The Holy City of Jerusalem is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the most fascinating and combined city in the whole of Israel. One does not have to be religious to savour the spirituality of this place.
For me, a non-believer, the City of King David is like a chemical mixture. Which blended elements lose their individual identities and are fused as a result. Religion, history and culture are amalgamated here more than anywhere else.
The foundations of three religions: Christianity, Islam and Judaism, are within the city’s walls. Often one on top of the other.
The Christians claim Jerusalem is the most important to them. As the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is believed to be the place where Jesus resurrected from the dead. On the third day after being buried in his tomb.
The Jews’ holy place is the Wailing Wall. The last remnant of the Temple of Salomon, while for the Muslims it is where the Dome of the Rock is located. Abraham was buried here and the Prophet Mohammed spoke to Gabriel. Tolerance seems to be the only remedy for this apothegmatic conflict of beliefs.
The Holy City of Jerusalem
The City of Moriah is divided into four quarters: Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Armenian.
In the heart of the Jerusalem Old City Kotel is situated. The Western Wall, where Jewish people from around the world come to rock their bodies in prayer. A movement that resembles crying. The place is believed to be looming with God’s spirit. Many claim that the Willing Wall is not technically part of the ancient Temple Mount. But merely a small part of the wall surrounding King Salomon’s actual temple, it is the holiest of holy places for Jews.
The golden dome of Al-Sakhra Mosque shines above the Western Wall. Along with Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is the third holiest site in Islam, these are two main locations visited by Muslim.
Christians in Jerusalem walk the Via Dolorosa. And follow the steps of Jesus – ‘Way of Suffering’ leads to the crucifixion. In fourteen stations up to the Church of Holy Resurrection. Today the church is home to many sects of Christianity. Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Eastern Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Ethiopian Orthodox and Syriac Orthodox.
It amazes me how often the ‘status quo’ is broken here. In the holiest of holy places for Christianity! Monks and priests indulge in fracas and fistfights. Often police and hospitalizations take place. My guide told me plenty of stories of how moved chairs, unclosed doors or a leader led to fights and clashes.
Cultural heritage, monumental structures, archaeological sites, spiritual journeys, different scents and colours are just few of treasures of this city. Jerusalem leverages and creates a cultural life. All kinds of shows, concerts, festivals, and theatre performances in quaint, hidden locations. Light and sound displays are held day and night all over the new and old part of the town.
Apart from all the holy sights there are several charming places well worth visiting. While entering the Old City through Jaffa Gate one walks directly into an Arab market – a souk. The Arab and Christian quarters are to the left. Jewish and Armenian ones are to the right. Do not miss the Armenian part. It is truly charming. Here you can get famous decorated ceramics. As the Armenians who originated from Anatolia continue this tradition dearly.
Spend a few days here to sink into the atmosphere of the city. Do not rush from sight to sight and check it off of a list. Exhale and observe and you will gain a bigger understanding of this multi-cultural place.