Approaches Holy Week, a very special moment for Christians since it has to do with the death and resurrection of Christ. If long ago they were days of retreat and quiet celebrations, today, hand in hand with tourism, thousands of people move from here to there taking advantage of those holidays to rest and if they are religious, go to places where the festivities are special.
I imagine that there are exceptional places, related to the life and death of Jesus and that there should be nothing more unique than spending Holy Week in them. I think of Jerusalem, for example, it must be great to spend Holy Week in the same place where those supposed events took place. Let's see how Holy Week is celebrated in Jerusalem and what accommodation options we have:
Holy Week in Jerusalem
The call City of peace has been declared Heritage by UNESCO in 1981 and every year this Christian religious festival is lived in its streets. Thousands of tourists come and follow the Passion of Christ throughout the city and live the days between Palm Sunday, when Jesus enters Jerusalem, and Easter, his resurrection. A whole week to pure Christianity.
Palm Sunday is the Mount of Olives, in the Kidrón valley, east of the city. The pilgrims walk to the Church of Bethphage and from there to the entrance of the city, following the steps that Jesus did more than two thousand years ago. The Santa Ana Church in Getsemaní is the next stop and after that you enter the city crossing the Puerta de San Esteban. On Holy Thursday the Last Supper is remembered, moment of the Eucharist and betrayal of Judas, the mass in the Holy Sepulcher where the dishes are washed and the visit to the Cenacle that is only open twice a year, on Holy Thursday and on the day of Pentecost.
The faithful pilgrims continue their journey to the Basilica of the Agony, where there is mass in the afternoon. On Good Friday there is a large pilgrimage on the Via Crucis through the alleys to Mount Golgotha, always stopping at the stations of penance. Vigil Saturday is a time of waiting precisely, well on Easter Sunday the Resurrection of Christ is remembered and there is a pilgrimage again to the Holy Sepulcher. Mass and procession. And if you have time, a last rite takes place about eleven kilometers from the city, since Al Qaibe is the place where the recently risen Jesus appeared for the first time to his followers.
How to go to Jerusalem
Un Iberia direct flight from Madrid to Tel Aviv lasts almost five hours And since we are already on the date the basic rate is already sold out for flights in the morning, but flying at 11 at night the flight has a price of around 165 euros. Without that fee prices are above 200 euros. Then you have to go from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a journey that takes an hour and a half by road as there are barely 65 kilometers.
You can go from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by bus, taxi or rental car. If you are staying in a hotel, you can arrange with the hotel to be picked up, obviously at your own expense.
Where to stay in Jerusalem
In relation to accommodation there's a little bit of everything, from five-star hotels to cheaper accommodations. You can stay in the center of the city, to the west, in the Christian Quarter or in Nachla'ot, for example. I was doing a web search thinking about arriving in Jerusalem on Wednesday the 23rd to leave on Monday the 28th of March, so that's five nights in total.
Three-star hotels are among the 400 and 500 euros for five nights including taxes and fees. The Palatin Hotel Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Garden Hotel & Spa, the Agrjipas Boutique Hotel, the Victoria Hotel, for example, have those prices.
For less than 100 euros you have student hostels: the Citadel Youth Hostel, the Abraham Hostel, the Jerusalem Hostel. They are good options if you are young and want to meet people, as always.
- Abraham Hostel: has very good reviews. It is not in the city center but a 10 minute walk costs nothing. It has a bar, a travel agency, a kitchen that can always be used and a comfortable terrace with sun loungers, sofas and chairs. There is a luggage store, lounge, TV room and laundry room. The beds are basic and there are no luxuries, but if you don't want to spend a lot of money it is a recommended option. A shared dormitory with 10 beds, mixed, costs 104 euros if you stay between March 23 and 28. Nothing bad. Five nights. By that date there are no longer options in smaller bedrooms, except in the six-bed female dormitory that costs 127 euros.
- Jerusalem Hostel: This hostel is located in the heart of West Jerusalem, minutes from the historic center and its attractions. It has WiFi throughout the building, a sunny terrace, equipped kitchen, tourist desk, a 24-hour supermarket on the corner and a safe. A single room costs around 50 euros, a double 70 euros. The family rooms have been sold for Easter, but a bed in a male bedroom costs almost 19 euros and the same in the female bedroom.
- Citadel Youth Hostel: this hostel works in a building that is 700 years old and it is built on a high hill in the old city. The views are great and so is the atmosphere. Between 2009 and 2013 this hostel has been voted as one of the top five hostels in Jerusalem. It is two minutes from local markets, five from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the West Wall and many other historical sites. Rates? A bed in a 12-bed dorm costs 106 euros for five nights. You can choose to sleep on the terrace and pay less, about 57 euros. A single but with a private bathroom costs 215 euros and a double with shared bathroom, 359 euros. If you want a private bathroom, it is more expensive: a bedroom with two beds and a private bathroom 431 euros.
You still have time to organize a quick trip to the heart of Christianity. Six days and five nights living Christianity every moment of the day and celebrate Easter 2016 in a unique way.