How to visit Temple Mount as a tourist: Old City, Jerusalem, Israel

by | Jan 1, 2015 | Israel | 16 comments

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Temple Mount is one of the one most incredible sights in Jerusalem but restricted opening hours and tight security can make it difficult to visit. With some careful planning we were able to access the site of Temple Mount and it was one of the highlights of our trip to Israel. Here’s our step by step guide to visiting Temple Mount as a tourist or Non-Muslim.

1 | The Entrance to Temple Mount

Temple Mount can be accessed by 11 gates in the Old City of Jerusalem but tourists and non-Muslims are only allowed to enter through the Moroccan Gate which is also known as Mugrabi Gate. This gate is located near the Western Wall Plaza close to Dung gate.

The wooden walkway marking the non-Muslim entrance to Temple Mount:

How to visit Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock ©thewholeworldisaplaygroundLocation of the entrance:

2 | Tourist and Non-Muslim Opening Times at Temple Mount

Entrance times are restricted for tourists and non-Muslims and Temple Mount is only accessible during the below hours.

Visiting Hours
  • Summer: Sunday to Thursday: 8:30am to 11:30am and 1:30pm to 2:30pm
  • Winter: Sunday to Thursday: 7:30am to 10:30am and 12:30pm to 1:30pm
  • If you don’t make it through security before closing the guards won’t let you in.

Closures

It is possible that the site may be closed for security reasons at any time and, as a result, entrance is not guaranteed. Temple Mount is typically closed to non-Muslims on Jewish festivals and Israeli national days when rioting is likely to occur. Due to this try to plan your visit early in your trip to Jerusalem in case of closures.

The discarded riot shields act as a reminder of the unrest that had broken out at Temple Mount and resulted in its closure the day prior to our visit:

How to visit Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock ©thewholeworldisaplayground

Where to stay in Jerusalem

Visiting Jerusalem is an incredible experience but due to the layout of the city and the narrow streets the only real way to explore the city is to walk. We found visiting the Old City early in the morning and later in the evening when crowds were quieter to be the best experience. To allow you to do this we recommend staying as close to the Old City walls as possible. The best hotels we recommend are:

  • Harmony Hotel: Where we stayed and a short 5 minute walk from the Jaffa Gate entrance to the Old City. This stunning boutique hotel really made our stay in Jerusalem special. A delicious breakfast each morning, afternoon drinks on the sun filled terrace and a perfect location make this our top pick for staying beside the Old City of Jerusalem. The local area is lively with a great atmosphere and lots of great restaurants and bars. The hotel also has free parking which was great when we rented a car for a day trip to Massada – click here to book now!
  • Sephardic House Hotel: located within the Old City itself in the Jewish Quarter (close to the Zion Gate), this hotel is a short walking distance from all of the sights, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Temple Mount and the Western Wall to name a few nearby). Perfect if you want to stay in the Old City itself – click here to book now!
  • Bezalel Hotel:  A fantastic value hotel located 10 minutes walk from the Jaffa Gate. A sister hotel of the Harmony hotel, the Bezalel is a great alternative if the Harmony Hotel is booked out! – click here to book now!

Click here for the best Jerusalem hotel prices

 

3 | The Queues

Having made a failed attempt to visit Temple Mount earlier in the week, we weren’t taking any chances on missing out and we arrived around 12pm for the 1:30pm summer afternoon visiting session! We were first in the line but by the time Temple Mount opened for visitors there was an enormous queue behind us. Bring water, sunscreen and a hat as there’s little shade and the slow security checks mean it can take over an hour to pass through.

Watching a Bar Mitzvah pass by on the way to the Wailing Wall:

How to visit Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock ©thewholeworldisaplayground

3 | Temple Mount Dress Code

A modest dress is essential to gain access to Temple Mount. Women should wear a knee length dress or trousers (trousers are preferable as some cotton skirts can be considered as see through and therefore inappropriate) and upper arms and chest must be covered by a top or a scarf. Men are required to wear long pants below the knee or cover up with a shawl.

I like your skirt!

