Israel, Jerusalem – Old Town
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The Old Town, Jerusalem, is quiate a unique place to be. Different groups of people – Muslims, Orthodox Jews, Christians and many tourists of different religions as well as atheists come here. The city is surrounded by the walls built in the 16th century in the era of Ottoman rule. The walls are 4 kilometers long, 12 meters high and 2,5 meters wide. Also, there are many guard towers as well as several gates.
We walk through the Gate of Damascus. Then we get streets crowded with Arabian vendors. Soon their style of persuasion makes us sick and tired. However, you can really bargain and we manage to buy souvenirs at the cheapest price (compared to the rest of our stay). We trully enjoy shopping at Isreali vendors. Their products are beautiful and good prices, without bargaining even. Their stores are mostly situated at the edge of the Old Town.
We set out down the streets to one of the most important sites of Christianity. It doesn't seem important at all from the outside. We talk about the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Built upon the place where Jesus was crucified, burried, and resurected (on Golghota) in the present Christian district. The original temple was built as soon as in the 4th century and saw a renovation in the 12th. Inside it is quite crowded. There the Stoene of Anointing. Crowds of believers hallow all kind of stuff they carry with. The body of Jesus Christ was laid here. As we are atheists it was quite strange yet interesting spectacle. To the left you enter Anastasis rotunda with the tomb of Jesus Christ in the midle. It is situated in the chapel called Edikula. You can take a look inside the chapel. Be ready for long lines however.
Upon our visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre we walk around the Etiopian convent. Its typical feature is a small dome sitauted on a small courtyard. Through the dome light illuminates St Helena's chapel in the eastern part of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Close from there, you may find the church of Alexander Nevsky built in the year 1859. Then go on around a lutheran church of Christ the Saviour featuring a narrow belfry. Then we pass Muristan, a busy quarter with stores and cafes. By spotting a silver dome we realize that we reached St John the Baptist's cuhrch, the oldest church in Jerusalem built between the years 450–650.
Then we make farewell to the Christian district in the Old Town. We head to the Jewish quarter. The most popular place there is the Western Wall. This huge wall is the holiest site in Judaism. We see a number of Jewish men and women to come here and pray. In separated sections, however. On holidays and Fridays the site becomes bussiest. The wall is 32 meters high. Howeover, one third of it is below the ground. It consists of huge boulders some of which are over 7 tons. Believers have stuck papers with their prayers here since the 18th century. Now tourist make this too. Instead of prayers, however, they put there their wishes.
In the second part we are about to visit the famous Temple Mount shrine inside Muslim district. However, we learn that to enter the compound is possible only between half past seven and ten o'clock in the morning. Hence, note for yourselves that you need to plan your trip there good. All entrances are guarded by quite unpleasant soldiers carrying machine guns. Therefore, we better go away and relax while drinking a local great drink – freshly made pomegranate juice. Try it.
GPS: 31°46'37.6"N 35°14'03.8"E (Western Wall)
Text: Veronika Schubertová
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