There are many museums in Jerusalem exhibiting wonderful historical and cultural displays.
In both the modern city and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, there are many museums dedicated to archeological finds and the history of the modern state.
However, there are also museums dedicated to art, music, and more.
The Israel Museum is Israel’s largest cultural institution and one of the world’s leading museums in art and archaeology.
The focus of the museum is on the art, Judaica and ancient artifacts of the Land of Israel and beyond.
It features the most extensive holdings of Biblical and Holy Land archaeology in the world.
The Museum houses works dating from prehistory to the present day in its Archaeology, Fine Arts, and Jewish Art wings.
Chamber of the Holocaust
The Chamber of the Holocaust was the the world’s first Holocaust memorial and is a powerful yet little known museum by Israelis and tourists alike.
It was built as a symbolic cemetery, as a place for Holocaust survivors to cry and mourn for their families, especially if they didn’t know where their loved ones were buried.
The memorial was established in 1949, four years after the end of World War II and a year after Israel was founded, as Holocaust survivors who came as refugees to the country sought a place to grieve.
Built in a Crusader dungeon, the chamber was a place for Holocaust survivors and victims’ descendants to light memorial candles, recite the Kaddish, remember, and mourn.
Today, it is a museum and the objects, on display were donated by Holocaust survivors and victims’ families as a memorial to those who perished.
Yad Vashem is the Holocaust History Museum and Israel’s memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.
Established in Jerusalem in 1953, Yad Vashem has become the most visited site after the Western Wall.
It is dedicated to preserving the memory of the dead, honoring Jews who fought against their Nazi oppressors, and Gentiles who selflessly aided Jews in need.
The focus of this museum is remembrance, education, documentation, and research related to the Holocaust.
I think, together with the Chamber of the Holocaust, it tells a very important part of Jewish History.
The Jerusalem Archaeological Park
The Jerusalem Archaeological Park and Davidson Center allow you to go back through time.
The archaeological park contains artifacts from different periods: the First and Second Temple periods, the Byzantine period, Muslim period, the ancient Crusades period, as well as others.
The most exciting findings are: the walls of the city from the First Temple period, the steps leading up to the Temple, the original street from the time of the Second Temple period, shops, ritual baths, and more.
Adjacent to the Western Wall was a large and impressive street from the Second Temple period, which was actually the main street of Jerusalem at the time.
The Davidson Center on the other hand, is a museum within the archaeological park, with presentations and exhibitions related to findings from the site.
There, you can also watch a video about the pilgrims to the Temple and be one yourself through a virtual model which will take you back in time to the days of the Second Temple.
With it, you can and walk with pilgrims on the street, buy a sacrifice, immerse yourself in the mikveh, and ascend to Temple Mount.
The Herodian Quarter
The Herodian Quarter, also called the The Wohl Museum of Archaeology, is one of the largest underground archaeological sites in the world.
There you can see the incredible remains of the homes of affluent Jews and ashes from the holy cities destruction nearly two millennia ago.
It was once the great Upper City, where palaces of the Hasmonean kings and King Herod stood, and the large elaborate homes of the high priests and of the local aristocracy overlooked the Temple.
During excavation of they the Herodian Quarter they discovered extraordinary houses of the Kohanim, beautiful mosaics and artwork, household items including lounges, mikvahs, and more.
Visitors can walk through the underground courtyards and the rooms of houses, in which the stone furniture and vessels used by the inhabitants 2,000 years ago stand intact.
The Tower of David
The Tower of David Museum is located within an is the ancient citadel which used as a backdrop for cultural events.
The museum exploration of Jerusalem’s full story through exhibitions and educational tours.
The Citadel, and the archaeological finds unearthed here, are part of the events that shaped the face of Jerusalem from the days of the kings of Biblical Judah until today.
The guardrooms have been restored and are used for the permanent exhibition, while the Crusader halls are used today for temporary exhibitions.
The Burnt House
The Burnt House Museum, also known as Katros House, is a museum presenting an excavated house from the Second Temple period.
The house is located six meters below current street level in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.
