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Top 5 Cultural Institutions in West Jerusalem

Home to Jerusalem’s most important museums, memorial sites and the seat of the Israeli government , West Jerusalem is almost on par with the Old City in terms of historical and cultural significance.

If you want to learn about the history of the Middle East and what makes this country tick, you absolutely must visit these 5 cultural institutions…

The Israel Museum

With the exception of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, there is no museum in the world that can match the Israel Museum’s collection of artifacts from the ancient artifacts from the Near East.

The museum is a massive endeavor comprised of various wings dedicated to different aspects of Middle Eastern and Jewish culture and history, including the Shrine of the Book complex, Jewish Art and Life, archaeology and an incredibly diverse and impressive modern art section.

In addition the museum features the picturesque outdoor Billy Rose Garden and regularly hosts educational activities and events for both adults and children.

11 Derech Rupin, Jerusalem

Yad Vashem and Har Herzl

While the Israel Museum may be the most impressive museum in the city, Yad Vashem may be the most culturally significant and moving museum in Israel. It is also the most visited site in the city after the Western Wall.

Israel and its citizens are almost inextricably linked to the Holocaust through culture and personal connections, and Yad Vashem embodies that connection.

The grounds features a collection of memorial sites that preserve the memory of the Holocaust, including the history museum, Hall of Names, Children’s Memorial and the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations. Yad Vashem is also home to the International School/Institute for Holocaust Studies, which often puts on events, activities and seminars on Holocaust History.

Right next door to yad Vashem, you can find the Har Herzl Memorial site to fallen soldiers, which is one of the most important memorial sites to modern Israeli society.

The Bible Lands Museum

The Bible Lands Museum is a unique museum that focuses on capturing stories from Biblical times through the eyes of the people who lived in the Near East “from the dawn of civilization through the early Christian era.”

The museum is well regarded not only for its collections of artifacts, but also its interactive exhibitions, activities and events that breath life into history rather than just present it.

The interactive nature of the BLMJ makes it perfect for families with children, and the museum hosts special weekends with activities for the kids and tours for the parents free with admission.

21 Shmuel Stephan Weiz Street, Jerusalem

LA Meyer Museum for Islamic Art

Similar to the BLMJ, the Museum for Islamic Art explore the history of the Middle East through the prism of a specific element. In this case, it is art from the ancient Islamic empires.

The Sir David Salomons Collection of timepieces is the largest in the world and a truly impressive sight.

2 Hapalmach Street, Jerusalem

The Knesset (Israeli Parliament)

The Knesset is the seat of the Israeli government and an iconic piece of Jerusalem architecture.

You can get some insight into how the modern state of Israel works, the history of the government and the building by joining free tours of the Knesset Sunday-Thursday from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Here’s a schedule of the tours in all languages:

  • Hebrew: 10:00 am, 11:00 am and 1:00 pm
  • English: 8:30 am, 12:00 pm and 2:00pm
  • Arabic: 1:30 pm
  • French: 1:00 pm
  • Russian: 11:00 am
  • Spanish: 10:00 am
  • German: 8:30 am
  • Groups of 10 or more must reserve ahead of time with the visitors center

Perhaps even more riveting, you can also watch a Knesset debate (known for sometimes getting a little “intense”). The Plenum is open to the public:

  • Mondays and Tuesdays at 4:00 pm
  • Wednesday at  11:00 am
  • Groups of 10 or more should coordinate with the visitors center ahead of time

The Knesset, Kiryat Hamemshela, Jerusalem; Tours: 02-6753337 or tours@knesset.gov.il