Formal walking tour of Jerusalem
Jerusalem Travel Blog› entry 12 of 18 › view all entries
August 5th, 2008 – by: alygally
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.
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.
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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