The house, was found under a layer of ashes and destruction, indicating that the house had been burned down. This was the first evidence found of the total destruction of the city by the Romans.
Throughout the house, scattered among the collapsed walls, ceilings, and the second story, were fragments of stone tables and many ceramic, stone and metal vessels, evidence of pillaging by the Roman soldiers.
In the ashes broken stone with the inscription of “Bar Katros, meaning “son of Katros” who were one of the 24 priestly families that worked in the temple during the Second Temple period.
In the museum, you can walk through rooms that are virtually intact with artifacts from the time of the Second Temple.
Rockefeller Archaeological Museum
The Rockefeller Archaeological Museum houses antiquities unearthed in excavations conducted mainly during the time of the British Mandate.
The museum contains thousands of artifacts ranging from prehistoric times, dating back back one million years, to the Ottoman period.
Included in the collection is a 9,000-year old statue from Jericho, gold jewelry from the Bronze Age, and much more.
Forty-eight black-and-white photographs of archaeological sites have recently been added to the permanent exhibition.
These photographs document the pioneering archaeologists’ extensive work throughout the country in the first decades of the twentieth century.
The most charming part about this museum is the fact that it hasn’t changed much since opened in 1938.
It is frozen in time and looks very much the way museums were when British archaeologist excavated throughout the Middle East.
Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem
The Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem is the world’s only museum devoted entirely to the history of the Bible and the Ancient Near East.
This museum displays a rare and unique collections from the lands of the Bible.
It has 20 galleries with thousands of artifacts and pieces from cultures such as ancient Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek, Roman, Assyrian, and Israelite, and more.
The core exhibition displays a collection of ancient art and archaeology tracing the roots of monotheism.
The permanent exhibits give a greater appreciation and understanding of the biblical stories in the context of human history.
Old Yishuv Court Museum
The Isaak Kaplan Old Yishuv Court Museum tells the story of the inhabitants of the Old Yishuv, displayed through their original belongings, objects, and tools.
It also tells of the struggles they had to face; stories of birth and marriage, happiness and sadness, and faith in God.
The museum depicts the period décor and aspects of daily life in the Jewish Quarter from the mid-19th century to the end of the Ottoman rule just after World War I.
Each room shows the Old City of Jerusalem during different time periods and different rulers, including the Ottoman Empire, 19th Century, British Mandate and the HaAri Synagogue.
The Herzl Museum gives visitors insight into the life and activities of Theodor Herzl, the founder of the modern Zionist movement.
It details his life and many contributions to the Zionist cause.
It also provides a glimpse into Herzl’s analysis of the Jewish condition, a portrayal of his ambitions, vision, disappointments and achievements, and the challenge of his legacy.
The museum is split into four exhibition spaces, three of them showing different eras of Herzl’s life.
From the beginning of his life in Vienna and the Dreyfus trial, through the Zionist Congresses in Basel, until his early death at the age of 44.
The highlight of the tour is the fourth room where visitors are given a view of the accomplishments of the Jewish state, despite the many difficulties and hardships.
Plugat Hakotel Museum
The Plugat HaKotel Museum tells the seldom mentioned story of the Western Wall Platoon, a group of 24 young men and women who risked their lives to keep a Jewish spark alive at the Western Wall.
It is due to the unrelenting determination of Plugot HaKotel, the shofar continued to be blown at the Western Wall every Yom Kippur until the establishment of our Jewish State of Israel.
Museum tells the storiy of their bravery and of the heroism of the Irgun members who were brought up on the same values instilled by the platoon.
Museum of Underground Prisoners
The Museum of Underground Prisoners is located in the old central prison during the British Mandate.
Alongside criminals, hundreds of underground warriors were imprisoned: Haganah, Etzel, and Lehi.
These were people who had been captured by the British on various actions, while fighting against foreign rule.
They were charged with offenses that ranged from putting up posters, training in and possession of weapons, to physical assault.
Here they were held for several months or years, or until they were transported to Akko for execution.
