Walking Trails through the Old
City and Beyond
By Dr. Yusef Said Al-Natsheh | Jerusalem Tourism Cluster,
2015, 192 pages, $20
To understand Jerusalem’s diversity, history, and culture, as well as the various influences on its existence throughout the years, it is important to look beyond the main historical and religious sites. Discovering Jerusalem’s Secrets, by Yusef Al-Natsheh, a scholar on Jerusalem’s Islamic and Arab history, takes you on such a journey. Some excerpts that can be found in this issue of TWiP (see “Walking Inside the Old City”) will shed some light on this accessible and easily organized manuscript that not only provides the reader with more than a written history of Jerusalem but also serves as a guide for visitors who want to explore the city’s gems. The book offers an account of ten different elements of the city that are often bypassed by the regular pilgrim. These elements were chosen to delineate ten different trails that include some of the relevant sites associated with a particular theme and its objectives.
Following the trails is easy. Locations and sites have been chosen based on importance and accessibility in order to provide the visitor with an enjoyable and impressionable experience. Missing from the book, however, are the people who live in and around the various sites, and their stories. Jerusalem comprises not only its monumental sites but also the pluralism and cultural heritage diversity that its people provide. Interaction with the local people is the added value that will contribute to the realization of a comprehensive culturally flavored itinerary.
The book covers certain well-known themes such as the wall and suqs of the Old City. It also provides a number of itineraries of lesser-known and less-popular destinations, such as the buildings constructed by women in Palestine’s history or the Sufi corners and institutions. Other themes are more technical and shed light on the Old City’s water system, troughs, and springs, or on the city’s varied architectural mosaic that has existed throughout its history.
The Jerusalem Tourism Cluster maintains the EnjoyJerusalem website (www.enjoyjerusalem.com), where further additional thematic trails and itineraries are suggested. The hope is to eventually consolidate these resources into a new volume as part of the series Discovering Jerusalem’s Secrets.