Jerusalem’s universities beckon students with their academic diversity as well as the religious significance of the city itself, the religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all consider Jerusalem a holy place. However, beyond the spiritual relevance of the Old City, the modern side of the city is rich with cultural, historical, and political significance, and modern attractions for students from any background. Students who study abroad is Jerusalem will find sites to immerse themselves in Israeli culture and learn about Jerusalem on almost every corner, but here are some of the best.
An eclectic collection that ranges from prehistoric archaeology to contemporary art, the Israel Museum is a vast campus, which includes a six-acre sculpture garden and an interactive children’s wing. Of special interest is the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit, which is spectacular enough to warrant a visit on its own. There is also a large-scale model of the city of Jerusalem from the time of Christ, which visitors rave about. The museum also features impressive restaurants and a gift shop. Some summer study abroad programs in Jerusalem even focus entirely on the museums and archaeology of Israel, so the Israel Museum is most definitely one place participants of those programs must visit.
Tisch Family Zoological Gardens (Biblical Zoo)
Almost every major city in the world has a zoo, but only Jerusalem has a zoo like this! The 62-acre compound features animals mentioned in the Bible, as well as endangered species from around the world. The zoo is well-maintained, clean, and spacious. Animal habitats are authentic with landscaping, waterfalls, natural pools, and other features that are right for each species. There are explanations about the source in the Bible where each animal is mentioned so for students studying theology in Jerusalem who have a love of animals, visiting the “Biblical Zoo” is the best of both worlds. A favorite among kids (and kids at heart), the biblical themed zoo is a true gem in Jerusalem.
Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial
Leading the world’s Holocaust research and educational centers, this spectacular memorial is set on 45 beautiful acres, which include indoor exhibits, outdoor monuments, memorials, gardens, and sculptures. Jerusalem’s tribute is unlike any other Holocaust memorial and a must see for anyone interested in exploring Jewish Studies while studying in Jerusalem. Visitors report an emotional experience that is moving because it focuses both on the individual heartbreaks and the enormity of the tragedy of the masses. Extensive exhibits include authentic and compelling photographs, videos, and memorabilia. It is a sobering experience, but one that is educational, emotional, and exceptional all at once.
The First Station
In the modern city, the remodeled train station known as “The First Station,” is a hub of entertainment, culture, shopping, and culinary delights. At the Visitors’ Center, study abroad students can order Segway, bicycle, or walking tours of the area. Eateries include fresh seafood, Italian and French cuisine, vegetarian dishes, Mediterranean fare, and high-quality, gourmet ice cream and fresh fruit smoothies.
Weekly activities at The First Station include Zumba, Tai Chi, and Qigong movement classes, jazz performances, balloon artists, face painting, story hours for children, hula hoop workshops, laughter yoga, kite painting, and more. Students studying abroad in Jerusalem can pass endless hours here amongst local Jerusalemites.
Jerusalem Botanical Gardens
For naturalists and gardeners, the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens are a serene, earthy space. Located within the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s campus, over 10,000 species of plant life are cultivated by the university’s experts, while a tranquil series of streams and ponds flowing throughout. There is a recreational miniature train ride available to children and a café with outdoor seating overlooking the lily pond lake, which serves delicious food too.
There are five main areas of the gardens, which each deserve exploration:
- The Dworsky Tropical Conservatory
- The Bible Trail
- The African Savannah grass maze
- The Bonsai area
- Various outdoor sections which showcase native vegetation from the regions of South Africa, Europe, North America, Australia, Asia, and the Mediterranean
The Botanical Gardens also host workshops, fairs, and concerts periodically throughout the year, which can be great alternative learning experiences for students studying in Jerusalem.
Explore Jerusalem’s New City Too
Every student who chooses to study in Jerusalem should traverse the narrow passageways and religious sites of Old City Jerusalem, but make sure to leave time to explore these wonders of the new city as well. Whether you prefer the serenity of the Botanical Gardens, the liveliness of The First Station, the historical significance of Yad Vashem, the biblical animal kingdom in the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens, or the diverse offerings within the Israel Museum, Jerusalem’s New City has a new adventure for every study abroad student.