Guided museum tours explore the prison cells, an introduction to the story of the underground prisoners and the story of their struggle for the benefit of the Jewish population of the Land of Israel during the British Mandate.
Here you could see the prison cells, the escape room, the synagogue cell, the solitary confinement cells, the execution chamber, telling the sacrifice story of Meir Feinstein and Moshe Barazani, and an information center.
The tour also includes a film following a new prisoner at the prison.
The prison was evacuated towards the end of the Mandate and was conquered by the Haganah with the assistance of the Etzel and Lehi during Operation Kilshon on 14th May 1948.
Jewish Quarter Defender's Memorial
Jewish Quarter Defender’s Memorial features rare images which capture the last days before the fall of the Jewish Quarter.
A photographer from Life Magazine captured the progress of the Jordanian fighters as well as the dramatic moments the decision to surrender and the signing.
Sixty-nine fighters and thirty residents of the Jewish Quarter fell in the War of Independence.
Forty eight of them were buried in a mass grave where the Gal-Ed memorial monument now marks, Batei Machseh Square.
After the Six-Day War, their burial place was located and they were brought to rest on Mount of Olives.
The Begin Museum tells the life story of 6th Prime Minister of Israel Menachem Begin.
The exhibits explore Begin’s childhood in Poland, his years as the commander of the Irgun, the leader of the Opposition and finally, as Prime Minister of the State of Israel.
The museum uses Begin’s life story one also learns the story of one of the most fascinating episodes of Israel’s history: the Zionist struggle for the establishment of the State of Israel and it’s early years.
The museum includes historical reconstructions and reenactments, rare dramatic documentary videos, interactive touch-screen exhibits, striking presentations and a surround sound narration.
Ammunition Hill is the site of one of the most hard won and important battles fought during the Six-Day War leading to the reunification of Jerusalem.
Today it is a memorial and a museum to the men who sacrificed their lives in battle and a museum of the Six-Day war.
The fighting that took place on the night of June 6, 1967 lasted four hours.
Ultimately, Paratroopers took the hill, but 36 men were lost in the process.
The victory led to the opening of the road to Mount Scopus and the Old City.
Jerusalem was ultimately reunified, however, 182 soldiers from Armored Harel, Paratrooper Divisions, and of the Air Force fell in the battle for the cause.
On-site, are battle canals, bunkers, armored vehicles from 1948, and half-track tank.
There are also 182 olive trees which were planted to commemorate the each Israeli soldiers who fell in the war.
The guided tour tells the story of the battle on Ammunition Hill and you walk the paths of the paratroopers who fought there.
You also learn about morals that guided the soldiers during this crucial battle: heroism, courage, initiative, and more.
The tour includes a visit to the trenches and bunkers and a touching interactive presentation about Jerusalem’s Six Day War.
The Heritage Center also includes an audio-visual presentation of veterans telling their personal war stories and hear the excited voices announcing “The Temple Mount ours!”
Worldwide North Africa Jewish Heritage Center
The Worldwide North Africa Jewish Heritage Center is museum of the Mughrabi neighborhood in Jerusalem and its North African residents.
The Heritage Center is the only cultural and heritage center in Israel dedicated to North African Jewry.
The building houses exhibition halls with both permanent and temporary exhibitions, photographs and unique items of Jewish life in North Africa, particularly Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.
There is also a research library with original manuscripts, studies and monographs.
Museum of Italian Jewish Art
The Umberto Nahon Museum of Italian Jewish Art is the only museum that collects objects and documentation from all the Jewish communities in Italy.
It was founded to collect, preserve, and display objects pertaining to Jewish life in Italy from the Renaissance until today.
The museum consists of three parts, the Fresco Hall, the Conegliano Synagogue, and the galleries.
The highlight of the museum collection is the Conegliano Veneto Synagogue. It was built in 1701 in a village located between Padua and Venice.
To this day, members of the Italian community in Jerusalem come to pray here.
The galleries exhibit Italian Jewish art and heritage artifacts including including tapestries, chanukkiot, furniture, silver and art work.
Among them, the second oldest Torah ark in the whole world, the oldest Parochet in the world, and remnants of a synagogue built in the 15th century.