How to visit Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock ©thewholeworldisaplaygroundNot taking any chances on the shoulder area!

How to visit Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock ©thewholeworldisaplayground

4 | Security Checks

Bring your passport and ensure that you are not carrying anything that could be considered as a weapon. Security is tight at Temple Mount with airport style checks at the entrance and our passports were checked upon entry.  It is not permissible to bring sacred Jewish objects to the Temple.

The security hut:

How to visit Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock ©thewholeworldisaplayground

Having had our passports scrutinized and passing the clothing and security checks we were finally granted access to Temple Mount. For more pictures and info on our visit check out our post here.

We made it! The wooden walkway marking the entry way to Temple Mount:

How to visit Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock ©thewholeworldisaplayground

5 | While Visiting Temple Mount

First and foremost Temple Mount is a religious site and must be treated as such. Be respectful.

Praying:

The Israeli government currently enforces a ban on non-Muslim prayer on the site and anyone who does not obey this ban may be removed from the site.

Entering the Mosques

Non-Muslims are forbidden from entering Dome of the Rock or Al-Aqsa mosque.

Entrance sign:

How to visit Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock ©thewholeworldisaplaygroundThe interior Dome of the Rock is not accessible to non-Muslims:
How to visit Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock ©thewholeworldisaplayground

Is it safe to visit Temple Mount?

The high levels of security meant we felt very safe during our visit to Temple Mount. The authorities are quick to react during times of unrest and typically close the site on Jewish festivals and Israeli national days when rioting is a possibility.

How to visit Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock ©thewholeworldisaplayground

For more pictures and information on our visit to Temple Mount check out this post!How to visit Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock ©thewholeworldisaplayground

For more on our visit to Temple Mount check out our incredible pics and details of the trip here!

16 Comments

  1. john

    Very informative

    Reply
  2. Kenna

    Thank you so much for this blog! I have been doing research on non-muslims visiting this area, and it is very hard to find information. Can you tell me about the safety of the area? Where did you guys lodge? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Elaine

      Hi Kenna! We found Jerusalem very safe and there was a lot of security which put us at ease. We stayed in a little boutique hotel not far from the Old City called Harmony Hotel, we really liked it. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  3. Judith

    Thanks for the great info. I think we will try to go up there on a Thursday afternoon 1st October, during Sukkot, a Jewish festival. This will be our only chance. Do you think it will be open on that kind of holiday day? Also, would you know if 1st October is considered summer or winter time? Don’t want to get the wrong hour. Thanks kindly.

    Reply
    • Elaine

      Hi Judith. I believe it was open last year but it could be very busy and tensions have been very high in previous years (have a look at some of the news articles from 2014). I think October would fall under winter but the hours could vary during the festival.

      Elaine

      Reply
  4. Alexander Anastasijevic

    Very nice blog! Thank you very much for important details. Regards from Salzburg!

    Reply
    • Elaine

      Thanks Alexander, glad you found the post useful!

      Elaine

      Reply
  5. Ellie Quinn

    Really helpful post! I’m going to try and get there tomorrow!
    Thanks for posting!

    Reply
    • Elaine

      Glad it was useful Ellie, saw your pic on Instagram so know you made it!

      Reply
  6. Andres

    Hello, in regards to not being able to enter the Dome or Mosque as a non-muslim. How did they know/check if you where one?

    Reply
    • Elaine

      Hi Andres! I guess they can gather a lot from appearance – we looked like complete tourists so it was very obvious! We approached one of the entrances earlier in the week and were meet with a lot of shouting and waving.

      Reply
  7. Cameron Cobb

    Great post, Elaine! Very informative and useful!

    Reply
    • Elaine

      Thanks Cameron, glad you liked it!

      Elaine

      Reply
  8. Wayne Stiles

    Thanks for this, Elaine! What months are considered “winter”? We’re planning to go in two weeks– in March. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Elaine

      Hi Wayne, glad you liked the post! I’m guessing March is winter but not really sure! Let me know when you visit if you find out!

      Reply
  9. Abhi

    Extremely helpful – thank you so much for the details and pictures you’ve included here

    Reply

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