Israel, Musings

What The Media Doesn’t Tell You About Jerusalem

Jerusalem First time experiencing Israel

Jerusalem.

What kind of associations does your mind come up with when someone mentions this city?

Religious. Historic. Perhaps Tension & Disputes. Perhaps even simply, Old.

Jerusalem certainly has that reputation. And that reputation doesn’t make the city sound like a very appealing city to visit, does it? I wouldn’t blame you if those were the associations that your mind had.

Jerusalem is the capital city of a country that I’ve lived in for 9 years now. Just a few years shy of half my life.

I’ve been to the city many times; on school trips and the like.

And as a result, I thought I knew what this city was all about – that it was religious, historic, old and yes, that there was perhaps a bit of tension and some disputes.

I had never felt drawn to explore the city beyond what my history teachers showed me. I admittedly made the mistake that that’s all that there was to Jerusalem and I didn’t feel drawn to explore further.

But boy was I wrong!

Jerusalem

Who would have known that Jerusalem has some awesome street art and a lively nightlife?

Seeing that TBEX (for those who don’t know, it’s a travel blogging conference) was taking place in this city and I knew that I wanted to go, I got to explore this city more thoroughly. Beyond the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.

And I came to discover that those previous descriptions didn’t fit the city of Jerusalem at all!

To better describe the city of Jerusalem, you’d need to use these words instead:

Exciting, Bustling, Progressive, Multicultural, Lively, Metropolitan, Captivating & Awe-inspiring. 

Pretty surprising, huh?

Well, that’s because Jerusalem is a very surprising city. Especially since it has a very different reputation.

Why does Jerusalem have the reputation that it has?

For the same reason that Africa is often perceived as one, homogenous country …

because that’s how the media presents it!

Jerusalem

Just a mother and daughter picking some flowers at the Machane Yehuda Market – not an image that the media is likely to show you.

In general, the Middle East region is often represented as one big dangerous war zone and with Jerusalem being an important city for many different religions, it is often seen as the centre of all conflict between the differing religions.

But in reality, it is a melting pot of many cultures, religions & populations that coexist in relative peace & harmony.

It’s a city that leads by example for how to live and let live.

And it’s just such a cool city to be in!

  • There are loads of authentic shuks (markets) that enable you to browse anything from spices to jewellery for hours.
  • There is a very lively art scene that’s colourful, nuanced, layered, accessible & unpretentious.
  • It obviously has great history but it’s also very modern with great public transportation which takes you to anywhere in the city within minutes.
  • Travellers who want to have fun & go for drinks can, because Jerusalem has some great nightlife with bars & pubs all over the city.

… and more!

There’s a lot to love about this city and a lot that should be very appealing to visitors.

But perhaps my favourite thing about Jerusalem is that it’s a microcosm of the world.

Jerusalem

Often referred to as ‘The Centre of The World’, this is the meeting point between the Jewish, Muslim, Christian & Armenian Quarters in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Being that this city is a very important city for three of the major religions; Judaism, Islam & Christianity – you’ll find that this city has a very diverse group of inhabitants from many different backgrounds.

It’s a city that is home to Jews, Muslims & Christians; to the ultra-religious, traditional & secular populations; to the super conservative & very liberal; to the elderly, students, families & working professionals; to various ethnicities & languages; to the LGBT community; and to so many more people.

Being in Jerusalem feels like you’re in the centre of the world.

You can find everyone & everything there.

I don’t think I’ve ever been as impressed by a city than I have by Jerusalem. Sure, there are a lot of other cities that I’ve fallen in love with – but I was not expecting to fall head over heels for Jerusalem.

And to think… I thought I already knew what Jerusalem was about and I live in the country! I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Jerusalem

A view of the city of Jerusalem from the top of the Tower of David Museum. It was a beautiful sight.

So many stories, so many layers of history to uncover, so many pleasant surprises to enjoy, so many cultures & scenes, so many so many so many…

Jerusalem is not at all like how it seems in the media.

It’s a city that I’ve discovered to be very underrated & under appreciated by tourists and even locals residing elsewhere in the country.

I have many posts in the works about the numerous varied experiences I’ve had in the city as well as the many things that I’ve learned from my time there.

But in the meantime, I will highly recommend you to visit this city if you’re searching for your next holiday destination.

I can guarantee that Jerusalem is not like it seems in the media and it will leave you very pleasantly surprised.

Have you ever been to Jerusalem and if so, what did you think? How were you surprised by the city after visiting? Feel free to share below!

Be Brave & Be Kind,

Ella x

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22 Comments

  • Reply Hannah April 15, 2017 at 12:35

    This is such an amazing post! I went to Jerusalem with my family when I was very young and sadly I don’t remember much of it. I’d love to go back though and this just convinced me even more! I won’t lie, I don’t like to generalize, but I did totally think those initial words you said about Jerusalem. It sounds so cool though!

    • Reply Ella April 16, 2017 at 08:25

      You should totally go back! It’s so great to experience as an adult 🙂 And don’t worry, those initial words were definitely what I thought of Jerusalem too.

  • Reply Daphne April 15, 2017 at 14:10

    When I think about Jerusalem, I indeed think about an old religious place, with a lot of history. It is great you give Jerusalem another image here. I am visiting Israel this year, and can’t wait to visit Jerusalem soon!

