Visiting the Temple Mount of Jerusalem as a tourist

Mount Temple Jerusalem

A holy place for Muslims, Jewish and Christian people, Temple Mount of Jerusalem is located within the Old Town of Jerusalem above the Western Wall and is a popular destination among tourists.

Everybody can visit the site and the Al-Aqsa Mosque but only Muslims are allowed to visit the Dome of the Rock.

The site is the third holiest place in Islam after Mecca and Medina and is the centrepiece of inter-religious tensions for a very long period of time.

At this moment the place is under Israeli sovereignty but it is administrated by Muslim religious trust known as Muslim Waqf.

Temple Mount of Jerusalem
Temple Mount of Jerusalem

Why is the site considered holy by Jews?

Har Habayit as Jewish people call this place is the place where Abraham took his son Isaac to be sacrificed in order to show his devotion to God.

Here, exactly on this place, the Jewish tradition said that was built the Temple of King Solomon which was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC.

A few centuries later, in the same place, a second temple was built which was destroyed by the Roman Empire in 70 CE. The destruction of the temple is still mourned by Jewish people on the fast day of Tisha B’av.

The scriptures say that the third temple will be built exactly on the existing area of the temple during the messianic age.

Why is the site considered holy by Muslims?

Mount Temple Jerusalem is considered a holy place by Muslims, too. Haram Al-Sharif as it is known among Muslims is the place from where the prophet Muhammad ascent to heaven in the seventh century Bce.

In our days, the place is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque which is the third holiest site in Islam and the gold-topped Dome of the Rock, which is one of the most recognised symbols of the city of Jerusalem.

Entrance to the Temple Mount of Jerusalem

Access

This holy site is accessible from the Old Town through 11 gates by Muslims, but tourists and non-muslims can access this place only through the Moroccan Gate known also as Mugrabi Gate.

The gate for tourists is located right near the Western Wall Plaza close to the Dung Gate.
The site is not open all day long; there are certain hours when tourists are allowed to enter.

Opening hours

During summertime, the visiting hours from Sunday to Thursday are 8.30 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. and 1.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m.

During wintertime, the opening hours are different than in summer and are from 7.30 a.m. to 10.30 a.m. and from 12.30 p.m. to 1.30 p.m.

For security reasons and as a safety measurement Mount Temple Jerusalem can be closed at any time so, the entrance to this attraction is not guaranteed.

As a general rule, the place is closed during Jewish holidays and Israeli national days when the risks of confrontations between the parties increase.

Dress code

In order to enter, women and men have to be dressed modesty. Women should wear a knee-length dress or trousers and upper arms and chest must be covered by a scarf.

Shabbat Israel Jerusalem Sabbath
Shabbat Israel Jerusalem Sabbath

Men on the other hand are required to wear long pants below the knee or cover their legs with s shawl.

There is a security control with Israeli security forces and Israeli police and you are not allowed to enter with weapons as well as sacred Jewish objects such as talit or prayer book.

The queues

The queue to enter the Temple Mount of Jerusalem might be extremely long, especially during peak season.

If you want to be sure that you will be able to enter the site you should be in front of the gate with a minimum 30-45 minutes before the opening hours.

For example, if you want to visit the site from 12.30, then make sure to be there at 12.00 because I know many people who did not arrive earlier and they were not able to enter the site before closing hours.

The security checks

In order to enter the Mount Temple Jerusalem, you need to pass the security checks.

Because the procedures are very strict and severe you will lose a lot of precious time with this procedure.

Actually, this is one of the main reasons why access to the site is so slow and difficult.

Before leaving the hotel, make sure you have with you the passport and double-check your bag not to have any items which might resemble with weapons.

Your access to the site will be denied if weapons or suspect items are found in your bag and in your pockets.

To have a clear image of how is the control at the entrance of the site, I will tell you to compare it with the one from the airport. It is exactly the same stringent and thorough as the one from Ben Gurion International Airport Israel.

Is it safe to visit the site?

With such a strict security check at the gate, this Israeli attraction made me feel very secure and safe.

There are the security checks and more than that, each time when the authorities felt that is unsafe to keep the monument open, they don’t hesitate and close it immediately.

Usually, the site is closed during Israeli National Holidays and Jewish festivals for security reasons.

Things to know before you go

There are a few things which you should know before you visit the Temple Mount of Jerusalem:

  • because the queues are extremely long going to the entrance gate with at least 30 minutes before the opening hours. In peak season, the queue is even longer, so plan enough time to wait in the queue not just for visiting the site.
  • you are not allowed to enter with any Christian or Jewish artefacts inside this area. Double-check your bag and postpone your shopping session after the visit because otherwise you won’t be allowed inside with Christian or Jewish artefacts.
  • don’t forget your passport at the hotel because you are not allowed to enter the Mount Temple Jerusalem without a valid ID.
  • dress properly and in accordance with the place you are about to visit; women must have their shoulders covered and long pants or long skirt, while men are not allowed with shorts
  • do not take photos to the security guards or Israeli Police and show them a lot of respect otherwise you might not be allowed to enter the site. Just remember that you are in a holy land and respect is essential if you want to be allowed to visit it.
  • No matter if you are Christian or Jew, you are not allowed to pray inside the site; only Muslims are allowed to pray there.

I must tell you that the Temple Mount of Jerusalem and the Dome of the Rock are the most important, meaningful and memorable experiences which should not be missed when visit Jerusalem.

This place is a point of reference for Christians, Muslims and Jewish and you definitely have to include it into your travel plans!

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