Jerusalem is fantastic – so much history layered up upon itself, with such a vibrant city still bustling amidst the ancient walls and gates. The city has about 7 gates but once you get them straight navigation isn’t so bad. The narrow, spice-filled alleyways can be confusing until you get your bearings, I suggest a stop at the Israel Museum first off.
They have a fantastic scale model of the Old City from the Second Temple Period (it used to be housed a hotel) that gives you a bird’s eye view of the city.
Check out the rest of the museum while you’re at it – some very impressive archaeological artifacts, an intriguing art collection and a beautiful display of some of the Dead Sea scrolls.
If you like a more old-school, hodge-podge I-looted-and-pilfered style of museum check out the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum just down the road from Damascus Gate. I love to wander this one, the displays are not terribly well labeled but they that doesn’t keep them from being thoroughly interesting.
This museum is also home to some of the early finds from our site Beth Shemesh (in particular a gorgeous horde of gold jewelry), so that makes it rather dear as well. Generally, the museum is pretty quiet and we have the run of the place to ourselves. And it is air-conditioned which counts for quite a lot in the full heat of summer too!