the location can’t be beat—from the lobby, it’s an easy stroll past Mamilla Avenue’s shops to my first destination, The Old City.

The iconic walls of The Old City were built in 1538 by Suleiman the Magnificent. They are up to 50 feet high, 10 feet thick and almost three miles long. Of the 11 gates built into the wall, seven are open today. Once inside, the St. James Monastery (Armenian Quarter), Hurva Synagogue (Jewish Quarter) and the Western Wall and Al-Aqsa Mosque (Muslim Quarter) are all must-see sites. And at the heart of the Christian Quarter sits the incomparable Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where many believe Jesus was crucified and buried.

From The Old City, grab a cab to the Givat Ram neighborhood and the Israel Museum. Founded in 1965 and completely renewed in 2010 by museum director James S. Snyder (full disclosure: my father-in-law), it offers an encyclopedic collection of European, modern, contemporary and Israeli art, plus a world-class collection of Jewish antiquities.

For dining, Jerusalem boasts some of the best cuisine in the Middle East. I like the attentive service at Chakra, and the markets of Mahane Yehuda can’t be beat for freshness, but my favorite restaurant at the moment is Mona on Shmu’el HaNagid Street, offering a blend of Mediterranean and European fare.

Religious travelers need no other reason to visit this sacred city, but for others who want incomparable culture, history, beauty and cuisine, Jerusalem is an adventure of a lifetime.

Get there via Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) in Tel Aviv. Book it now!

About the Author: International explorer Josh Bernstein has traveled to 65-plus countries, exploring the biggest mysteries of our planet. His next endeavor, exploreratlarge.com, will launch in 2014.

Spill It: Tell Us What You Think!

I think you chose a great person to give travel advice! He has an such a unique perpective!
6/11/2013 6:41:50 PM

lovely article. Very interesting. Thanks to Josh for sharing.
6/11/2013 6:47:54 PM

I was a huge fan of Josh Bernstein's television show, "Digging for the Truth," and am always excited to read or hear something new by him. Hope he is able to contribute future articles to your magazine!
6/11/2013 6:50:18 PM

I just read your Tel Aviv Josh Bernstein in Jerusalem article. It was great reading an article written by someone I am familiar with from his TV shows and who is expert on some of the most interesting locations in the world.
6/11/2013 8:35:00 PM

di glaubitz
discovered josh through his documentaries. also enjoy his writing.
6/11/2013 8:59:49 PM

Alisa Voss
Even though a short write up, josh brings a vividness to the city. Would love to visit. Thanks for featuring his article.
6/11/2013 9:52:26 PM

Karen Fontaine
I have been a fan of Josh's since his tv show. Imagine my surprise to stumble upon him in your magazine. Great article.
6/12/2013 12:02:14 AM

Debbie Meckola
Reading this makes me want to visit there even more.
6/12/2013 8:26:44 AM

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