East Jerusalem represents the eastern half of Jerusalem and is viewed by Palestinians as the capital of Palestine. Hiking in Palestine is one of the top things to do, not only because its canyons and wadis, the Jordan Valley and olive grove filled hilltops are wilderness wonders, but also because you will be guided by local people.
Best Time to Visit
Most people try to avoid the extremely hot season when working out the best time to visit Palestine, which is June until September. Every other time of year has something special to offer, from religious festivities at Easter and Christmas of course, but if you want to simply go hiking through ancient history, anytime out of the summer highs is just perfect.
Top Places to Visit in East Jerusalem
1. The Mount of Olives
Just east of the old city, the mount of olives is actually more like a large hill. Originally an ancient Jewish cemetery (which it still operates as today), the Mount of Olives is full of Jewish and Christian sites.
2. Tomb of Simeon
Located in the Sheikh Jarrah Neighborhood, this is the traditional burial site of Shimon haTzadik, a Jewish high priest from the second temple period.
3. Rockefeller Museum
Formerly the Palestine Archaeological Museum, is an archaeological museum located in East Jerusalem that houses a large collection of artifacts unearthed in the excavations conducted in Mandate Palestine, in the 1920s and 1930s. Very short opening hours (between 10am-3pm).
4. Church of St. Anne and Pool of Bethesda
Located near St. Stephen’s Gate, the two large pools were originally built as part of a water supply system. Later, several grottos were dug up at the east end of the pools in order to provide water cisterns and baths to be used for medicinal and religious purposes.
5. The Palestinian Heritage Museum
Located in a 200-years-old Palestinian building, the museum hosts permanent and temporary exhibitions on Palestinian culture, folklore and history. The permanent exhibition include a room dedicated to the Palestinian Nakba, a floor dedicated to traditional Palestinian dresses and Jewelery, as well as a laboratory for the restoration of old artifacts.
6. Al-Aqsa Mosque
The Al Aqsa Moque (Masjid Al Aqsa) meaning the farthest mosque is the third holiest site in Sunni Islam. The site on the which the silver Dome sites marks the spot where the Prophet Mohammed was transported from the sacred mosque in Mecca to Al Aqsa during the Night Journey.
7. Garden of Gethsemane
This walled garden is the traditional site where Jesus prayed prior to his arrest. The olive trees in the garden are up to 2000 years old. The Catholic basilica on the site has excellent acoustics.