    • Reply Ella April 16, 2017 at 08:29

      Yay, that’s awesome! When are you going? Let me know if you need any tips & info. I’ll be writing much more about Jerusalem in the coming months 🙂

  • Reply Jamie April 15, 2017 at 14:33

    I’ve been absolutely DYING to go to Jerusalem! It’s number one on my list right now. I travel for food and culture primarily, so I feel like this would be the PERFECT place for me! Brb gotta go look at airline tickets. Ha!

    • Reply Ella April 16, 2017 at 08:35

      Haha Jerusalem has GREAT food & culture! Some of the best in my opinion. I reckon you’ll LOVE the hummus there and there are loads of other Israeli delicacies you should try there too. Jerusalem is a foodie’s haven 🙂 haha

  • Reply Brooke April 15, 2017 at 16:37

    Fantastic post! Thank you for sharing your on-the-ground knowledge of Jerusalem. Having been to places like Kenya and North Korea I’m particularly wary and skeptical of media portrayals of developing/conflict regions. You’ve got me interested in traveling to Israel now.

    • Reply Ella April 16, 2017 at 08:43

      Thank you, Brooke! I’m glad you liked it 🙂 And I’m exactly the same – I don’t trust the media’s portrayals of developing\conflict regions. When I went to Kenya a couple of years ago, everyone told me that it would be super dangerous and they couldn’t have been more wrong. That’s why it’s good to hear the experiences of travelers who’ve been to those places and to see them for yourself.

  • Reply Tasha April 15, 2017 at 16:38

    I honestly didn’t know much about Jerusalem before reading this and I’m probably guilty of picturing it in the way that you described at the beginning of the post! Now I see that it looks like an exciting place to visit. I love the sound of the markets.

    • Reply Ella April 16, 2017 at 08:46

      I was guilty of picturing Jerusalem in that way too and I live in the country! But it really is an exciting place to visit and I was so impressed by how cool the city actually is. And you will LOVE the Markets. In 6 days, I went to the Machane Yehuda Market 5 times because I loved it so much haha.

  • Reply Christina April 15, 2017 at 17:11

    Yesss, Ella, I love this!! I haven’t been to Jerusalem myself but I’ve been aching to visit Israel ever since a friend of mine went a few years back and told me it was nothing like the stereotypes. I feel like it’s way too common for us to make assumptions about places we’ve never even been to, and it’s so refreshing to see an alternative perspective on Jerusalem. Definitely looks like a cool place I’d love to visit someday. 🙂 <3

    • Reply Ella April 16, 2017 at 08:55

      Yay, I’m glad you liked it Christina! 🙂 haha. I completely agree, it’s so easy for us to make assumptions about places that we’ve only seen in the media and I feel like we all should know by now that we can’t always trust the media. Let me know if you come to visit! It’s such a great city that’s worthy of more visitors.

  • Reply Alina April 15, 2017 at 17:36

    I’ was in Jerusalem last year and I really enjoyed my time there! To the modern city bit I would add – amazing food! I have had my best meal in my life in Machneyuda restaurant! Traditional, yet vibrant, with new touches, and very welcoming, to the point I was dancing in my chair 🙂 Many people have asked me if I felt safe there, and I must say I did – not at any point I felt worried!

    • Reply Ella April 16, 2017 at 08:59

      That’s awesome! I’m really glad you enjoyed Jerusalem when you visited! 🙂 The food is sooo good and I loved walking around Machane Yehuda and sampling my way around the different food stalls. And there really are some great restaurants inside the market too. I’m so glad you had a great time!

  • Reply Brooklyn April 15, 2017 at 20:18

    I was so bummed that I wasn’t able to go to TBEX Jerusalem. I really wanted to explore there. It’s always so interesting to go somewhere with certain expectations then come away with a totally different view on the place!

    • Reply Ella April 16, 2017 at 09:04

      Aww, that sucks that you weren’t able to make it this time. But there are always more opportunities to visit the city and it’s a great city to visit anytime 🙂 Jerusalem definitely exceeded my expectations.

  • Reply Lavina April 18, 2017 at 15:02

    So true Ella. It is a city that will leave you spellbound, for reasons you never imagined. There’s history, culture and so much positivity in addition to the simple things in day to day life. It was a great experienec to be here 🙂

    • Reply Ella April 20, 2017 at 09:20

      I agree wholeheartedly, Jerusalem totally captivated me. Thanks for commenting, Lavi! 🙂

  • Reply Paula April 26, 2017 at 20:43

    Great tips. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply Ella April 27, 2017 at 15:21

      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  • Reply Nate May 27, 2017 at 20:06

    Haven’t been there yet, but your article motivates me even more! Always wanted to go, but yeah, the media is not nice on Jerusalem. I’d still be scared a little bit (probably just for the first few hours until I realize how great the city is). Thanks for sharing your story!

    • Reply Ella June 3, 2017 at 19:07

      No problem, Nate 🙂 It’s completely understandable to be a bit scared before you go somewhere that isn’t depicted positively in the media. But I have no doubt that Jerusalem would leave a very positive impression. Thanks for commenting!

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