How to visit Temple Mount as a tourist: Old City, Jerusalem, Israel
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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:
Location 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.
- 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.
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:
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!
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:
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!
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:
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:
5 | While Visiting Temple Mount
First and foremost Temple Mount is a religious site and must be treated as such. Be respectful.
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.
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.