Hebrew Music Museum
The Hebrew Music Museum exhibits of rare and ancient musical instruments from different historical periods.
The museum displays musical instruments from across the world.
There are seven galleries, each with it’s own cultural musical styles decorated according to the style of the culture it represents.
Displayed are musical instruments and manuscripts from different musical culture behind Jewish Music and which have shaped Hebrew music.
The Ancient Hebrew Nation, Central Asia (including Persia and Kurdistan), Moroccan & Andalusian, Europe & Ashkenaz, Africa & Ethiopia & Yemmen, Balkan Peninsula, Iraq & Syria & Egypt.
Roman Plaza Museum
The Roman Plaza Museum is located on the remains of the Roman plaza at what was once the entrance Aelia Capitolina.
Aelia Capitolina was the pagan city Roman emperor Hadrian built on Jerusalem after the Romans razed it about fifty years earlier.
Jews were forbidden to enter the city on penalty of death after the Bar Kochba Revolt, where the Jews recaptured Jerusalem and which took Hadrian three years to put an end to.
The Museum shows the history of Damascus Gate, displays remains of a Roman plaza and gate dating back almost 2,000 years.
There is also a fully preserved tower, standing about 40 feet high, there visitors can climb up the original stairs.
From here you can enjoy the view and connect to the Ramparts Walk.
The Agnon House is a National Heritage Site, dedicated to the work of the writer S.Y. Agnon.
Agnon was Israel’s first Nobel laureate and remains the only Hebrew author to receive the prize in literature. He is also arguably the most famed writer in Israel.
His writings were influenced by millennia of Jewish writing, from the Bible through the rabbinic codes to Hasidic storytelling. He saw his literary works as their modern retelling.
His house is now a literary museum. The study on the second floor, where many of his best-known and most beloved works were written.
At the end of the tour, one can rest in the lavish garden or dive into a book in one of the quiet halls.
Museums of Nature
My brother, who is a real animal lover, insists that zoos and aquariums are not museums with living animals and fish.
I disagree and also think botanical gardens are plant museums.
So, here are what I call museums of nature:
Jerusalem Biblical Zoo
The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo is a wonderful way to spend a relaxing day in Jerusalem.
The zoo is home to 2,200 animals representing over 270 different species across 62 acres - including most of the 130 animals mentioned in the Bible.
In addition to being a zoo, it also it a conservator of endangered species which they breed in captivity and, in some cases, reintroduce in to the wild.
Thanks to its breeding program, 11 species that had disappeared from Israel were reintroduced into nature reserves around the country, including the Syrian brown bear, the addax, and two types of fallow deer.
Jerusalem Botanical Gardens
The Jerusalem Botanical Gardens is the largest plant collection in Israel and the Middle East, spanning 45 acres.
The Gardens has plants from around the world, and display more than 6,000 species.
Their collection features 2,700 native species in Israel, including 400 or so are in danger of extinction.
The the gardens feature six section: Southern Africa, Europe, North America, Australia, South-West and Central Asia, and the Mediterranean.
During the summer and holidays, the botanical gardens hosts festivals with workshops and activities. During the winter they host special weekend activities for families.
National Botanic Garden of Israel
The National Botanic Garden of Israel, also known as the Botanical Garden of the Hebrew University, is the first botanical garden in Israel.
It covers over 6 acres and houses more than 950 plant species, representing over 40% of the wild plant species of Israel, approximately 240 are considered rare or endangered.
This botanical garden is unique as an ecological conservatory for a diverse collection of plant groups, preserving authentic Israeli species within their natural habitats from around the country.
Many of the species are very rare or non-existent in the wild.
Within the Garden are ancient burial caves from the Second Temple period.
Buried in these caves is Nicanor of Alexandria, who brought the copper doors of the Temple.
Today, visitors can see reconstructed ossuaries within the burial caves, since the originals have been moved for display to the British Museum in London.
The combination of natural flora with history and archaeology genuinely reflects the characteristic landscape of the Israeli homeland.