I spent a long weekend in Jerusalem in July 2009. It would only be a couple of hours drive from Amman with no borders but with the bloody-mindedness of the Israeli border guards to contend with means that the journey usually takes about six. It took me 5 hours to get there and 8 to get back. However, once there, there were no problems. A bit shocking seeing spotty faced youths carrying machine guns but apart from that security seemed very light. Anyway, enough of politics, I was here to see the architectural gems and ancient history of one of the most fascinating cities on the planet.
“The view” that everyone expects: Jerusalem (Al Quds to Arabic speakers) from the Mount of Olives.
The Dome of the Rock. Built in 691 it is the oldest standing Islamic building in the world built over the rock where Mohamed ascended to heaven. It also just happens to be built on the holiest site in Judaism. Jews have traditionally regarded the location of the rock as the holiest spot on Earth, the site of the Holy of Holies when it was Herod’s temple.
The old city of Jerusalem is still completely surrounded by a city wall (built by the Ottomans in the 16th century). One of the busiest gates, the Damascus Gate is packed at the weekend with mainly Arabs gaining access from East Jerusalem.
Back entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Built over the spot where JC was crucified (so we are told). And he still looks down on us.
One of the many small chapels within this amazingly labyrinthine church.
The Greek altar – built over the very spot of Jesus’ crucifixion – yes it’s true.
One thing that is immediately noticeable in Jerusalem is the style of clothes of the various inhabitants. Also many of the older men, from all religions, are bearded. None of the soldiers are however. Generally because they are too young to be able to grow one.
The heart of the old town is the souk. Very familiar to anyone who has traveled in the Arabic world.
Mary (JC’s mum) gets her own tomb as well and it happens to be one of the most atmospheric in town.
A video Jackie did for our podcasting site.