Jerusalem is often in the news — and not necessarily for the right reasons. The combination of religion and politics might put many off visiting the city. That’s a shame because it’s an incredible place to visit. Not only is it the meeting point of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, it’s also a vibrant, energetic city that’s full of character and mysticism.
Many ‘things to see in Jerusalem’ articles will focus on obvious sites to visit such as the Western Wall or the Church of the Holy Sepulchre – and you should make a point of seeing both. But if you want to experience a different side of the city, to see beyond the tourist front, then here are 10 strange, unusual and wonderful things to see in Jerusalem.
1. Razzouk Ink
Head to the Old City to find Razzouk Ink. No ordinary tattoo parlor, this family-run business has tattooed pilgrims for seven centuries. The practice of religious tattoos was common in Egypt where the Razzouk family originates. Tattoos allowed Christians to identify themselves as Copts in the Middle East, so they could access churches.
Pilgrims wanted similar tattoos to mark their devotion. They often had the date added to act as a ‘certificate’ that they’d visited the Holy Land. Tattooists would add extra dates to mark future visits.
Razzouk Ink combines the old stone walls and 16th-century accounts by pilgrims with the sterility of the tattoo parlour. The family own stencil blocks that are 200-300 years old, which act as a guide for common tattoo designs. They still offer tattoos to pilgrims and visitors alike, with a flexible schedule. Find Razzouk Ink near the Jaffa Gate in the Old City.