This is Jerusalem, which I have set in the center of the nations,
Being raised as a Christian, visiting Jerusalem is definitely a high on my list. Come and join me with my journey through the Old Walls and beyond. Jerusalem is considered the " Holiest City" in Israel, by the three major religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. A very popular place for pilgrimages. As soon as I arrived in Jerusalem, the first thing I did was to join the walking tour around the Old Town.
The Old City is home to several important religious sites, the "Dome of the Rock" and Al-Aqsa Mosque" for Muslims. Situated in the centre of the Temple Mount. The site significance regarding the rock known as the Foundation of Stone, as the site Abraham attempted to sacrifice his son. The beautiful mosaic patterned design from Byzantine. When planning to visit the site check out the opening times as it only open 2 hours in a day for tourist, but it is open visit for Muslims.
"The Church of the Holy Sepulchre" it is considered the holiest site for Christians. It is were " Jesus of Nazareth" was circumcised, presented to the temple and was crucified, was built 320's under the Constantine. Inside the church you will find " The Stone of Anointing" where Jesus body were anointed before his burial. And Jesus empty tomb which is now enclosed by a 18th century Shrine. The church has been a major christian pilgrimage site, as the traditional site of the " Resurrection of Christ".
The "Western Wall" or the "Wailing Wall" is considered holy for the Jews due to its connection to the Temple Mount. Visiting this site is very intense seeing the Jews praying intently in silent. They tend to stand closely to the wall, with their praying books on their faces. And you will also noticed they will leave prayer notes to the crevices of the walls.
Visiting these site together with the different pilgrim groups, you noticed in their eyes and even feel their deep devotions. Some are overwhelmed with emotions and as you walked passed them.There's even tears of joy, or they are singing joyful hymms echoing at the background.
It's amusing and interesting walked around the cobbled stone alleyways. And be greeted with adjacent quarters from Muslim, Armenian, Christian to Jewish quarter. A different community interwoven inside the old town walls. A great opportunity for my photography stroll, capturing the old building and the locals.
As we continue our tour away from the crowds, It's fascinating to know that the walls was built for it's defence since the ancient times are well preserved. Remarkably noticeable of the different periods it outlined varying numbers of gates some has been sealed and walled up. At this time there are only seven gates open around the Old Town, the New Gate, Damascus Gate, Herod's Gate, Lion's Gate, Dung Gate, Zion Gate, and Jaffa Gate. One interesting gate which is now sealed is the "Golden Gate", a double gate sealed in 1541, or " The Gate of Eternal Life " that they believe it will reopen again for the second coming.
I have also joined the " City of David Tour". It is located in the southern part of the Old Town Walls and the location is claimed to be the Settlement of Israeli in Ancient Jerusalem. There they found Canaanite infrastructure dated back to the Middle Bronze Age. They have been found at the site the remains of several water tunnels, one of which was built by King Hezekiah and several pools including the "Pool of Siloam" that is known from the Old and New Testaments. Up to this present time they are actively doing an excavation.
I'm not a morning person but at one occasion I joined a Sunrise Cycling Tour around the Old Town. The Old Town is perched up on a hill, so imagine me pedalling in the dark on a sligthly steephill! Getting up early to join the 4:30 tour was hard enough, how much more of the effort to cycle up and down along the narrow alleyways of the old town? At some point I just walk with my bike but reaching the vantage point was amazing! While the whole town are still in their slumber, the group is feasting at the stillness and peaceful of the place, while waiting for the sunrise. The skyline was starting to spread some pinkish glow colours and slowly we watched the big ball of fire ascending to the sky as it burst it's orange colours spreading some bright light and warmth to a brand new day.
Things To Do Outside The Old Town Walls:
Beyond the Old Walls of Jerusalem the noticeably contrast of Old and New. Just off the Jaffa Gate, a new shopping area has been built. Mamilla an upscale shopping street lined up with shops, restaurants, cafes, offices and high end hotels. Even just walking along you will spot sculptures everywhere a very interesting place to wander.
With the views of the historic landmarks beyond the avenue, such as the Tower of David and Jaffa Gate. A local Israeli architect Moshe Safdie design the place blending the building design to it's historical and archeological sorroundings. I also had a chance to visit the " Mirror Bar " in Mamilla Hotel, a very stylish place to go for a good night out. Cocktail and shots anyone?
If your looking for a good vantage point to see the Old Town, I highly suggest go to "Mount Olives". It is used as a Jewish cemetery for over 3,000 years and a major site of pilgrimage for Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox, and Protestants. Related to the gospel was described as the place from which Jesus ascended to heaven.
Days Out Near Jerusalem:
Just off the Damascus Gate there's another pilgrimage site for Christian. "The Garden Tomb" it was discovered in 1867, and has been believed by Christian to be the site of the burial and resurrection of Jesus.
"A nation with conflicts and divided from East to West". I was cursious about the things on the news about Palestine, a place not safe to visit as exagerated on the World News. A very impromptu visit to Bethlehem, a last minute decision to go together with 2 American ladies. We hired a taxi from the hotel in Jerusalem, he also then contacted someone from Palestine another taxi to meet us and show us around the area. Israeli cars are not allowed to get into the Palestine area. We visited "The Church of Nativity" where many Christians believe Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem. The church is considered to be located over the cave that marks the birthplace of Jesus. The site holds a prominent religious significance to those of the Christian faith as pilgrimage sites. It is also in UNESCO heritage site list. The church has undergone numerous renovations from fire destruction over the years which has been extended and upto now they on going renovations and restoration work.
There's this very controversial new hotel called Walled Off Hotel filled with an artsy trademark stencils inspired by Banksy. The hotel with the most ugliest view, as it is situated along the wall separating Israel and Palestine border. There's also an Art Gallery showcasing Arabs and Palestinian local artist.
Disclaimer: Thank you to the Israel Ministry of Tourism
for providing the tours. All opinions are my own and have not been influence in anyway.
Jerusalem is a very safe place for Solo Travellers and group tourist. Very easy to navigate around the Old Town with a map. I highly recommend to upload the Moovit app. Very handy when taking public transport around Israel. It will show alternative public transport and routes to choose from. If you are looking for best vantage point in the Old The Town offering 360 degrees view. Head towards the Tomb of David. I highly suggest go before sunrise or watch the sunset. Or alternatively if you want a good view overlooking the Old Town head towards the Mount of Olives. Why not join the free walking tour around Old Town. Immerse yourself with the 3000 years old history of Jerusalem.