A whopping 3.4 million tourists visit Jerusalem every year, and anyone who has spent time in the city can confirm that it is positively heaving with people all year round. Add this to the sweltering heat of the Middle Eastern summer, and you may need to find a quiet spot in order to give yourself a chance to reflect on the amazing sights and history that Jerusalem has to offer. Culture Trip has found some of the best places to avoid the crowds.
The Austrian Hospice of the Holy Family is first and foremost a guesthouse and cultural centre established for Austrian pilgrims to Jerusalem, however it also boasts one of the prettiest and most peaceful gardens in the Old City. Enjoy a Viennese coffee and choose from classic Austrian delicacies such as sachertorte or apple strudel and spend a few hours relaxing on the leafy terrace. When you’ve regained your energy, wander through the modern art exhibition on the second floor and then take the stairs up to the rooftop terrace which offers panoramic views across the whole city. Ring the doorbell at the front gates to enter.
Situated beyond the bustle of East Jerusalem’s Salah al-Din Street lies the peaceful haven of the American Colony Hotel. A mainstay of foreign journalists and media types, enjoy people watching over a coffee or fresh juice in their tiled courtyard, complete with a trickling fountain. On summer evenings, come and enjoy a candlelit drink in their enchanting leafy garden. An extensive selection of beer, wine and spirits is served – but watch the price tag.
Not to be confused with the Armenian Tavern, the Armenian Catholic church of Our Lady of Sorrows (also known as Church of Our Lady of the Spasm and Saint Mary of Agony) dates back to 1881 and is a UNESCO protected world heritage site. Situated on the Via Dolorosa near station 4, where Jesus is said to have encountered Mary on his way to crucifixion, this spot is enshrouded in rich historical significance. However the church and its courtyard offer a peaceful haven from the hustle and bustle of the Old City. Take time to reflect in the elegant and bright church interior, before taking a seat in the courtyard café serving tasty Middle Eastern dishes, with beer and wine also available.
Tucked away in a leafy corner of the Hahurva square, in the Jewish quarter of the Old City, lies this charming Israeli café. Situated just across from the historic and architecturally stunning Hurva synagogue, sit and watch the multitudes of people coming and going, while enjoying a cold beer, or choose from the tasty tapas-style menu, all while shaded from the oppressive summer heat and the swarming crowds.
Ascend above the tourist crowds clogging the narrow streets Old City and enjoy the view from above. The ramparts walk makes it possible to walk along the Ottoman-era city walls taking in spectacular aerial views of the various souqs and monuments down below, and the Mount of Olives and the outer city in the distance. Begin the walk just outside Jaffa Gate – find detailed instructions on how to find the entrance here. Head out in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat and be warned – there are many stairs to ascend and descend, so wear sensible, grippy shoes.