Selected soft spots

Several locals describe their favorite part of the Old City.

From Jaffa Gate to the Western Wall, Jerusalem's Old City offers plenty of material for tourists. Hundreds of travel guides devote many pages to this city's historical hot spots. But what are the choice locations of the people who actually live in the Old City? On a recent windy day in March, eight locals described their favorite haunts. After living in the Jewish Quarter for more than seven months, Marc Gilbert, 35, has a very specific choice location. "The Kotel Hakatan [the Small Wall]," he said. "Basically, there's an entrance to the Temple Mount where Jews aren't allowed near, but you can look through a doorway [by the Kotel Hakatan] and see the Temple Mount. It's the best view!" Paul Cohen, from the same area, agreed that the view is one of the Old City's most attractive features. "There's a place on Rehov Chabad where you can see the entire city," he said. "You make a right up the stairs before you enter the Arab Quarter." Many Jewish Quarter locals immediately described the Western Wall as the Old City's premier highlight. Jewish Quarter resident David Gentz, 64, said, "I think the Kotel is what people come for. Obviously, there are religious reasons for Jews, but a lot of other people go there for other reasons. Some who aren't religious come for the sites and its being completely rebuilt." In a part of the city crammed with nearly 37,000 residents, silence is a rare commodity. Yonatan Hormnan, 25, goes to the Old Jewish Quarter Square when he is looking for some peace of mind. "There's a small street that used to belong to the district owned by the Turks during the Ottoman Empire that's in front of a school and a yeshiva. It's a quiet, nice space; something you don't often find here," he said. From the Armenian Quarter, Naro Kalaydjian, 34, prefers his house of faith and community: St. James's Cathedral. "It's one of the oldest churches in Jerusalem," he said. "The services are fantastic, and you can feel the spirit." He also named the Armenian Convent as one of his favorite places. Garo and Sonia Sandrovni, also from the Armenian Quarter, claimed that their entire district is a place of solace from the Old City's busier areas. Sonia Sandrovni said that many tourists believe they can't go into the Armenian Quarter "because it's closed." A by-product of this misconception is the creation of a relatively undisturbed neighborhood. "It's one of the quietest parts of the Old City," said Garo Sandrovni. "You can hardly hear a sound." Residents from the neighboring Muslim Quarter appreciate the Armenian side's tranquility as well. "It's quiet and nice near the Armenian Quarter," said Manzar Salman, a Muslim Quarter resident who named this area as his favorite part of the Old City.