There’s a lot to take in in Jerusalem, and whether you’re a casual traveler who’s come to see the sights; a pilgrim focused on experiencing the city where two of the world’s major religions were born or someone who wants to understand more about this city that’s always in the news, there will come a point in your stay in Jerusalem when a view over the city will be both helpful and enjoyable.
The best 360 degree view requires a bit of leg work, but you’ll be rewarded by close-up vistas of almost all of Jerusalem when you hike up the 177 winding steps that lead to the bell tower of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in the Muristan area of the Christian Quarter of the Old City.
From the four balconies, it’s easy to make out the best-known landmarks of the city–the Dome of the Rock, Al Aksa, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Mt of Olives, as well as some of the distinctive domed rooftops of simple homes in the densely packed Old City.
Not too far away, on the edge of the Jewish Quarter at the back of the Western Wall Plaza is the home of the Aish HaTorah Yeshiva. The rooftop offers a panoramic view of the Western Wall and Temple Mount, as well as the Mt of Olives. An added bonus is the meticulously detailed model of the Second Temple that sits on the broad balcony of the rooftop. There’s plenty of room to sit and contemplate the view over some of the most hotly contested real estate in the world.
Still in the Old City, but further south not far from Jaffa Gate, is another rooftop that’s worth a look. You don’t have to be a guest at St Mark’s Lutheran Hostel to enjoy the view. The best time for this close-up view of the Dome of the Rock and the Christian Quarter is at dusk.
For more of a panoramic overview of Jerusalem, head over to the Goldman Promenade on the edge of the east Talpiot neighborhood. Unlike the nearby Haas Promenade or tayelet as it’s known to the locals, which is constantly over run by hordes of tourist buses, the Goldman Promenade is quiet and more secluded. This is the best place to see the intersection of the eastern and western parts of Jerusalem, and to see the checkerboard of Arab and Jewish neighborhoods. On a clear winter day, the bright blue glimmer of the Dead Sea is visible to the east, along with the hills of Moab in neighboring Jordan.
The classic Jerusalem overlook is on the top of the southern most ridge of the Mount of Olives, right in front of the Seven Arches Hotel, at the top of the oldest Jewish cemetery in the world. Be sure to come before mid-day when the sun is still behind you and you’ll be rewarded with an outlook of the entire area of the Old City from the east, as well as the beautiful churches on the Mount of Olives. You’ll be able to make out the four quarters of the Old City as well as Nebi Samuel,the northernmost point of Jerusalem and the Kidron Valley below.