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10 free places to visit at night in Jerusalem

From the Chord Bridge to the Western Wall, this city yields new perspectives after dark
Illustrative: Clear by Malki Shem-Tov (Courtesy Jerusalem Festival of Light, 2012/File)
Illustrative: Clear by Malki Shem-Tov (Courtesy Jerusalem Festival of Light, 2012/File)

The tenth annual Jerusalem Lights Festival starts on June 27 and continues through July 5. The free festival features a variety of visually stunning light and digital art installations throughout the Old City, along with interactive displays and street performances.

However, you do not need to wait for this yearly event to experience the unique night-time atmosphere in Jerusalem. Here are 10 free places to visit in Jerusalem at night:

1. The Kotel, the Western/Wailing Wall

One of the holiest places in Judaism, the spiritual atmosphere at the Western Wall is enhanced by evening breezes and the bright lighting that showcases the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock. The atmosphere is particularly special on Friday evenings, as visitors usher in the Jewish Sabbath, with energetic prayers filled with singing and dancing.

Jerusalem Chords Bridge at Night

2. The Jerusalem Chords Bridge

The Jerusalem Chords Bridge, is illuminated by colorful lights and changing patterns throughout the evening. You can walk across the bridge or ride the light rail between the stops for Kiryat Moshe and Central Bus Station.

Yemin Moshe Windmill

3. Yemin Moshe and Mishkenot Sha’ananim

These historic Jerusalem neighborhoods overlooking the walls of the Old City have just enough lighting to allow you to stroll through the scenic streets and temporarily escape the (nearby) noise of the city.

Exterior of the historic First Train Station in Jerusalem

4. The Tachana Rishona, the First Train Station

Built in 1892, the historic railway station was operational until 1998. In 2013, it reopened as a multi-use complex, featuring a number of gift shops and restaurants and as a center for cultural events, ranging from music concerts to folk dancing to movie screenings. There is also a children’s section, featuring a carousel and arcade games.

5. Kikar Safra — Jerusalem City Hall

The plaza at Kikar Safra hosts occasional cultural events and there are frequent performers at the Cadenza concrete piano, located at the Jaffa Road entrance. Visitors can also listen to random music playing from the giant radio near the gardens located next to the municipal complex.

Letters in Lights, part of a light installation along Jaffa Road

6. Light Displays on Buildings along Jaffa Road

Starting from Tzahal Square and continuing to the Shuk Mahane Yehuda Market, several historic buildings along Jaffa Road have been lit up with colorful lighting, and have various elements projected onto them.

Night view of Ben Shetach Street in Jerusalem

7. Shimon Ben Shetach Street

There are a number of restaurants and pubs along Shimon Ben Shetach Street in Central Jerusalem, whose trees are adorned with LED lights. Make sure not to miss the mural featuring whimsical scenes from Jerusalem and historical figures, on the Bituach Leumi building.

Main Stage at Kikar HaMusica

8. Kikar HaMusica

This entertainment complex has several upscale restaurants that are open late into the night and hosts free musical performances daily.

Mamilla Shopping Complex

9. Mamilla Shopping Complex

The outdoor shopping center hosts several Israeli folk dancing and Shira B’Tzibur, communal public singing, evening events. Additionally the center serves an outdoor art gallery displaying seasonal exhibitions.

The Shuk Mahane Yehuda Market transforms at night into an entertainment center

10. Shuk Mahane Yehuda Market

After the sun sets, the Shuk Mahane Yehuda Market changes from an outdoor food market into a thriving culinary venue filled with several pubs and eateries. The storefront shutters come down to reveal many colorful spray paint artworks.

About the Author
Eli Varenberg is a Jerusalem-based licensed Israeli tour guide and researcher of Jewish History and Jewish Studies. Having made Aliyah in 2007, he is constantly fine-tuning his answer to the following multi-faceted question: What does it means to be Israeli?
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