Bearing Witness

Jerusalem

I have just arrived back in Nablus after spending the last two days in Jerusalem. It was, and I know I am bordering on over use of this word to describe my trip so far, incredible. I spent the first day doing the tourist thing – camera constantly out taking photos at every opportunity, almost every time I turned the corner there was another sight of something that warranted a photo. From holy sites, to amazing souqs, to ancient arch ways. After finding some where to stay, I headed for Jaffa Gate to take the Ramparts walk, along the way I saw the tower of David.
 
The Ramparts Walk takes you from Jaffa Gate to Lions Gate via New, Damascus and Herod’s Gates – along the top of the walls of the Old City – I highly recommend taking it if your ever in Jerusalem, it provides great views of the new and old cities and helps you get your bearings.
 
I then toured the holy sights, staring at the Western [Wailing] Wall. The only remnant of Judaism’s holiest shrine, the “Wailing” moniker stems from Jewish sorrow over the destruction of the temple Herod built in 20 BC by the Romans.
 
From There I headed to the Temple Mount, know locally as Haram ash-Sharif. The massive stone platform was built over the biblical Mt Moriah, the site of Solomon’s first and Herod’s second temples. it is also the site where Abraham was instructedby God to sacrifice his son Isaac in a test of his faith. For Muslim, the Temple mount is revered for it’s association with Mohammed’s mystical night journey [isra], in which the Prophet dreamed of flying to heaven from the mount to take his place alongside Allah – all this combined means that the site holds special significance to Jews, Muslims and Christians. I know from first hand experience that the Temple Mount is heavily revered by all Palestinian’s [Christian or Muslim], as I am yet to enter a house in Palestine that does not have a photo or a painting on the wall of the Temple Mount. The highlight of the Temple Mount for me was the Dome of the Rock, which was completed in 691 AD. It has, as most of you I’m sure would know, a large gold dome – which is amazing. Unfortunately as a Non-Muslim I was not allowed to enter the Dome of the Rock, however just walking around it was incredible – that word again – as it glistened in the day light. The Dome of the Rock also has the most amazing tiling covering most of the structure.
 
Then, even as a lapsed Christian, I had to go a see the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The site where Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected. The original Byzantine structure was extensively rebuilt by the Crusaders and it has numerous magnificent alters – although as I could not afford a walking tour and most of the writing was in another language I am not sure of their significance. Incredible though it’s not everyday you get to visit the holiest sites of the worlds three main religions.
 
I then toured the Armenian Quarter as I had not passed it in my tour of the holy sites. It was the quietest of the four quarter and I did not explore it to much as by that stage my legs where starting to give way. My favourite was the Muslim Quarter, as to me it felt the most authentic with traditional souqs and a real character, some parts of the Jewish Quarter almost seemed brand new.
  
After going back to my hostel for a shower and a rest, I headed out again for some dinner. I went to Papa Andrea’s, which has a rooftop section and provides great views of the Old City. the food was great, not to mention the fact I could drink. During dinner one of the waiters who was not that busy due to the lack of customers on the night started to play a traditional Arab drum, he was phenomenal, and after complementing him on his abilities we started talking and the next thing I know where drinking Arak and he is trying try to teach me how to play the drum. an amazing end to an INCREDIBLE ! day.
 
The next morning after waking up a little the worst for ware, after way to much Arak. I headed out for breakfast, in the Christian Quarter, as I figured I might find my traditional breakfast of bacon and eggs – which I did. I also was fortunate enough to get a another friendlywaiter who I began talking to after he admonished the leader of a walking tour, who in his opinion was revising history in accordance with her own political views. I would like to leave with you with a statement he made about the occupation. He summed it up simply and beautifully “it’s not just a military occupation, it’s tax’s, it’s movement and infrastructure. They can try a crush the people but never the idea that this is our home”
 
 * The dates and facts in this post are taken from Lonely Planet – Middle East.
  

Damascus Gate

Damascus Gate

 

Tower of David

Tower of David

   

Ramparts Walk

Ramparts Walk

   

The Wailing Wall

The Wailing Wall

   

Dome of the Rock

Dome of the Rock

    

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Advertisements

November 21, 2008 - Posted by | My Travels |

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: