The Jerusalem Bird Observatory lies in the heart of Jerusalem, just below the Knesset, the Parliament building. The observatory first opened about twenty years ago, and in January 2010, a visitor center, Israel’s first living building, also opened at the site to enhance the visitor experience and the wonder of this spot of nature where birds and birdwatchers can gather. The site also hosts a research center as well as the observatory and visitor center, and is a great place to visit among the hustle and bustle of modern Jerusalem.
History of the Observatory
Even if you are not a bird-watcher, there are two very interesting things about this. Firstly is the location, on a hill with just three things, the Israeli Parliament Building (the Knesset), the Israeli Supreme Court, and the center. Secondly, the new visitor center is the first “living building” in Israel. Not only was it constructed with recycled materials for the most part, it is actually designed not to disrupt the natural flow of life at the site. There are holes in the stone walls, which are made from extra stone from a nearby building site, so animals and birds can make burrows. There’s even a family of rare porcupines living behind the air conditioning vent!
Visiting the Observatory
Remember, Israel is a central node in the main rift-valley bird migration route, meaning that tens of thousands of birds pass over the skies twice a year as they move south for winter and north for summer. So whether you are a bird watcher, an environmentalist, or are just interested in the birds (or the building) there is another green lung in Jerusalem awaiting your visit!