One weekend a year, Jerusalem opens up private spaces – designer lofts, urban villas, unique synagogues, architecturally significant public buildings, curious construction sites, plazas and gardens – to the public for Open House Jerusalem, this year on October 22-24.

The event offers guided tours of 117 different sites. Among the many available without advance reservations are:

The Kadari-Shimshoni residence in the Ein Karem neighborhood, in which a 2,000-year-old ritual bath was recently discovered under the floor.

The owners installed trap doors over the mikvah opening. Photo by Assaf Peretz/Israel Antiquities Authority
The owners installed trap doors over the mikvah opening. Photo by Assaf Peretz/Israel Antiquities Authority

Bible Hill, a little-known urban nature site featuring an unusual concentration of wild plants, in walking distance of The First Station complex, the Jerusalem Cinematheque, the Scottish Church, Mount Zion Hotel and the Menachem Begin Heritage Center (itself the site of an Open House architectural tour). Located on top of a watershed, the hill overlooks the Judean Desert to the east and the Judean Hills to the west.

Flowers on Bible Hill, photographed by Moriah Gilbert.
Flowers on Bible Hill, photographed by Moriah Gilbert.

The Jerusalem Artists House, a 19th century Ottoman structure originally designed as an orphanage and later housing, in turn, the Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts, the Bezalel National Museum (forerunner of the Israel Museum) and the Association of Jerusalem Artists and Sculptors.

The Jerusalem Artists House has had many incarnations. Photo by Liat Elbling
The Jerusalem Artists House has had many incarnations. Photo by Liat Elbling

The Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies on the Mount of Olives satellite campus of Brigham Young University, a 1988 structure designed by David Reznik and Franklin Fergusson and surrounded by a biblical garden overlooking the Old City.

Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies. Photo by Natan Dvir
Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies. Photo by Natan Dvir

The Romema neighborhood behind the Central Bus Station, built in the 1920s and originally encompassing 11 stately homes, all of which are still intact today.

One of the old mansions of Romema. Photo by Yael Engelhart
One of the old mansions of Romema. Photo by Yael Engelhart

Development and preservation projects in the Valley of Hinnom (Gai Hinnom), in ancient times a site for pagan child sacrifice (hence the Jewish term for hell, Gehenna) and today part of a lush national park that envelops the walls of the Old City and attracts families from across Jerusalem’s ethnic spectrum.

Photo of the Valley of Hinnom courtesy of BiblicalGeographic.com
Photo of the Valley of Hinnom courtesy of BiblicalGeographic.com

A few tours will be conducted in English: Christchurch Guest House (Saturday), the Austrian Hospice (Saturday), the Garden Tomb (Thursday and Saturday), the Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies (Friday), the Urban Design Center (Friday), Tabor House-Swedish Theological Seminary (Friday and Saturday), Ticho House (Friday), political graffiti walking tour (Friday, with reservations), archaeological excavations in Independence Park (Saturday), Schatz House (Thursday and Friday), Ratisbonne Monastery (Thursday and Saturday), the Bergman Residence (Friday), Gazelle Park (Friday) and the new train tunnel (Friday),

For more information, click here.