If one can cope with the city’s steep hills, jogging in inner Jerusalem can be easily accommodated. Early morning, before the shops open,is probably the best time. Although the sun has yet to rise, the streets are well lit and the sidewalks virtually empty.
I’ve found jogging to be an effective means for understanding not only the geography of a city’s center, but points of its history and culture as well. This has been the case with Jerusalem. Jogging outside the walls of the Old City, one of many of Jerusalem highpoints provided a striking vista of the Mount of Olives to the east The route along the southern side of the Old City provides a view of a large archeological site with diggings that expose layers of Jerusalem’s history from Herod’s reign through that of the Romans, Byzantines and Umayyads.
A jog through West Jerusalem provided evidence of British rule (1918 -1947, known as the Mandate Period). Along Hebron Road, I passed a now decommissioned hospital built by the British in the late 1920’s. Reaching the King David Hotel, I noticed an exterior plaque commemorating a bombing of the southern portion of the hotel (the site of British administration) by the Irgun (Jewish underground) in late 1946.
West Jerusalem is also the site of Independence Park. I was surprised to pass gravesites along the southern side of the park. Consulting one of our guides, I learned the gravesites are the remnants of a former Muslim cemetery, desecrated during the conflict that erupted (after the British departure). The Jewish cemetery in east Jerusalem was also desecrated, evidence of the intense ethnic hostilities that have lingered for more than half a century. In short, jogging can help highlight a city’s cultural splendors while occasionally revealing the ugly underside of its history.