So much to see within the City Walls, it’s an experience in itself.
Old City is built in a valley, made up of a series of walkways, divided to 4 quarters reflecting the religious persuasion of that sections inhabitants.
I’ve devoted my attention to visiting the three most important sites in Jerusalem Old City:-
- Jews – The Wailing Wall [Part of the Holy Temple of David site of the Holy Holies]
- Christians – The Church of the Sepulcher [Built on the site of the Crucifixion]
- Muslims – The Dome of the Rock
Jews – The Wailing Wall or Western Wall
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Originally making up part of Temple one for David, this Western wall is all that remains of the structure after being sacked by Titus Caesar of the Roman Empire, leaving a small part of the temple wall to give camp to his troops.
It is said that God offered his protection to the Temple in Midrash saying it would never be destroyed for when water ran from between it’s cracks, it symbolised the coming of the Messiah.
Jews approach the wall whilst bowing and kissing, some place hand written notes in the cracks. When they are finished bowing, kissing and praying they must back away still facing the structure.
This is tradition.
Christians – The Church of the Sepulcher
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Built on Golgotha site of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ around 333 by Emperor Constantine and the Bishop Saint Macarius. The church was fully destroyed in 1009 Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah and Control of Jerusalem, and thereby the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, continued to change hands several times between the Fatimids and the Seljuk Turks (loyal to the Abbasid caliph in Baghdad) until the arrival of the Crusaders in 1099.
The church fell back under Muslim control after Saladin who assigned responsibility for it to two neighbouring Muslim families. The Joudeh were entrusted with the key, and the Nusseibeh, who had been the custodians of the church since the days of Caliph Omar in 637, retained the position of keeping the door. This arrangement has persisted into modern times. Twice each day, a Joudeh family member brings the key to the door, which is locked and unlocked by a Nusseibeh.
In 1555 the Franciscan monks completed a transformation and a power struggle broke out within the various Christian factions for overall control of the site.
Eastern Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Roman Catholic, Coptic Orthodox, the Ethiopian Orthodox and the Syriac Orthodox all jockeyed for power and rights, resulted in common area’s becoming a ‘no mans land’ where Status Quo reigned, no work is undertaken, and conflict, often violent, is regular.
Divided into different sections, you may want to take a guide, although the church still has impact without it and is graced with many thousands of visitors every day.
Muslims – Dome of the Rock
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This Golden Dome is only accessible by Muslims. Heavily guarded, you will find most of the hostility surrounds this structure and it’s construction on one of the most holy sites of the Jews.
It is the oldest extant Islamic building in the world built in 691 on the spot where Mohammed is said to have ascended to heaven.
The dome is said to have been inspired by the other basilicas around the city, and initially built using 20,000 gold pieces “whose shine could not be witnessed by the bare eye”.
Non-Muslims are not allowed into this section.
These are the main sites, though there are many, many more.
You should spend a few days trying to discover them all.