Those that spend their gap year with Aardvark Israel in Jerusalem will be living in the neighbourhood of Katamonim. The neighbourhood is located in the southwestern section of Jerusalem in between the centre of town and the area around the Malcha shopping centre. Following the war of independence the neighbourhood began to be populated by new immigrants to Israel which resulted in the area having a lively character full of different types of people. Most of the buildings in the area are quite old, but it is full of lovely private homes with their own gardens set in small streets. In recent years some new buildings have begun to appear and they in no way detract from the character of the neighbourhood. As a result of the eclectic group of people that first settled in Katamonim it is home to a number of different synagogues and those of you who wish to attend services will have a great time exploring them all and their different characters. The main advantages of living in Katamonim are all related to its location. It is close enough to the center of town that as long as you don’t mind a bit of a walk you can get there at any time of day or night with minimal effort. Of course most of the time there are busses and these run extremely regularly throughout the week. Furthermore, a short walk in the opposite direction takes you to the aforementioned Malcha shopping centre. This is by far Jerusalem’s largest shopping centre and you will find enough shops there to cater to your every need. The Malcha area is also home to the Teddy Stadium and the indoor sports arena so sports fans will have plenty of opportunities to attend matches and get to know the local sporting scene. Within Katamonim itself there are also plenty of supermarkets, some of which are open twenty-four hours a day, so don’t worry you will always be able to easily get hold of food. Another excellent aspect of Katamonim is that there are numerous lovely places to walk extremely close by. The Ibex Valley is very close by as are the Botanical Gardens, the Sacher Park and more. Thanks to this, if you ever need a quiet escape from the city within a few minutes you can be strolling through some of Israel’s loveliest nature. Furthermore, Park HeMesilla also passes through Katamonim. This is a lovely new park which leads to the recently renovated Tachana Rishona, the first train station. There you will find a great mixture of cafes and restaurants catering to all tastes and there are also regular live music events which are always great fun. This is not all; those that wish to explore Jerusalem’s Old City will find it an easy walk from Katamonim so it will always be possible to go for a wander and get to know the old city in even more depth. On a lighter note, areas such as Emek Refaim, Talpiyot and Derech Bet Lehem are also within walking distance. Emek Refaim is a street that is packed with restaurants and cafes which offer a great atmosphere. Furthermore, there is a small neighbourhood cinema there which is also home to a lovely bar and restaurant. The same is true of Derech Bet Lehem, there are numerous neighbourhood bars and restaurants and you’ll soon discover that there is a great community to get to know while sipping a coffee or glass of wine. Talpiot is Jerusalem’s industrial area, this means that not only is it home to every kind of shop you could possibly need, but it is also home to cinemas, bars and clubs. Overall Katamonim is a neighbourhood that is undergoing great change. The gentrification of the area is evident as the contrast between the old and new is buildings is striking. The community is comprised of the old and the young, those that have lived there for most of their lives and those that have recently moved in. There is also a mixture between religious and secular people without any of the tension that is found in many of Jerusalem’s other neighbourhoods. While living in Katamonim on your gap year you will be able to explore all that this unique neighbourhood has to offer while benefiting from its superb location and all that the rest of the city has to offer.