5 Places to Experience 20th Century History in Jerusalem
The 20th century saw the establishment of a vivid modern society in the State of Israel, with all the loss and joy that entailed. Visit these sites in the capital to breathe it all in.
Ammunition Hill (Givat HaTachmoshet) – With the trenches and fortifications of battle still in place, this hill in northern Jerusalem reminds visitors of the fighting that characterized the Six Day War. Today, it's also used as one of the main induction centers for IDF soldiers, and a visitor’s center, attesting to the deep spirit of Jewish resistance. Visitors can head here from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM on weekdays, free of charge.
Israel Museum – Israel’s national museum, this institution houses ancient artifacts unearthed during archeological digs, contemporary art and visiting exhibits of all kinds. The campus also includes the Billy Rose Art Garden, ripe for quiet reflection among the sculptures, and the Dead Sea Scrolls, preserved in the distinctive Shrine of the Book structure. Spend an hour or a full day – there’s quite a bit here to hold your interest.
Mount Herzl – The State of Israel has lost far too many soldiers in its short history. A poignant military cemetery, this space is organized according to war. In addition to the many soldiers who fell while fighting for their country, Mount Herzl is the final resting place of Israeli dignitaries, including Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin and Theodor Herzl himself. Note that other visitors may be visiting the graves of their loved ones.
Nachlaot – One of the oldest neighborhoods outside of the Old City walls, Nachlaot is a network of narrow, hilly cobblestone streets, where the loveliest parts of the neighborhood are tucked away in courtyards. Bordering on the Machane Yehuda market, the neighborhood is a haven for artists, spiritual seekers and, increasingly, the yuppies of gentrification. Noteworthy sites here include the Ades Synagogue and the Barbur Gallery.
Yad Vashem – Paying respects at Yad Vashem is a natural part of any visitor’s Israel experience, even if you’ve done so before. The official monument, as it were, to the victims of the Holocaust, Yad Vashem was founded in 1953 and its main displays were completely revamped in 2005. The museum is a powerful and heavy experience, using all the tools that a modern museum can, but it is the simple Children’s Memorial that will tear your heart out. Yad Vashem opens free of charge at 9:00 AM, with closing time depending on the day.
Although ancient history commands most of the attention in the Holy City, these five places to encounter historical events that took place more recently can help provide a richer Jerusalem visit experience.