The Uniqueness of Israel
Jerusalem’s Hidden Gardens
If you are spending part of your gap year in Jerusalem and you feel the need to escape into some beautiful nature, you are lucky to have many options. Best of all, you don’t even need to travel far as the city is home to some beautiful gardens that you are free to explore. There are famous gardens, such as the Wohl Rose Garden and the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens, but there are also a number of hidden gems.
Right in the centre of town, just off King David Street, is the Andalusian Garden. Not far from the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, the David Amar World Center for Jewish Heritage in North Africa is home to a stunning courtyard garden with a Moroccan design. In addition to the beautiful flowers and plants, there are also a number of impressive mosaics as well as three Moroccan fountains linked by an ever-flowing water channel.
You can then walk slightly further up the road to the YMCA, easily identifiable by its bell tower that was designed by Arthur Loomis Harmon, the same man behind the Empire State Building. Behind the Three Arches Hotel, you will find a garden that was planted on the old football stadium, which was the home of Beitar Jerusalem until 1991 and for a long time, was the city’s only sports stadium. The new park was designed by Israel Hadany who included a number of white pergolas with sculptured motifs, a waterfall, and a canal.
There is a good chance that you have heard of the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives; however, you may not know of the Orson Hyde Memorial Park, a 5.5-acre area on the mountain’s western slope. The park was opened in 1979 and was designed by Lepa Yahalom and Dan Tzur. There are walking paths to help you explore it, a huge stone amphitheatre, and some stunning views of the Old City and the Kidron Valley. You can also explore the herb garden, and enjoy the olive trees and water lilies.
If you are interested in botany then you will not want to miss the Mount Scopus Botanical Garden. It was founded in 1931 by the botanists Professor Otto Verburg and Alexander Eig. It is home to more than 950 different species of plants, which accounts for more than 40% of the wild plant species in Israel. They collected plants from the desert, the Mediterranean scrub, the mountains in the Negev, the costal sand dunes, and more. While there, you can also explore some ancient burial caves from the Second Temple era. Buried in the caves is Nicanor of Alexandria, who donated the copper for the doors of the Temple. In more recent times, Dr. Yehuda Leib Pinsker and Menachem Ussishkin were also buried in the caves.
There is also a garden at the nearby Hadassah University Medical Center. It is a Healing and Environmental Garden and is home to beautiful lawns, flowerbeds, vegetables patches, herbs, and much more. There is even a children’s playground.
If you are looking for a bit of peace and quiet amongst the hustle and bustle of Jerusalem, then be sure to pay these gardens a visit.