An open-air synagogue, Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall is the most holy of Jewish sites, and as powerful a demonstration of religious observance as exists anywhere. Hasidic Jews line up by the wall to pray, bending gently forward, and to kiss the stones, some placing notes of prayer into the cracks of the wall. If you can, visit at sundown on a Friday. Shabbat is when the wall is at its liveliest, with much reading from the Torah, dancing and singing in worship– a joyous, moving spectacle.
Jerusalemis an endlessly explorable city, its old city in particular a place that positively encourages wandering its atmospheric, timeless streets. The modern city is the backdrop to a scene where minarets and steeples spear the air, ramparts peek out in places, the Church of Mary Magdalene’s golden domes wink in the sun on the Mount of Olives, and, of course, there sits the great, graceful curve of the iconic Dome of the Rock.
Away from the welter of extraordinary religious spectacles, it’s worth making time for some secular sights. Grab a shakshuka and linger in one of the old city’s varied quarters, or venture downtown and negotiate your way around the bustle of Mahane Yehuda Market. Whatever you’re after, you’ll get it here, the air hanging heavy with cardamom and coffee, and some fantastic fruit juices to accompany your shopping.