The Knesset.
The Knesset. Photo by Erin Trib
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knesset indoors
The Knesset.

A trip to the Knesset, Israel's parliament building, offers visitors to Jerusalem an excellent opportunity to get up close and personal with Israeli policy-making.

Inside this government building, located in the Givat Ram neighborhood and adjacent to the newly renovated Israel museum, you can choose from a variety of free hour-long tours offered in a variety of languages. Options for tours include a general overview of the Knesset, another focusing on democracy, and a combined tour of the Knesset and the nearby Supreme Court building.

Art-lovers can take advantage of a guided tour showing off the impressive art collection at the Knesset, which includes Byzantine mosaics and a variety of works by Marc Chagall and Reuven Rubin. History buffs will be pleased to know that all tours include free entry to the archaeological park, which contains relics from the Second Temple period all the way up to the time of the Ottoman Empire.

On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays you can take a seat in the public gallery and watch Knesset plenary debates. There's no way to know in advance if you'll be witnessing a heated argument or just several bored-looking MKs staring as one of their colleagues drones on, so expect to be surprised!

The Knesset maintains a formal dress code, so visitors should not arrive in shorts, jeans or tank tops. It even maintains a special dress code clause for Crocs – those pliable, candy-colored clogs that are ubiquitous in Israel – are only allowed if they are in navy blue or black.

Group tours (of 10 guests or more) must be reserved in advance, and run daily from Sunday through Thursday. Tours are offered for smaller groups and individuals on Sundays and Thursdays only.

Make sure to bring your passport, and set aside a half hour for the stringent security checks required of all visitors.

There is a free Knesset parking lot for visitors, so get your entry ticket stamped to avoid a fee.

For times of tours and more information, visit http://www.knesset.gov.il