old city walls

5 Hidden Attractions Within Walking Distance from Kotel

Cave of Zedekiah

Under the ground, below the apartments of the Old City of Jerusalem, is the amazing cave of Zedekiah!

The Zedekiah Cave is one of the most wonderful tourist sites that Jerusalem has to offer thanks to the ancient history of Judaism.

The dimensions of the Zedekiah Cave are so large that when you walk through it you will not believe that this cave stands on its own (a wonder of the world in my opinion). It is about [CS1] 225 meters (738 feet) long!

2 wonderful facts about this attraction:

A quarry in ancient times

Originally this cave was used as a quarry where they carved a stone called “Malka”. This is a fine stone that was used to build the amazing buildings of Jerusalem.

History teaches us that the beginning of the quarry dates back to the days of the First Temple, during which Joseph Ben Mattathias called it “The system of Kings”.

It seems that construction did not stop in this cave and at the beginning of the 20th century stones were cut in the cave for the construction of the “Clock Tower” which used to stand in front of the Jaffa Gate, a tower that was destroyed during the British Mandate period.

A strategic place in time of war

During the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem in the final days of the First Temple, King Zedekiah, the last king of the House of Judah, used this cave to escape from the Chaldeans to Jericho.

In addition to this, the witnesses of Islam believe that the earth swallowed Korach and his followers within this cave, as a punishment for the rebellion against Moshe Rabbeinu.

Afterwards a group of certain people identified as the “Masons” used this cave as a meeting place. 

The Ramparts Walk

Walking on the walls as part of the UNESCO world heritage is a wonderful travel experience that is suitable for the whole family.

This amazing trip provides a wonderful view showing the history of the Old City of Jerusalem as opposed to the new city.

A 10-minute video showing the 3 amazing paths of the walls: Routes Uncovered: Jerusalem Walls

The history of the city walls is characterized by the fact that one of the first walls was built around Jerusalem in the days of the Canaanites more than 4000 years ago!

The last wall was erected by order of Suleiman, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, 485 years ago and it still stands.

As part of the trip along the walls of the Old City, you can reach spectacular views of the inner city of Jerusalem from the walls and outside them: the Old City in front of the new city, a walking route next to remains from the Middle Ages and the ability to feel the history of the amazing city of Jerusalem.

Arriving at the Southern wall, you can see fascinating sites and views that characterize the beauty of ancient Jerusalem, such as the Citadel of David, the Armenian Quarter, the Ben Hinnom Valley, the [CS4] Sultan’s Pool, the alleys of the Jewish Quarter, the Temple Mount, the Mount of Olives and other amazing views.

The trip to the walls of Jerusalem is divided into 3 routes:

The Northern Promenade – from the Jaffa Gate to the Lions’ Gate.

The Southern promenade – from the Jaffa Gate to the Western Wall.

360 tour – tour both the Northern and Southern boardwalks.

North Promenade:

From the Jaffa Gate through the New Gate, the Damascus Gate and the Lions’ Gate.

South Promenade:

From the Jaffa Gate through the Zion Gate to the Dung Gate.

360 Round the Walls:

Start at the Southern promenade (Jaffa Gate), get off at the Dung Gate, go towards the Eastern wall, then return to the wall through the entrance at the Lions’ Gate and walk along the promenade until the starting point at Jaffa Gate.

Possible exit points:

  • The New Gate (from the Jaffa Gate – a 20-minute walk)
  • Nablus Gate (from Jaffa Gate – about a 45-minute walk)
  • Herod’s Gate (from Jaffa Gate – about an hour’s walk)
  • Lions’ Gate (from Jaffa Gate – about an hour and a half walk)

The Guardians of the Walls Return

There is a new display leading from the Jaffa Gate to the Western Wall called “The Guardians of the Walls Return” composed of 20 statues of the defenders of Jerusalem from different periods which are equipped with an augmented reality application that brings to life the personal story of each of the representatives and greets the visitors.

There is also an interactive game that enables visitors to learn about each historical figure’s story. 

Among the historical figures you can see Pinchas Hamodai, Yochanan ben Yosef, farmer and warrior, Jean the French crusader knight from Normandy and more.

The display is free of charge!

*You must download the free app “The Walls Promenade” at the entrance to the promenade in order to enjoy the interactive activity.

The figures currently operate in Hebrew and English.

The Spectacular bridge on the slopes of the Ben Hinnom Valley

The longest bridge in Israel is on  the slopes of the Ben Hinnom Valley and is [CS8] a breathtaking Israeli creation of no less than 202 meters.

The bridge connects the slopes of the Ben Hinnom Valley and Mount Zion in Jerusalem.

Gai Ben Hinnom is mentioned a number of times in the Bible and is actually the name of a ravine in Jerusalem which is identified today as a valley near the Old City of Jerusalem and the City of David. The ravine surrounds Mount Zion and it connects to the Kidron River.

The origin of the name of this place is hell, a place where, according to belief, sinners will be sent after death.

Gai Ben Hinnom is mentioned for the first time in the book of Joshua as part of the description of the boundaries of the tribal lands and as an important starting point following many references in the Bible.

When the prophet Jeremiah prophesied the destruction of the First Temple, he prophesied that the ravine of Ben Hinnom would be called “the killing valley” due to the large number of the dead who would fill the ravine “for food for the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth”.

The Farm in the Valley

Those who manage to cross the amazing bridge in the valley will be able to reach the agricultural farm located under the bridge. You can try out ancient crafts such as picking olives, making wine and making honey, among other activities.

At the Farm in the Valley, you will discover an impressive waterfall which you will enjoy every moment after crossing the bridge and especially on a hot day; the waterfall brings with it an unusually pleasant coolness to those who are near it. 

At the farm you can learn the farming methods by which the inhabitants of Jerusalem survived thousands of years ago.

Mount Zion Tunnel

The Mount Zion Tunnel was a secret communication channel between Mount Zion and the west of the city.

Mount Zion was occupied by the Palmach in 1948 as an attempt to save the Jewish Quarter.

The Jordanian Legion finally succeeded in taking control of the Jewish Quarter, but Mount Zion remained in Israeli territory until the unification of Jerusalem in 1967.

The tunnel starts with steep steps; the Jordanians snipers sitting at the top were able to block  the ascent to the mountain by shooting at those who tried to ascend the stairs.

This is how the idea arose to dig a hidden underground tunnel near the stairs.

The canal is narrow, walled-in concrete and covered with bins on which earth was sprinkled for camouflage and the Jordanians did not notice its excavation. Weapons and supplies for the fighters were smuggled through this tunnel until 1967.

After the Six Day War, the first 50 meters of the tunnel partially collapsed, filled with dirt and was left unattended for 57 years.

In recent years, more than 2 million shekels have been invested to restore and renovate the tunnel and open the abandoned secret passageway in order to turn it into a heroic heritage site that illustrates the complex Jerusalem reality.

Different names of Jerusalem were cut into the roof of the tin channels and when the sunlight flickers through these markings, the walls are decorated by the reflections of the names on the walls.

There you have it! 5 unexpected and some new sites to visit within walking distances to the Kotel (Western Wall). Contact Israel Connection Tours for more great ideas and to start planning your next trip to Israel!