Jerusalem from Above – A Tour of Observation Points in Jerusalem’s Old City

by מוזיאון מגדל דוד

Jerusalem is surrounded by mountains, and from every mountain, every lookout point, Jerusalem looks a little different.  For those who like to walk (either slowly or quickly), for lovers of photography and vistas, for those who want to go down on one knee and declare their love in the golden rays of the setting sun, and for those who simply love Jerusalem, we have prepared a surprise for you:

A walking tour stopping at 4 expansive observation points over the Old City, each found in one of the 4 quarters of the city.  Some are well-known and some sre known only to those who know the secret, but every one of them gives a refreshing, unique view on the city which is all gold, copper and light.

Recommendation:  Begin the tour during the second half of the day in order to catch the Jerusalem sunset with your camera lens.


First Stop:  Phasael Tower at the Tower of David Museum

מבין כל המבנים הצפופים ממזרח וממערב בולט ומרשים במיוחד מתחם הר הבית, ליבה של העיר העתיקה, ששטחו משתרע על שישית משטח העיר העתיקה כולה.

Among the packed buildings to the east and the west, the Temple Mount , the heart of the Old City, stands out impressively, spanning one-sixth of the area of the entire Old City.

In order to see the most beautiful view in Jerusalem, you need to climb a little more than 90 stairs and arrive at the top of the Phasael Tower where we begin our tour.  Over the bustling junction opposite Jaffa Gate, on the seam between the Old City and the New City is the citadel of Jerusalem and home of the Tower of David Museum, including the Phasael Tower.  At the top of the tower, a remnant from the splendid palace built by King Herod, is the Old City’s highest  observation point from which you can see both 150-year old buildings to the west and buildings thousands of years old to the east.

Address:  In Tower of the David Museum - opposite Jaffa Gate, at the beginning of the Armenian Quarter. (Click here to read more)

Visit on the way:  Water fountain at Teddy Park, the Kishle - an archaeological site containing finds from the days of Herod and found within the Tower of David Museum, and Jerusalem bagels from the peddler stands at Jaffa Gate.


Second Stop:  “Aish HaTorah”


תצפית לילה על מבקרים שהגיעו אל הכותל המערבי להתפלל בו ולהטמין פתקים בין כתליו

Nighttime overlook of  visitors who come to the Western Wall to pray and place notes between its stones

“Aish HaTorah” is a Jewish Orthodox educational organization and yeshiva.  The organization’s central branch sits in an ancient building opposite the Western Wall Plaza and its roof is an observation point providing a panoramic view of the Western Wall for visitors, both tourists and locals. In addition, you can see:  the City of David, Temple Mount Courtyard, Dome of the Rock and the urban vista over the city’s eastern neighborhoods.

To walk to the second stop, leave the Tower of David Museum and turn right onto the Armenian Patriarchate St. At the end of the street, turn left onto Habad St. leading  you to the parking lot.  Cross it in order to arrive at Mishmarot HaKehuna St.  that leads you straight to the Hurva Square where the menorah is located.  Cross the courtyard diagonally and continue to Tif’eret Israel St.  Pass the Burnt House and the restaurants and turn left onto Misgav Ladach Street. One block down, turn right onto HaTamid Street. Continue down the stairs and turn right under an archway to reach the visitor’s center.

Address:  6 HaTamid St., Jewish Quarter.

On the way:  the Western Wall, the Hurva Synagogue, food stalls.


Third Stop:  The Hashimi Hotel


גגות הרובע המוסלמי ממרומי המלון ההאשמי

Rooftops of the Muslim Quarter from the Hashimi Hotel

On the seam between the Christian Quarter and the Muslim Quarter, in the center of the bustling Old City market, behind a door which is unremarkable at first glance, is the Hashimi Hotel.  Despite the building being more than 400 years old, the hotel has been renewed and redecorated and now considered exclusive lodging in the Old City.  The hotel has a terrace which offers an observation point over the houses of the Muslim Quarter and the Temple Mount complex - at arm’s length from the golden Dome of the Rock.

To get to the next stop, you need to turn right at the exit from the visitors’ center of Aish HaTorah and continue on HaKotel St. until you arrive at Bab el-Silsileh Rd. - the market of the Old City.  Turn left on Bab el-Silsileh Rd. and veer right at the Shuk HaTzorfim.  Continue straight along the road, even when the street name changes to Shuk HaTsaba’im and afterwards to Beit HaBad.  After walking for about 5 minutes, you will arrive at Via Dolorosa where you turn right.  After about 100 m, you will see the hotel on the left.

Address:  73 Suk Khan el-Zeit, Muslim Quarter. 

On the way: Church of the Holy Sepulcher, spice market and dyers market, food, spices and shopping all along the way.


 Fourth stop:  Sisters of Zion Convent


On the Via Dolorosa, in the Muslim Quarter, sits the Sisters of Zion Convent.

The convent was built next to the Ecce Homo Arch, that according to Christian tradition, is connected to the judgment of Jesus.  Research has discovered that actually, the arch was part of a victory gate built for Caesar Hadrian in the 2nd century CE when Jerusalem was still called Aelia Capitolina. Additionally, in the archaeological excavation were found games and dice used by the Roman soldiers to pass the time.  Today, the convent is used as a pilgrims’ hostel, school and ulpan for studying Hebrew and Arabic.  At the top of the convent is an expansive observation point over the houses of the Christian and Jewish Quarters.

The convent is located on the continuation of the Via Dolorosa.  Pass the Austrian Hospice, and continue walking about 100 m, and you will see the convent on the left.

Address:  49 Via Dolorosa, the Muslim Quarter.

On the way: the coffee house of the Austrian Hospice.


Bonus Stop:  Rooftop Restaurant, Mamilla Hotel

קו הנוף העירוני של ירושלים בצבעי שקיעה

Jerusalem vista at sunset

Walking enthusiasts can enjoy a bonus station - the Rooftop Restaurant of the Mamilla Hotel. From the balcony of the restaurant, the Old City’s walls and Mount Zion are spread out in front of you; and there, after the last picture, you can rest and enjoy a drink against the beautiful backdrop of the Tower of David.

Address:  11 Shlomo Ha-Melekh St., Jerusalem.

Now, all that is left for you to do is put on your comfortable walking shoes, fill your water bottle, get your hat, pack your camera and come to Jerusalem!