Travelers: Here is a great resource for anyone traveling to Israel and Jerusalem. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat recently discussed a new website hosting free downloads of audio guides for tours in the Old City, in an effort to help the more than a million tourists who come independent of any group or tour each year. The guides were sponsored by the municipality, the Jerusalem Development Authority and the Prime Minister’s Office.
The new audio guides can be downloaded from the website onto any MP3 player, including cellphones with 3G capability. The audio tours feature between 10 and 15 shorts stops for short explanations, which can be played in any order. There are an additional five “accessible” routes that are appropriate for wheelchairs and those with disabilities. Currently, about 35 percent of the visitors to Jerusalem are “independent tourists,” relying on books, word-of-mouth recommendations and information centers, according to Jerusalem Development Authority Director Moshe Leon. The authority is a semi public organization that deals with tourism in the Old City.
The 10 paths, organized by themes such as “On the Paths of Christianity,” “Markets” and “Zion to Ararat,” are available at www.jerusalemoldcity.org.il. Tours are currently available in Hebrew and English, with plans for French, Russian and other languages. Tourists can also download maps and brochures with the same information.