Tourist Tip #107 / Top of the Mormon to You

Atop Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus is a well-hidden cultural gem that entices locals and tourists alike with its free concerts.

Ronen Shnidman
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Ronen Shnidman

For millennia, Jerusalem has been considered the center of the world for monotheistic faiths. Far from the hustle and bustle of the much-visited religious sites of the Old City are a number of gems hidden in other parts of Jerusalem.

High up on a list of such sites is the Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center on Mount Scopus. Belonging to the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church, which undertook not to engage in any missionary activities before being granted permission to erect the center, in 1987.

Today the center is known mainly due to the free concerts that take place there every Sunday in its 334-seat auditorium. The genre of music played at the concerts varies from classical to jazz and ethnic music. To get free concerts tickets and a concert schedule, visitors should send an email ahead of time to concerts@jc.byu.ac.il.  You can also try to get standby tickets by arriving at the center at 7 P.M., an hour before the performance begins, and wait to see if there are any available seats.

After being temporarily closed to visitors for renovations, the center resumed its regular free, English-language, guided tours this past November. Visitors are shown around the premises with its breathtaking views overlooking Jerusalem's Kidron Valley, hear a 10-minute organ recital and view a regular on-site exhibition of local artists' works as well as the center's Biblical garden. The center is home to what it describes as the Middle East's largest pipe organ, with all 3,000 of its pipes imported from Denmark. Its well-tended garden is comprised of plant and tree species mentioned in the Bible and also contains an ancient-style wine press.

The tours are between 45 and 60 minutes long and take place Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 10:00, 10:30, 11:00, 11:30 in the morning and 2:00, 2:30, 3:00, and 3:30 in the afternoon. Groups of 10 or more people should call 02-6265666 or 02-6265621 ahead of time to schedule a tour. Individuals are advised to call ahead as well to verify tour times.

The BYU Jerusalem center can be reached by taking any bus heading to Mount Scopus (to find bus routes check Egged’s website at http://www.egged.co.il/eng/, although the most convenient means of transport is by car.) According to the center's caretaker, visitors cannot park on premises but there is ample parking outside, beyond the center's entrance gate.

Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center 

Mount Scopus

Concerts: Sundays, 8 P.M. Free

Tours: Tues, Wed, Thurs, Friday, Free

Book in advance: Tel: 02-6265666 or 02-6265621 or concerts@jc.byu.ac.il.

The Brigham Young University campus on Mount Scopus.Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The BYU Jerusalem Center houses the largest pipe organ in the Middle East.Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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