Jerusalem, Israel - Stein Travel
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Jerusalem

Israel's capital city occupies an important place in the hearts and minds of Muslims, Christians and Jews alike. The walled section comprising the Old City of Jerusalem is an area rich in the historical traditions of these three religions. It is home to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount. The Western Wall provides the focal point for Jewish worship and stands as an enduring symbol of the Jewish homeland.

The Old City can be accessed through seven of the eight gates punctuating the ancient walls enveloping it. Within these walls are the separate quarters of the Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Armenian communities. A dazzling array of merchandise can be purchased from the lively Arab souk(open-air market), and meandering through the narrow corridors and cobbled pavements of the ancient centre inevitably provides a feast of sensations.

For an orientation of the Old City it is best to set off along the Ramparts Walk, originally designed for watchmen, or to climb the Citadel of David for a panoramic vista of the eternally fascinating city of Jerusalem.

Information & Facts

Climate

Jerusalem is situated at a relatively high altitude, and therefore experiences quite cold, wet winters with occasional light snowfalls. By contrast summers are dry and warm, with low humidity and temperatures averaging around 75°F (24°C), making for bright and pleasant days. During autumn and spring a hot desert wind called the sharavis common.

Getting Around

Jerusalem has an extensive public bus service, and most drivers speak English, but most bus services stop over Shabbat(from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday). Bus 99 is a hop-on hop-off service that visits all main tourist attractions in the city. The old city area is compact enough to explore on foot. Those who choose to drive in Jerusalem will find that local drivers tend to be unruly. Taxis are plentiful, identifiable by a yellow sign on the roof, and can be hailed in the street, ordered by telephone or hired outside hotels and main places of interest. Taxis are metered and charge more late at night and on Saturdays and public holidays. Passengers should make sure the taxi driver turns the meter on at the start of a journey. Shared taxis ( sherutim) are another popular form of transport, travelling fixed routes and usually costing about the same as a bus. Passengers can get on and off when they need to, though drivers (and fellow passengers) can be impatient when it comes to delays.

Language

Hebrew and Arabic are the official languages of Israel. Most of the population also speak English.

Money

The Israeli Shekel (ILS) is divided into 100 agorot (singular is agora). Money can be changed in the small exchange bureaux found on most main streets, or at banks and hotels. ATMs are prevalent throughout the country and linked to American systems. Most banks are open Sunday through to Friday until noon, and are open again from 4pm till 6pm on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Major credit cards are widely accepted, as are travellers cheques, though commission on these is high.

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