Could a trip to Israel ever be complete without stops at holy sites in Jerusalem? The city is famous as one of the most holy in the world, housing important landmarks from a number of religions. Judaism, Islam, and Christianity all count a number of holy sites in Jerusalem, alongside modern marvels. Our guide below lays out the most popular and important to help you start planning your next trip to Israel and the Holy City. You can also try our other Jerusalem day tours for a fuller experience in this iconic city to make your trip to Israel truly unforgettable.
A walled compound in the Old City, the Temple Mount also hosts Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. It is the holiest site in Judaism, and the former site of the First Temple. This enormous area is also the third most important site to Muslims, falling behind only Mecca and Medina. The name Haram al Sharif, the Arabic title for this area, means The Noble Sanctuary. It is the site where Muhammad made his ascent to the heavens.
A stunning complex, you can admire over 100 different sites on its top. These include areas for prayer, babbling fountains, majestic arches, and detailed mosaics that decorate the walls. The walls stand around the base of Mount Moriah, the spot where Abraham was going to sacrifice his son Isaac. Dive into the history of this area and its singular sense of serenity and spirituality while visiting. We highly recommend taking a tour to get the most out of your visit to this sacred spot.
The stunning mosque of Al Aqsa boasts a glowing golden dome that is part of Jerusalem’s iconic skyline. This gorgeous house of worship is fully functional, fitting up to 5,000 worshippers at once. The outside is stunning and vibrant with a number of colorful mosaics. While non-Muslims cannot enter the structure itself, they are more than welcome to admire the exterior. Al Aqsa means Farthest Journey, in reference to Muhammad’s ascension and final hours on Earth. Built originally by the Umayyad Caliph Al Walid, it was later taken over by the Knights Templar. It’s also been home to the Kings of Jerusalem, and a number of other residents.
Over the centuries, it has been destroyed and rebuilt twice. You can still see remnants of Crusader architecture across the façade. Every aspect of the mosque showcases the beauty of early Islamic architecture. If you’re lucky enough to enter, be sure to visit the intricate Mihrab from Saladin.
Mosque of Omar
An often overlooked holy site in Jerusalem, this mosque has an undeniable charm, and unique place in history. The Mosque of Omar stands across from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the heart of the Old City. While the interior is only open to Muslims, the outside is also captivating once you know its origin story. Built in the 12th century, this mosque is where Caliph Omar Ibn al-Khattab said his prayers in 638 CE after the Byzantines surrendered. He was invited to pray in the church itself, and instead chose a courtyard to preserve the church’s Christian character. Some believe the Dome of the Rock is the true original site for this marvelous mosque. Either way, we recommend taking a closer look at the unique square minaret that tops the building itself. You can add this our customizable half-day Jerusalem tour.
Western Wall Tunnels
Far beneath the streets of the city lie the famous Western Wall Tunnels, pieces of the original Second Temple from over 2,000 years ago. Once you make your way belowground, you can visit sections of the original stone that still sit in this holy earth. The walls also house enormous stone arches, water pits and pools, and a centuries old aqueduct that stretches out and ends in the Struthion Pool. This pool is underneath the Convent of the Sisters of Zion, and is one of the masterful works of Herod the Great from the first century BCE. These walls comprise one of Herod’s largest building projects.
As you wind your way through twisting staircases and beneath vaulted arches, you can interact with cutting-edge exhibits through the tunnels. A majority lies underneath the modern-day Muslim Quarter, and you can visit a full synagogue deep below Jerusalem itself. Our City of David and underground Jerusalem tour is the best way to explore these.
The famous path where Christ carried the cross, whose name means “The Way of Grief” in Latin, is now a famous route for Christian pilgrims across the world to walk. Beginning at the remains of Antonia Fortress, the site of his condemnation, the path continues to the site of his crucifixion, once the Hill of Golgotha.
Via Dolorosa has 14 stations that end with the final 5 inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. You can now stroll this path, starting on the eastern side of the Old City – one of the Holy Land’s most importnat old cities – and winding through its cobblestone streets. This is an emotional path for many to walk, though it is under half a mile long. While each station commemorates the final hours and teachings of Christ, with signs along the way, we recommend walking Via Dolorosa with a guide. Doing this ensures you hear the full story and explore the fascinating history of the city on a deeper level.
Mount of Olives
The name of this historic and scenic area comes from the olive groves that stood on these very grounds. This holy place in Jerusalem is sacred to Muslims, Jews, and Christians, and stands as the highest point in East Jerusalem. It rises over 2,600 feet into the air, and the observation deck offers sweeping panoramic views of the city beyond. While it has been a Jewish cemetery for nearly 3,000 years, it is also a place of celebration. A number of Jews on pilgrimages will stop here along their route through Jerusalem. One of the highlights is the Tomb of the Prophets. The site is also said to be where the dead will rise on the Day of Judgment.
For Christians, the site is noteworthy for housing the Church of Ascension, and the Garden of Gethsemane. It is where Jesus stood as he said his final prayer before his betrayal. For Muslims, this is said to be where the Seven Arches will rise and connect with the remains that sit on the Temple Mount when the End of Times arrives. Once the bridge is formed, the righteous will be able to pass over this holy bridge and ascend to heaven. No matter your religion, the Mount of Olives is a fascinating place to visit for the history and views alone!
Sitting on the hills just outside the city’s southern walls, Mount Zion is as beautiful as it is splendid. The name hails from the Middle Ages, and hosts a number of key sites for Muslims, Jews, and Christians. For interested Muslims, we recommend a stop at the Dajani Cemeteries, held by the same family for generations. This famous family has a long-running tie to the Prophet himself, and boasts a number of religious, academic, and political leaders. The stones themselves are well worth a visit. For Jews, this was long the location where they could be closest to pray next to the ancient site of the Holy of Holies. It also houses the Chamber of the Holocaust, Israel’s first Holocaust Museum. King David’s tomb also stands proudly on top of the hill.
For Christians, there are a number of notable sites. One of the most popular is the Room of the Last Supper, offering unique insight into Christian history and lore. You can also visit the sprawling Protestant Cemetery or Dormition Abbey. Built in 1898, this abbey still houses the heads of the orders that live and work throughout Jerusalem. A must-see for all visitors is the tomb of Oskar Schindler. He hold a place of honor with his burial as a righteous gentile.
The Top Holy Sites in Jerusalem
Renowned as a city with some of the most captivating holy sites in the world, this iconoclast has hosted millions of intrigued visitors over the years. While this list includes some of the top holy sites in Jerusalem, it certainly is not comprehensive. Whether it’s your first or fifth visit to Israel, we recommend taking a tour with an expert local guide. This shows you a different side of the city, and helps you uncover the complex history of this ancient stronghold. We promise you’ll have the experience of a lifetime walking through these storied streets, no matter when or where you visit! See our hotels in Jerusalem and our article on 24 hours in Jerusalem to help kick-start your Israel itinerary planning.
If none of the above tours fit exactly what you’d like to see, why not book a private tour? We offer them for families, large groups, and everything in between! We want to help you have the best time in Jerusalem, no matter what you want to see. And we can help you discover all of the holy sites in Jerusalem.