Formal walking tour of Jerusalem

Jerusalem Travel Blog

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View of Jerusalem
We had an actual, formal walking tour of Jerusalem the next morning, which included the Old City and the various important religious sites.

Dome of the Rock, al-Aqsa Mosque and the Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif): Because I'm not Muslim, I couldn't go into the mosques.  However, there's a beatufiul courtyard surrounding them that you can wander around freely.  The Dome of the Rock itself is breathtaking - it's got the huge golden dome that everyone knows about, but the outside is all intricate tile work with Qur'anic verses everywhere.  We had to leave the compound at 11 because they had to prepare for the noon prayer, but I so wished I could have had more time to see everything.
Entrance to the Old City


Western "Wailing" Wall: To enter the Western Wall Plaza, you walk through a corridor in the Old City, through a security checkpoint, and finally out into the Plaza.  The Wall is partitioned into a HUGE male side, where I'm told you must put on a kippa before entering, and a tiny female side.  Prayer books are available upon entry, and many people sit down and pray at the chairs set up directly in front.  I didn't put a prayer into a crack, but I did touch the Wall itself.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre: I had very mixed feelings about my experience at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  An enormous building has been erected over the site of the last few Stations of the Cross, so it's a bit difficult to get a feel for any real historical value here.
Inside the Old City
  Because I can't really describe my feelings again, I'll just quote from my travel diary: "Beautiful church, don't get me wrong...but the mad fools have gone and built a structure over and through the rock of Golgotha, and while bits of the rock are available to see, the majority is just gilded and overly ornate.  I went up the stairs to Calvary and kneeled at the place where Jesus was crucified, and I saw the outside of his tomb (we didn't have time to wait in line to go inside).  It all seemed so commercial and tourist-oriented - there were no places to even sit and listen to sermons (if there even are any), or just reflect."  I did, however, like that four different Christian sects - Orthodox, Armenian, Coptic and Catholic - share control of the church, and a Muslim acts as a neutral gatekeeper so as not to give any particular group control of the building.
Ariel Sharon's house in the Old City


Overall, I was a bit disappointed with the lack of religiosity that I felt, but I was very impressed at the historical significance of everything.

Yad Vashem: After lunch, we went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum.  The most interesting part of this building is its structure - it's set up as a long hallway with barricades down the center so that you are forced to enter each and every room in order to make your way out of the building.  The childrens' memorial nearly brought tears to my eyes - very tastefully done.  A pitch-black room with mirrors all around you, and a large column with candles in the middle that are reflected in the 360˚ mirrors.  A recorded voice simply recites the names, ages and countries of all 6 million (!) children who died.  Very powerful.

Lifta: To balance Yad Vashem, we also went to Lifta, a Palestinian city just outside of Jerusalem that was abandoned after the Israelis took control of its water supply.  Then, on to Bethlehem.
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View of Jerusalem
View of Jerusalem
Entrance to the Old City
Entrance to the Old City
Inside the Old City
Inside the Old City
Ariel Sharons house in the Old Ci…
Ariel Sharon's house in the Old C…
Old City
Old City
Fifth Station of the Cross (Simon …
Fifth Station of the Cross (Simon…
Kasim, our guide, pointing somethi…
Kasim, our guide, pointing someth…
Entering the Temple Mount/Haram al…
Entering the Temple Mount/Haram a…
Dome of the Rock
Dome of the Rock
Al-Aqsa Mosque
Al-Aqsa Mosque
Fountain (place to wash your feet)…
Fountain (place to wash your feet…
Our delegation outside the Dome of…
Our delegation outside the Dome o…
Dome of the Rock Plaza
Dome of the Rock Plaza
Dome of the Rock
Dome of the Rock
Kasim pointing out bullet holes al…
Kasim pointing out bullet holes a…
About to enter the Western Wall Pl…
About to enter the Western Wall P…
Western Wall
Western Wall
Women praying at their designated …
Women praying at their designated…
Western Wall
Western Wall
Western Wall
Western Wall
Prayer books available before ente…
Prayer books available before ent…
Western Wall
Western Wall
Façade of the Church of the Holy …
Façade of the Church of the Holy…
Priest outside the Church of the H…
Priest outside the Church of the …
Inside the Church of the Holy Sepu…
Inside the Church of the Holy Sep…
Eleventh Station of the Cross - pl…
Eleventh Station of the Cross - p…
Golgotha
Golgotha
Place where Jesus body was prepar…
Place where Jesus' body was prepa…
Stone of the Annointing
Stone of the Annointing
Jesus tomb
Jesus' tomb
Stone located directly underneath …
Stone located directly underneath…
Outside the Old City
Outside the Old City
Outside the Old City
Outside the Old City
Interior of Yad Vashem, the Holoca…
Interior of Yad Vashem, the Holoc…
Shoes of Holocaust victims
Shoes of Holocaust victims
Schindlers list
Schindler's list
Eternal flame at Yad Vashem
Eternal flame at Yad Vashem
Jerusalem
photo by: daynnightraveller