Tourist Tip #94 / Jerusalem's Austrian Hospice

Although it sounds morbid, the Austrian Hospice on the Via Dolorosa is actually a hostel where you can escape the stresses of Jerusalem's Old City.

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The Old City of Jerusalem is vibrant and endlessly fascinating, but it is also a raucous cultural challenge. When you need a break from assertive vendors and Middle Eastern mayhem, the Austrian Hospice offers a serene island above it all.

Hospice in the Holy Land has nothing to do with the terminally ill, but implies a comfortable if spare hostelry where pilgrims can rest their weary souls. This one – located near Station III of the Via Dolorosa at the junction with El-Wad Street – belongs to the Roman Catholic Church. There is a chapel inside, but most guests stop in for more earthly things: the rooftop view, the garden café and of course the clean restrooms.

Ring the bell. The great door unlocks and you ascend a stone staircase with the distinct feeling that you’re on camera (you probably are). An elevator and some steps take you up to the roof, which features a spectacular view of the Old City’s Christian and Muslim Quarters, the landmark golden Dome of the Rock and even part of the Mt. of Olives in the distance.

In good weather, relax in the sprawling garden, where trees droop over wrought-iron chairs and tiled coffee tables in planned nonchalance. Avoid the coffee-machine beverages and insist on a real latte (not cheap). Be sure to catch the kitchen hand before he or she rubberizes your apple strudel in the microwave. (They would shoot you for that in Vienna.) More serious food is also available. 

Sometimes you just need to get out of the shook for a while.Credit: Reuters

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